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.

The Mere of Dead Men

Into the Swamp
After some debate about how to make their next move, the group eventually settled on having Keo cast pass without trace on them so they could sneak past the roadhouse and into the swamp without any risk of being noticed. Once in the swamp, they discovered that the tunnel exit was quite easy to find, as it was only really disguised from the roadhouse side.

They didn’t have long to wait before a band of lizardfolk slipped out of the darkness and headed into the tunnel. Some time later, they re-emerged with treasure-laden packs strapped to their backs. As the lizardfolk went back into the swamp, the heroes followed. Once it became clear that the journey wasn’t going to be a short one, however, they decided to stop for the night. The trail was easy enough to follow, after all, for even when they were having to wade through knee-deep water, there were plenty of obvious trail markers scratched into tree trunks and talismans hanging from tree branches.

Flint set up an alarm down the trail and they settled in for the night. In the morning, they pressed on and, for the next several hours, found themselves having to put up with not just the cold, the mud, and the overgrown weeds but also man-eating giant lizards, gnome-eating giant frogs, and blood-sucking giant insects. Tired and worn out, they were almost caught by surprise when a group of strange snake-men approached out of the fog. Two of the creatures had human bodies with snake heads, while the other three were mostly human, except for a few snake-like features (forked tongues, patches of scales, and so on).

Keo dropped a spike growth in front of them. The three mostly-human creatures spotted the spikes and moved around, while the two snaked-headed men blundered into it. They stopped moving and raised their longbows. Mara moved into axe-throwing range, while Jamna disappeared into the undergrowth. Erevan and Flint took aim at the snake-headed men with bow and spell.

As one of the mostly-human creatures moved into melee range with Mara, it magically compelled her to surrender and proceeded to tie her up with some rope. Before it could lead her away, however, Erevan took it down with a well-placed shot, and Mara quickly regained her senses! Another of the almost humans moved to engage Keo, who shifted into bear form, only to have the creature breathe poison on him and then attempt to charm him as well (but to no avail). Jamna reappeared and stabbed the third almost human to death, then vanished into the swamp again, only to reappear next to the creature attacking Keo and finish it off as well.

Erevan and Flint were able to fell one of the snake-headed creatures, but the other one, seeing it was all alone, escaped into the foggy swamp.

A Voice in the Fog
Some time later, the group stumbled into a makeshift campsite at the edge of the “dry” land. No one appeared to be at home, although several dug-out canoes were resting nearby. Realizing that they’d have to take to the water to continue their journey on the morrow, the group decided to make camp in the lizardfolks’ huts for the night, with Flint once again setting up a magical alarm.

As the sun began to set, the fog billowed and Mara, who was on first watch, started to see massive, clawed footprints appearing in the soggy ground. As the footprints circled the camp, her immediate thought was of the black dragon that lived somewhere in the morass. Flint was woken up by his alarm and came rushing out to see what had triggered it. He instantly recognized the footprints as belonging to a dragon but was rather surprised to find that it was invisible!

The dragon moved in close enough that they could feel its hot breath on their skin. A voice out of the fog – at once deep and nasal – spoke the words that the heroes were dreading: “I am Voaraghamanthar, lord of the mere! Who are you and what are you doing in my swamp?”

This was enough to wake the others, who emerged from their huts to find Mara and Flint talking to nothing. Fortunately, the dragon seemed disinclined to attack. Flint remembered that the dragon was said to strongarm adventurers into delving into swampy ruins in order to retrieve lost treasures for it. As it just so happened, this was exactly what Voaraghamanthar had in mind now.

Remaining invisible, the dragon informed the heroes that he wouldn’t kill them and pickle their bodies in the swamp if they performed two small tasks on his behalf. The first task was the retrieval of a magic ring – a ring of Myrkul to be precise – which he believed to be in the possession of an elf who led the local contingent of the Cult of the Dragon. The cultists had taken over Castle Naerytar, which the dragon pointed out was once home to an all-female academy of stargazers. While the academy was really just a front for a horrid creature known as a penanggalan, they had installed a magical telescope – the farseer of Illusk – in the castle. Voaraghamanthar explained that Rezmir, the black half-dragon wyrmspeaker, had stolen something from him, and so he in retaliation, he wanted the telescope destroyed.

The heroes glanced at each other briefly, realizing that they really had no choice but to accept the dragon’s offer of employment. Pleased, the dragon then informed them that a band of lizardfolk were just then heading in their direction by boat. Among them was one called Snapjaw, who was a loyal servant of the dragon. They could take Snapjaw with them to the castle and give him the ring when they found it. With that, the invisible dragon slipped into the dark waters of the mere and swam away.

A Plan is Hatched
Spooked but with great relief at having survived their encounter with the black dragon, the heroes resumed their rest. After sunset, they heard the splashing of oars. Erevan emerged into the open and hailed the lizardfolk as they drew their boats up onto the shore. He called out in Draconic, asking for the one called Snapjaw to come forward.

At first, the lizardfolk hesitated, fingering their weapons, but when Erevan revealed that Voaraghamanthar had instructed him to speak with Snapjaw, the lizardfolk identified himself. Placating his companions, he stepped forward to speak with the half-elf. The other heroes came out of their huts and helped explain the situation. Snapjaw was overjoyed, believing the heroes to be the saviors he’d been waiting for!

In broken Common, Snapjaw quickly outlined his people’s predicament: allied with the “dragon kneelers” in the castle, but subservient to the hated “flappy feet” after their shaman, Pharblex, had killed the lizardfolk chief. The lizardfolk of the Scaly Death tribe also felt somewhat abandoned by Voaraghamanthar because of his unwillingness to intervene on their behalf. They had been stockpiling weapons and waiting for a chance to rise up and overthrow the bullywugs. Switching back to Draconic, Snapjaw excitedly addressed his companions, managing to win over most of them with his enthusiasm.

Two of Snapjaw’s companions glowered darkly, however, and made to leave. The heroes want to stop them, but Snapjaw assured them they wouldn’t do any harm. They just wished to have no part in what they believed to be a fool’s errand.

Since the lizardfolk were heading back to the roadhouse to collect more treasure, the heroes agreed that Snapjaw’s companions should continue on with that task in the morning, while he guided them across the water to the castle, where they would attempt to meet with his fellows and organize some kind of revolt. Snapjaw pointed out that his people’s fear of Pharblex’s magic was mostly what was keeping them in line at the moment, so perhaps if the heroes were to assassinate him, that would show his people that the time was right to rise up. He informed them that the bullywug shaman spent most of his time during the day in the dank caverns beneath the castle but that he slept in one of the buildings within the castle walls at night.

Death in the Water
In the morning, Snapjaw drew a crude map on the ground, showing the general layout of Castle Naerytar and where the various factions were positioned. The heroes then packed up their things in two of the boats and pushed off into the mere. A few hours later, something large dislodged itself from a nearby island and swam rapidly toward the boats. A pair of massive jaws opened wide, revealing rows of enormous sharp teeth, as a giant crocodile attempted to swallow Flint whole!

The crocodile also lashed out with its tail, knocking Keo into the water. Although the goliath managed to climb back into the boat, the crocodile knocked him back into the water again, so he decided to shift into bear form and swim over to start clawing and biting at the crocodile. Flint bopped the crocodile on the snout with his hammer, while Snapjaw whacked at it with his club and spiked shield. Meanwhile, Erevan and Mara over in the other boat started attacking it from range while Jamna steered.

Unfortunately, the crocodile managed to get Flint in its mouth and then dove down into the water. The other heroes were afraid that they’d just lost their friend, but after a few moments of uncertainty, his limp form bobbed back up to the surface, minus one arm! Keo swam over and, shifting back into his humanoid form, helped pull Flint’s body into the boat where he could be healed up and revived. Much to everyone’s surprise, Flint was quite cold, and it was revealed that he had been keeping an amulet fashioned from the scale of a silver dragon hidden under his clothes and armor, and it was now freezing cold to the touch. It would seem the amulet had saved him somehow!

The Scroll Thief

Before leaving the sewers, the group took a quick look at the contents of the discarded backpack. Along with some coins and the like, they found a note and a map with Ellison’s name on them. He’d been ordered to steal the books and deliver them to someone named “Rythnax” in a swampy area near the mouth of the Chionthar.

The group agreed that they could afford to slow down a bit and headed back into the city. Erevan sought out the bathhouse for a quick cleansing while the others tracked down Keo. After seeing the note and map, Keo responded that his new allies in the Emerald Enclave had made him aware that there was a young black dragon upsetting the natural balance of the nearby swamp. He knew that they’d be keen to have the dragon dealt with and so was quite happy to help his comrades track down the book thief.

After Erevan was satisfied with his state of cleanliness, the heroes gathered their things and then got in touch with their faction contacts to acquire some mounts to take them out of the city and along the southern banks of the river more quickly. As a local, Mara knew the small swampy area – which lay between the river and the edge of the Cloak Wood – was only a half-day’s ride away. They were able to get there before the sun set.

The Swamp
As the party peered into the gloomy swamp from its perimeter, they spied a small rocky hill on an island less than two hundred feet away. Someone was huddled by a small campfire in front of the cave, with what looked to be a large black dog curled up at his feet. Erevan used his magic armor to disguise himself as a cultist and then asked Flint to cast invisibility on him. His ability to sneak up on the campsite was somewhat hampered due to having to wade through ankle-deep swamp water, though, and he soon discovered that the creature by the fire could sense his presence. Not only that, but it was not a dog … rather, it was a small black dragon! Standing up, the dragon stretched out its wings before informing its human companion that they had visitors.

The dragon called out for Erevan to show himself. After he did so, the elf quickly started making up a story about how Mondath’s group had sent him here to check up on things and make sure the delivery was going all right. Ellison and the dragon were at first confused as to how Mondath had known about the deal. Erevan could sense that he wasn’t convincing them … and, sure enough, the dragon announced that it was bored and spewed acid at the elf.

In response, Mara and Keo both went charging into the swamp, weapons at the ready, while Flint stayed out of the mire, casting catapult and giving the dragon a good hard whacking to distract it from finishing off Erevan. This worked like a charm, as the wyrmling roared in anger and leapt into the air, making a beeline for the dwarf. Ellison, meanwhile, indicated to Erevan that he did not wish to fight and slunk into the cave to hide.

As the dragon flew over Mara and Keo, they both took aim with their weapons but missed. Flint’s aim, however, was true, and he slew the dragon with a second casting of catapult! Keo went to have a look at the dead dragon, finding a satchel strapped to its chest that contained the missing pages from the stolen books, wrapped in watertight waxed paper. He also cut off the dragon’s head to take it back to town as proof that the job had been done.

As the others approached, Erevan drank a healing potion before calling out to Ellison to give himself up. The thief reluctantly complied, pleading with the adventurers not to hurt him. He promised that if they would just let him go, they’d never see him again. He wanted nothing more to do with the Cult of the Dragon. The heroes were not so sure and insisted that he let them tie him up. They then pumped him for information.

As it happened, he’d been hired by the cult to help them find the whereabouts of one Xandria Welltran, a human woman who may have actually been a polymorphed green dragon. She lived during the time of Minsc the beloved ranger, and so Ellison had stolen the biography because it contained clues as to where she’d been buried (in a crypt in the cemetery in Tumbledown, as it just so happened). He’d stolen the book of magic because he’d seen it in Aya’s office while training with her and thought it might have some useful information about polymorphing and the like. As for the peerage book, he’d taken that for purely personal reasons – he’d hoped it would prove that the Berengers were a Baldurian patriar family, but he was to have no such luck in that event.

Ellison insisted he knew nothing more than that. He didn’t know why the cult wanted this information, though he was able to tell them that his cult contact was none other than Soares, the elf who’d ambushed the party the day before.

When Ellison had finished his tale, the heroes had a look at the dragon’s small hoard. Mara found a nice suit of splint armor that could be adjusted to fit her nicely. They took some of the coins and other knick-knacks, then settled down for the night.

Late into the night, Ellison slipped free of his bonds and tried to escape. He hadn’t counted on the fact that Erevan, being an elf, didn’t sleep. The heroes soon wrestled him back into his bonds and then, in the morning, dragged him back to town, where they turned him over to Mara’s aunt, Vigilar Allayn Bormul.

Before returning the recovered pages to the library, Erevan and Flint made sure to make copies to pass on to their Harper contacts. And Mara went and had a quiet word with a Lords’ Alliance agent about Lamarck’s false claim to noble status, despite the others wanting to accept his bribe to keep it a secret.

Xandria’s Crypt
After getting a good night’s rest, the heroes trudged back out to Tumbledown, where they sought out Cassyt and asked her to help them locate the crypt of Xandria Welltran. It turned out to be easy enough to find, being a freestanding mausoleum on the surface rather than down in the catacombs. Upon entering, they found it to be a well-appointed crypt with a stone sarcophagus in the middle and a number of colorful paintings depicting Xandria in various locales on the walls.

The heroes pried open the lid and, sure enough, Flint was able to tell almost immediately that the bones inside looked like they’d once belonged to a dragon! What’s more, some of the bones appeared to be missing. Mixed in with the bones were five tiny gems, one for each color of chromatic dragon.

Just then, the outer doors swung shut with a boom and a hissing sound could be heard as a poisonous gas began filling the room. Seeing that the doors would not be easily opened from the inside, they looked around for some other exit. There were scrape marks on the floor around the sarcophagus, suggesting it could be moved, but none of them were able to do so using brute force.

Eventually, the heroes figured out that they could insert the colored gems into little indentations in certain paintings on the wall. The color of dragon that each gem represented had to match something in the picture – so the white gem went in the snowy mountain, while the blue gem went in the lightning storm, and so on. Once the last gem was correctly inserted into the wall, the sarcophagus slid away, revealing a dark staircase. The outer doors also opened, revealing a bewildered-looking Cassyt, who’d been left outside. She remained there as the group descended the stairs.

At the bottom, the group found themselves in a spiralling corridor that led to what appeared to be a throne room. There were three skeletons with swords and dragon-like heads standing guard, but they did nothing as the heroes approached the throne and poked around. Underneath the throne, Erevan found a hidden compartment protected by a poisoned needle, the disabling of which proved to be child’s play for him. Inside the compartment, he found a spell scroll and a gem.

Further along the spiraling corridor, the group came to an old dusty laboratory. After glancing over the books and the alembics and such, they concluded that the laboratory had been used by some kind of necromancer, one who appeared to have been interested in dracoliches! There was a blue bottle with a note about finishing some kind of experiment. The note’s writer warned the reader not to drink the potion. Erevan toysedaround with taking the potion with him, but when Flint revealed that everything in the room was under some kind of magical warding spell, the elf put the bottle back on the table and the group left.

The corridor ended at a chamber containing an old teleportation circle, along with what appeared to be quite the stash of gold coins in an alcove in the south wall. There were also some softly-glowing magic glyphs on the walls, as well as four dead bodies stitched together from various humanoid and draconic parts.

As Flint went to investigate the teleportation circle, the others attended to the bodies. As soon as Flint began unravelling the circle’s magic, however, the glyphs flared up and the bodies rose to attack! They were no match for these seasoned warriors, however, and were all soon lying inert on the ground again. As each one fell, one of the glyphs on the walls went dark as well.

Erevan used mage hand to retrieve one of the coins from the alcove. It turned out to be painted wood. He used his mage hand to sift through the pile to see if there was anything else there, especially because Flint’s detect magic spell was picking something up from that room. When he found nothing, Keo and Flint went into the room and only to find that they could’t get out again because some sort of invisible wall of force had sprung up behind them. Luckily, Flint knew he could get rid of the wall with a magic missile, so they weren’t trapped there for long.

The group returned to the surface and told Cassyt about what they’d found: an old necromancer’s lab, guarded by some minor undead creatures, possibly connected to the old Cult of the Dragon, back when they were more interested in undead dragons than living ones.

Having reached the end of that thread, the heroes ventured back to the Upper City to continue their wait for the contingent of cultists from the Greenfields to arrive with their stolen loot.