In the Dragon’s Den

In which our heroes beard a dragon in its den.

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.

Danger Ahead!

Sabotage
The next morning, as the caravan was leaving the inn, Samardag the Hoper’s wagon fell apart. His cargo crashed to the ground, smashing to pieces. Ever the optimist, Samardag just shrugged and decided to stay behind at the inn and wait for another opportunity to come along. Keo took a look at the wagon anyway and determined that it had been sabotaged, though he chose to keep that info to himself. The goliath decided to continue on with the caravan as an independent traveler, while his fellow guard, Leda Widris, was hired on by Beyd Sechepol.

Trollclaw Ford
A few uneventful days later, the caravan arrived at Trollclaw Ford and settled down for another day of rest. The heroes spent part of the day exploring the myriad ruins lying around the ford but no trolls were forthcoming. When they returned, they discovered a gnome had showed up in the caravan’s midst. About all anyone could get out of him was his name: Radecere Perethun. That and the fact that he really enjoyed playing games of chance.

That night, Barakis invited Keo to share a drink with him and exchange pleasantries. Afterwards, as Keo was settling down to bed, he was suddenly wracked with pain. It was only thanks to his stone-like constitution that he survived. The goliath set off to find Flint, who deduced that someone had put wyvern poison in his drink. Keo wondered if it had been Barakis or someone else.

Contraband
As the caravan wound its way out of the Trollclaws, the Appledowns had a small mishap as their wagon tipped into a rut and broke a wheel. As a result, some of their possessions spilled out onto the ground. While Tilda frantically tried to gather everything up, her husband Devlin insisted he could fix the wagon himself. Keo wouldn’t take no for an answer, though, so the young man eventually agreed to let the goliath hold the wagon up while he put on a new wheel.

After the caravan had stopped for the night, Losvius reported to Erevan that he had spotted some expensive-looking jewels among the things Tilda hurriedly put back in the wagon. Too expensive for such poor-looking commoners. The next morning, Losvius was found dead in his bed. Examining the halfling’s body, Flint noticed a tiny needle prick in the back of his neck, along with the telltale signs of wyvern poison. He chose to keep the evidence of Losvius’ murder to himself, though, so a manhunt wouldn’t reveal the cultists prematurely.

Bane of the Mountains
Another few days passed uneventfully. As the caravan settled in for another rest day in the shadow of the Troll Hills, Erevan and Keo spotted some perytons circling overhead. As the monstrosities began to dive toward the camp, the two gave a yell and made ready to defend the others, who were caught off-guard. One peryton went for Erevan, desiring his elf-flesh above all else, while another attacked Tilda Appledown. A third went for Imsa the Green. The remaining perytons struck elsewhere in the camp.

Seeing Imsa being gored by the peryton, Keo rushed in and used his magic to keep her alive. He then dragged her under the relative safety of a wagon and turned to face the hungry monster. Erevan, meanwhile, had also taken shelter beneath a wagon, firing his arrows at the peryton as Mara came running up and repeatedly threw her axe at the stubborn creature until it finally died.

As Flint fired magic missiles at the perytons, he glanced over at the Appledowns in time to see them draw a pair of familiar back-curved scimitars. The dragon cult weapon was of little use for Tilda, however, as the peryton’s antlers and talons ripped into her. As the monster made to fly off with her comatose body, Devlin ran to retrieve a bow from his wagon. Erevan the sharpshooter cames to the rescue, however, felling the beast from a great distance. Devlin hurried off to fetch his wife’s body, and as he returned to camp, Keo approached and offered to heal her. Devlin accepted but did not thank the druid.

Imsa the Green, however, did thank Keo for saving her life again. In fact, she proclaimed a desire to learn the ways of the druids and asked Keo if he would teach her. Flattered, the goliath agreed.

Dragonspear Castle
Another few days saw the caravan reach the end of the Coast Way, where it met the Trade Way in the shadow of Dragonspear Castle (or what was left of it). Here a smaller caravan traveling up from Scornubel merged with the caravan from Baldur’s Gate. Much to Erevan’s delight, the newcomers included two elf brothers, Noohar and Selvek. While Noohar was lively and talkative, his brother was mute. They were carrying exquisitely carved woodworks from the elves of Cormyr.

That night, the PCs heard all sorts of stories about the dreadful things that had happened up in the castle ruins over the centuries.

Animal Abuse
A few days later, Keo had become fed up watching one of the newcomers, a haughty noble named Grigor Chernin, abuse his animals. During a rest stop, he approached the nobleman and his bodyguards, a stern knight named Alethra and a sulky mage name Olem, to suggest that they treat their horses more kindly if they wished for them to survive the whole journey. Chernin brushed Keo’s concerns away, indicating that he could always get another horse if that one died. Not wanting to start a fight, Keo walked away, vowing to tend to the nobleman’s horse during the night, when no one was looking. Sure enough, he made sure to feed Chernin’s horses a goodberry or two every night to keep them going with the nobleman noticing.

The Golden Stag
During the caravan’s next scheduled rest stop, on the outskirts of the Misty Forest, a herd of deer wandered near to the caravan. A cry went up as someone spotted a magnificent stag with a shining coat seemingly made of gold and antlers covered in what looked like platinum. Numerous members of the caravan grabbed spears and bows and made to hunt the beast, ignoring the elves’ fervent pleas not to. Both Keo and Erevan decided to track the beast in hopes of stopping the others from killing it.

As the two slipped into the forest, they gradually heard the shouts of their comrades grow fainter, while every once in a while, they caught a glimpse of the stag up ahead. It was as though it was leading them somewhere, while the others were just getting themselves lost in the woods. Erevan hoped that no one ran afoul of the xenophobic wood elves who called the Misty Forest home.

After only a short distance (1,500 yards or so), they stumbled into a clearing in which lay the ruins of a once grand castle. In the middle, where a spring bubbled out of the ground and ran down among the rocks, stood the stag. It greeted them in a musical language that Keo recognized as Sylvan, although he couldn’t understand it. The stag then switched to Elvish, and Erevan translated for Keo. The stag told them that they were on the right path, and that they should follow the river of gold to the castle in the sky. It then implored them to drink from the spring. As a reward, they each received a charm of heroism. As the stag faded away, it warned them that not all of them would survive the journey …

And sure enough, as Keo and Erevan made their way back to camp, they found themselves ambushed by Barakis and a number of the other travelers from the caravan. All of them were wielding the dragon cult’s standard issue scimitars. Barakis further surprised them by breathing a blast of fire on Erevan. The cultists made short work of the two heroes, leaving them to bleed to death in the forest. Erevan soon succumbed to his injuries, but the goliath was still breathing by the time Flint and Mara found them. (Having seen everyone else who went hunting return but not their friends, the other two heroes convinced their employers to let them go look. Despite Aldor the lawyer’s sour attitude, Mara somehow knows just how to manipulate him into getting what she wants!)

A Second Chance
Flint revived Keo with a healing potion, and the goliath explained what had happened. The group decided to take Erevan’s body back to the ruins to see if they could find the stag again. When the stag did not return, Flint and the others decided to try shouting help, in case any elves were nearby. After some time passed, an elf emerged from the trees, and the heroes got the sense that there were many others watching them from the shadows. A tense discussion ensued, but the heroes were able to convince the elf to lead them to some druids who could help, though on condition that they all went blindfolded into the forest.

As the heroes met with the druids, they related their sorrowful tale. When Keo mentioned meeting the golden stag, the elves were suitably impressed, and when he added that he was a member of the Emerald Enclave, the druids’ attitude improved enough that they agreed to help the party. They offered to reincarnate Erevan for half the normal cost in material components. Flint scrounged through his bag of holding and begrudgingly handed over 500 gp in coins and gems.

As the druids performed their ritual, a new body took form. They called on Erevan’s spirit, and he returned to inhabit this new body. Much to his bemusement, and that of his friends’, he was now only half an elf! But this gave him an idea: the cultists would have no idea who he was. They could go on thinking that he had died in the forest, and he could spy on them as a newcomer to the caravan. It was perfect!

So the other three returned to the camp and spread the word that Erevan was dead. Flint privately told Edhelri the truth, that there were some bad people in the caravan that he and the others were tracking. They had killed Erevan. But Edhelri wasn’t to do or say anything, because Flint and his companions needed the bad people to reach their destination safely. Flint then went back to Angesstun’s wagon, convinced that virtually everyone in the caravan could be a cultist and that it was only a matter of time before they tried to kill him too!