Tiamat Returns!

In which our heroes fight to send Tiamat back to the Nine Hells!

Note: This post covers the last two sessions of this campaign. It’s been a long but fun ride! Thanks to all my players for seeing it through to the end.

 

The group went up the tunnel and emerged in a wing of the temple decorated all in black. It was clearly meant to be some kind of chapel with a black dragon theme. They could see similar chapels dedicated to the other chromatic dragons radiating out from a central hollow, in which a massive twisting, glowing, pulsing orb of magic hovered. Red Wizards were in every chapel, on the ground and hovering in the air, concentrating their magic on the rapidly forming portal. Severin, wearing a fancy mask, hovered high in the air directly above the portal.

The heroes quickly assessed the situation, then set about attacking the Red Wizards in an effort to stop their ritual.  They slew both wizards in the black chapel, which alarmed the others, causing them to cast greater invisibility spells on themselves, making it harder (but not impossible) for the PCs to target them.

They also found Rath Modar in the red dragon chapel. He was being guarded by a massive construct that Flint recognized as a shield guardian. The group set upon him, but it quickly became evident they were attacking an illusion. In desperation, Flint pulled out the robe of useful items, put it on, and pulled off the patch with the dogs. He directed them to sniff out Rath and attack him, which they did.

Skie busied herself throwing her axe at any Red Wizard she could find, while Keo transformed into a spirit bear and went hunting invisible wizards. Roscoe and Flint helped out as best they could.

Ultimately they were not able to stop the ritual, and the portal began to open, revealing a nightmarish hellscape through which a mighty form began to emerge. The heroes managed to kill Severin before he could witness Tiamat’s entry into the world, but his body continued to levitate above the portal, so Keo swooped up and grabbed the mask off his corpse and tossed it down to Flint, who stuffed it in the bag of holding just as Tiamat’s white dragon head emerged through the portal. As the mask was shunted into the bag’s extra-dimensional space, the portal wavered and Tiamat let out a roar of frustration, but the portal didn’t close.

About this time, Talis the White came running into the temple from the door to the outside, located in the blue dragon chapel. She slowed, awestruck, at the sight of her goddess coming through the portal, but she quickly spotted Skie and went to attack her. Skie had finally slain Rath Modar, however, and, at Flint’s suggestion, had claimed the shield guardian’s amulet.

The Dragon Queen took her time emerging from the portal, and when she’d come all the way through, she ignored the heroes, instead making an effort to heartlessly devour any remaining wizards and even Talis! She then turned her attention on the heroes.

The battle was fierce, but just as it looked like all would be lost, the temple shuddered and a silver dragon made a hole in the roof and clawed its way through. Flint’s lifelong friend, Ironclaw, had come to the rescue, bringing the blessings of Bahamut with him! As the heroes saw a vision of a ferocious platinum dragon flash before their eyes, they felt refreshed and invigorated!

At Flint’s request, Ironclaw scooped up both him and Roscoe, depositing the dwarf on his back and dropping the halfling onto Tiamat’s. Roscoe managed to hang on to the goddess’ tough hide, digging his daggers in under her scales. Skie threw her axe again and again and again, hitting with all the primal fury she could muster!

At a word from Tiamat, Keo found himself blinded, deafened, and unable to move. It wasn’t until much later that anyone was able to help him, and he was much relieved to discover that Tiamat had ultimately been driven back through the portal and trapped in Avernus once again. Flint had struck the final blow, peppering Tiamat with a barrage of magic missiles of all things!

Poor Roscoe had been slain by an unholy word uttered by Tiamat’s five heads as her body disintegrated and her spirit was pulled back through the portal, but the others had grabbed his body as they fled the crumbling temple.

Keo resolved that he would bring his fearless friend back to life. And so, in the aftermath, the four companions were wined and dined and showered with gifts and honors and praised as the saviors of the world up and down the Sword Coast. They helped with redistributing the stolen hoard from the Well of Dragons, and they assisted with various communities’ rebuild efforts. In the end, they retired to live out their days as best they could. They’d done their bit. Someone else could save the world next time …

 

Under the Well of Dragons

In which our heroes attempt to rescue more prisoners from beneath the Well of Dragons.

While the party rested in the disused tunnel, Roscoe sent a message to the alliance’s commanders via flying snake, alerting them to the presence of the prisoners. A reply came back to say that a force would be dispatched in their direction to assist with the rescue mission.

Once they were feeling refreshed, the heroes sent some of their followers to scout the side tunnels while they headed back to the prisoner pits. They got the prisoners to start shuffling through the Red Wizards’ rooms to the disused tunnel.

Eventually some more cultists came to find out why the flow of prisoners had stopped. They were quickly cut down, although one was taken prisoner and dragged off to a side room to be interrogated. He didn’t know a whole lot, but he was able to tell them that there were lots of Red Wizards in the temple, along with Severin, and they were busy using magic to open a portal to Avernus. He also warned them to watch out for the Bladelord.

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the Bladelord found them. He was an undead knight, and he had served as the Cult’s commander at the Well of Dragons for over a century. Shadowy beings flitted around him as he cut down the Lords’ Alliance soldiers guarding the intersection through which the prisoners were moving. The heroes rushed to engage him. Flint sent a fireball up the passage. It incinerated the shadows but the Bladelord kept coming. Skie rushed forward to meet him. The wight fought ferociously and very nearly drained the life out of the fierce barbarian, but he was ultimately no match for the combined might of the heroes.

When the scouts reported back that there was a room with some cultists resting in it down the main passage, the heroes went and cleared them out. They had sent the scouts to guard the passage leading up to the temple, and shortly after the last cultist fell, they heard screams.

Roscoe attempted to sneak up the passage to see what had happened to the scouts, when he was pinned to the ground by a massive claw that materialized – along with its owner, the green dragon Chuth – in front of him. As the others approached, they heard the dragon laughing and taunting them. He let out a terrifying roar, but Skie shook it off as she flew into a rage and charged forward enough that she could throw her axe at him. Flint stayed back and conjured a storm sphere around the dragon.

As the fight got into full swing, Neronvain, the green wyrmspeaker, materialized on Chuth’s back and proceeded to fire her poisonous magic bolts at everyone. Roscoe managed to escape from beneath Chuth’s claw and scampered up onto his back with the intention of attacking Neronvain, but the dragon knocked him off with one swipe of his tail.

With Skie’s axe and Flint’s lightning bolts raining down on them, Chuth and Neronvain were soon feeling the hurt. The wyrmspeaker leapt off the dragon’s back and went flying back up the passage to the temple, while Chuth turned invisible again and muscled past the heroes. They heard him mutter an oath as he went past: “To the hells with Tiamat! I’m not sacrificing myself for her!”

As the sounds of the dragon’s passage down the tunnel diminished, the heroes breathed a sigh of relief and withdrew to lick their wounds once again. They were getting ready for the final push.

To the Well of Dragons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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