Tyranny of Dragons

The Obligatory Serpent Cult Battle
Rise of Tiamat, Varram the White, Part 5

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A Close Fall
Rise of Tiamat, Varram the White, Part 4

Having chased the fleeing lizardfolk through the secret door into the Yuan-ti caverns, the adventurers find another band of reptile people on a bridge over a chasm. Two snake-headed yuan-ti malisons with longbows stand behind the lizardfolk.

Jamna stealthily creeps forward and uses minor illusion to create disturbing roars from the chasm to rattle the scaly warriors.

Garrett shoots the fleeing lizardman in the back with his shortbow. Hurk then rushes forward and tries to bash the wounded lizardman into his fellows on the bridge. The lizardman doesn’t budge. Beryl incinerates it with sacred flame

Larion creeps forward and prepares his scimitar in case the lizardfolk advance.

Having gone out in front, Hurk becomes the target for a barrage of javelins and arrows from the lizardolk and yuan-ti. Jamna starts up another minor illusion of a creepy shadow rising out of the chasm to further scare the enemy.

Garrett fires an arrow, then moves forward stealthily. Hurk charges the enemies on the bridge and cuts through two lizardfolk with Hazirawn. Beryl moves up to heal him.

The yuan-ti order the lizardfolk to hurl the adventurers into the chasm. Two lizardfolk try to heave Hurk, but he shakes them off. Jamna moves up and takes one down, then hides behind Beryl.

Garrett wounds one of the yuan-ti. Hurk fails to take down the second lizardman and ends up driving his sword down into the bridge. A huge crack starts to spread across its surface.

The remaining lizardman freaks out and retreats, getting punched by Hurk as he goes. The reptile folk launch missiles, focusing on Garrett. Jamna retreats off the bridge and blasts one of the yuan-ti with ray of frost. Garrett backs away and kills the wounded serpentman with an arrow.

With great effort, Hurk gets his sword free of the stone. Beryl drags him back to safety as the cracks expand to cause much of the bridge to collapse. The surviving yuan-ti laughs across the chasm that they are at an impasse.

Hurk turns to Jamna and asks if she wants to try a fastball special. She determinedly agrees. He throws her across the broken bridge. Wielding her wrench, she takes down one of the lizardfolk and knocks another off the bridge.

Then it all goes wrong.

Moving lightning fast, the yuan-ti grabs the little gnome by the throat and dramatically drops her off the bridge. She plunges into the dark chasm with a shriek, followed by a sickening wet crunch.

Sneering at the horrified adventurers, the yuan-ti introduces himself as Ssessirex and invites Hurk to seek him out. He and the surviving lizardman then retreat down the stairs deeper into the serpentfolk’s lair.

The party immediately rushes to rescue Jamna, hoping against hope she was alive. Garrett quickly gets out his rope and with the rest of the party anchoring it, hastily descends into the chasm. He uses the dim glow of his magic bow Pokey to see. Garrett discovers that Jamna fortunately fell on the shallower side of the cavern, landing on the body of the lizardman she’d knocked off the side.

Garrett quickly applies a healer’s kit to the unconscious gnome, stabilizing her. He rigs a harness for her to be pulled up and climbs after her. Beryl casts cure wounds on Jamna and the gnome awakes gasping. She admits that the fastball special was a bit to cocky and notes that the yuan-ti had snake-like reflexes. She and Hurk ugly cry over each other.

The adventurers retreat up to the chamber above to rest and recuperate. Jamna awkwardly thanks Garrett, then returns to cuddle at Hurk’s side. The party still needs to find a way across the chasm and discover what has become of their target, Varram the White.

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I Speak With Dead People
Rise of Tiamat, Varram the White, Part 3

After their experience with the bone boulder trap, the party investigates everything more carefully. They discover a set of sarcophagi hidden behind the hanging tapestries but can’t determine their purpose.

Making sure to perform the holy gesture of Mystril beforehand, the adventurers enter through the large double boors. Beyond they find a throne on a massive dais that resembles a floating cloud concealing a golden sun. Seated on the throne is a twelve-foot tall, regal and well muscled man with a flowing white beard and purple toga. A pile of treasure, most of it copper pieces and cheap trinkets, lies at its feet.

The giant tells them that before seeking Diderius’ wisdom they must first furnish tribute. They each make an offering and the figure gestures for them to pass through the adjacent door.

The passage leads to a dining hall where five bearded devils stand on guard. The devils pay the party little mind until the adventurers strike up polite conversation. The party pays them 200gp in gems for information. They learn that the devils are from “Avernus,” that they serve Varram the White, and that they have been ordered to guard against anything dangerous emerging from the chamber below where undead things slew a cultist. They also learn that Varram has been missing for some time.

The party presses on to the divination chamber, which was apparently the scene of a fight. Beryl uses speak with dead to question a dead cultist, a man with gray hair and a tangled mustache. His corpse reveals that he was killed by Varram as an offering to the pool. Varram is seeking the location of the White Wyrmspeaker mask. The corpse also reveals that Varram came with twelve cultists and five bearded devils. Seven cultists were slain. Larion helpfully recalls the seven graves outside.

Garrett considers trying to contact Talis the White for information on Varram, but realizes it would take too long.

The party presses on to the next room, which contains the tomb of Diderius. He warns them that yuan-ti have taken Varram and offers to open their secret door. The party prepares for battle.

The door opens to reveal a band of lizardmen. Beryl hears one of them rush off to warn the yuan-ti while the rest charge forward. Hurk cuts through two of them, Jamna wrenches one that hurt the half-orc, Beryl fries one, and the last flees.

The party gives chase, stumbling across a band of lizardfolk and two yuan-ti waiting for them on a narrow bridge across a chasm.

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It's a Trap!
Rise of Tiamat, Varram the White, Part 2

Still searching for the wyrmspeaker Varram the White, the party enters the Tomb of Diderius. They had been warned by the statues outside that while the dead wizard Diderius can grant wisdom, they must show him due respect. The hall leading into the tomb is lined with cowled statues. As they approach, they hear a warning in their heads not to peer into the cowls.

Walking through the hall, the statues turn their heads to watch them pass. Garrett realizes that the cowled statues are a magical trap, and Beryl decides to take care of that nonsense by casting dispel magic.

The hallway opens onto a large chamber with an elaborate mosaic of a knight battling a chimera beneath a blazing sun. The adventurers are alarmed when the mosaic chimera comes to life and rises out of the floor to breathe very real fire on them. Then it attacks Garrett.

The adventurers pile on in response and the tiled creature retreats to a ledge in the high vaulted chamber. Beryl blasts it apart with a well struck sacred flame.

With the immediate threat removed, the party has several doors to investigate, one of which has the words “SAFE” scrawled on it in chalk. Inside is a well overgrown with mushrooms. Jamna eats one, while Garrett pockets a few. They realize that trolls sometimes come up through the well. They also notice a strange nearby sluice. They haul up water from the well and pour it into the sluice, but it goes into the next room.

Moving on to a pair of double doors, Garrett avoids crushed as the ceiling of the hall to the next room collapses. With that way blocked, the party heads down a side passage. As they do, there is a soft “click.”

A boulder made of bones pops out of the floor from where the mosaic sun was located. It rattles down the sloped floor towards them. Jamna and Larion dodge out of the way but the others are not so lucky. Skeletal hands grasp them as the boulder strikes and pull them inside the sphere, where they rattle around painfully as it tumbles faster and faster before colliding against a wall.

Hurk administers potions to the bleeding dwarf and human while the worried gnome and half-elf run down to check on them. The adventurers heal and rest up for a bit before proceeding.

The next room they enter looks like a library without books. They encounter the ghost Ilda, who tells hem about the dangers of the divination pool, which demands a cruel price from any who seek to use it. She also warns them of the presence of the yuan-ti., who have infiltrated the tomb. Ilda urges them to return any missing books they find.

The party considers whether they could use the pool to find Varram, while Hurk ponders if he could offer Hazirawn to it.

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From the Horse's Mouth
Rise of Tiamat, Varram the White, Part 1

Having wrapped up their meeting with the Council of Waterdeep, the party is escorted by Leosin to another courtyard to select a guide for their journey. There imediate quest is to hunt down the Wyrmspeaker known as Varram the White, said to be traveling with minimal escort in the vicinity of the Serpent Hills.

They have three individuals to choose from. One is a burly and competitive human man named Dalbert Tane, affiliated with the Order of the Gauntlet. Another is a cheerful red-headed dwarf woman called Thali Understone who seems to be carrying an entire warehouse on her back. She does work for the Lords’ Alliance from time to time. The third guide is a rather grim halfling man with a dark beard and a pet eagle he keeps muttering to. His name is Gylan Darkfeather and he is aligned with the Emerald Enclave.

While the adventurers are impressed with all three guides, they ultimately select Thali since her “always prepared” nature would be the most flexible. She thanks them for choosing her and tells them that they can leave tomorrow at first light, as she has some final travel arrangements to make. The adventurers retire to the Yawning Portal Inn to prepare for the trip ahead. That night, they all have strange and portentous dreams.

The next morning, Garrett and Content Not Found: larion wake up to find a horse’s head in their bed. Things go from bad to worse when it starts speaking in the Xanathar’s voice and its ears unfold into giant bat wings. After expressing the beholder’s disappointment, the creature paralyzes Garrett with its frightful shriek.

In a near panic, Larion manages to stab the monster with a dagger. Even from across the hall, Beryl is startled awake by the shriek. She barges into the room, hammer in hand, and calls down a sacred flame that badly scorches the creature. Jamna darts in beside her, wild eyed, and looses a ray of frost that misses the horse head but strikes Garrett in the crotch.

The injury jars the rogue out of his paralysis, giving him a change to fight off the fiending equine head’s attempt to kiss him. Lacking a weapon, Garrett seizes it by its ear-wings and headbutts so savagely the monster’s skull caves in. Hurk arrives in time to help manage the apologetic staff at the Yawning Portal, managing to both get the rooms comped and score a higher quality of breakfast egg.

Inspecting the dead monster, Beryl concludes that it is a fiendish creature called a vargouille. These entities can spread their affliction by paralyzing and then kissing their victims, whose own heads slowly transform into new vargouilles. Garrett and Larion find that they have lost any appetite for breakfast.

Thali arrives late, explaining that someone had beheaded Garrett’s horse. They fill her in on the attack and then decide to let her know that there might be more such ambushes in the future. She finds this whole story fascinating and assures them she can take care of herself.

Beryl gets a sense that Thali has a bit of magic about her, though she’s no priest and no wizard either, despite her plethera of books. After the guide repeatedly assures Garrett and Larion that the horses won’t bite, the party sets out south down the trade way.

Aside from the cold autumn weather, it is a pleasant journey south. Thali makes for a cheery companion and always seems to have anything the adventurers desire near to hand. When Beryl asks for moonshine, Thali breaks out some gnomish liquor and a shot glasses from tourist traps across the Sword Coast. She is even a rapt audience for Beryl’s drunken Bahamut evangelism.

Despite the good cheer, Garrett and Larion continue to keep a wary eye on the horses.

After two weeks of travel, the party arrives at the Boareskyre Bridge. Thali explains a bit of history about the bridge and the monument to the battle between the gods Cyric and Bhaal that took place there. A tent city has grown up about the bridge, serving as a way station for travelers, and the paladins of Elturel have built a small holdfast to serve as shelter in time of danger.

Thali takes them to a large, brightly colored pavilion that serves as an inn. Its proprietor, a middle-aged halfling woman named Bolo, described how Varram and a small band of mercenaries rolled into the camp to hire guides for a trip to the serpent hills. The dwarf picked out a yuan-ti infiltrator and killed the serpent man on the spot, making him a local hero. He and his band left for the hills shortly thereafter and have not been heard from since.

The next day, the party sets out for the Serpent Hills themselves. Thali claims she is able to follow Varram’s trail, and Beryl suspects she is doing so with a little magical assistance. They track the dragon cultists to the ruins of a small settlement located outside some sort of catacombs carved into a cliff face. Thali stays behind with the horses while the adventurers move in to investigate.

Many of the stone buildings are empty shells, long since picked clean by scavengers. Beryl recognizes them as centuries old, holding up well for human work. In one, they find traces of an illusion spell that makes the crumbling furniture and moldy books appear brand new. The books are all written by someone named Diderius and seem to discuss visions and fortune telling.

The party also finds what appears to be the cultists’ camp, which appears abandoned. Seven shallow graves are dug nearby, and three heavy objects appear to have been dragged into a nearby well. Garrett ventures down into the well to find a small tunnel, too narrow even for Jamna to traverse, and no sign of bodies. There are large claw marks on the wall suggesting a creature or creatures climbed out of the well. Worse, the tunnel stinks of troll.

With that cheery discovery, the party approaches the entrance to the catacombs, which is flanked by two statues of robed men. The statues turn and challenge them, demanding to know if they seek “knowledge” or “wisdom” from the mighty Diderius who dwells within. Beryl says that they seek wisdom. The statues bid them enter, but warn that they must show the proper “respect.”

With that final bit of advice, the adventurers step into the catacombs.

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Picking Teams
Rise of Tiamat, First Council of Waterdeep Part 2

The next morning, Garrett is exhausted from a sleepless night while Beryl is battling a hangover. Jamna offers her a gnomish hangover cure, which works for the dwarf but leaves Hurk with an upset stomach. Raeyanne is drawn away on Harper business.

Garrett notices that Igach is waiting in a shadowy corner of the Yawning Portal. After determining that Beryl lacks a method to shield the party from eavesdropping, he seeks out an old contact amid the caravan masters in the South Ward.

Officially, Tenore Edorasil manages the Viridian Chalice service of caravan guides, but his real business is serving as a neutral fixer for Waterdeep’s underworld. For the price of 250gp (plus a hefty tip), he is able to arrange a secure room at the Thirsty Sage where the party can talk.

There, Garrett blurts out his situation to the party and asks for advice, as he is not keen on helping Xanathar. Larion insists that he’s already walked into worse dangers with Garrett and will stick with him. He also suggests seeking out a stronger ally.

Jamna reiterates her offer to join the Zhentarim, and the notoriously independent Garrett weighs the idea. Hurk argues against it, noting that the party can generally take care of itself and that the Zhents’ protection might not be worth much more than what the adventurer can already do.

Garrett decides to tell Igach to pass a “fuck you” on to Mr. X, but holds on to the vulgar cartoon he had Larion draw. Garrett also has to placate an angry Talis who contacts him via sending to ask about her brother.

Once the message to the Xanathar is conveyed, Garrett has a tense evening at the bar followed by a night of cuddles with Larion.

The next morning, the party arrives at the Lords Palace for the meeting of the First Council of Waterdeep. Larion and Jamna are asked to wait outside.

The Council consists of representatives from communities and organizations across the Sword Coast. It is chaired by Lord Dagult Neverember, Open Lord of Waterdeep and Lord of Neverwinter, the most powerful ruler in the region. Grand Duke Ulder Ravenguard of Baldur’s Gate is there, as is the elvish King Melandrach of the Misty Forest, Taern “Thunderspells” Hornblade of Silverymoon, and Sir Isteval of daggerford. Ambassador Connerad Brawnanvil is there representing the dwarves of the north. The Lady Mage of Waterdeep, Lady Laeral Silverhand is there. Remallia Haventree and Leosin Erlanthar are there for the Harpers. Ontharr Frume is there on behalf of the Order of the Gauntlet. Delaan Winterhound is there representing the Emerald Enclave.

The Council asks the party to relay the story of their exploits. Some council members are unhappy with how the dragon egg situation was resolved. Elia then informs everyone about the Draakhorn, which calls to dragons all over the world. It was last seen in the Sea of Moving Ice, which was also where the Draakhorn expert Maccath the Crimson disappeared three years ago.

Before the party can go there, however, Leosin reveals that the Harpers have discovered the location of one of the Cult’s Wyrmspeakers. Varram the White has been seen venturing out into the Serpent Hills northeast of Baldur’s Gate. With their resources spread thin, the Council wants the party to go after him. They offer to provide them with a writ of investigation, which would grant them authority and resources but place the adventurers under the Council’s oversight.

The party has a private huddle and grudgingly agrees to go along. They are informed that horses are available for their use and they have their choice of guide to take them into the Serpent Hills.

Outside the Council chambers, they spy Jamna talking to a mysterious tiefling. Hurk is approached by Ulder Ravenguard, who recruits him into the Lords’ Alliance and promises him an officer’s commission in the Flaming Fists when this is all over. The half-orc agrees.

Beryl is also approached by Ontharr Frume, who recruits her into the Order of the Gauntlet to increase the representation for the Church of Bahamut.

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Homecoming
Rise of Tiamat, First Council of Waterdeep Part 1

Following their battle with the white dragon Glazhael the Cloud-chaser, the adventurers rest and recover aboard the floating cloud giant castle of Skyreach. Hurk and his evil talking greatsword Hazirawn bicker. Jamna thanks Beryl for keeping the half-orc alive during the battle. Larion thanks Garrett for helping to set him on the right course. Jamna offers Garrett a chance to join the Zhentarim, who can protect him from old enemies. Raeyanne collects her winnings from the ogres’ javelin contest.

That night, Beryl is visited in her dreams by the platinum dragon god Bahamut. He praises her efforts so far in thwarting the Adversary, but warns that greater perils await. He grants Beryl his blessing.

Skyreach arrives at Waterdeep and after some tense negotiations, the authorities allow it to land outside the city. The adventurers reunite with their old contact Leosin, who asks them to gather that night at the Yawning Portal Inn.

Before the meeting, however, the adventurers take their hard-earned gold and go shopping. Beryl picks up a pair of gauntlets of ogre strength, greatly enhancing her physical brawn. Garrett and Hurk also acquired boots of elvenkind. Raeyanne goes off to report to her Harper superiors.

Once the merchandise has been acquired, the party regroups at the Yawning Portal, where they are met by Leosin, the boisterous paladin Ontharr Frume, and the silver-haired woman Elia.

Leosin brings them up to speed on events. The treasure haul that the party liberated amounted to between a quarter or a third of the hoard the Cult had been gathering for Tiamat, but they are still pressing forward. Cult attacks are on the rise and they have even struck within Waterdeep itself, murdering the husband of Harper leader Remallia Haventree. This assassination proved even more significant when it was revealed that Remalia’s husband was one of the Masked Lords of Waterdeep.

In response, a Council has been called summoning leaders from across the Sword Coast to organize a collective response to the threat from the Cult. Leosin says that the Council will meet in two days, and that the adventurers will be asked to share their story.

A sudden icy shiver runs through everyone in the Yawning Portal Tavern, as if they all felt someone walking over their grave. Beryl experiences it differently, however. She hears a a deep and distant horn calling out to her, and realizes that Elia hears the same. The silver-haired woman excuses herself and runs off.

Beryl then proceeds to get smashed. Hurk is in the process of joining her when he encounters an old friend from the Right Bastards mercenary company. The veteran, Orvin, explains that he is fleeing the Sword Coast for Calimport before the dragons attack. Hurk wishes him luck.

Garrett is approached by the elven gangster Igach, who lets him know that the Underboss of Waterdeep, “Mr. X,” wants to meet with him that night. After arranging for Jamna to keep watch over Larion’s room, Garrett sneaks away that night and is led deep below the city to the subterranean lair of the mysterious crimelord.

The Xanathar turns out to be a grinning beholder. He offers Garrett forgiveness for past indiscretions, and even a promotion within the thieves’ guild. In exchange, the rogue is expected to provide regular updates on the Council’s operations against the Cult.

Garrett is skeptical, but the Xanathar claims to merely be a concerned citizen with a vested interest in the Cult’s defeat. The beholder gives Garrett 24 hours to respond to the offer.

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Saving Skyreach
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 8, Part 4.5

While the rest of the party confronts Glazhael the Cloud-chaser down below, Garrett and Larion have been asked by Esclarotta, the spirit of Skyreach, to stop the Cult from scuttling the flying fortress.

Garrett and Larion scale the treacherous ice cliffs of the Skyreach Castle. Every shudder of the glacier sends razor sharp shards of ice cascading down on top of them. Garrett tries to pick up the pace but nearly slips to his death. So they ascend slow and steady, finally arriving at a ledge facing an enormous ice cavern.

Esclarotta warns them that one of the cultists has gone inside and barricaded himself deep within, where he is sabotaging the castle. She does not know what defenses within the tomb yet remain. Larion stops an overeager Garrett from stepping on dangerous pressure plates, and they carefully avoid the trap.

Igniting a torch, they realize there are skeletons within the ice walls of the tunnel. The “honored dead,” Esclarotta calls them, servitors of her family from long ago. Not all of the dead rest easy, however, and one of them bursts out of the wall. It’s eye sockets glow with pale blue fire. Garrett kicks the skeleton into a pit where it is impaled upon an ice-bound stalagmite.

Esclarotta warns that the cultist appears to have some necromantic skill and draws on the skeletons’ fading energies to temporarily imbue Garrett short sword and Larion’s scimitar with frost energy.

Pressing deeper into the ice tunnels, they see at least three more places where skeletons burst out of the wall, but no sign of the undead. They assume the cultist has taken his reinforcements with him.

A powerful jolt runs through the castle, rending a huge crack through the tunnel floor. Garrett nearly slides into it, but is caught by Larion. Esclarotta, now manifesting as a ghostly outline of a frost giant made of swirling snowflakes, strides across the gap. She urges them to hurry, before the castle completely loses its structural integrity. Garrett leaps across and secures a rope, which proves to be quite valuable when Larion flubs his jump and has to be hauled up.

Following Esclarotta’s giant footsteps, they hurry down the tunnel to the main chamber. The enormous double doors are made of the same magically-reinforced ice, but they have an enormous bronze lock built into them 10 feet off the ground. Esclarotta warns that the device is complicated and magically warded. Garrett asks if she has a magic passcode to share, and she tells him “Not to get into the room.”

To reach the giant lock, Garrett has Larion hoist him up on his shoulders, then secures his position by driving pitons into the ice. Using his thieves’ tools and a dagger, he gets to work disabling the three stages of the lock. It is challenging at times, but it brings him back to his second story roots in Waterdeep. A few moments of effort, and the lock clicks open.

The chamber beyond is circular, featuring a gallery made of sculpted pillars made of ice that wraps around a central floor, with a large round depression in the center. The pillars and walls are etched in glowing runes, though some of the symbols flicker or lie dead. A half-orc cultist stands halfway across the giant room, fiddling with a rune using a wand that looks like a giant icicle. Two skeletons lurk in the gallery near him, and two more wait near the entrance.

The half-orc orders his skeletal minions to attack, then uses the wand to blast Garrett with a ray of freezing energy. Garrett and Larion duck into cover behind a pillar, out of view of the skeletons. Garrett notices that there are large icicles hanging from the ceiling above the half-orc. He shoots one with an arrow, sending it plunging down onto the cultist, who is wounded.

The cultist then summons forth billowing wings of greasy smoke, which he uses to fly across the room to a different rune. Garrett concocts a plan involving a bottle of oil and flaming arrows, but Larion fumbles and they end up covered in oil with a broken bottle on the ground. The plan foiled, they race out towards the cultist but slip and fall flat on the ice. They rising unsteadily, they move more carefully across the slick floor. Garrett looses another arrow directly at the cultist, wounding him.

The two closest skeletons close in, one of them wounding Garrett. The other two skeletons, still across the room, sheathe their swords in their ribcages and then draw their bows. Larrion is badly wounded by an arrow.

The half-orc cultists chuckles, then draws energy out of the rune he was meddling with. Runes flare up across the room, flashing randomly, and Garrett gets blasted by one of them. The cultist calls out in excitement that the castle is about to fall. He then flies over to the round depression at the heart of the chamber.

Growing desperate, Garrett slips Larion a healing potion and surveys the room. He picks out the largest icicles in the ceiling and shoots another arrow into it. A huge cascade of ice falls down on the half-orc, crushing him. The animated skeletons crumple into a pile of bones. But the castle starts to shake and shudder violently, the floor tilting dangerously. The runes flash on and off like warning lights.

Esclarotta announces that it is losing altitude rapidly and urges Garrett to find the wand of winter. The rogues dash to the center of the room and grab the wand from the dead hand of the half-orc. They discover that in the sunken center of the room is Esclarotta’s enormous sarcophagus, which features a marble carving of a cloud giant woman. She directs Garrett to touch the wand to a halo of runes around the head of the carving, following a particular pattern. Doing so causes the runes to stop flashing and the descent to halt.

The castle rights itself with a lurch, sending a last wave of ice tumbling down from the ceiling. The rogues manages to protect themselves, but find that the exit is buried under rubble. Esclarotta tells them that they can whisper the word “Blagothkus” into her carving’s ear to be teleported out of the room.

They appear in the control tower of Castle Skyreach, where Blagothkus is bringing the castle under control. He thanks them for saving the castle, which his rash alliance with the Cult had endangered. He promises to take the party to Waterdeep, then head north to rally an army of giants to march against the Cult when the time is right.

Garrett asks if he will help against the white dragon Glazhael, but the cloud giant lord says that their friends have already dealt with that particular wyrm. Blagothkus tells them that he has arranged for guest quarters where they can recover. Barely on their feet, the two rogues thank him for his hospitality and then stumble out of the tower once the giant summons its door.

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Dragonslayer
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 8, Part 4

Having vanquished the Wyrmspeaker Rezmir and come to an amicable resolution with the Red Wizards Rath Modar and Azbara Jos, the adventurers have only one major enemy left on the flying castle of Skyreach: the white dragon Glazhael the Cloud-chaser.

As the party plans their attack, the cloud giant castle begins to shake and tilt disturbingly. An alarm howls through the castle and moments later, the adventurers are contacted by the melodious voice of Esclarotta, the spirit of Skyreach Castle. She warns them that one of the dragon cultists has managed to climb into the inner workings of the castle and is attempting to scuttle the flying palace.

Esclarotta explains that the chamber is only accessible via a difficult climb and the entrance has been sealed. The servants of her husband, the cloud giant lord Blagothkus, cannot reach it, so she has reached out to the party for assistance.

After a bit of haggling, the adventurers decide that preventing the castle they are on from crashing into the ground is A Good Thing. Garrett is volunteered to put his second story skills to work, and he takes the still-excited Larion with him.

The rest of the adventurers still have the dragon to deal with. Raeyanne concocts a plan to convince the dragon that it has been betrayed and that it should go back to the Parnast Hunting Lodge to regroup with Talis the White. The plan involves using a bit of Jamna’s illusion magic to disguise the Black Wyrmspeaker’s Mask as the White Wyrmspeaker’s Mask. The party believes this plan will work because white dragons are known to be dimwitted.

Hurk remembers a bit of lore about the Wyrmspeaker masks that he overheard during his time in the mercenary company the Right Bastards. The masks, a creation of Tiamat herself, allow the wearers to take on certain aspects of their respective chromatic dragons, causing those particular types of dragons to look upon the wearers favorably in negotiations.

When they descend into the frigid tunnels within the glacier at the heart of Skyreach, they discover a complication. Three of the remaining dragon cultists have regrouped with Glazhael and are conferring with him. Raeyanne insists on attempting the plan anyway, despite a growing sense of foreboding that there would be blood spilled on the ice.

Wearing the illusory White Wyrmspeaker’s Mask, Raeyanne stepped into the cavernous chamber that Glazhael called home and warned the white dragon that the Cult’s leaders planned not to free Tiamat but to control her. Raeyanne claimed that the white dragon faction was withdrawing from the cult and urged Glazhael to regroup with Talis at the hunting lodge.

The real dragon cultists accuse her of being one of the interlopers who had invaded the castle. As Glazhael stands confused, Raeyanne orders the servants of the white dragon to cut down the traitor cultists. She retreats into the tunnel and removes her mask, while Hurk comes charging out, shouting “For the white dragon!”

The half-orc’s evil greatsword Hazirawn cuts down one of the cultists in two swift strokes, yellow-green necromantic energy burning outward from the initial wounds. The two surviving cultists attack Hurk, one of them landing some nasty cuts with his scimitar.

The dragon is perplexed by this violence among the cultists and ineffectually orders them to stop. He also demands to speak with Talis, as she writes him poetry. While Beryl marches forward to heal Hurk, Raeyanne and Jamna stick to the tunnels to attack from afar. Soon there is only one badly wounded cultist left, who retreats around behind the dragon, begging it for help.

The castle continues to shake and shudder, occasionally sending icicles plunging down from the ceiling, causing minor injuries to the dragon and Jamna.

Glazhael proves to be too stupid and bloody-minded to be tricked by Raeyanne. Instead, he rears up, his fearsome magnificence sending a jolt of fear through the adventurers. Hurk’s thoughts keep turning back to the last time he faced dragons close up, during the Battle of Karse where the Right Bastards were wiped out. He can’t bring himself to get closer to the creature.

Glazhael then opens its broad jaws to unleash a gout of frigid cold more terrible than any blizzard. Hurk and Beryl take the full brunt, while Raeyanne and Jamna are somewhat shielded in the tunnels. Hurk nearly freezes sold, but the orcish rages burning in his blood keeps him warm and upright. Beryl, nearly laid low herself, blesses Hurk with her most powerful healing spell.

Still trying to conquer his fear, Hurk takes a defensive stance. Raeyanne abandons her attempts to persuade the dragon, and instead stealthily approaches it, looking for some sort of weakness. Jamna, enraged by what the dragon did to Hurk, charges it. Her wrench merely clangs against its icy scales.

The dragon chomps down on Hurk, nearly dropping him, and wounds Jamna with a claw. Beryl calls upon Bahamut to channel more healing energy into the half-orc, but her powers are running low.

The piercing touch of the dragon’s fangs stirs Hurk from his fearful reverie and he rushes forward, Hazirawn telepathically urging him to sate his bloodlust. The black blade, surging with necromantic energy, carves terrible wounds into the dragon.

The surviving cultist rushes to attack Jamna, wounding her. She leaps up onto the dragon’s back, narrowly avoiding another scimitar strike. From her perch on the creature’s back, Jamna slams her wrench into the joint where the wings meet the dragon’s shoulder.

Glazhael roars in pain and confusion and lays into Hurk, biting and clawing the warrior until he lies broken and bleeding on the ground.

Raeyanne tries and fails to leap atop the dragon, and instead drives her blades into its flank. Glazhael glances at its many wounds with a worried look and says “So you were saying about going to see Talis?”

Beryl summons the last of her healing energy to revive Hurk. The half-orc springs to his feet, roaring “Motherf*****, if you thought I was mad before!”

With two spectacular cuts, Hurk splits Glazhael’s head from Glazhael’s neck. The dragon’s head rolls across the icy floor, necrotic energy still chewing away at it as it tumbles. The last surviving cultist drops to his knees in disbelief, crying out in shock. Jamna watches him for a moment, then conks him out with her wrench. Raeyanne is already collecting white dragon scales.

Suddenly Skyreach Castle lurches violently beneath their feet!

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A Keenblade Need Cut Only Once
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 8, Part 3

Previously, the adventurers infiltrated the cloud giant castle of Skyreach and negotiated a non-aggression pact with the giants. They have ambushed the cultist leader Rezmir the Black, slain her guard drakes, and dispelled her magic. All that stands before them now is a pissed off half-dragon and her enormous magic greatsword.

Rezmir charges out of her room and tries to cut her way past Hurk, but the half-orc proves too resilient for her. While her hungry greatsword Hazirawn hacks fruitlessly against his defenses, Hurk, Jamna, and Garrett strike back at the cult leader. Raeyanne’s crossbow bolt goes wide, and Larion continues his streak of ineffectiveness. Beryl attempts to strike Rezmir with baleful magic, but the cult leader shies away from her grasp. The cleric then imbues Hurk with a smidgen of healing magic.

Unable to break through the half-orc’s defenses, a badly wounded Rezmir flees down the gigantic corridor, cursing the Red Wizards for failing to assist her despite hearing her calls for aid. Jamna clips her with a ray of frost as she runs, but Rezmir uses the frost to try to blend in with her surroundings. Her copious bleeding, however, gives away her location.

Hurk goes in for the kill, only for Hazirawn’s black blade to block his sword. Rezmir then counter attacks, savagely wounding the half-orc. Only Beryl’s previous healing spell keeps him upright.

Raeyanne misses another shot with her hand crossbow, but moves up to flank the half dragon with Hurk. Larion rushes forward, with Garrett right behind him. The young half-elf circles behind Rezmir and sees an opening. He slashes upward in a vicious arc with his standard-issue cultist scimitar.

And as Garrett watches, Larion Keenblade cuts Rezmir the Black almost in half.

Rezmir’s body erupts in necrotic energy that consumes her, converting her flesh to ash. Among the charred robes, Raeyanne digs out and stows away the Black Wyrmspeaker Mask.She also finds a strange cult insignia that has a magic aura about it.

Garrett, meanwhile, sweeps an astounded Larion into his arms and passionately kisses him. The two continue to squee over this unexpected victory.

Hurk picks up Hazirawn, sensing the power within it but also encountering the sword’s intellect, which snarks that it’s customary for the one who struck the killing blow to claim the spoils. Hurk persuades the weapon that Larion doesn’t have the strength to wield it. Hurk then clues the rest of the party into why he is talking with his sword. Beryl bestows more healing magic on the fighter.

A large squad of cultists in full regalia dash around the corner, but quickly realize they’ve arrived too late. Making some awkward excuses, the cultists back up and then flee.

Rather than give chase, the party decides to hole up in Rezmir’s quarters for a brief respite. Hurk investigates Rezmir’s treasure chest, shaking off its poison trap to discover 3,750gp in gems and coins. Hurk also takes this time to fully attune to Hazirawn and unlock its fearsome powers.

The party debates their next move, ultimately deciding to confront the Red Wizards before moving on to the white dragon Glazhael the Cloud-chaser. Based on the intel Jamna had gathered, they quickly locate the wizards’ quarters. After her experience with the rug of smothering, the gnome is none too happy to find the wizards have covered their entire room in rugs and carpets.

The Red Wizards, Rath Modar and Azbara Jos, are cordial. They explain that while they are allies with the Cult, they have no investment in Rezmir’s scheme and will not oppose the party’s efforts to thwart it. They say that they have been conducting an audit of the Cult’s activities and have uncovered many concerning issues they plan to bring up with the Red Wyrmspeaker Severin. The party leaves the wizards to their deliberations, having concluded the two Thayans pose no immediate threat.

Which means the dragon is the only danger that remains. Fearing the creature’s abilities in the air, they discuss ways to manipulate it into staying on the ground or even using the cave environment like icicles against it.

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