Having captured Castle Naerytar with the help of their lizardfolk allies during a fearsome nighttime battle, the adventurers take a well-deserved rest. They wake at mid day and interrogate the captured cultists.
They learn that the Cult of the Dragon’s primary goal is to free the evil dragon goddess Tiamat from her prison in the Nine Hells and summon her forth into Faerun. Tiamat will establish a tyranny of dragons, with the cult serving at her side.
This objective was laid down by the cult’s leader, Severin the Red, a Calishite human who carries a magical dragon mask. Releasing Tiamat has been something Severin has worked towards since he took command of the cult five years ago. The Naerytar cultists have had little interaction with Severin, as they are from a different branch of the cult.
There are five branches in all, representing the five aspects of Tiamat. The Naerytar cultists are primarily aligned with the Black Dragon faction, headed by the half-dragon Rezmir, who is one of Severin’s most loyal supporters. The Naerytar cultists know that the stolen gold is being sent through the teleportation circle below the castle to a lodge far to the east across the Graypeak Mountains. Beyond that, they do not know, due to the compartimentalization of the cult.
When questioned as to when the cult’s plans will achieve fruition, the cultists merely say they were told that Tiamat’s return was “imminent.”
The adventurers debate what to do with the prisoners. Some of the captives, like Kevan (who is putting his daughters through school), are in it for the paycheck. while others like Marget are dragon-worshiping fanatics. Beryl is happy to execute the fanatics.
Garrett uncomfortably glances at Larion, who is fiddling with a whalebone-hilted knife, and says that he would prefer not to have to kill any of them. The rogue then excuses himself from the discussion. Raeyanne wonders who they could turn the prisoners over to.
When the adventurers learn that Jamna is going to send a message to her bosses, they decide to have her ask that the Zhentarim take the prisoners into custody. After dispatching this report, Jamna has just a single winged serpent left to send.
With the prisoners dealt with and the castle thoroughly looted, the adventurers head down to the teleportation circle and speak the command word they found in Rezmir’s notes.
They are instantly transported to the cold slopes of a mountain valley, surrounded by pine trees. Garrett immediately wishes they’d brought warmer clothes, and the rest of the party shivers in agreement—save Jamna.
“What you need is a Hurk,” she says, cuddling up to the towering half-orc.
The rest of the party huddles together and takes stock of their situation. They are between two standing stones. Several other pairs of standing stones are nearby. Through the trees, about a bow shot away, is a large lodge. The bottom floor is made of stone, while the top is made of wood. There are also two smaller stone outbuildings.
The two rogues, both city folk by nature, have trouble moving through the underbrush, but the rest of the party is able to compensate and they scout out the area. There are large lizard tracks and the footprints of a giant humanoid near one of the stone outbuildings. The party concludes that the outbuildings are not barracks (due to the lack of windows or chimneys). Raeyanne suspects the buildings contain “either monsters or treasure.” They decide to camp out in the forest and wait for dark before exploring further.
They retreat into a secluded spot in the pines and huddle up against Hurk to stay warm while the sun sinks low and the temperatures drop even further. As sunset’s reddish glow begins to tint the horizon, the party hears a loud snort and a crashing sound from the woods. Two big green troll are tearing through the forest towards them, accompanied by a trio of giant war lizards!
“Oi!” one of the brutes calls out. “You’re trespassing!”
“Trespassers get eaten!” the other one shouts.
Hurk steps up in from of the party to try to take the brunt of the attack, while the rogues meld into the foliage. Beryl stands beside her and summons down a sacred flame that barely singes one of the big trolls. The lizards reach the party first, but have trouble getting through the adventurers’ armor.
The trolls are another matter. The uninjured one unleashes his ire on Hurk, teeth biting and claws rending. He savages the half-orc, who has trouble cutting through its moss-green hide. The other troll, still smoking from the spell, attacks Beryl and wounds her as well. The cleric calls up powerful healing magic to restore Hurk to full heal and spares a little of Bahamut’s blessing for herself as well.
After making their initial attacks, Garrett and Raeyanne retreat up into the trees to rain arrows down onto the trolls. Jamna, meanwhile, stays on the ground to attack the trolls from the shadows using her enormous wrench. Larion focuses his attentions on the war lizards, but has abysmal luck landing a blow.
Hurk and Beryl weather more savage attacks from the trolls, while the party focuses their wrath on the wounded one of the two giant monsters. But when they knock it down, its trollish regenerative powers bring it back up. They knock it down again and Raeyanne warns that only fire will quench the regeneration.
As the other troll redoubles its attacks on Hurk, Beryl is forced to choose between calling for sacred flame again or healing the half-orc. She does the former, burning the wounded troll to a crisp, but is still able to spare a little magic for Hurk. The half-orc ferociously attacks the remaining troll, and the rest of the party joins in, bringing it down so that Beryl can burn it.
The last remaining war lizard attempts to flee, but Garrett picks it off with an arrow from his perch high in the trees.
The trolls have nothing of value on them, though their loincloths bear the cult’s symbol. With the sun setting and a patrol eliminated, the adventurers consider their next steps.