Upon spying the town in flames, Loranda leads her wagons into cover and then begs the party to do what they can to help. She asks them to seek out Escobert the Red, the castellan of the keep, see if he’s okay, and follow his instructions.
Garrett is reluctant to venture into the town until Hurk “encourages” him.
On the outskirts of town, they spy a woman with a broken spear trying to protect her family from a pack of kobolds. The little creatures don’t bat an eye as the adventurers approach, not until Beryl unleashes a sacred flame, kicking off a melee that results in the death of all but one kobold.
The spearwoman, Linan Swift says that kobolds and raiders arrived with the dragon at sundown. They appear to be looting the town. The party stealthily escorts her family to the keep, trembling with fear as the dragon passes overhead.
At the keep, they find themselves the last to arrive before the cult completely cuts it off. In short order they meet Governor Nighthill and Escobert, who both impress upon them the need to rescue civilians trapped in the Temple of Chauntea. Garrett grudgingly recalls that he’s here to help a friend and agrees to assist. Beryl takes a look at Escobert’s wounded leg, but there’s nothing she can do. Raeyanne notes that the keep’s tower itself saw some fighting on the bottom floor.
Hurk and Beryl observe that the dragon appears to be a likewise grudging participant in the battle. Beryl can tell its heart isn’t in the attack and suspects it may be looking for an excuse to leave. Which only raises the question of why it is here…
Escobert gives them the keys to a secret tunnel out to the nearby stream. Smelling a rat (or two hundred), Beryl casts light on a stone and Garrett skips it around the corner to flush out the swarm. As the creatures flee, Beryl hits them with a sacred flame. Garrett then deftly unlocks the grate to the tunnel.
Unfortunately, the stampede of burning rats draws the attention of two human raiders and their kobold allies. The party ambushes them in the stream bed, with Hurk and Beryl charging out to grab their attention while the rogues attack from either side. Raeyanne cuts down one of the humans, while Garrett loses his sword. Hurk proceeds to hack up kobolds, as Beryl struggles to pin one down with her warhammer. The battle hangs in the balance as the kobolds start to land some savage blows.
Then Garrett rallies, cold-cocking the remaining human raider, and the party pushes the kobolds back into the underbrush, where they hunt them down one by one in order to prevent any word of the tunnel from getting out. After Hurk has stamped out the flames of Beryl’s last, successful sacred flame, they tie up the unconscious raider.
He and his companion are dressed in strange leather armor with flared shoulders, which Beryl recognizes as the regalia of the Cult of the Dragon, rarely worn so brazenly. Looting the bodies, Raeyanne turns up a receipt of deposit at a bank in Waterdeep. Beryl finds on another a scrap of a black banner with five red stripes.
At Beryl’s suggestion, Raeyanne alerts Escobert to the presence of the captive, which Hurk hauls back up the tunnel. The castellan locks the man in a pantry and sets a guard on it. Beryl insists that they get a full report on what the prisoner has to say once the danger has passed. With that, they prepare to venture back out into the battle.