Tyranny of Dragons

A Shortcut to Mushrooms
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 4, Part 3

Rainy Days

The next few days after the hobgoblin ambush are an uncomfortable time on the road, as several waves of storms roll overhead, leaving everything drenched. Despite this, Green Imsa is able to prepare a laxative as Garrett had requested. The rogue then waits for the cruel nobleman Gilas to visit Beyd’s wagon for some ale and quietly spikes the man’s drink.

Raeyanne, meanwhile, flirts with Green Imsa, which cheerily responds in kind. She is a scribe’s apprentice from Baldur’s Gate and has never traveled this far north before. She is finding the whole trip exciting, and was impressed by Raeyanne’s role in talking Gilas out of abusing his animals, as well as the battle with the hobgoblins..

Fungus Humungus

After three days of rain, the caravan wakes up to find the ground covered with fungus, which releases black spores and moans in pain when stepped on. Raeyanne and Imsa misidentify it as poisonous, but Garrett realizes that it is harmless miniature shriekers. Hurk eats one.

After Raeyanne convinces the merchants there is no danger, she, Hurk and Garrett work to clear a path through the mushrooms, which are growing at an alarming rate. Beryl uses ghost sound to muffle the disturbing screams so as not to spook the horses. One of the cultists, Larion, joins them in clearing out the mushrooms.

They salvage as many as they can, and for days afterwards the caravan dines on cream of mushroom soup. Garrett also hangs onto a personal stock to plant in people’s beds as pranks.

The Golden Stag

After passing the ruined hamlet of Trollclaw Ford, the caravan comes across a heard of deer featuring a stag with a brilliant golden coat. Many in the caravan are interested in hunting it for the valuable skin, but a few warn that it is clearly a blessed animal and killing it would bring misfortune.

Raeyanne manages to talk most of the caravan into leaving it alone, but a few reckless souls insist, including Hurk’s employers, despite his own misgivings. Beryl uses ghost sound to warn the stag and it manages to elude the would-be hunters.

That night, while on watch, Beryl is visited by the stag, which addresses her in broken and heavily accented common. Thanking her for saving it, the stag says she and her companions must continue to follow the river of gold to the castle in the sky. To help them along the way, it leaves an enchanted longbow, though it warns that “not all will survive.”

Beryl is excited to receive the bow, but disappointed once she realizes she lacks the expertise to use it and instead hands it over to Hurk.

The Way Inn

The caravan stops next at the The Way Inn, a fortified compound that has grown into a de facto village along the Trade Way. Beryl proselytizes about Bahamut at the tavern, only attracting a rapt crowd after she starts getting into the ale and loosening up. Unfortunately, she is stricken with a sharp hangover the following morning.

The cultists largely keep aloof from the rest of the caravan and the villagers, except for the half-elf Larion who seems a little more outgoing. Garrett gets the sense that he is less invested in this whole “cult” thing than his fellows.

Contraband

Garrett has an opportunity to get closer to Larion a few days later, when one of the cult’s wagons breaks a wheel and spills out some of the stolen loot. Garrett volunteers to help with the cleanup, accompanied by Hurk. the rogue fumbles his approach to the half-elf, but Hurk helps to turn the situation around. Just as Larion seems to be warming up, however, another cultist, Zora, intervenes to send the half-elf back to the main group.

Payback

A few more ten-days into the journey, the caravan comes across a man buried up to his neck in the road with the word “oathbreaker” written on his forehead. Some of the merchants, including Garrett’s boss Beyd, want to leave well enough alone. However, the party investigates.

The man, Carlon, spins a story about having broken off an engagement when he learned his bride’s family were bandits, but the adventurers are having none of it. The man then claims he has friends at A Pair of Black Antlers who can vouch for him, including Ontharr Frume.

The party grudgingly digs him up and he quietly explains that he is with the harpers, also tracking the loot shipments. he was spotted passing information along, and the cultists claimed he was passing information to bandits. This led the caravan he was traveling with to leave him buried so that providence could determine his fate.

Carlon says he has contacts in Waterdeep who can help them, once they reach the city. Beryl convinces the rest of the caravan that he can be trusted, and he offers to pay his way by doing various odd jobs.

The Spider Woods

While the caravan is traveling through a small stretch of woods, it comes under attack by a band of ettercaps and their giant spider companions. Two ettercaps try to steal horses while the rest run interference. Garrett manages to suppress his fear of spiders long enough to defeat one ettercap, while Raeyanne cuts down another.

Stuck in place by webbing, Hurk uses the Bow of the Golden Stag to bring down one of the spiders. Beryl alternates between calling down a sacred flame on the raiders and healing the other guards who rush to assist them. When the last spider and ettercap attempt to flee, Hurk hunts them down with the longbow. Beryl then roasts the spider.

Recognition

That night, while most of the caravan dines on spider, a disgusted Gareth eats along, watching Larion. The half-elf has gotten strange looks from his companions, but is otherwise welcome in their company.

Garrett, however, realizes that another cultist, a rugged man with a scar on his face, is watching him intently. Garrett recalls encountering the man at the raider camp, when he was posing as a mercenary.

The rogue consults with Raeyanne, who doesn’t care for spider meat, about what to do,. She advises playing it cool for now and talking his way out of things if push comes to shove.

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Road Warriors
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 4, Part 2

Journey Downriver

Ontharr has secured the party passage on a sailboat, the Silver Swan, heading down the Chionthar River from Elturel to Baldur’s Gate on the coast. The river is broad and deep, its waters murky and cold even in the warmth of a summer day.

The journey takes three days. On the first day, the boat passes orderly, well-maintained farmland, dotted with cottages. The northern bank of the river hosts a well-marked and maintained road. Over all of this, the silver light of Elturel shines. Towards the end of the day, the light finally fades over the horizon and the farmland gradually gives way to untamed wilderness, while the road to the north fades into a set of wagon ruts. When the sun sets, the adventurers are able to see the stars again at night. As they finish their dinner, a shooting star streaks overhead, going north.

Passing Time on the River

Beryl spent her days during the trip whittling and drawing and praying to Bahamut. She had no stories to share except for one explaining the glory of Bahamut as he conquered the shadow realm.

For his part, Garrett wandered what there was to wander of the boat, happy to sleep most of the first day and get away from the unceasing light of Elturel. As it turns out, there’s only so much to explore on such a ship.

He hovers near the group and pretends not to listen to Beryl’s stories (he might be hoping she drinks a little before telling them).

Hurk doesn’t really like sailing (bad experiences on boats as a youngster) so if he looks a little more green than usual, that’s the reason. Consequently he drinks more at dinner to suppress the seasickness (paradoxical, but hey, orcs) and cheerfully (as cheerfully as Hurk can be, at least) recounts some of the hilarious follies of his old mercenary company, the Right Bastards, before their destruction.

  • Various initiation rituals for new Bastard recruits that typically involved awful acts with monster corpses, such as “romancing the bugbear.”
  • One disastrous escapade against a lair of Sword Coast pirates, wherein the company arrived to make their assault only to discover that the pirates were being preyed upon by an unprecedented flock of sea hags. The end result was a lot of dead hags, some grateful and repentant pirates, and an unexpected amount of recovered loot which was mostly turned over to the authorities.
  • One hilarious tale involving an excursion into the Underdark where a nymphomaniac drow matron of an outcast house attempted to trick the men of the company into becoming her personal harem by conjuring the illusion of an encroaching army of umber hulks, which fell apart when one of the other sergeants vehemently protested that umber hulks were just an old wives’ tale and didn’t exist, which resulted in the illusion failing and the matron giving up on her tryst.
  • The punchline to the Underdark adventure is the part where on the way back, that sergeant fell into an umber hulk nest and lost a few fingers to the hulk hatchlings he found there. As the rest of the company worked to extract him from the nest, the sergeant maintained his belief that umber hulks didn’t exist and insisted that being underground drove him bonkers and he bit off his own fingers to keep himself anchored to reality.

… okay let’s just all admit that Hurk thinks these stories are a lot funnier than they really are ..

The second day of the party’s voyage down the Chionthar River is overcast, with a light breeze out of the north and the occasional drizzle of summer rain. Around midday, the Silver Swan passes through a narrow section of rapids on the river. Recent rains have clogged the passage with deadwood and debris, making it difficult to steer a safe course. The captain calls for all hands to help.

The party manages to help the Silver Swan successfully navigate the rapids without incident, allowing to stay on schedule for arriving at Baldur’s Gate on the evening of the third day. That night, the captain shares some brandy with them in thanks.

By the time the third day dawns, the rains have moved on and summer is back in full force. It’s hot enough that people might get fatigued wearing heavy armor. Around mid-morning, the adventurers glimpse a few ancient elven statues peeking out of the mud on the banks of the river.

Beryl and Raeyanne feel as if the statues are watching over them like protectors. Hurk and Garrett, meanwhile, feel as if the statues are scowling at them as if they were trespassers.

The Hand of Fate

The Silver Swan enters port at Buldur’s Gate in the evening of the third day. Garrett pickpockets a Neverwinter timber merchant outside a tavern, splitting the 53gp with Beryl, who asks no questions.

On their way through the city, they encounter a fortune teller who reads their fortunes in the cards, which tell him about their pasts, their present and their futures.

Beryl’s Fortune

  • Past: the Demon’s lantern, misaligned: ordinarily an unfortunate card, in this spread it signifies one find the single safe path amid the darkness,.
  • Present: The big sky. represents an oppression being lifted, either from the individual or from someone else
  • Future: The Twin. Uncertainty clouds the future, representing either opportunity or danger. Two seemingly similar paths could lead to divergent ends.

Garrett’s Fortune

  • Past: The Carnival. Represents getting caught up in the show. Garrett was forced to dance to another’s tune, either an individual or an organization.
  • Present: The Publican, misaligned. Ordinarily a card representing order, commerce and good fortune, instead it signifies that Garrett is in an unstable position with little good social standing.
  • Future: The Desert, misaligned. Ordinarily a card representing wisdom and the discovery of knowledge, misaligned it suggests that Garrett will be unable to find the information he seeks or will get only false answers. (Garrett gives him two silvers for that reading).

Hurk (paid for by Garrett):

  • Past: The Beating, misaligned. Ordinarily a negative card, in this spread it signifies that the blows levied by live have only left him stronger. (“Clearly,” the fortune teller adds, sizing Hurk up).
  • Present: The Joke. This card represents good fortune and camaraderie. Hurk is surrounded by people he can rely on and who will look out for him.
  • Future: The Eclipse, misaligned. Ordinarily this card represents the loss of all hope, but misaligned it signifies that there is hope even in the darkest of moments. (“You are blessed by fate, my friend,” the fortune teller says.)

Raeyanne’s Fortune

  • Past: The Mute Hag. Represents conspiracies, dark secrets, and misfortune, suggesting Raeyanne was caught up in all three. Raeyanne thinks of what happened to her parents and her joining the Harpers.
  • Present: The Winged Serpent, misaligned. Ordinarily a card signifying justice and virtue, misaligned it suggests that Raeyanne surrounded by injustice, cruelty and danger.
  • Future: The Marriage. This card represents the union of two seemingly disparate parties to create something neither could on their own. It suggests that their could be an opportunity for an unexpected alliance or a solution involving two very different ideas.

Meeting the Merchant

As they approach the Blackgate District, Garrett hears two porters arguing over whether they saw a black half-dragon behind the curtains of a palanquin being carried through the streets.

The party then meets up with the shopkeeper Ackyn Selebon, who fills them in on the details for the next leg of their journey. In it’s role as middleman on the Trade Way, Baldur’s Gate forbids wagons or beasts of burden within its walls. As a result, most northbound caravans simply offload their goods at the southern end of the city. The goods are then carried by porters up to the north side, where a new caravan is organized. That’s what has happened to the Cult’s stolen loot, and there’s an opportunity for the party to infiltrate the caravan as hired guards.

Auditions

The following day, with Ackyn vouching for them, the adventurers go out to try to impress merchants into hiring them on as guards for the next caravan. Hurk is quickly hired as the personal bodyguard to the loquacious moon elf Noohar Selim and his mute brother Selvek. Garrett is hired by the half-elf merchant Beyd, who intends to sell his cargo of ale to the other merchants as they travel north. Beryl is hired by the wood elf Edhelri Lewel, who is very curt with people but kind to her animals. And Raeyanne ends up as a guard for the argumentative Oyn Evenmor, who can talk to exotic birds.

After a day of preparation, the caravan departs, having been joined by the cultists leading wagons for the “merchant” Jogan Toyn, who Beryl recognizes as a cultist brutalizing slaves at the raiders camp.

Animal Abuse

During the first few days of the trip, the party comes to hate a nobleman named Gilas, who is constantly mistreating his horses. Matters come to a head when one of the horses collapses and Gilas starts beating it. Raeyanne confronts him and he backs down. Edhelri quietly rewards her with 5 gp, while Garrett asks Beryl to work with Edhelri on sneaking treats to the poor horses.

Although Gilas’ treatment of the animals marginally improves going forward, Garrett notes that the man partakes of Beyd’s ale and makes discrete inquiries about obtaining a laxative. One of the passengers, Green Imsa, promises to harvest some herbs if she encounters any on their travels.

During the journey, the party also gets on the wrong side of another caravan guard, a shield dwarf named Eldkin Agetul, a perfectionist who has made this journey several times before and wants everything to go right. She criticizes their equipment and their behavior, ultimately storming off in frustration.

Ambushing the Ambushers

On the 8th day of the journey, as the caravan passes through the field of the dead, they come upon a wagon being besieged by hobgoblins. The merchants debate what to do, with Jogan pushing strongly to leave the wagon to its fate. The party volunteers to intervene.

Thanks to the drizzling rain, they are able to approach the hobgoblins unawares. Raeyanne picks off one of them and then proceeds to elude a squad of them, appearing and disappearing amid the storm. Hurk, Garrett, and Beryl, meanwhile, isolate and attack the other squad. A hobgoblin gets a lucky blow that cuts deeply into the half-orc, while Garrett discovers to his frustration that beneath their wolf furs, the creatures are wearing chain mail.

Beryl heals Hurk’s wound and the mercenary takes advantage of the distraction Garrett created to lop off a hobgoblin’s head. The remaining hobgoblins rally around their leader, who calls for a truce. “You’ve won, the field is yours. Let us retreat in peace.”

The adventurers make a show of force, but allow the surviving hobgoblins to withdraw in good order. The merchant whose wagon was being attacked thanks them for their courage and explains that those hobgoblins were Urshani, a particularly vicious and dangerous tribe. The party’s reputation within the caravan rises after this incident.

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Bar-Hopping with Bahamut
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 4, Part 1

The Conquering Heroes Return

Hurk, Beryl, and Raeyanne return to Greenest with their load of dragon eggs. Garrett, risen late and still recovering, gawks at their strange haul. The townsfolk, meanwhile, are elated that the last dangers to Greenest have been eradicated.

The adventurers meet with Governor Nighthill and warn him about Tentacles McGillicuddy. He thanks them for what they’ve done on behalf of the town these past few days, but he thinks that their work against the Cult of the Dragon is far from over. He says that their friend Leosin has left them horses to follow him to the city of Elturel. The half-elf has some plan to track the cult’s wagons of stolen treasure to their source.

If they do go after the treasure, Nighthill asks the party to retrieve a locket for him, a keepsake that reminds him of his wife. He is willing to pay 1,000gp for its return, but asks that they not open it.

He tells them that in his youth, he and his wife were part of a group of adventurers who fought a white dragon in the Cloud Peaks south of the Green Fields. As a result, he knows a bit about dragon eggs. He assures the party that the eggs will lie dormant for years and won’t hatch except under certain conditions. The party takes him up on his offer of keeping the eggs under guard in Greenest until they can determine what to do with them.

After the meeting, Hurk goes to the town blacksmith—a big, aged Illuskan man—to see about refitting Cyanwrath’s splint mail. They discover that the mail is magical, though they can’t quite discern all the magical properties. Hurk sells the man Cyanwrath’s weapons and the smith promises to keep the half-dragon’s greatsword as a memento.

The barmaid Myrcella organizes a big farewell party. Beryl has two beers and gets terribly drunk. She proves to be very clingy, grabbing onto Linan Swift and telling her all about how Bahamut loves her. The other adventurers take part in the revelries and have a slow start the following morning—except Beryl, who wakes fine and hangover-free.

Garrett pays his farewells to Brother Falconmoon and the half-elf priest informs him that he can help pass messages along through contacts in the underworld, should the need arise.

The trip north is uneventful, although Garrett is still having trouble getting used to traveling in event modest comfort thanks to their new-found wealth. They arrive at their destination following six pleasant days on the road.

Fun and Games

Elturel is an orderly city, which they arrive at towards the end of the day. They stay at the Shepherd and Flagon, where they hear rumors of bandits and dragons loose in the countryside, and Raeyanne engages the innkeeper in a lively conversation about the turnip and cabbage markets. Beryl conspicuously avoids drinking.

The next day, the rogues head off to seek out information on their contacts, while Hurk and Beryl take the news of the cult attack to the guards.

Garrett spots a shady warehouse he recognizes as a front, and Raeyanne goes up to ask an elven man with a wide-brimmed hat about Leosin and Ontharr Frume. The elf doesn’t know the former and becomes standoffish at mention of the latter, but directs them to A Pair of Black Antlers.

Meanwhile, at the guard station, Hurk and Beryl meet with Captain Khalia of the Hellriders. She takes in their news of the attack on Greenest and promises to send a relief column to the city, as well as to notify the Lords’ Alliance. She asks them to let her know if they find any further information and thanks them for the report. They ask about Leosin and Ontharr, and she directs them to A Pair of Black Antlers.

At the tavern, they meet Leosin and the boisterous Ontharr Frume, who is eager to hear about their exploits. Beryl and Hurk delight him with tales, and Raeyanne also gets in on the act, but Garrett has trouble describing his ballista shot against the dragon Lennithon.

Leosin takes him aside and suggests he try a display of stealth and deftness. The half-elf expresses that it would be a good idea to impress the paladin.

Garrett announces that he will steal something from the paladin without his noticing. Ontharr accepts the challenge and the rogue promptly swipes his holy symbol.

Tracing the Stolen Treasure

After a day of talking and partying, Leosin and Ontharr take the party into a back room to discuss business. They explain that they each represent different organizations, the Harpers and the Order of the Gauntlet respectively, which have partnered with a third group, the Emerald Enclave, to do something about the Cult’s growing presence in the region. They offer the party membership in their groups, but there are no takers, save for Raeyanne who is already aligned with the Harpers.

Moving on, the duo explains that the cult’s wagon train of stolen loot will arrive in Baldur’s Gate in a little over a tenday. The cultists driving the wagons have disguised themselves as travelling merchants and are moving with a larger caravan. T

Leosin and Ontharr want the adventurers to arrive in Baldur’s Gate ahead of the cultists and then hire on to their caravan posing as guards or merchants, then follow them north to wherever the treasure is being taken.

After some consideration, the adventurers agree to this offer.

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An Egg-celent Adventure
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter Three, Part 3

While Garrett continues to recover in the arms of Brother Falconmoon, the rest of the party is treated to a celebratory breakfast at the Winking Sun Inn, courtesy of the grateful waitress Myrcella.

Once their bellies are full, the adventurers head up to Greenest Keep to interrogate the cultist prisoner they retrieved from the mines. Hurk persuades him to give the low-down on what is waiting for them in the caves: a band of kobolds allied with the cult, and dragon eggs left by the Rezmir the Black. The eggs are said to be close to hatching, which is why a group of cultists led by Lady Frulam Mondath stayed behind to watch over them.

The party then makes the trek back to the caves, where their first order of business is looting the treasure stashed in the chapel to Tiamat where they had confronted Mondath and Cyanwrath the day before.

They then investigate the chamber beyond the chapel, which opens onto a narrow ledge overlooking a deep pit shrouded in darkness. The adventurers are ambushed by a group of kobolds, who use glue bombs to pin Raeyanne in one place.

Hurk charges in among the kobolds while Beryl keeps her distance and alternates between assisting Raeyanne and hurling magic at the little monsters. Raeyanne manages to bring down one of the kobolds with a thrown dagger, but only gets further stuck in the glue.

The commotion attracts a probing tendril rising out of the gloom below, which eventually coils around Raeyanne and tugs her down into the pit. Once down there, she is attacked by guard drakes.

Up top, Hurk and the kobolds trade blows, but the half-orc is slowly being worn down. After one particularly ill-timed swing, his sword becomes lodged in the cavern wall.

Raeyanne is battered to death’s door by the two guard drakes, but Beryl heals her with the power of Bahamut, who she calls upon repeatedly to keep them upright. Raeaynne manages to kill one of the guard drakes and intimidates its companion.

Hurk pulls his sword free from the wall and cuts down one of the two remaining kobolds. Rather than pursue the last fleeing kobold, he instead vaults over the kobold to land beside Raeyanne in the ravine below.

The party then defeats the remaining guard drake, while a voice from the shadows cheers them on.

The voice belongs to a strange, one-eyed creature that looks like a stalagmite with tentacles. They dub him Tentacles McGillicuddy. With the battle done, the creature asks them their business. They explain they came here hunting cultists and kobolds. It tells them that it lives down here and has an arrangement with the kobolds, who throw it meat. But it is full right now, so its not eager to eat them.

Searching the pit, they find two dragon eggs. While Raeyanne is gung-ho to destroy them, Beryl talks her out of it, with Hurk’s support. Tentacles McGillicuddy helps them find the third dragon egg. There are three in total: a blue, a red, and a black egg.

To transport the clutch, they venture out into the remains of the raider camp and procure two wheelbarrows.

The adventurers inspect the remainder of the caverns, finding former kobold residences that have been abruptly and recently abandoned. They find the guard drake training area, as well as a meat locker (where Beryl poisons herself on the trapped entrance).

They tell Tentacles McGillicuddy about the meat, and he gives them some coins in exchange.

After loading up their eggs and other loot, the adventuring trio begin the trek back to Greenest.

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Round Two: Fight!
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter Three, Part 2

Having cut their way through a barracks of cultists and broken into the private chambers of a cult leader, the party decides on their next move. Rather than circle back to the main cavern, they decide to investigate the chute that Beryl discovered hidden under the rugs that cover the chamber floor.

They leave their captive cultist bound and gagged and then proceed down the chute, which contains a hidden ladder. Hurk takes the lead, followed by Beryl, Raeyanne, and Garrett.

Emerging in the shadows of a chamber liked with murals of dragons (most of them black), Hurk realizes that they are not alone. Waiting in the chamber with readied weapons are his old nemesis Cyanwrath and two mad-eyed berserkers armed with greataxes. The half-dragon spies the adventurers, even through the darkness.

“You survived!” he tells Hurk. “I don’t know whether to be disappointed or pleased. It’s a mix of both I think. What say we try for round two—this time, to the death!”

Hurk shares a knowing look with Beryl and the others, then stride’s forward. The half-dragon belches out a bolt of lightning at him, but the half-orc has already twisted out of the way of the worst of it. He swings at Cyanwrath, his sword cutting into the half-dragon’s armor.

“Well struck,” Cyanwrath grins with a mouth full of fangs. “I’m glad to see our last skirmish hasn’t slowed your reflexes.”

The two berserkers saunter over to watch the combat, their greataxes in hand.

Raeyanne quietly emerges from the chute and sticks to the shadows, working her way up close to Cyanwrath. Garrett does the same and goes further, ducking behind a polished pillar.

Beryl strides forward to stand side by side with Cyanwrath and swings her warhammer at him. The blow glances off his armor and he snarls. “You and your friends have no honor, half-orc!”

“Where’s the honor in attacking a defenseless town with an army of mercenaries?” Hurk spits back. “You can shove your honor up your big blue ass!”

This clearly strikes a nerve. “I’ll show you where to shove it!” Cyanwrath says and attacks with his spear. Hurk deflects it, then cuts off the spearhead. The cultist champion throws down the spearshaft in disgust and draws his greatsword.

Drawing upon his inner reserve of strength, Hurk presses the attack with his own sword and cuts a jagged gash across the half-dragon’s arm. Raeyanne also emerges from the shadows to stab at Cyanwrath. Facing three foes, he calls over his shoulder to the berserkers. “Jump in any time, lads, this isn’t a spectator sport!”

The two bruisers lumber over to attack Raeyanne, their greataxes gleaming. As they do so, Garrett realizes that someone else is standing in the shadows directly beside him as he hears a woman’s voice begin to utter an incantation. The other cultist leader, Mondath, has been lurking in the darkness and now reveals herself to cast a spell at Hurk. The half-orc feels his muscles tightening as if they were freezing up, but wills away the magic. Mondath curses in frustration.

Garrett uses this opportunity to attack her, catching Mondath unawares. Raeyanne, meanwhile, stabs one of the berserkers.

“You’ll pay for this!” he snarls, and hacks at her with his axe.

Beryl calls upon Bahamut’s grace to heal Hurk and Raeyanne, but even this divine favor can do little more than staunch the bleeding.

Mondath attacks Garrett with her halberd—he dodges one attack and then when her second wedges the blade against the pillar, he kicks out to break the shaft, leaving Mondath weaponless.

Hurk tears into Cyanwrath.

“You’ll not survive this, not while there’s breath in my body!” Cyanwrath says, then huffs out another bolt of lightning. The electricity catches Hurk full on, crackling over his body and sending him writhing to the floor.

Badly wounded, Raeyanne retreats behind Beryl, shanking Cyanwrath on her way.

Garrett savagely wounds Mondath, who flees despite his parting stab. She limps over to the chest in front of the Tiamat shrine and kicks it, causing the dragon head motifs throughout the room to spew out globs of acid. the adventurers successfully dodge it, while the villains are struck. Mondath flees shrieking from the room, clutching at her face.

Raeyanne realizes she needs to cover her mouth and not inhale any of acid-tinged air, while Beryl and Garrett get a whiff first before protecting themselves. The villains are likewise quick to protect themselves, though the blond brute falls into a coughing fit after inhaling too much.

One of the berserkers turns his attention to Garrett, felling the rogue with one savage blow. The other attacks Beryl, but her shield wards off his ax. Beryl then channels the life preserving powers of Bahamut to restore the health of her three companions, drawing Hurk and Garrett back from the brink of death.

“We shall have continue this fight in a more suitable battlefield,” Cyanwrath says, as he retreats in an orderly fashion towards the chamber’s southeast exit, bleeding from a dozen wounds.

Raeyanne pulls out a dagger and throws it, catching him right between the eyes. The half dragon topples over stone dead.

“Ha!” she calls out. “Rogues don’t have to pay for anything! That’s ‘cause we’re rogues!”

The two berserkers then also attempt to retreat in the same fashion. Garrett and Raeyanne both throw daggers after them, but to no avail.

They hastily scavenge Cyanwrath’s gear and saw off his head, before retreating back to Mondath’s room. Exhausted from the nonstop slaughter, they decide to return to Greenest to rest up. They collect their captive cultist and stroll through the carnage in the cultist barracks. Hours later, they stagger back into town to a cheering welcome. The people of Greenest are glad to see they’ve survived another foray into the camp, and even more heartened to see one of the villains of the raid has been slain.

Leosin sorts through the documents they retrieved, finding a map and a note that give some indication as to where the treasure is being taken. Governor Nighthill and Leosin both want them to finish exploring the caves and be sure there aren’t any more nasty surprises.

Garrett seeks out Brother Falconmoon, who takes him back to the Temple of Chauntea to wash up and spend the night, while the others stay in the soft beds of the Winking Sun Inn.

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Crashing the Slumber Party
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter Three, Part 1

After a night spent in the countryside, Beryl, Garrett, Raeyanne, and a wounded Leosin return to Greenest.

Leosin asks them to return to the camp and observe it for any major activity in the wake of his escape. The half-elf is going to spend a few days recovering and then head to Elturel to meet with a paladin named Ontharr Frume. If he’s not in Greenest when they are back, he asks them to look for them there. Garrett clumsily asks if the two of them are square. Leosin says that with this last favor they will be, but if what he suspects about the Cult’s plans is true, the danger could be one that no one could escape.

Governor Nighthill pays the adventurers for acquiring information from the camp. He, too, asks the party to return to the camp and find out what exactly is in that cave. If the party’s suspicion of baby dragons is true, he wants to know how full grown they are. He is worried that even if the Cult moves on, it could leave some nasty surprises behind that could threaten Greenest.

With Hurk recovered, the four of them set out for the camp. As they approach, they see fewer campfires than last time. They decide to enter the camp more stealthily than before, which proves to be more difficult than they expected. But their crashing through the bushes does not have any ill-effect, as they realize the camp is largely abandoned. They spy one or two people hanging out in the center of the camp. Coming closer, they find two scraggly looking men in woodsmen’s clothes skinning game in the center of the camp, with no sign of anyone else. Hurk decides to stroll on up to the hunters and ask where the cultists went. The men’s responses are largely monosyllabic, but they do point Hurk towards the caves when he asks about talking to someone in charge.

The party decides to just continue as they have been and stroll into the caverns. Inside, they spy a figure trying to slink away and manage to catch two cultists attempting to set up an ambush. The adventurers quickly dispatch one of them while the second flees through a cleverly hidden passage in the cave wall. The party gives chase and stumbles upon what seems to be the cultist barracks. A brutal melee ensues between the adventurers and the cultists, most of whom were asleep. Garrett leaps into the room to try to eliminate cult members before they can arm themselves, but is quickly surrounded and has to fight his way back to the doorway where Hurk battles multiple cultists at once. Beryl hangs back to call down Bahamut’s holy fire on their enemies, while Raeyanne takes a detour into an empty storage room to kill a drunken cultist in his sleep before joining the main fray.

With their superior skill at arms and the blessing of the platinum dragon god, the adventurers drive the cultists from the room. The survivors retreat into a richly furnished adjoining chamber, where they toss oil lamps at the party as the heroes follow. While several cultists attempt to delay the party at the entrance, the others attempt to gather up documents in the room with the intention of hurling them into the flames. The adventurers—and a bit of bad luck—stop the cultists from destroying the evidence, and they manage to capture one of the hapless cult members alive.

The party then searches the room and the attached bedchamber, discovering a set of purple Cult of the Dragon robes cut for a woman. Beryl accidentally triggers some kind of pit trap hidden under the many rugs that cover the floor, but avoids falling down the slanted chute. The rogues tie up and gag their prisoner while they consider their next move.

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The Bullshit Maneuver
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter Two

The following morning, the locals take stock of the damage—Greenest has been thoroughly looted. Everything of value has been taken, including all the beer at the Winking Sun Inn and even Cuth’s messenger pigeons.

Raeyanne goes looking for her contact, and meets the monk Nesim Waladra, who tells her that his master Leosin Erlanthar was caught up in the fighting and separated from his companions. Nesim fears that he may have attempted to infiltrate the raiders, or worse, gotten captured. He urges Raeyanne to rescue the missing monk.

While Beryl tends to Hurk’s injuries, the castellan Escobert the Red invites the rogues to try their hand at interrogating the cultist captured last night. The man refuses to say anything other than “she is rising.” Garrett and Raeyanne play bad cop/annoying cop as the latter tries to provoke the cultist into revealing what he knows by belittling him and his cause.

They get some information about the cult’s plans to gather a hoard for the return of the “Dragon Queen.” However, the cultist appears to know little else about the grand plan, beyond the fact that it will supposedly scorch the faithless from the face of Faerûn.

Governor Nighthill hires the adventurers to track down the raiders and get what information they can about the attackers’ purpose and their next target. Hurk will stay in town recovering while the others venture forth.

The trail of the raiders is easy to follow, and leads southeast through the rolling plains of the Greenfields and into rockier terrain. They spy a campfire in the distance and approach stealthily. They see a group of four human raiders and eight kobolds arguing over a cooking fire before the kobolds take their half-cooked chicken and leave to eat 150 yards away.

The party decides to bypass the gang, but accidentally alert them. Rae tries to play it off as some sort of stray dog, but she and Garrett ,make matters worse. This causes the raiders to run for their swords, but Garrett gets there first. He cuts down the first one, while Beryl and Rae badly wound two others. The raiders surrender while the kobolds scatter.

The human raiders prove to be a mercenary group, the Blue Boars, who are perfectly happy to tell the party everything they know in exchange for being released. They explain that there are 150-200 raiders at the camp, including kobolds, various mercenary companies, as well as dedicated cultists. The mercenaries are paid well, though the Blue Boars have yet to collect their pay for the raid as they trailed behind the main force.

The mercenaries let them know that a rearguard is always deployed after a raid. However, if they can avoid that, they should be able to just walk into the camp dressed as they are, since they look like just another band of mercenaries. Raeyanne has them mark down the location of the rearguard and the main camp on a map. The Blue Boars don’t know anything about the army’s next target, unfortunately.

Garrett searches the mercenaries, finding little of value save a strange diary written in a language he doesn’t speak. Beryl recognizes it as Elvish script, but written in the Sylvan tongue. It appears to be arranged in stanzas and she realizes it’s a collection of poetry. Raeyanne and Garrett suggest that the would be poet, Gil, should focus on his writing career. “Tell that to my publisher,” he says.

The Blue Boars collect their slain companion and trudge off, promising to never cross the party’s path again.

The three adventurers circle around the rear guard and arrive at the camp to find it a chaotic mess with no real security in place. Kobolds boast about the events of the last night, while several different mercenary groups—the Dark Sail pirates, the Storm Blades of far Calimshan, and the Red Sun cutthroats—celebrate in their own ways. The party marches through the camp, trying to look as if they belong there while seeking out the prisoner pens.

They find a small group of slaves wearily loading a dozen wagons with heavy crates, while several cultists berate and whip them. The lead cultist challenges the party, but they win him over when he sees the dragon symbol on Beryl’s shield and assumes she is a new initiate into the cult. He hails her with the phrase “Praise Tiamat!” and directs the party to the paymaster to collect their pay for the last night’s raid.

Following the cultist’s directions, they pass by the Red Sun mercenaries, who are getting drunk on ale from the Winking Sun. They also notice several interesting features at the back of the camp. One is a large tent, set apart from the others and guarded by a patrol of armored cultists and giant lizards. The tent flap opens and the blue half-dragon Langdedrosa Cyanwrath emerges. He salutes the guards and marches into the camp.

Beyond the tent is the entrance to what looks like the mouth of a cave leading into the side of the plateau. They see several cultists carrying large shanks of meat into the cave.

Finally, set away from the camp and the command tent, they see a half-elf man bound to a stake, bruised and bloodied from extensive torture. Both Raeyanne and Garrett recognize him as Leosin, the man they came to Greenest to see.

While they try to think of what to do, the party walks on to see Karn the paymaster at the center of the camp. Still posing as the Blue Boars, they claim their pay for last night’s raid: 200gp, in coinage from across the Sword Coast. They are the approached by Cyanwrath who claps them on the shoulders and welcomes them to the cult’s army. They stick to their cover stories and he commends them on their service last night and promises that the cult’s campaign will make them rich. With that, he moves on, continuing to shake hands and exchange compliments with other soldiers in the camp.

After that encounter, the three adventurers discuss how to free Leosin and escape the camp. The decide that Beryl will use thaumaturgy to spark a fight between two bands of mercenaries, distracting the camp. At that point, Garrett and Raeyanne will get Leosin down and away.

Beryl goes to cast her spell, mimicking the voice of a Dark Sails pirate mocking the drunken red Suns. The Red Suns are furious and start marching across the camp to confront the Dark Sails. However, the dwarf’s spellcasting draws the attention of a cultist who challenges her. She tells him she is casting an augury to bring good fortune to the cult.

A fight breaks out in the center of the camp between the Dark Sails and the Red Suns, drawing the attention of Cyanwrath. The shouting also draws out two more figures from the tent—a stern-faced woman with dark hair and a female black half-dragon with a strange greatsword slung across her back. Both are dressed in purple robes and both head towards the ruckus.

Meanwhile, Raeyanne and Garrett hasten over to Leosin. He is heartened to see them, but warns that once he is cut down, an alarm will be raised. Garrett finds a drunken Red Sun half-elf passed out nearby and quickly switches his clothes with Leosin, then pins the double up in place. Even so, he has bought them only a little time.

The two rogues prop Leosin up between them, posing as if they are helping a drunk friend. They meet up with Beryl and hastily debate how to extricate themselves. They decide to try simply walking out to help their “drunk” friend puke in the bushes.

They find that a guard detail has been set on the entrance to the camp. The rogues tell the guards that a riot has broken out and that Cyanwrath has requested assistance. The guard captain sends half his force into the camp and thanks them for conveying this news. The adventurers then proceed to walk out with Leosin.

They don’t dare breathe a sigh of relief until they are well clear of the camp. Leosin thanks them and says he has much to tell—but he fears that they may still need to return to the camp soon.

The tired trio find a secluded spot to make camp for the night, with Beryl tending to Leosin’s wounds.


Meanwhile, back in Greenest, Hurk has spent the day convalescing. He was visited by the woman and children he saved by accepting the half-dragon Cyanwrath’s challenge. The woman, Myrcella is a comely barmaid in her late 30s, and brings Hurk a bottle of the “good stuff” from the Winking Sun Inn. With most of the tavern stock looted during the raid, so this is in especially short supply. When Greenest is resupplied, however, she promises that all drinks at the Winking Sun are on her.

But Myrcella is not just there to offer gratitude. She asks Hurk to get well soon because she wants him to go after Cyanwrath again and bring the half-dragon’s hide back to her. “Nobody puts a knife to my kids’ throats and walks away alive,” she tells him. She promises further rewards if he is able to slay the half-dragon for her.

Hurk is also visited by Governor Nighthill, who wants to make sure he is on the mend. With his head and arm still swaddled in bandages, the Governor himself looks like he should be resting but seems too driven to oversee the town’s recovery to think of recuperating.

In Beryl’s absence, Hurk is also tended to by Brother Falconmoon, who changes his dressings while exchanging light conversation about the half-orc’s background and what he knows of the other party members. Hurk learns that the town has been completely looted, with almost everything of value taken and dragged off. Thankfully, most of the houses are intact and the raiders didn’t bother stealing the flour stockpiled in the mill, so Greenest won’t starve, but it will be years before the town regains the level of prosperity it had just the day before.

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The Charm Offensive
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter One, Part 2

The evening of 22 Kythorn, 1489

Greenest burns, still beset by Cult of the Dragon raiders and their blue dragon ally. Regrouping in the shadows of Greenest Keep, the four adventurers resume their mission to evacuate the civilians barricaded inside the besieged Temple of Chauntea. Approaching the temple from the south via the stream bed, they discover it is surrounded by a low stone wall with an entrance to the north.

Raeyanne scouts the area and spies one group trying to light the doors, while another marches around the building and the third can be heard battering on the doors.

The adventurers decide to create a distraction using Beryl’s thaumaturgy. The Gold Dwarf walks along the wall until she nears the entrance. Then she creates a voice that calls out “Help, brothers! A group of bugbears is attacking!”

Beryl follows this performance up with set of convincing bugbear growls. A group of kobolds near the entrance goes to investigate, while the procession halts by the gate.

The rest of the party hops the wall and rushes the back door, their approach obscured by the smoke billowing out from the raiders’ failed efforts to light a fire. With surprise on their side, they cut through their human foes swiftly despite the enemy’s greater numbers. Even so, Raeyanne is grievously hurt and Garrett takes a wound.

The rogues cut down the remaining kobolds, while Beryl tries to lure the other group further away. She is finally spotted and retreats along the wall, finally clambering over it to give them the slip.

Hurk bangs on the temple door, insisting that they are town guards and urging the occupants to open up. A frightened voice from the other side of the door insists it must be a trick and refuses to open it.

Raeyanne then knocks on the door in a specific pattern and says simply “It’s Raeyanne.” After a moment, the door opens and a read-haired half-elf greets them. Garrett is at a loss for words—more so than usual.

With the priest’s help, they begin hustling people out and over the wall, with Garrett reluctantly taking point. Unfortunately, while Hurk is distracted by the dragon flying overhead the column resumes its march around the building.

Realizing the danger, the half-orc lights a torch and rushes out, saying “The town militia’s coming over the western wall! The boys at the back gate are fighting them! If we circle around, we can catch them in a pincer movement!”

The other raiders follow him but soon gets tangled up in the battering ram at the gates. The humans, ragged mercenaries and a pirate crew, trade insults. Meanwhile, the rest of the party successfully evacuates the building.

Hurk tosses his torch, shouts “The cult has betrayed us!” and runs into the darkness amid all the confusion. He catches up with the others after they’ve gotten most of the temple folks into the keep.

“What took you so long?” Garrett asks.

“I briefly switched sides,” the half-orc explains, “but the pay was too lousy so I came back.”

The priest, Eadyan Falconmoon, tends to their wounds as they rest up. Garrett puts the moves on him, but the priest demures—while arranging a discrete liaison via thieves’ cant.

The lull in the fighting is broken just before midnight, when the blue dragon makes its final attack on the keep. Raeyanne asks about a ballista, but Escobert explains it was knocked into the courtyard at the start of the attack. They’ve been working to repair it, but it’s not ready.

With guidance from Hurk and assistance from Garrett, Raeyanne hastily jerry-rigs a fix. Hurk and Beryl then carry the weapon up onto the tower, choosing to sacrifice time in order to get it into a better position. During the repairs and transport, the dragon’s lightning breath slays six of the defenders on the wall and wounds another eleven.

The adventurers manage to wrestle the ballista into position just as the dragon comes in for another pass. Just at the last minute, Garrett fires a bolt that pierces the dragon’s lower jaw, cutting off its impending blast of lightning. As the blue wyrm beats a hasty retreat, Hurk realizes he had encountered the monster before. Unfortunately, Raeyanne’s jerry-rigged repairs only managed to squeeze one shot of the ballista, rendering it inoperable without hours of major repairs.

Nevertheless, the dragon’s defeat elicits a cheer from the defenders and the civilians. It also seems to take the heart out of the raiders, who begin withdrawing from the town. However, a large group remains gathered near the gates of the keep.

A blue half-dragon steps forward, issuing a challenge to the town’s greatest warrior. In return, he will spare the woman and three children held captive by his kobold followers. One of the militia, Sergeant Markguth, lets out a gasp, recognizing his sister Myrcella and her kids.

Hurk volunteers to go out, negotiating the release of the three children for his participation and the release of the woman once the duel is concluded. Beryl blesses Hurk with a shield of faith and then joins the others watching on the wall. A halfling is going by, selling bags of popcorn for 2cp, but the cleric decides not to partake

The proud half-dragon introduces itself as Langdedrosa Cyanwrath and asks for Hurks name. The two strike at one another, with Beryl’s spell deflecting the creature’s initial spear thrusts. Hurk rakes a red gash through its gaudy purple mantle with his longsword and Cyanwrath responds by spitting lightning in the half-orc’s face,.

Badly scorched, Hurk flashes a winning grin. “I’ll make you a deal. Let the woman go. This fight need not go on—it’s clear that we are equals.”

“I like you, Hurk,” Cyanwrath says, “but we both know the fight is almost over.”

Hurk drops his shield and swings at the half-dragon double-handed, but Cyanwrath parries with his spear and then strikes back with such force that even Bahamut’s grace cannot protect him. Having taken a spear to the chest, Hurk collapses. Cyanwrath poises to stab him again, then thinks better of it. He orders his kobolds to release the woman and then marches off with his lackeys in tow.

Beryl rushes out to Hurk to cast a healing spell on him and helps him back to the keep, where he is heralded as a hero once again. Markguth thanks him profusely, while Myrcella promises him free drinks at the Winking Sun any time he drops by.

Governor Nighthill then thanks the four adventurers for all they have done, admitting that if not for their arrival it is doubtful anything would be left of Greenest. He says they’ve set up private rooms for them to rest up after their long night. Rest is the last thing on Garrett’s mind, however, as he pursues a private rendezvous with Brother Falconmoon.

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Greenest in Flames
Hoard of the Dragon Queen Chapter One, Part 1

The evening of 22 Kythorn, 1489

The party travels with Loranda’s caravan on their way to the town of Greenest. Beryl asks Loranda to draw a sketch of Bahamut. Garrett unsuccessfully attempts to steal her sketchbook.

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.

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