Tyranny of Dragons

Fast Talk and Yodels
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 8, Part 1

Having bluffed their way into Skyreach Castle posing as cultists delivering supplies, the party confronts the reality that they never really figured out a step two to their plan. A cultist officer named Tark questions Hurk and Beryl as to whether they’ve brought provisions or replies.

“Both,” Hurk replies. The aggravated officer tells him to drop the provisions off at the kitchen and get directions to the treasure hoard from there. The cultist urges them to hurry, as the castle could take off at any moment and he doesn’t want them stuck here.

The kitchen is staffed by kobolds, under the watchful eye of a griffon. A kobold steps out to greet the cart and is skeptical of Hurk’s story. The half-orc and the dwarf unload three crates from their wagon (which happen to contain Raeyanne, Garrett, and Larion). Beryl makes a big show of being tired and sitting down on a crate, leaving Hurk to haul the remaining two barrels down to the treasure hoard. Beryl uses this excuse to make sure the kobolds don’t open the crates.

Traveling into the glacier at the heart of Skyreach, Hurk gently shakes his barrel. “Jamna, are you in there?”

“No,” comes the reply.

He urges her to get out and find a place to hide. Jamna complains that the tunnels are stark white and she’s dressed in slimming black. But she quickly uses illusion magic to turn her hair and clothes winter camo white.

Hurk then carries the empty barrel deep into the glacier, depositing it in the enormous treasure vault at the center, while the white dragon Glazhael lazily looks on.

Back in the kitchen, Raeyanne concocts a plan to extricate herself from the crate. She starts knocking loudly on it, then bursts out, acting confused. She blames Beryl for getting her drunk and leaving her in a crate as one of Azbara Jos’ pranks. The kobolds laugh as she rushes off to her “post” in the stairwell.

Raeyanne, Hurk, and Jamna confer about next steps, coming up with a plan. The gnome creeps around the side of the kitchen. Meanwhile, Hurk pokes his head into the building to tell Beryl that “When you’re done with your nap why don’t you meet me out here.”

Having said that, the half-orc heads back out to the wagon to pantomime removing a “heavy” barrel from the back while a bored kobold looks on.

Jamna then unleashes her illusion spell, mimicking the sound of a hobgoblin yodeling a terrible rendition of “Reveille” at the top of its lungs. Every kobold head turns towards the sound as they scream for it to stop. Beryl needs a moment to realize this is her “wake up call” and then hops off her crate to rush outside. Garrett and Larion stealthily exeunt soon after. Outside, Hurk uses the distraction to bop the kobold outside on the back of the head and stuff his unconscious body into the barrel.

The yodeling draws the attention of several cultists who stumble out of a neighboring building, and the ogre guards in the watchtower also squint down at the scene. Jamna’s camouflage shields her from the humans and the ogres, but not the beady eyes of the kobolds. They start shrieking about a horrible white shadow while Jamna tries ineffectually shushing them before finally scrambling up onto the roof of the kitchen.

Hurk comes around the corner to “search” for this intruder and sees nothing. The kobolds are not placated and demand to know what made that noise. The half-orc suggests it might be the mating call of another griffon. This terrifies the kobolds, who slink back inside, while the cultists laugh it off and return to their building.

The castle shudders under their feet and the adventurers realize that it has begun to rise into the sky.

The cultist officer Tark marches up, demanding to know what made that racket. Hurk suggests a griffon mating call, which provokes Tark to demand his name and that of his cell leader. Hurk blurts out that he works for Azbara Jos. The officer is disgusted to have more lackeys of the Red Wizards on board, since they’re mercenaries without faith in Tiamat’s grand plan. The officer angrily notes that since Hurk and Beryl took so long, now he has to find accommodations for them, which means talking to the giants.

Once Tark is gone, the adventurers head down into the glacier tunnels. Hurk disposes of the kobold in the barrel by dumping it down a chute that leads out of the bottom of the flying castle complex. The adventurers decide to focus on tracking down and killing Rezmir the Black. They figure that she is somewhere in the upper level of the castle and they take the stairwell to the upper courtyard.

Stepping out in to the brilliant white courtyard, they come across four ogres who are holding a javelin throwing contest. They explain that they were late arrivals working for Azbara Jos who got caught on the castle when it took off, a story that the jovial ogres buy completely. Raeyanne and Garrett decide to bet on the javelin contest, with Raeyanne backing Zeke and Garrett supporting Jim Bob.

The contest is interrupted, however, when a huge, blue-skinned figure emerges from a nearby tower. This is the cloud giant Blagothkus, the lord of Skyreach Castle. He questions the party about their presence on the upper level, which is reserved for giants. Deeming them “interesting,” he asks that they join him in his chambers.

Once there, he demands to know what they are really doing on his castle. Hurk and Raeyanne claim to be acting on behalf of a faction of the Cult that opposes Rezmir’s plans. They say that any bargain made with her should not be considered a valid agreement with the Cult.

Blagothkus is bored by the petty politics of the small folk. His only concern is that Rezmir and her master Severin are planning to summon forth Tiamat and establish a tyranny of dragons.

“The nerve of it!” sneers the cloud giant, confusing the adventurers. “The hubris!”

He tells them that his concerns is with his own people, the giants, who have grown soft and dissolute. They have abdicated the leadership of Faerun to the small folk. But what better way to get some fire back in their bellies than thrashing some dragons!

Blagothkus explains his heighten-the-contradictions plan thusly: while he helps the Cult work towards their foolish goal, the rising threat they pose is rallying an army of giants in the north who will march forth when the time is right to smash the draconic plot. The party members quickly work out that this won’t be good for the people caught in the middle.

In a sudden but inevitable burst of eloquence, Hurk persuades Blagothkus that this strategy could backfire. If the other giants learn he is helping the Cult, why would they follow him? Blagothkus ponders this argument and admits that the risks of his plan have been weighing on him. But he has taken the cultists, their dragon and their Red Wizard allies in as guests, and it would be dishonorable to raise a hand against them.

So instead, the cloud giant will order his servants to their quarters and will then seal himself within the castle’s control tower, shifting its course towards the Spine of the World in the far north. Perhaps the cultists will be aboard when the castle reaches its destination. Perhaps not.

Sensing that they dodged a crossbow bolt, the adventurers thank him for his wisdom and discretion, and then set about plotting how they can kill Rezmir, the dragon, and her friends.

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Talis the White
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 7, Part 3

Following from last session’s explosive revelation that Larion’s long lost sister is the cultist Talis the White, the young half-elf quickly learns that his family has a long history as senior leaders in the Cult of the Dragon. Talis herself is a traditionalist, who would rather be creating dracoliches than trying to summon forth Tiamat. She is also unhappy that the cult’s leader Severin chose to give the White Wyrmspeaker Mask to his crony Varram the White rather than her.

Talis explains that the cult was plundering the Sword coast in order to amass a treasure hoard worthy of a god, which they intend to offer to Tiamat to curry favor once she is summoned into Faerun using the dragon masks. Talis offers to help the party strike a blow against this plan and also conveniently eliminate Severin’s ally Rezmir. She explains that the last of the treasure is being held in the nearby village of Parnast, where the cult is loading it into Skyreach Castle, a flying fortress that belongs to the cloud giant Blagothkus. Talis gives the party a rough sketch of the castle defenses as well as the pass phrases needed to enter.

Talis asks to speak with Larion alone, but the half-elf insists that Garrett remain present as well. Talis catches up with Larion, and seems to be genuinely concerned for his well being. She also pitches him on rejoining a reformed Cult of the Dragon. Garrett not-so-subtly gets out his clockwork goldfish, which had such meaning from their conversation earlier that day.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party gathers in their luxurious quarters to discuss next steps. Hurk believes that Talis’ information, if true, presents a tremendous opportunity, but warns that they should be prepared for her to stab them in the back. Jamna points out that she’s already told them everything they need and suggests just killing her now, avoiding the backstab fears entirely. Beryl and Raeyanne ultimately side with Hurk however. The conversation quickly devolves from there into innuendo about the uses of Jamna’s over-sized wrench.

After Garrett and Larion rejoin the group, they decide on their next move. They will try to get into the castle. Larion is shocked and confused about the revelations about his family, but wants to continue with the adventurers.

The following morningTalis speaks to Garrett before the party leaves, urging him to look after Larion and warning him of deadly vengeance if any harm comes to her brother. She gives Garrett a silver raven token that can be used to send a message to her if needed and she will be able to come to their side within two days.

After leaving the lodge, Garrett questions Larion about what he intends. Larion is confused about how to react to his sister, who believes some crazy things but who he hopes can be talked out of them. But the young half-elf is determined to do what he can to thwart the cult that he and his family had done so much to support. Larion also reiterates his desire to stay at Garrett’s side, which means a great deal to the older rogue.

In Parnast, the adventurers run across an old friend: Green Imsa, the verdant woman from the Waterdeep caravan. Although they are initially suspicious of her, they adventurers realize that she is cheerfully ignorant that the town is under the cult’s control. Imsa arrived in the area via airship to collect rare herbal components for another attempt to cure herself of her green complexion.

A friendly wheelwright manages to get them all into his shop and (unnecessarily) warns them about the cult. The wheelwright reveals that the cloud giant’s castle is getting ready to leave the area. The party quickly throws together a plan to infiltrate the fortress by posing as cultists delivering supplies. Unable to go with them, Green Imsa gives Raeyanne a farewell kiss and address to look her up in Waterdeep later.

The rogues hide in the back of the wagon, while Hurk and Beryl sit up front. They are challenged at the gates of the castle by a folksy ogre watchman. Hurk provides the pass code and the wagon rolls on through the gates of Skyreach Castle.

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Cry of the Mountain Goat
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 7, Part 2

After slaying a patrol of trolls, the party hunkers down to wait until dark before they investigate the mysterious hunting lodge by the Cult of the Dragon’s teleportation circle.

Garrett notices that Larion is looking glum, obsessively playing with a whalebone handled butterfly blade. Garrett takes the young half-elf aside to awkwardly ask what’s wrong. Larion admits that he feels like he’s dead weight and is failing to meaningfully contribute to the party, just the latest in a string of failures and bad decisions.

Garrett shows him the clockwork fish he carries with him in a glass bowl. It was part of a job, but the fish looked so pretty he kept it and is always cheered up when looking at it. He clumsily compares Larion to the fish, as someone else he cares about.

Larion shows him the whalebone dagger, which is carved to look like a dragon. It’s his only keepsake from his family. When he was a young boy, he stole it from his sister the night before their ship was caught in a terrible storm and foundered on rocks. Larion survived, but his mother and sister were lost. Sharing stories about trinkets revives the half-elf’s spirits and the two of them return to the rest of the party, who have been gossiping shamelessly about them.

“So it’s not Maid Marion so much as Laid Larion,” Hurk is snickering as they return. Garrett warns him off the jokes, otherwise he’ll find a shrieking mushroom down his pants. Hurk replies that he already has one—she’s called Jamna. The gnome whoops as the group’s snickers turn to laughter. In high spirits despite the cold, they await the fall of darkness.

Once the sun is safely set, the adventurers creep towards the hunting lodge complex. Ignoring the kennel and stables, the three rogues move in to investigate the lodge itself. Garrett has the misfortune of disturbing a slumbering bee hive, but his howl of surprise fails to draw any reaction.

Counting themselves lucky, the rogues scoop out the building, peering in the windows where they can. They find several well lit rooms with hunting trophies, suits of armor, and even a magic tapestry, but no people. They also find a cold an empty guest room. The kitchen has four human cooks busy at work.

Garrett, with a boost from Raeyanne, tries to climb onto the balcony above the kitchen, but can’t find purchase on the icy surface. His scrabbling alerts the cooks. Raeyanne bleats like a mountain goat, hoping to assuage them. Instead, the cooks groan that “It’s those damn mountain goats on the roof again. Best drive them away before they knock off more shingles.”

With some deft moves and a hasty minor illusion from Jamna, the rogues manage to avoid scrutiny from the cook who steps outside. After that, they hastily retreat back to the treeline to regroup with the others. The adventurers decide that their best bet is to break into the empty guest room and go from there.

Garrett and Raeyanne manage to keep the others from bumbling into the bee hive, and Garrett swiftly gets the guest room window open. They proceed to scout out the western wing of the ground floor, before moving cautiously into the central chamber. There, the two demonic statues flanking the stairs leading up come to life and attack them.

Raeyanne gets in an initial vicious strike and then ducks into cover, but swords and daggers prove to be less effective against their stony hides. Beryl tries to get at them with her warhammer, but can’t land a blow. Hurk stands sentinel at the center of the fight, lashing out at the monsters whenever they try to harm one of his companions. Garrett finally brings down one of the gargoyles, while the other grows concerned about the lack of reinforcements.

With just one target left, Hurk drops his shield and goes after it with his longsword gripped in both hands. Larion tries to leap over the staircase to get into a flanking position with Beryl, but his foot catches on the railing and he ends up sprawled beside the creature, which tears into him. Hurk instead edges forward to flank with the half-elf.

Jamna, who had been firing her frost ray between Hurk’s legs, runs along the wall to get behind the tottering gargoyle and bash its knees out with her enormous wrench. She grins up at Hurk. “All yours, big guy.”

The half-orc hacks the monster to pieces.

Afterwards, Beryl heals Hurk and restores the badly wounded Larion to ship shape. But as her spells knit torn flesh back together, a figure dressed in cult regalia appears at the top of the stairway.

“Welcome to the hunting lodge, honored travelers,” the cultist tells them. “My mistress will see you now. She expresses her gratitude for your dealing with the… scenery.”

Raeyanne stays out of sight as the rest of the party warily follows the man up the stairs and down a hall to a meeting chamber. Inside is a stern half-elf woman dressed in purple thrown over white scale mail. She is attended by three bodyguards.

“Welcome,” she says. “I consider you my guests. Perhaps we can do business. I am Talis the White.”

At the sound of her name, Larion pushes past Garrett to come to the head of the party. Talis gapes at him as he blurts out a single word: “Sister?”

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Don't Feed the Trolls
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 7, Part 1

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.

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The Siege of Naerytar
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 6, Part 5

Having infiltrated Castle Naerytar posing as mercenaries for the Cult of the Dragon, the adventurers coordinated an uprising by the oppressed lizardfolk the cult used as servants. The party successfully sabotaged the alarm drum and helped the lizardfolk secure the gatehouse. But Garrett was badly wounded in the process, and has to be tended to by Beryl.

While the dwarf cleric patches up the rogue, the lizardfolk press the attack deeper into the castle. Snapjaw reports back that the surviving cultists, together with the bullywug leader Pharblex Spattergoo and his bodyguards, have barricaded themselves in the mess hall. The mess also connects to the stairs leading into the tunnels below the fort where the stolen loot was being transported. The lizardfolk believe that the half-dragon Rezmir the Black and the Red Wizard Azbara Jos fled into the tunnels.

Storming the mess hall barricades would result in high lizardfolk casualties, so for the moment it has become a standoff. Snapjaw is confident that if the two remaining leaders—Pharblex and the arrogant sun elf Dralmorrer Borngray—are slain, it would take the fight out of the enemy. The party agrees that a decapitating strike is their best option.

After some discussion, Garrett asks Jamna if she can put together an explosive capable of breaching one of the barricades. She admits she knows how, but would need time to see if the appropriate ingredients are available. The party rests for an hour while the gnome scours the castle for parts and alchemical components. At Garrett’s request she also prepares a makeshift smoke bomb for him.

Jamna eventually reveals her highly dangerous, unstable explosive, which she hastily hands to Garrett. The rogue carefully transports the device over to the northernmost barricade, which he stealthily approaches to plant the bomb. It goes of with a sharp blastf, signalling the lizardfolk to launch their own diversionary assault on the other end of the mess hall. Garrett also tosses the smoke bomb into the room to screen the rest of the hall from their attack.

Pharblex immediately begins calling up spike growth and entanglement spells to hinder the party’s entrance into the hall, while his bullywugs hurl javelins at the adventurers. However, each of Pharblex’s spells are interrupted by by Raeyanne’s arrows and Beryl’s sacred flame. Garrett puts an arrow into one of the frogman’s eyes, while the party’s allies advance into the room as the magic fails.

The shaman throws up several spike growth and entaglement spells to dissuade the party from entering, but is distracted each time by Raeyanne’s arrows and Beryl’s sacred flame. Garrett shoots the shaman in the eye. Once the spells, have failed, the adventurers and their allies move in to attack.

Raeyanne finally brings down the outraged Pharblex, while Hurk shoulders his way through the melee to cross steel with Dralmorrer. The arrogant elf under estimates his foe and suffers a grievous wound. But he strikes back, electrifying the half-orc with shocking grasp and retreating while the sword falls from Hurk’s numb and twitching hands.

Garrett chases after him, but only manages to further wound the elf, while Raeyanne’s crossbow bolt goes wide. Hurk moves up to stand beside Garrett, and Dralmorrer tries to drive them both back with Thunderwave, but they stand their ground. Garrett tries and fails to tumble past the elf and cut him off, but when Dralmorrer lashes out he exposes his flank to Hurk, who goes in for the kill.

The smoke fades in time for the surviving cultists and bullywugs to see their leaders perish. The bullywugs leap out the window and flee, while the cultists (including Kevan and Tharn), lay down arms.

The party strips the valuable items from their fallen foes, while the lizardfolk offer them the cult’s treasure as reward for helping the revolution. Up in Rezmir’s quarters, they also discover that there is a portal circle in the caverns below (similar to what Beryl saw in her dream), which teleports people and things to a mysterious lodge on the other side of the Graypeak Mountains.

Adhering to their promise to the dragon Voaraghamanthar the Black Death, the party recovers the book he was obsessed with, a set of rituals to Myrkul the god of death, and sought out the scrying device that the dragon asked them to destroy, the farseer of Illusk. Jamna slavers over the device (“So many big gears”), and Raeyanne figures out how to operate it. Through it they learn the dragon’s secret—he has a twin. Raeyanne also uses it to check on the Carnath Roadhouse, where the cultists have been arrested (but Zora is missing).

She then uses it to scry out out the lodge across the mountains where all the loot is going, which proves to be a sizable structure in the forest. She notes that guard lizards and some sort of giant-sized humanoid appear to have left footprints by an outbuilding. The portal circle itself is in the woods some ways from the lodge. There are several other circles nearby, suggesting that this might be a transport hub of some sort.

Then, in keeping with their promise to the dragon, they destroy the farseer.

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Death Comes to Frogtown
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 6, Part 4

Having infiltrated Castle Naerytar, the adventurers have arranged for an uprising by the lizardfolk resistance. They sent the three rogues Garrett, Raeyanne, and Jamna to sabotage the alarm drum in the upper floor of the barbican while Beryl and Hurk wait below with the lizardfolk. Garrett successfully destroyed the drum, but drew the attention of the bullywug guards.

Upstairs

As the bullywugs start to converge on Garrett, Raeyane and Jamna are perched on the crumbling wall overlooking the barbican’s second floor. Raeyanne throws one of her daggers and kills a frogman. She then ducks back into the shadows as the startled bullywugs look around for the attacker.

Jamna casts a minor illusion to create the impression of a gruff voice on the other side of the room saying that the bullywugs are surrounded. The frog people are literally too stupid to fall for this and remain focused on the one foe they can see—Garrett.

Two of the creatures charge up to him, while the rest throw spears. The rogue is badly wounded by the onslaught, but he manages to retreat from the attackers and clamber back up the wall to take cover.

The bullywugs move up to investigate, and Jamna quietly hisses at Garrett for drawing them towards the other rogues. Garrett sarcastically apologizes for getting swarmed. Raeyanne and Jamna continue pick off the frogmen with ranged attacks, always fading back into the shadows afterward.

Thrown off balance by his wounds, Garrett has trouble avoiding detection and is the target of more throwing spears. Jamna urges him to take cover dangling off the side of the wall and allow the bullywugs to approach, as she’s “got this.”

As the creatures approach the wall near Garrett’s position, she blinds several of them with color spray. Meanwhile, Raeyanne continues to shank bullywugs as they climb up near her section of the wall, disappearing back into the darkness each time. The bullywugs begin to think they are being killed by “the ghost of the castle.”

Jamna tries to use color spray on another pair of bullywugs, but they shake off the bedazzlement. The gnome wishes Garrett the best of luck and then tries to hide, but a loose stone in the wall throws her off balance and leaves her wide open. The two bullywugs move to go after her.

With the center of the battle moving elsewhere, Garrett jumps down into the barbican in order to attack the two blinded bullywugs within. He brings one of them down.

Raeyanne is spotted and attacked by a bullywug who “ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” She kills him and then becomes the night, moving forward to help Jamna. The gnome scrambles away from the frogmen, shaking too hard to meld into the shadows. She blasts one of them with a ray of frost.

The remaining bullywug on the barbican floor recovers from the color spray blindness and hits Garrett with a thrown spear. The rogue crumples to the ground, bleeding out.

Raeyanne kills the last bullywug on the wall with extreme prejudice. The lone survivor races down the barbican stairs, shouting that attackers have taken the tower.

Downstairs

Hearing the fighting break out above, Beryl, Hurk, Larion, and the lizardfolk in the castle rush the barbican’s ground floor. Beryl gets things going with a silver gout of sacred flame. Hurk slashes the smoldering bullywug with his longsword, and Larion finishes him off with a cut from his scimitar.

The bullywugs unleash their giant frogs, which swarm Hurk and Larion. They then pepper the half-orc and the lizardmen with throwing spears. Beryl heals Hurk, who frees himself from one of the frogs and hacks at the other.

Snapjaw leads the lizardmen on the attack. The front ranks smash into the giant frogs, battering them into submission with heavy clubs and spiked shields, while the back ranks launch an organized volley of javelins. There is a terrifying roar from the exterior entrance to barbican as the lizardmen from the camp outside rush in.

The bullywugs realize they are caught between two pincers. A lone bullywug races down the staircase from floor above screeching that the tower is taken.

Beryl bellows at the bullywugs to surrender. They immediately drop their weapons and raise their hands.

The gold dwarf heads upstairs, where Raeyanne has stabilized Garrett. Beryl heals him and gives him a potion. The adventurers regroup and prepare to press the attack.

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Among the Dragon Kneelers
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 6, Part 3

The adventurers head down to the mess hall to chat up the cultists. Raeyanne sits down to a card game with Kevan, Marget, Ryany and Addmyng. The rogue quickly proves to be more than a match for them, but tries to glean information from them.

She learns that the cult is putting Kevan’s daughters through law school and regrets hustling him. The cultists are in the dark about the overall plan for the cult, beyond bringing about a reign of dragons. They also wonder about the involvement of the Red Wizards. The adventurers learn that the cult’s overall leader, Severin the Red, apparently has a connection with the wizards that led to their partnership.

Hurk asks about the leaders of the guard patrols and learns the Bullywugs handle security. The cultists count and sort the loot, then package it off to the lodge, which is apparently a much nicer posting. The bullywugs are not well-liked, especially their strange religious ceremonies.

While the rest of the party pumps the cultist for information, Garrett and Larion stay in the party’s room to engage in a different sort of pumping.

During the cold, damp night, Beryl has a dream of standing out look up at unfamiliar stars. Green lights dance overhead and then shoot over to the west. She then sinks into the earth and finds herself in a underground chamber full of mist that lights up with the same eerie green. The glow comes from a set of runes etched i a large circle on the floor.

The morning drums from the barbican wake her and she hastily scribbles down what she can recall of the runes.

As the party gets dressed, a red mist coalesces at the window and then disburses to reveal the Red Wizard Azbara Jos. He wants to speak with the party privately and asks them about their business here, as well as their thoughts on the cult’s leaders and its overall plans.

Hurk, awoken from “a pleasant dream about tiny… things,” does most of the talking. This is probably a mistake, and explains that they were mercenaries hired by Cyanwrath and they don’t exactly know why they’re here or what they are doing. Jamna spends much of the conversation elbowing him in the leg, trying to get the half-orc to shut up. Raeyanne meanwhile creeps in a position to backstab him should hostilities break out. Looking a little disappointed, Azbara bids his farewell and exits out the door.

Hurk wonders if Azbara could be an ally against the cult, but the rogues want him dead. There is discussion of the best way to kill a wizard, with Rae and Garrett favoring striking the throat first, which is difficult for Jamna to do without a ladder.

The gnome spies the sketch of the runes and identifies it as a permanent teleport circle, likely activated by a command word. Beryl doesn’t know where the circle might be, so they decide to file that away for now.

The party goes down to breakfast, a boring porridge, that is being drowned out by the rally outside. The bullywugs have gathered in the courtyard, where Pharblex Spattergoo shares the secret mysteries reveal to him by the Elder Gods and the spirits of the earth, the air and the other places. But the gods demand a sacrifice, and also a knife to perform the sacrifice. A goat is brought forth and Pharblex proceeds to cut out its heart. He takes the still-beating organ and smacks it against the heads of his followers, blessing them with the powers of the Elder Spirits and the gods of the earth, the air, and the other places. The goat is roasted up for breakfast, while Pharblex eats the heart and then retreats below to commune with the spirits once more.

Garrett is unhappy that the bullywugs get to eat goat while he’s stuck with porridge, so Kevan introduces him to the Dwarven cook Tharm. The cook is willing to provide some contraband bacon (“contrabacon”) in exchange for coin. Garrett shares his meal with Larion.

Afterwards, the party goes to the smithy to confer with the Lizardfolk, but they find Dralmorrer Borngray there trying to instruct them in metalworking. He asks why they aren’t doing whatever it is that they’re supposed to do. “This is a cult, not a charity—except for tax purposes.” They explain they want to thank Snapjaw for guiding them through the swamp, and the elf, who has a strange appreciation of the lizardmen, allows them to go speak with him.

They huddle with Snapjaw to hammer out a plan for that night. Garrett suggests getting the cook to put something in the bullywugs’ rations as a “prank” that will incapacitate them during the night. Beryl recalls that the frog men will be thrown into a deep slumber if they drink any shade of the evening, a type of palm oil. The two of them bribe and cajole Tharm into sabotaging the food.

That evening, the group engages in stage two of the plan: Garrett, Raeyanne, and Jamna climb up to the second floor of the barbican to sabotage the message drum and signal the lizardmen in the camp outside. Down below, Hurk, Beryl, and Larion wait with a small group of Lizardmen to help secure the balcony.

The climb doesn’t go as smoothly for the rogues as hoped, but the lizardmen are too distracted by a theological debate to notice. The trio creeps up until they are perched on the wall overlooking the roofless second floor of the gatehouse. Jamna creates an illusory noise to draw the guards away from the drum, and then Garrett jumps down. Along the way, he knocks loose several bricks which clatter onto the roof.

“Hi guys!” Garrett says and then rushes over to the drum, cutting it open with his shortsword.

“Get him! Get him!” the bullywug sergeant shouts, and all nine of them rush towards the rogue.

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Castle of the Frog Men
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 6, Part 2

The adventurers have ventured into the Mere of Dead Men, following the trail blazed by lizardfolk porters who have been carrying the Cult of the Dragon’s stolen loot to a castle hidden in the swamp. They are accompanied by the well-spoken lizardman Snapjaw, who believes they can liberate his people. After a day of travel, in which they fended off an attack by giant frogs, they have bedded down at a lizardfolk way camp.

Eleint 18, 1489 DR

In the pre-dawn hours, as Raeyanne is wrapping up the third watch, she spots a dark shape blotting out stars in the sky and moving rapidly towards them. Recalling a similar sight during the blue dragon Lennithon’s attack on Greenest, she hastily wakes the others. As the dragon swoops low over the camp, Hurk takes aim with the Bow of the Golden Hart, but Snapjaw stops him.

“I say, chap, it’s not bad as all that,” the lizardman says in draconic. Beryl translates. “Things aren’t quite as pear-shaped as they might appear.”

The dragon lands on the edge of camp, and they see that it is a black dragon the size of an elephant. Snapjaw immediately prostrates himself before it. Raeyanne recognizes that dragons like to be sucked up to and curtsies, saying “Welcome, great one” in the Common Tongue. The others make similar gestures of respect and Garrett compliments the creature’s horns.

The dragon commends them on their courtesy, and introduces himself as Voaraghamanthar the Black Death, lord of the Mere of Dead Men. He asks who they are and what business they have in his swamp. Garrett offers non-committal answers about being a thief seeking adventure.

Beryl bluntly declares herself to be a cleric of Bahamut, causing Raeyanne to nearly go into conniptions. But Voaraghamanthar bows his head, noting that even dragons who do not follow the path of Bahamut still respect him.

Voaraghamanthar explains that his lovely swamp is being defiled by visitors who have overstayed their welcome—the Cult of the Dragon, who he deduces the party is after. Raeyanne has trouble concealing her relief at this announcement.

The black dragon explains that he granted them the use of Castle Naerytar and the service of his slaves, the lizardfolk, in exchange for the Cult recovering a certain book from the ruins. They have failed to uphold their end of the bargain and he is tired of their excuses. Unfortunately, he cannot act against the Cult without incurring the wrath of their other dragon allies. So he has a proposition for the party.

In exchange for not killing them, he wants the adventurers to retrieve the book, free his lizardmen from their subservience to the bullywugs, and also destroy another artifact in the castle: the farseer of Illusk. It is a contraption with a large brass tube mounted in a dome.

Garrett asks why he wants the device destroyed and he merely says “It irks me.” Raeyanne agrees that it can be uncomfortable to be watched by someone else. The dragon gives her a look.

To aid in rallying the lizardfolk, Voaragamanthar gives Beryl a scale inscribed with his symbol (the draconic letter “v”) and wishes her the best on her journey. After basking in his own noblesse oblige, he flies off.

Too rattled to go back to bed, and with the rosy fingers of dawn creeping across the eastern horizon, they decide to have breakfast. Garrett tells Jamna that there is plenty of frog left. She insists that she’s fine with what she has and quickly puts Hurk between her and the rogue. Larion, meanwhile, is happy to tuck in on the amphibian.

The rest of their journey east is spent traveling by canoe. As they draw near to the castle, they start encountering patrols of bullywugs. They avoid the first one in a bank of fog. But a few hours later, a patrol of 12 frog men spot them. Snapjaw insists that they can pretend to be cultists and should be able to get through fine.

But as the bullywugs draw near, Jamna becomes very agitated at the sight of them. “Cool your tits,” Beryl insists, while Raeyanne and Garrett reassure her that if the frog men eat her, they will cut her out of their bellies. The gnome huddles up against Hurk and manages to stay quiet.

The bullywug leader challenges the party, ignoring Snapjaw’s assurances in broken Common. The frog man insists that the adventurers provide a password to demonstrate their fealty to the Cult. Raeyanne hails Tiamat in draconic and the bullywugs let them through. Once they are past, Snapjaw explains that there is no password and the bullywugs were just hassling them.

A little more than an hour later, they find themselves approaching Castle Naerytar. The fortress is a collection of towers, two or three stories tall, enclosed by a curtain wall and surrounded by a moat save for a single open gate. One of the towers sports a strange wooden dome. Outside the castle are two camps. One is made up of crude huts and is full of lounging bullywugs, while the other consists of longhouses inhabited by lizardfolk.

As the adventurers approach the outskirts of the camp, they are challenged by a squad of lizardmen. Snapjaw assures the guards that these are great warriors who have come to free the Scaly Death Clan from the tyranny of the bullywugs. To reinforce this story, Beryl holds up Voaraghamanthar’s scale and all of the lizardmen (including Snapjaw) immediately kowtow. Once Beryl is persuaded to put the scale away, Snapjaw insists that they are the chosen ones of the black dragon and the time is right to strike.

“Jolly good then,” the patrol leader says in draconic, “we shall notify the Resistance.”

The lizardmen explain that they have been stockpiling weapons in the castle for an uprising, but haven’t had any figures to rally around. For now, they recommend that the party continue to pose as mercenaries for the Cult. Snapjaw leads them up to the castle, warning them about the alligators in the moat.

They are challenged by the bullywug guards, who send a runner to fetch the castle commander. While they wait for the runner to return, the bullywug sergeant asks how long the adventurers are staying. The party freezes, realizing they hadn’t really worked out a backstory. “We’ll be here as long as they need us,” Beryl manages.

The bullywug then prattles on about how awesome the Mere of Dead Men is and tells them how the bullywug leader Pharblex Spattergoo made a deal with the Cult to take over Castle Naerytar once their operations in the region are complete.

The castle commander finally arrives. Dralmorrer Borngray is a one-eyed sun elf with long blond hair and creepy leather armor. A longsword is at his side and a shield is slung over his back. He demands to know who sent the party here.

Garrett and Hurk spin a story about Hurk dueling with Langdedrosa Cyanwrath, which impressed the half-dragon enough to bring them on board. The elf is dismissive of Cyanwrath’s recruitment methods, but accepts them as legit.

Dralmorrer tells them that they are restricted to the first floor of the castle to keep them out of the way of the guests: Wyrmspeaker Rezmir and the Red Wizard Azbara Jos. He then dismissively instructs Snapjaw to find them food and lodgings, and wanders off grumbling about having accommodate humans, dwarves, Half-orcs, gnomes and a “half-breed.”

Snapjaw gives a quick tour of the ground floor. The only working entrance is through the barbican, which opens out onto an open-air causeway vulnerable to ranged attacks from the keep. The causeway leads to the central courtyard, from which they can access several different freestanding towers and the keep.

There is a forge on the ground floor where Dralmorrer has been attempting to teach the lizardmen metallurgy. Also on the ground floor is a stable for giant lizards, a barracks for bullywugs, and a mess hall for the few human cultists in the fort. The mess hall also doubles as a counting station for the loot that the lizardmen haul in from the roadhouse. A chapel to Tiamat rounds out the ground floor features.

The adventurers are given an unused room on the ground floor of one of the towers. They quickly discuss their next move. The lizardfolk will smuggle their weapons stockpile out of the castle that night and the following day, in preparation for an attack the following night. In the meantime, the party will keep up the cultist act and try to scout out the facility. Snapjaw notes that most of the second story areas do not connect with each other, which means that enemies upstairs cannot easily reinforce one another.

Garrett notes that the window in their room overlooks the narrowest section of the moat, though it would still be challenging to jump across. Snapjaw warns them that crocodiles live in the moat and are kept fed by the bullywugs. Garrett then creeps up the stairs into the upper floor of the tower, finding an empty common room and two doors. Not wanting to risk being seen, he retreats downstairs for the time being.

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Green Scales, Silver Tongue
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 6, Part 1

The party interrogates the lizardman, Snapjaw. Though he speaks pidgin Common, he turns out to be surprisingly eloquent and discursive in Draconic, which Raeyanne and Beryl also speak.

He offers to assist them in their war against the Cult of the Dragon, which has impressed the Scaly Death lizardfolk into its service. He provides a great deal of information about the cult’s operations in the Mere of Dead Men:

  • The lizardfolk serve as porters carrying the crates from the roadhouse to Castle Naerytar deep in the swamp, where they also provide manual labor. The lizardfolk are poorly treated, particularly by the cult’s bullywug allies, and could be convinced to rise up. Snapjaw hopes that the presence of allies like the party will convince the others to act. There are 80 warriors in the Scaly Death clan, about 40 of which are in the vicinity of the Castle at any given time.
  • The bullywugs are slimy, cruel, and lazy frog men who serve as soldiers and enforcers for the Cult. They are loyal to their chieftain-shaman, Pharblex Spattergoo, a particularly vile specimen. Approximately 30 of them guard the Castle, while another 30-70 are in its vicinity at any given time.
  • There are relatively few cultists at the Castle, but three significant figures were there when Snapjaw left. These include an elf with an unpronounceable (to Snapjaw) name, who is the castle commander, as well as the half-dragon Rezmir and the Red Wizard Azbara Jos.

Snapjaw offers to escort the adventurers to the castle, where he would vouch for them as more cultists in order to get past the patrols. They could then rally the lizardfolk and take the Castle by surprise. Though the Scaly Death clan is outnumbered, if the adventurers are able to defeat Pharblex and the cult leaders, that should break the resolve of the cowardly bullywugs.

Judging the lizardman to be speaking true, the four adventurers agree to meet with him the following day and begin the journey. Beryl also makes sure to cure his wounds, for which he is grateful.

The party returns to the road house, where tensions between Captain Ardred’s guards and the caravan cultists remain high. The party reports to the Captain that they killed six lizardmen outside the tunnel. Ardred places the camp superintendent Bog Luck under arrest and sends word to Waterdeep about the incident.

Retiring to their shared bedroom, the party finds that Jamna the gnome has struck Larion in the knee, tied him up, and is in the process of working him over. Raeyanne’s personal effects are strewn across the room. Garrett immediately orders the gnome to back off. Raeyanne is fearful that her tiger skin rug was stolen, but it was just tossed in a corner.

Jamna reveals that she caught Larion planting the key to the vault in Raeyanne’s things. The young half-elf says that the cultist Zora threaten him into planting the key. The plan was to accuse Raeyanne of stealing it from Bog Luck and blame the party for the missing crates.

Larion also identifies Jamna as a member of the unscrupulous Zhentarim, the Black Network of merchants,mercenaries, and mafiosos that seeks to monopolize trade on the Sword Coast. Raeyanne reveals that she has known about Jamna’s affiliation since Waterdeep and told Beryl on the way. The threat posed by the Cult of the Dragon has forced the Harpers and the Zhents into an uneasy alliance.

While Hurk silently thinks through this revelation, Jamna insists that they are all on the same side. She was just instructed not to disclose her allegiance. She also mentions that she discovered that Larion had pilfered 1,400gp in gems from the cultists’ loot. The half-elf explains that he needed to fund his escape. He notes that he is far from the only cultist to dip his beak into the flow of treasure.

Hurk tells the kid (“Pinky”) that this should be a learning experience—don’t betray the party. He promises that they can protect him from the cult. Larion insists that the lesson is learned. Garrett releases him from Jamna’s expertly tied knots and checks whether he has any other stolen goods. At Garrett’s request, Beryl heals the lad’s injured knee.

Jamna asks Hurk if things are still good between them. He notes that she acted to protect the party when she didn’t necessarily have to. He also understands having to do what your bosses tell you. Jamna insists that she will always have his back, no matter what. She gives Larion the stink eye, then hops into her bunk.

The adventurers sleep in after their escapades that night. When they finally rise, they inform Captain Ardred that they intend to head deeper into the mere to chase stories of treasure. He’s sorry to see them go, as they had done good work and he was hoping to bring them on full time. Hurk makes a mental note to follow up with this guy about employment once the Cult is vanquished.

Garrett checks with Larion. The rogue had seen the half-elf undergo a long night of the soul, but this morning he seems to have come to a decision. Larion says he is committed to sticking with the party—though he doesn’t know where they are going.

Jamna sends one of her winged serpent talismans to inform her superiors of what they’ve uncovered, but she is less than thrilled to enter the swamp as she is deathly afraid of frogs. She explains that they can grow large enough to swallow a gnome whole. After Garrett teases her, she reveals that she witnessed her own father be devoured in such a fashion, which makes him feel kind of bad. Jamna ending up riding on Hurk’s shoulders for much of the journey, occasionally whispering sweet nothings in his hear, but always watchful for the frog menace.

After linking up with Snapjaw, the party sets out through the mere, following the blaze marks cut in the trees. As they head deeper into the swamp, Beryl has an unsettling feeling as she realizes they are crossing into the territory of a dragon. Garrett notes that they can duck for cover under the trees to avoid being seen from the air.

A couple hours into the journey, hurk accidentally steps into a patch of quicksand. He immediately leans back and tosses Jamna into the air, so that he falls backward onto solid-ish ground. The gnome lands on his chest, helping to weigh him down as he pulls his feet free. Although the maneuver kept them out of the quicksand, it did cover them both in mud.

Towards the end of the day, as they approach Snapjaw’s “bivouac” site, they hear a deep, rumbly “RIBBET” close by, follow by several responses all around them. The adventurers realize they’ve been surrounded by six giant frogs.

“I told you so! I told you so!” Jamna cries out, near panic. Hurk, Garrett, and Raeyanne make use of their bows as the frog close in, while Jamna flings magic at them, Snapjaw chucks a javelin, and Larion stays close to Garrett with his scimitar drawn.

The frogs swarm Hurk, viciously biting him. Beryl cures his wounds with a surge of divine energy, while the rest of the party switches to melee weapons. Jamna manages to blind two of the beasts with color spray, and the adventurers dispatch them with brutal efficiency.

Snapjaw shows them how the lizardfolk skin and carve giant frogs. Despite Garrett’s urging, Jamna pledges not to touch the frog meat.

The party arrives at the lizardfolk camp site, consisting of a couple of lean two on less soggy ground next to a flat rock used for campfires. Three dugout canoes are pulled up nearby, for beyond the camp the muddy ground sinks below the water.

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The Carnath Massacre
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 5, Part 4

Faced with a trio of Lizardmen in the strong room of the Carnath Roadhouse, Hurk steps forward into the room and demands to know what they they are doing here. He tries to look intimidating, but it’s hard to do when you’re a big half-orc who still has to look up at the lizardmen.

After stating his challenge, he readies for the inevitable while Beryl moves up beside him. Raeyanne had already slipped inside the pitch black chamber, unseen but also unable to see.

Out on the roof, Jamna’s keen gnomish ears perk up at the sound of the half-orc’s voice. Garrett asks if Hurk is being smart.

“Hurk is being Hurk,” she tells him.

“Well, at least he’s consistent,” Garrett says.

“The word for my man is ‘reliable,’” Jamna says. “Solid.

“Thanks for sharing that, Jamna,” Garrett replies. “Even though it was more than I needed to know.”

The rogues debate whether to head downstairs and join in.

Below, one of the lizardmen charges Hurk, provoking an attack from the half-orc. Beside him, Beryl unleashes her prepared spell, a sacred flame which briefly illuminates the pitch black room. The flash of light allows Raeyanne, otherwise blind in the dark, to draw a bead on the lizardman and hit him with her shortsword.

With their friend badly wounded, the other two lizardmen drop the crate they were carrying and join the fray. The reptiles wielding heavy clubs and spiked shields made from giant turtleshells. They try to attack both the fighter and the cleric, but Hurk forces them to stay focused on him.

The sound of all this ruckus settles things for the rogues upstairs and they dash down to the ground floor. Garrett’s longer strides quickly outpace the gnome.

“Need me to carry you, shorty?” he calls out. Jamna stares daggers at him.

Fighting continues in the strong room, where Raeyanne kills the wounded Lizardman but another one clambers out of the trap door to join the fight. Hurk continues to draw their ire, while Beryl unleashes more sacred flames, the bursts of light giving Raeyanne glimpses of the fight in the dark. Hurk lands two devastating blows on one of the creatures, and Raeyanne pulls out her hand crossbow to give it a bolt to the brain.

Garrett finally charges into the warehouse and stops at the entrance to the strong room, realizing that he, too, can’t see in the pitch darkness. He hears the fighting, however, and can smell Hurk just ahead of him inside the room. With his shortbow knocked and ready, Garrett stares into the darkness uncertainly.

Jamna arrives a moment later.

“Boy, it’s a good thing you got here ahead of me,” she says.

“Get stuffed,” he hisses back at her.

“Did enough of that already today,” she says. The gnome squeezes in beside him to take stock of the situation with her darkvision. “Let’s light things up a little.”

A glowing ray of blue-white light bursts from her hand, lancing past Hurk’s left armpit and just missing the lizardman in front of him. The beam strikes one of the crates in the room and freezes a section of it solid.

The light from the ray lets Garrett take aim and he lets fly an arrow that whizzes past Hurk’s right ear to smack solidly into a lizardman’s chest.

Hurk is startled by all the missiles flying from behind him and is thrown off his game as he fights the Lizardmen. Beryl continues to call down the fire of Bahamut, while Raeyanne takes aim again with her hand crossbow.

Garrett moves over to give Jamna some more space and the gnome crouches down behind Hurk to fire another blue-white ray between his legs. The frigid spell leaves hoarfrost clinging to his pants, while the targeted lizardman is left sluggish from the cold. With the flash of blue-white light, Garrett fires off another arrow

Hurk savagely cuts down one of the lizardmen while Jamna cheers him on, leaving only one remaining. Beryl calls down a pillar of silver fire that scorches the creature nearly to a crisp, and Raeyanne finishes it off with a crossbow bolt.

The commotion in the strong room roused the rest of the roadhouse. Raeyanne insists that the party drag the lizardmen out into the main warehouse floor as proof of what they fought. Beryl, meanwhile, inspects the trap door, which leads down into a well-built tunnel that stretches off to the east.

The camp superintendent Bog Luck (a half-orc the party suspects of working with the Cult), arrives in the storeroom along with the guard captain Ardred Briferhew. Most of the camp arrives with them, including laborers, guards, and undercover cultists.

Raeyanne explains that they defeated a band of lizardmen steeling gold from the strong room through a trap door. Ardred demands to see the trap door and immediately questions Bog Luck about it. The half-orc unconvincingly denies knowledge of it. He promises to take an inventory to see what is missing, and suggests that the guards scout the area for more lizardfolk.

The adventurers notice that Bog Luck is trying to position himself in front of the dropped crate, which has split open to spill stolen gold coins on the floor. He is clearly trying to dissuade any questions about the gold, and they suspect that he intends to cover up the loot when he takes his “inventory.”

The party takes a quick huddle in the corner to discuss their next move. Beryl and Raeyanne argue that their mission is to determine where the loot is going, so they should hold off on confronting Bog Luck until they have explored the tunnel. Besides, Captain Ardred seems to viewing Bog Luck’s fumbling explanations with skeptical eye.

Garrett has been distracted this whole time by concern over the half-elf Larion Keenblade up in their room, fearing that something might have happened during the chaos. But there isn’t time to go check on him. Raeyanne suggests that Jamna hang back to keep an eye on him and the cultists. This the gnome is happy to do.

Raeyanne then tells Ardred that they have volunteered to explore the tunnel and hunt down any remaining lizardfolk. Still amped by her killing spree earlier, she admits that she is eager to kill more of the reptiles. Ardred wishes them luck, while he calls in guards to secure the strong room, to Bog Luck’s consternation.

Entering the tunnel, Beryl sheepishly casts light on her shield so that the humans can see. The tunnel is well-made, and the gold dwarf can tell it has been in place for months. It extends roughly 50 yards, emerging at an area screened from the Carnath Roadhouse by trees and bushes. As they approach the exit, they overhear bestial voices conversing in Draconic. Navigating by star light, Raeyanne and Garrett creep forward.

The speakers are six lizard folk, who are lazing around the entrance to the tunnel, where they have rigged up some porter poles to haul the crates. They are grousing about being assigned this duty and are starting to wonder what is taking the other group so long to return with the next crate. There are six in all: five around the tunnel exit and one lookout in the trees watching the roadhouse.

Raeyanne and Garrett sneak past them and take up position a short distance away, their bows at the ready. Garrett puts an arrow through the lookout, while Raeyanne shoots the nearest lizardman. At that signal, Hurk comes roaring out of the tunnel and dives into the cluster of five lizardmen. Beryl is only a step behind, once again calling on the power of her god.

In the ensuing battle, Garrett brings down the lookout in the trees, while Hurk eviscerates one of the other lizardmen. This cause the four survivors to scatter and attempt to flee. Raeyanne insists that they take one prisoner, so Garrett catches and hamstrings a wounded lizardman. Beryl chases after another, blasting it with holy fire, while Raeyanne kills a third. Hurk drops his sword and unslings the Bow of the Golden Stag, which he uses to bring down one of the other lizardmen. Beryl chases hers down and puts a hammer through its skull.

The party then converges on the prisoner, which Garrett and Raeyanne are already tying up.

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