Tyranny of Dragons

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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Reptiles of Unusual Size
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 5, Part 3

After learning that the cultists expect Larion to report back on their activities, the party discusses what false information he could feed to his compatriots. They consider trying to drive a wedge between the Red Wizards and the Cult of the Dragon.

Raeyanne asks around about Azbara Jos, the red-hatted wizard traveling with the cultists, learning that he disappeared within the past day. Some of the roadhouse residents suspect he might have fallen victim to one of the swamp’s more dangerous denizens.

Garrett, meanwhile, casually spies on the cult and the warehouse. He determines that the cultists’ crates were taken into the strong room with the other valuables. He gets scolded by the camp superintendent, Bog Luck, for poking around the warehouse.

The adventurers ultimately decide Larion should tell his companions a version of the truth: that Garrett left for a short while and otherwise the party bedded down for the night uneventfully.

The next morning, Larion meets up with the other cultists in the communal dining room, while the adventurers sit down for breakfast. Bog Luck and the guard captain Ardred announce assignments. The party learns that they have the day off, as they will be assigned to guard duty that night. Meanwhile, the camp cook Gristle Pete complains about rats in the walls keeping him up all night with their rustling noises.

Raeyanne watches the cultists go about their business and notices that Bog Luck’s scabbard has five scratches on it, a design similar to the Tiamat symbol used by the cultists at the raider camp. Raeyanne’s other attempts to gather information are distracted by Beryl, who is hanging around the kitchen area getting progressively drunker and chattier as she works her way through two beers.

Garrett tries to spy on the cultists again and is confronted by his nemesis, the Calimshani cultist Zora. She tries to pick a fight with him, and when he won’t play ball, tries to start one by herself. She accuses him (wrongly) of murdering her friend, since he had been lurking around the cultists during the trip up to Waterdeep and had broken into the Wandering Serpent. When she comes at him with a scimitar, he deftly springs out of the way and parkours across the cavernous interior of the roadhouse, landing at a card table in the dining area.

“Deal me in, chaps,” he says, grabbing a drink.

A furious Zora storms off.

Meanwhile, Hurk and Jamna knock boots (and other things) in the party’s room. The combination of half-orc endurance and gnomish manic energy leaves the two of them indisposed for pretty much the entire day, denying Garrett a chance to nap.

The adventurers reunite at the end of the day, some more rested than others. They decide that Beryl (“BAHAMUUUT!”) is still too drunk to take a position on the roof, so she and Hurk will patrol the grounds, while the three rogues take their posts up top.

It’s a clear night, with the moonlight glistening on the swampy expanse of the Mere of Dead Men. Jamna claims she saw something large flying in the distance, but otherwise the rooftop sentries don’t notice anything.

Down on the ground level, Hurk and Beryl overhear rustling noises from the strong room around midnight. Hurk signals the sentries to come investigate. Raeyanne and Garrett play rock paper scissors to determine who will go downstairs, while a disgusted Jamna looks on.

Raeyanne is the victor and joins the dwarf and the half-orc downstairs. Working in near-darkness, she is able to pick the lock to the strong room and then stealthily slips into the pitch black room.

Thanks to their darkvision, Hurk and Beryl have a clear view as they stride inside. Three seven-foot tall lizard creatures are in the strong room. Two of them are in the process of hauling a crate into a secret trap door in the floor, while a third one stands guard. They are shocked to be discovered and start to reach for their weapons.

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The Not So Great Escape
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 5, Part 2

Ambushed by Gallowed brigands, Garrett chats with their leader, an elf named Igach, who tells him the gang’s leader wants to see him. Garrett decides escape is a wiser choice, and swings down into an open window of the Wandering Serpent Inn. He interrupts a couple (a human man and a dwarf woman) enjoying a romantic evening, then careens down the hall, stealing an expensive, dragon-themed vase of imported tulips.

He attempts to swing across the chandelier in the lobby, but the whole thing comes crashing down, alerting the entire inn. Garrett overhears the alarmed cultists coordinating with the Gallowed. In the chaos, he sneaks out the service entrance.

But he soon picks up two tails. He tries to lose them in the city streets, but gets delayed by an angry dog. After scaring off the dog, he attempts order a fruit cart vendor out of the way, but the wizened half-orc refuses to budge. After “trading” some tulips for blood oranges and avoiding a befuddled baker, Garrett finally eludes pursuit. Battered and breathless, he arrives at the temple of Bahamut to tell Beryl what he saw.

She berates him for stealing the vase and damaging the chandelier, insisting he pay for the damages. The rogue then spends the night on the floor in her room. The next morning, they regroup with the rest of the party.

The cultists have hired on as teamsters and laborers for the High Road Charter Company, which is repairing the trade road between Neverwinter and Waterdeep. Raeyanne buys a disguise kit to hide Garrett’s identity, and then the adventurers (plus Jamna) hire on as guards for the caravan.

It takes a ten day to reach the Carnath Roadhouse, located in the treacherous swamp known as the Mere of Dead Men. Jamna tells a ghost story about how the mere is haunted by the spirits of the human and orcish armies that perished there thousands of years ago.

At the roadhouse, a half-orc named Bog Luck oversees the unloading of supplies.

The adventurers are assigned a shared barracks room at the roadhouse, but the sixth roommate turns out to be the half-elven cultist Larion Keenblade. He reveals to Garrett and the others that he wants to get away from the cult. There aren’t any wagons heading back to Waterdeep for at least a few days, however, and at least one person at the roadhouse is the cult’s contact.

The party is left with the dual questions of how to get Larion out alive and how to find out what is happening to the loot the cult hauled up.

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Show and Tell
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 5, Part 1

The party arrives in Waterdeep. Beryl goes to the temple of Bahamut, where she notices something interesting about the statue of the god.

Garrett tracks the cult down to the Wandering Serpent, but notices some old enemies from the Gallowed lurking on the rooftop nearby.

Raeyanne stops by the Rat’s Nest, reports to Leosin and Remallia They question her about her mission, her companions, and Jamna. Cylanestriel drops by to deliver a dragon head. She is investigating matters in the south. Leosin asks to meet with the group at the Yawning Portal.

Hurk goes looking for some schwarma and has trouble getting help from the guards, but manages to track it down. There he runs into Jamna and the two of them chat on their way back. Jamna asks about Hurk’s background, the cities he’s been to. She says she has been from Neverwinter to Amn, dealing in information for merchant interests.

The party decides to bring Jamna with them to the Yawning Portal meeting. Leosin is waiting with two companions, a ranger named Delaan and a silver-haired woman named Elia. Beryl experiences a strange sense of familiarity when she meets Elia, something the woman seems to share, though the two have never met.

The adventurers learn that Rezmir has gone north ahead of the wagons and that she is one of the five Wyrmspeakers, said to carry a powerful artifact. Jamna says her contacts have let her know that two more of the Wyrmspeakers are Galvan the blue and Severin the Red.

Leosin wants them to track the cult further north. So long as the cultists have to pose as normal members of a caravan, they won’t be able to directly attack the heroes. The loot is likely to find its way to Rezmir. If the adventurers encounter her, Leosin asks that they kill her and take whatever artifact it is that she carries.

The party agrees to regroup at the Yawning Portal. Hurk decides to stay there and hangs out in the common room with Jamna. Raeyanne goes back to the Rat’s Nest to visit the rodents, while Beryl stays at the Temple of Bahamut. Garrett gets a room at the Yawning Portal, but goes back to check on the cultists.

The wagons are still there, but so are three members of the Gallowed, who spot the rogue. Unable to elude pursuit, Garrett gets the attention of a guard patrol, forcing the Gallowed to back off while he easily escapes the guards.

Garrett circles back to the Wandering Serpent and manages to spy on the cultists. The wagon leader, Zora, and Azbara Jos are chatting. They plan to rest the horses for another day, then head north to the Carnath Roadhouse posing as a supply train. Azbara claims that his Red Wizard superior is impatient with the tardiness in assembling the hoard, as it delays the rest of their plans.

Unable to spy the half-elf, Garrett returns to the Yawning Portal and reports his discovery to Hurk. Still feeling restless, the rogue then returns to spy on the Wandering Serpent, but is ambushed by a band of Gallowed.

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Accidents Happen
Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Chapter 4, Part 4

After five ten-days on the road, the caravan stops at the town of Daggerford to take on supplies and make a few last minute trades before arriving at Waterdeep ten days hence.

Garrett spots the half-elf cultists and several others leaving the caravan. He tails them to a tavern called the Toad’s Meadhall. Beryl and Raeyanne, meanwhile, head to the tavern to relax and take part in a game of Three Dragon Ante. Beryl plays her cards well, but is no match for Raeyanne’s cheating.

The cultists meet with a strange Rashemi man wearing a ridiculous red cap. Garrett’s attempts to eavesdrop catches the attention of the half elf, who pretends not to see him. Raeyanne loudly jokes about Garrett’s interest.

Hurk, meanwhile, chose to stay with the caravan. Keeping a watchful eye on things, he notices that a dangerous-looking gnome with pink hair is asking merchants if she can join up. Hurk decides to chat her up a bit and see what she’s up to. The gnome introduces herself as Jamna Gleamsilver and claims to be a passenger heading to Waterdeep. Hurk lets her know he’s available if she needs anything heavy lifted.

Meanwhile, the cultists conclude their meeting with the red-hatted man and he returns with them to the caravan, where he appears to have joined as a passenger.

Beryl lingers in the tavern, having a bit too much to drink, and has to be escorted back to the caravan by Raeyanne. She has an unhappy evening.

The next day, Garrett avoids being crushed by a barrel of ale as he helps to unload Beyd’s wagon during a stop. Garrett and Raeyanne assume it was an assassination attempt by the cult. They notice that Jamna is watching the red-hatted guy, and is also quietly gathering information on them. She seems to be aware they are watching her.

Raeyanne confronts her, conversing via thieves’ cant. Jamna claims that she isn’t interested in the man’s red hat so much as what’s underneath it. She asks to meet with the party later that night. Hurk is confused why the two of them appeared to have a tense conversation about the weather.

Jamna interrupts their dinner to pick a bone sliver out of Hurk’s bowl. She claims that if swallowed, it would unfurl in his stomach and pierce his intestines, fatally wounding him. She warns that all of their food is likely poisoned with the things. The adventurers spread a rumor around camp that the stew is bad to discourage people from eating it. Hurk tries to convince Gilas to eat it, but noble shoos him away.

Beryl is concerned that she had already eaten some stew. The party consults with resident herbalist Green Imsa, who advises a purgative. They consider administering the medicine to the rest of the caravan, just to be safe.

Late that night, Jamna meets up with the four adventurers. She explains that she is there for the same reason they are, tracking the cult wagons to find out what they are up to. She indicates that she is working for some sort of mercantile interest that’s unhappy with how the cultists’ raids are impacting trade.

The gnome suggests an alliance and reveals that she’s not certain what the cultists are hauling. They inform her the wagons are full of stolen loot. In turn, she tells them that the red hatted man is in fact a Red Wizard of Thay, which raises a whole other set of questions.

Jamna isn’t sure what they can do about the “accidents,” other than try to survive until they reach Waterdeep. In the mean time, she will keep her distance. She doesn’t want the cult to get wind of their alliance, so that the cult doesn’t go after her, too. When they get to the city, they can regroup.

That night, Garrett seeks out the half-elf cultist and warns him to walk away from the cult. The young man seems to think long and hard about this warning.

The next day, Hurk notices a loose wheel on his cart. The day after, they find a spooked horse who had been drugged. That night, they plant Green Imsa’s purgatory mix in a barrel of ale in order to cleanse the rest of the caravan of any lingering bone slivers. Hurk makes sure to give Jamna a heads up.

The day after that, the adventurers awaken to a murder. A young cultist, who was seen hanging around the stern-faced woman Zora, has been stabbed to death. She is furious and accuses Garrett, demanding to see his short swords. They match the wound, but so would any shortsword. The merchants ignore her accusations and press on to Waterdeep, trusting the gods to administer justice

Finally, after two long months on the road, the caravan arrives at the greatest city of the Sword Coast. The adventurers are paid for their services as guards and the merchants start to go their separate way..

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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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