Tyranny of Dragons

Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 1
Episode 1 - Greenest in Flames

Our happy band of heroes were returning to Greenest, when the little town they remembered was not the same as when they left. Several buildings appeared to be on fire, there was chaos in the streets, and a dragon circling the keep. Concern for those they knew in Greenest overrode their instinct to stay away from an attacking dragon and they ran down the hill toward town.

Looters ran unabated in the streets. A man leading his family was set upon by a gang of kobolds. They leapt upon him, tearing out his throat as his wife tried to fight them off and their children looked on. Our heroes charged into the fray, slaying the kobolds, albeit too late to save the man. They learned from the woman that the residents were trying to make their way to the keep for safety. Despite a dragon attack the battlements, the keep was a safer location than the houses that were currently being looted. They made their way toward the keep, rescuing a few other residents of the town along the way.

They arrived at the keep just in time. The guards shut and barred the gates as cultists and kobolds surrounded them. Once inside, they met the Governor. Clearly rattled, he was somewhat incoherent and irrational. Nevertheless, he suggested there might be an alternate escape route: an abandoned waste water tunnel that lead down to the creek. It hadn’t been used in years, but might let them move in and out unseen by their attackers. The governor asked them to try to capture a cultist who could tell them what was going on.

The tunnel was undiscovered by the attacking looters. Zinniana used her gnomish talent for communicating with small animals to dissuade the rats that were in residence from attacking and was able to pick the rusty lock at the gate after Flint broken open an odd trinket filled with oil he’d had for years. Once outside, they dealt with a group of kobold and cultist scouts on the creek’s banks, taking them by surprise. They then entered the town and looked for a group of looters. Tobin and Veya disguised themselves using robes they’d looted from a group of cultists they’d dispatched earlier. They were able to discover that the cultists were members of the Cult of the Dragon and were looting the town to gather a hoard for the Queen of the Dragons: Tiamat. They were unable to capture anyone, however, but they did rescue some more townsfolk who’d been barricaded in their root cellars.

When they returned to the keep, the Governor asked them to do something about the dragon, much to their consternation. Tobin made an attempt to go to the battlements, but was unable to go out there. Crippled by dragonfear, he confirmed that it was, indeed, a real dragon and not some sort of illusion. The rest of them decided the keep’s guards should handle the dragon and they confronted the Governor about his cowardice. He was still shaken and irrational, but one bit of useful information was gleaned: the Sanctuary, the temple of Chauntea was now under attack by the cultists.

Our heroes exited the keep via the tunnel and made their way to the Sanctuary. The temple was under siege by groups of cultists and kobolds at the front and back doors, and a patrol of the same walked the grounds with two ambush drakes. They avoided the patrol and ambushed the cultists attempting to batter down the front door. Naturally, this alerted the patrol. The patrolling force arrived just as the last of the cultists who were trying to break in fell. It was a difficult combat, but our heroes prevailed at last, though not without wounds. The announced themselves to the people barricaded inside the temple and received some healing from the priest.

As they caught their breath and assessed their wounds, they knew they had two tasks remaining: deal with the third group attempt to set fire to the back door of the Sanctuary and get the priests and townsfolk to the keep…

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 2
Episode 1/Episode 2 - Greenest in Flames/Raiders' Camp

Once they were “safe” inside the temple of Chauntea, our heroes took a moment to take stock of the situation. The priest and acolytes were shaken, but unharmed. The priest, Eadyan Falconmoon offered healing to the heroes who saved him, but reminded them there was still a third group attempting to burn their way through the Sanctuary’s back door. After a quick planning session, the heroes execute their plan, then the attacking cultists and kobolds.

After eliminating the danger to the Sanctuary, they led Eadyan and his acolytes back to the keep. There, they were met by the Castellan who told them of the governor’s next cunning plan. The guards with families would usher their loved ones to safety through the old tunnel while the heroes and twenty volunteers would distract the dragon from the battlements. The Castellan was not convinced of the dragon’s resolve to destroy the town since it had been circling for hours now and Greenest was still standing.

The heroes agreed to lead the keep’s defenders in attacking the dragon. Tobin volunteered to try to talk to the beast, since he spoke Draconic. Meanwhile, Broken Sky had the remaining guards hide in the nearby towers and prepare to attack the dragon from afar through the arrow slits. He enticed it with promises of tribute and the dragon landed on the battlements to hear this human wearing cultist robes sing praises to him. While Tobin distracted the dragon, the rest of the heroes attacked! While Veya took a swipe from the dragon’s claws, she managed to land a mighty blow on its snout with her great axe. The beast dismounted the tower and flew away under a hail of arrows, abandoning the cultists looting the town.

When they returned to the ground floor of the keep, they were greeted with fewer cheers than they expected and some grim news: cultists were attempting to set fire to the mill. A proverb about “no rest for the wicked” came to mind (along with “no good deed goes unpunished”). Without the mill, Greenest would have no way of grinding grain for flour and it would severely damage their ability to make it through the next winter. The heroes once again set out.

At the mill, they saw some cultists setting fires outside and dealt with them, but they were either the most incompetent fire builders ever, or they weren’t really trying to set fire to the mill. Broken Sky snuck into the mill and spied multiple cultists lying in wait. He reported to his companions what he found and Zinnianna suggested talking to the mice and rats in the mill to swarm and distract the cultists so the could sneak attack them. As they were preparing to launch their attack, a group of guards from the keep caught up to them. They attacked the mill en masse and made short work of the cultists. They left the guards to mop of and returned to the keep.

Naturally, there was no time for rest. The heroes and Castellan were alerted to something happening outside. A sizable force of kobolds formed a ring around the keep entrance, and from their ranks strode an armored, half-dragon warrior. “Defenders of Greenest! This has been a successful night, and I am feeling generous. Do you see these four pitiful, useless prisoners? We have no need for them, so I will trade them back to you. Send out your best warrior to fight me, and you can have these four in exchange.”

Veya was still suffering from grievous wounds received earlier in the evening. Broken Sky volunteered to face the half-dragon. As he prepared himself, the creature paced in front of his prisoners. When the monk strode forth to meet him, the half-dragon swung his mighty blade, but missed Broken Sky. The monk responded with a furious attack that staggered the creature and knocked him back. The half-dragon snarled and unleashed his breath weapon. The bolt of lightning grazed Broken Sky, knocking the elf to the ground. Darkness took him. The half-dragon stood over him and sneered. He spit on the elf and threw his sword to the ground. “Is there no one here worthy to face me?”

He turned away in disgust and walked away from the elf’s smoldering body, directing the kobolds to release the prisoners. The kobolds follows him by rank, and the raiders left Greenest. Healers rushed out with the rest of the heroes and to their relief, found Broken Sky only mostly dead. After resting for most of the morning, the heroes bound their wounds and made ready to tackle their next task.

The Governor approached them and asked them to track the raiders. He felt they might be able to recover more intelligence about their purpose and perhaps, some of the stolen loot. On their way out of town, the heroes were met by Nesim Waladra, a disciple of a monk called Master Leosin. Master Leosin, who was known to Broken Sky, went missing in the night after pursuing a group of the cultists. He hoped the heroes could look for his Master while they were tracking the cultists. The followed the trail to a small camp where some cultists and kobolds were arguing over lunch.

The battle was brief. Without their leaders, the kobolds and cultists did not work well together and were divided and conquered with judicious use of spells and strategy. As the heroes took stock of their situation when the battle was over, the saw the trail left by the main group, leading further into the hills…
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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 3
Episode 2 - Raider's Camp

After policing the bodies and taking stock of their situation, our heroes tie up and wakened the lone surviving cultist. Tobin used an enchantment to gain the cultist’s trust and questioned him. They learned there was a rearguard watching the trail and the camp was set up in a box canyon. The cultist begged for his life, promising to flee to Baldur’s Gate if he was released, but Broken Sky broke the man’s neck, ensure no betrayal would occur.

It was mid-day by the time they set off after the rear guard. Our heroes caught up to them as they were laying in wait in an area where two overhangs surrounded the trail made by the main group of raiders. Broken Sky sneaked through the underbrush to discover groups on both sides of the trail were alert and had riders ready to send to the main camp. When he returned to the group, they discussed the situation and decided to bypass the ambush by swinging around them overland.

A wooden guard tower had been erected at the mouth of the box canyon where the raiders’ camp was located. Another tower was on one of the nearby ledges in the canyon. The guards, obviously not expecting trouble, waved our heroes past after a cursory inspection. Various groups of cultists wearing robes of red, blue, and black were mingling with hunters, mercenaries, and kobolds and all were celebrating the looting of Greenest.

Our heroes spent the evening mingling with the cultists, trying to learn the layout of the camp and their plans. They learned one of the caves in the box canyon was being used as a nursery of sorts, though for what, no one would or could say. They also learned not all of the so-called cultists were as fervently dedicated as others and there was dissension amongst the different factions. They located the prisoners and Master Leosin, and despite the elder monk’s protests that we was too weak and injured to be worth rescuing, worked out a plan.

They utilized Zinniana’s stealthy and skills at trickery to arrange a distraction near the cave they thought most likely was the nursery while the others set a fire to one of the many tents on the opposite side of the camp from the prisoners. When the camp responded to the twin threats, our heroes would make their move and turn loose the prisoners and lead them out of the camp.

The plan worked well enough and they got away with information, the prisoners, and the bit of treasure they’d take back from the kobolds with the scouting party. Greenest, of course, was overjoyed to see their citizens returned. After a day of recover, Master Leosin was well-enough to share what he learned about the camp and the cultists. He bade them to return to the camp; something big was going to happen and they needed to know what and when it would occur. So, our heroes prepared themselves to return to the lion’s den once more….

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 4
Episode 3 - Dragon Hatchery

The second trip to the box canyon where the cultists and raiders set up camp was much less perilous. When our heroes arrived, they found the camp all but abandoned. After talking with some surly hunters, they learned that the big cave in the back was still occupied by the Wearer of Purple, the dragon-dogs and the dragon-man. As they approached the cave, they took note of how hastily-abandoned the camp seemed; a result, they supposed, of the recent prisoner rescue.

2014-12-26_21.56.43.jpgA not-quite-steathy approach to the cave meant our heroes were ambushed once they stepped inside, but they dealt with the cult’s Dragonclaws in short order. There were several passages out of the entry cavern. One was a fungus-choked passage with two trails leading through the fungus. Reconnaissance revealed the presence of kobolds and ambush drakes on the other side and the Heroes of Greenest led the kobolds toward them, ambushing them amongst the fungi. They set traps along the path and threw the corpses of the Dragonclaws and kobolds to the violet fungi in the passage. It seemed to deter the ambush drakes from pursuing.

Instead of navigating the deadly fungus and confronting the drakes, the heroes decided to investigate side passages first. They found the abandoned treasury where the raiders’ ill-gotten spoilers were kept, now empty saved for a sleeping, drunken cultist. They dealt with him and scavenged for leftover treasure. What they found was paltry compared to what was stolen.

The next chamber they investigated turned out to be a barracks of sorts for the remaining cultists. Judicious use of a sleep spell dealt with most of them, but a few resisted the spell. During the fight, from a connecting room, came an incantation from the Wearer of Purple. One of the leaders of the cultists joined the fray, dealing grievous wounds with her halberd, but in the end, she fell to the combined skills of the Heroes of Greenest.Lysette_Final.jpg

Upon searching her chambers, they found a stack of papers. Most of them seemed to be poetry about dragons, but one was clearly a ledger of sorts and one was a map that seemed to show the cult’s targets. Interpreting the unlabeled columns of numbers would have to wait, as a hole was discovered in the floor of the chamber underneath a rug. Dropping a light down the hole elicited cries of alarm. The heroes of Greenest prepared to lower themselves down and do battle….

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 5
Episode 3 - Dragon Hatchery, continued

At the last minute, our heroes decided to not jump blindly into the hole from which they heard the alarmed shouts. Instead, they called back to them, attempting to bluff those below. Unfortunately, Tobin chose to use magic to mimic the voice of the half-dragon, who answered back and raised the alarm!

They retracted the rope ladder and covered the hole with Mondath’s table, then as much furniture and debris as they could quickly find. The Heroes of Greenest then retreated back to the entry chamber and set up an ambush for the forces of the Dragon Queen, using the fungus-filled corridor as a choke point.

A drake led the charge, followed by waves of kobolds. The presence of the half-dragon was felt, but as they battled through the kobolds, he stayed hidden. Two human fanatics* charged through the ranks of the kobolds, and though they gave the heroes some trouble, they too, were dealt with.

2015-01-09_22.06.10.jpgThe heroes pressed their advantage and found the half-dragon issuing orders from the back, attending by winged kobolds. After a brief moment of panic when they realized they were set up perfectly to be decimated by one blast by the half-dragons deadly breath, they charged into the fray. (You can see the PCs all lined up in the center of the picture there… I don’t mind telling you, had they not realized what they’d done, they would have when that half-dragon emerged and breath-weaponed them all; I was planning on it). It was a challenging fight, and Broken Sky was grievously wounded, but in the end, the Heroes of Greenest prevailed. They took a brief respite to bind their wounds and plan their next move.

Their next move was to continue exploring the cave complex. They returned to Mondath’s chamber, uncovered the hole and descended. Zinniana scouted the room ahead. It appeared to be some sort of temple dedicated to Tiamat. The walls were carved to depict various types of dragons, and beneath a carving of the dragon queen herself, there was a small chest.

The rest of the party kept a safe distance as Zinniana inspected the chest and discovered a series of traps. She disarmed them and unlocked the chest, revealing a handful of baubles. Further investigation lead to another chamber. This cave was essentially a ledge overlooking a sunken area. Two drakes spit and hissed at the party as they approached the edge, and they saw what the drakes were guarding: dragon eggs!

Broken Sky counseled that they stay on the ledge and let the drakes come to them as they peppered them from afar with magic and missile weapons. The drakes were well-trained, however, and remained near the eggs. Broken Sky saw this as an opportunity to keep a safe distance and kill them from afar. As Flint and Veya maneuvered, though, hidden kobolds attacked with glue and fire bombs. The monk made short work of them and the dwarf and barbarian moved down the ramp towards the drakes, despite Broken Sky’s protests.

The monk felt obligated to protect his companions and charged into the fray with the draks where he found a nasty surprise. Near the eggs, one of the stalagmites was, in fact, alive! A roper caught the monk up in his tendrils and tried to make a meal of him. The ensuing battle with the draks was hard fought. Many were brought to the brink of death more than once. In the end, however, the Heroes of Greenest once more prevailed. Tobin took a moment to examine the dragon eggs, and seeing they were black dragon eggs, smashed them, exposing the infant dragons within to a harsh world they were ill-equipped to survive.

Bloody but victorious, the Heroes of Greenest retreated from the caves, leaving several chambers unexplored. They headed northwest, toward their rendezvous with Master Leosin in Elturel….

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 6
Episode 4 - On the Road OR Merchants & Moneylenders

Our heroes enjoyed an uneventful journey from the raider’s camp caves back to Greenest. Mayor Nighthill greeted them and gave them instructions from Master Leosin to proceed to Elturest and meet with him a human paladin of Torm named Ontharr Frume. Despite the soggy weather, they packed up and did so, arriving at Elturest and its perpetual, brilliant light a few days later. They tracked down their contacts at a tavern called Wild Cats.

Ontharr Frume was a bulky, hirsute man, jovial and friendly. After conferring with our heroes, he and Master Leosin formulated a plan. He offered the Heroes of Greenest an opportunity to work with the Harpers and bade them to track the Dragon Queen’s minions to their final destination. They knew they would be joining a trade caravan heading north out of Baldur’s Gate toward Waterdeep and suggested the heroes could disguise themselves and hire themselves out to the caravan as guards. He gave them the name of an ally in Baldur’s Gate who could help them find work.

The heroes boarded a riverboat that would take them to Baldur’s Gate and formulated a plan of their own. They would join the caravan to spy on the raiders, but not as guards, rather as merchants! Flint Rockbottom was already an accomplished brewer, and the rest could just as easily be his guards and support staff as they could anyone else’s. When they arrived in Baldur’s Gate, they bought supplies for the two-month journey to Waterdeep and worked with Ontharr’s contact to put together a wagon and enough equipment to masquerade as sellers of beer and fine ale. While they were setting up their wagon and equipment they spotted the raiders affiliated with the Cult of the Dragon in the staging area. A palanquin was most conspicuous, its passenger hidden from view. Unfortunately, it vanished sometime in the night. A halfling, Tom Haversford, approached Rockbottom Brewery, offering his service as a tinker and repairman, but they turned him away.

While the others were planning their trip, Veya became antsy and engaged in some contests of strength at one of the nearby taverns. She left victorious, with a half-orc following after her, begging to breed with the one who bested him. When she returned to the caravan staging area, everyone was ready to depart: Rockbottom Brewery, Edherlri Lewel (exotic wood), Oyn Evenmor (exotic birds), Achreny Ulyeltin (furs and uncured hides), Lai Angesstun (scented cooking oils), three wagons carrying Cult of the Dragon members in disguise, and one wagon with settlers and drifters accompanied by various carts. For two months, they would travel together. What dangers did the road hold?

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Sessions 7-8
A Highlights Reel

When we last left our heroes, they were prepared to depart with the trade caravan heading from Baldur’s Gate to Waterdeep. Their cover as ale merchants was established and well-planned. En route, a wild red dragon swarm appeared and wiped them all out, turning the caravan to ash. Ash and tears. And blood. Ash, tears, and blood.
Except that didn’t happen!

What happened was, they learned one of the other members of the caravan was a stuck-up aristocrat who beat his animals. They rescued another traveler from a band of hobgoblin raiders. This grateful traveler joined the caravan. They encountered a field of weirdly fast-growing fungus and later heard horrible singing in the distance which they chose not to investigate. Several more uneventful days followed, then the cultist’s wagon overturned on a rock, spilling ill-gotten booty. Our heroes helped right the wagon and pretended not to notice the purloined treasure. After a few more days, they were attacked by perytons as they passed near some mountains. Fortunately, they worked together with some of the more helpful caravaners and killed the beasts. The same afternoon, they spotted a marvelous sight: a golden stag leading a herd of deer. Our heroes realized what a portent it was and prevented the caravan hunters from killing the creature.

Eventually, they got a respite from the weeks of camping out under open skies: they arrived at a roadside inn. Oddly, despite the presence of only a handful of other people, the innkeeper claimed the inn was full. What appeared to be a noble with his entourage hurled abuse and insults, almost daring the Rockbottom Brewery crew to attack him. The situation deteriorated and a fight broke out. The noble and his men were not simply drunken fops, they were in fact a group of bored assassins looking to commit murder for fun. Kagark and Tom Haverford from the caravan joined in the battle. Kagark was determined not to let harm come to Veya. After a hard-fought battle, the innkeeper lay dead along with the assassins. There was much rejoicing.

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 9
A Rest Stop and Waterdeep at last!

When we last left the Rockbottom Brewing Company, they had just stopped at an inn on the road somewhere between Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep (actually between Baldur’s Gate and Daggerford). There, they found three belligerent men who were more than they seemed and fought for their lives against a trio of bored, antagonistic assassins.

Fortunately, that would be the last bit of trouble they encountered for some time and when the caravan rolled into Daggerford, everyone was more than ready for hot food, warm bed, and something interesting… which they would not find in Daggerford. While most of the caravan elected to take advantage of the town’s inns, the cultists chose to stay with their wagons. The members of Rockbottom decided it was in their best interests to spend the evening watching them. Tobin did become involved in a Bard Battle with a pair of half-elven minstrels, and many sick riffs were laid down in the pursuit of a victory. Meanwhile, Broken Sky noticed a robed man with poorly-hidden tattoos speaking to the cultists. He concluded it was a Red Wizard of Thay and reported back with some concern when the man apparently hooked up with the cultists. The monk and Zinniana also discovered a gnome casing the caravan, showing particular interest in the cult’s wagons.

They confronted this gnome, Jamna Gleamsilver, about her suspicious interest in the caravan. She claimed to want one thing: a ride out of Daggerford. After discussing it amongst themselves and finding no evidence of malfeasance on the gnome’s part, the Rockbottoms agreed to let her ride along with them. This was mostly so they could keep an eye on her; if they turned her down, there were plenty of other merchants who might not.

The evening passed uneventfully. Several days later, when they were less than a ten day from Waterdeep, Jamna approached them as they were breaking their fast in the morning. She showed them a coiled bone concealed within their oatmeal, suggesting that someone wanted them dead. The bone would soften and unfurl within their stomachs, piercing their guts from within. She promised to talk with them in depth when the caravan camped for the evening.

Once the caravan stopped for the night, and everyone was settled down for the evening, Jamna approached our intrepid heroes. She revealed that she was no mere traveler, rather she, too was working against the Cult of the Dragon. While she would not say for whom she worked, she assured the Rockbottoms that they shared a common purpose in this matter. The organization for whom she worked was committed to stopping their plans to summon Tiamat into this world. That news was a revelation to the Rockbottoms, and they knew summoning the Queen of Dragons was bad news for all.

A few days later, the caravan awoke to find one of the cultists dead. Naturally, they blamed the Rockbottoms, Tobin in particular, since several of them believed they remembered someone matching his description snooping around one of their camps east of Greenest. Azbara Jos, the suspected Red Wizard, played the voice of reason and tried to get everyone to calm down. In the end, no murder weapon was found, and there were no witnesses, so the caravan elected to let the cultists deal with their dead and move on: Waterdeep was only two days away!

When they arrived in Waterdeep, the caravan split up. The merchants went their way and the cultists continued to a warehouse in the northern part of the city. Broken Sky and the two gnomes went to keep an eye on the cult while Flint, Tobin, and Veya sold off the beer and ale they had fermenting during the trip. Kagark, naturally, followed Veya around, and Tom Haverford went with the merchants with whom he’d hired on. The warehouse the cultists were at was one used to stage materials and equipment used to repair the road leading north out of Waterdeep leading toward Neverwinter. They caught wind of rumors of the half-dragon they saw in Baldur’s Gate having passed through the area less than a ten day ago. They returned to the Yawning Portal to plan their next move….

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 10
On the Road Again... sort of

After gearing up to follow the cultists out of Waterdeep and discover where they were taking the purloined treasure, our heroes were approached by their old friend, Tom Haverford. He informed them that his employer requested a meeting with them at her home in the Sea Ward: Eagleshield Villa. Once there, they were treated to luncheon with Dahlia Eagleshield and introduced to the other members of the Radiant Shield: Ontharr Frume of the Order of the Gauntlet, Master Leosin of the Harpers, and Aurea Moonshadow of the Emerald Enclave. Lady Eagleshield represented the Lord’s Alliance and explained that they formed the Radiant Shield to do what the leaders of their organizations and homes would not: investigate the activities of the Cult of the Dragon. They were also joined by an eavesdropper, Jamna Gleamsilver who insisted the Zhentarim be included since they also had a vested interest in preventing the destruction of the world by a vengeful dragon god (and she was going to find a way to involve herself even if they refused to let her listen in, anyway).

The Radiant Shield had been piecing together evidence gathered from the Sword Coast raids, and other reconnaissance, and thanks to Tom Haverford’s report on the heroes’ behavior during the long trip from Waterdeep, as well as endorsements from Ontharr Frume and Master Leosin, decided to reveals themselves to our heroes. What they learned was that the Cult of the Dragon’s goal appeared to be to open a portal through which Tiamat could enter Faerun from Avernus. Five Wyrmspeakers of the cult are the primary culprits in this plot. The Radiant Shield believes the half-dragon our heroes saw meeting with the cultists was one of these Wyrmspeakers: Rezmir. Each Wyrmspeaker possesses a Dragonmask which is used in the ceremony to open the portal.

Armed with this information, the Radiant Shield was able to put together a plan for moving forward: capture or destroy the Dragonmasks and take the Wyrmspeakers out of the equation. Master Leosin tracked a few previous shipments of cultist goods out of Waterdeep north to a roadhouse near the Mere of Dead Men, but was unable to investigate further because of a patrolling dragon. He showed them the location of Karnath Roadhouse on a map.

Upon their request, Lady Eagleshield arranged for water transportation for our heroes to head up to Leilon. Their plan was simple: get to the roadhouse ahead of the next shipment. They believed trailing them would be too dangerous since the Cultists were already suspicious of them. Kagark, of course, asked to accompany them and Lady Eagleshield also sent Tom Haverford along with them. In the meantime, the rest of the Radiant Shield would work on their own leaders and try to fortify their alliances.

A few days later, they arrived in Leilon and followed the road south to Karnath Roadhouse. There, they found a working roadhouse that served as a staging area for workers repairing the road between Waterdeep and Neverwinter. It seemed an unusual place for Cult of the Dragon activity, so Broken Sky and Zinianna investigated covertly, discovering that most of the residents were, indeed, just regular folk going about their lives. They did find a trap door in a treasure-filled strongroom and returned in the dead of night to investigate with the rest of the heroes. The chef reported being awakened regularly by noise from within the strongroom, and our heroes discovered the trapdoor appeared to be used as a way for the cultists to move their treasure out of the roadhouse.

They followed the dark, dank tunnel. It led away from the roadhouse, directly in to the Mere of Dead Men…

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 11
Mere of Dead Men

As the PCs stared out of the tunnel into the swamp ahead, they heard voices speaking in Draconic. Tobin realized they were lizardfolk and crept up to eavesdrop. The lizardfolk were complaining about “frog-people” muscling in on their territory. Leading with a sleep spell from Tobin, our heroes rushed the lizardfolk to subdue them. After a fairly unproductive conversation with their captives, they learned there was more than one lizardfolk tribe in the swamp, bullywugs being lead by “dragon kneelers” at a castle, and a dragon.

They knocked their captives out again and entered the swamp. After a while, the ambient swamp noises quieted down and they were aware of a creature nearby. Though they heard its approach, they were unprepared for what broke through a tangle of underbrush: a hydra! They were prepared to fall back, but Kagark charged the beast. They fought hard; Kagark fell… twice, but in the end, they were victorious. A few hours later, as the sun rose, they found a campsite along the trail they were using. The campsite was obviously frequently used, but currently unoccupied. Our heroes took the opportunity to rest and recover from their battle with the hydra. Several canoes were moored at the campsite and appeared to be the only means by which they would be able to venture deeper in to the swamp.

Before taking the canoes, Tobin used the fly spell in his cittern to scout the area. Flying high above the trees, he spotted the castle of which the lizardfolk spoke. He marked its location and the heroes set out in the canoes. Kagark was more than happy to paddle the canoe through the swamp with Veya. He even sang as they traveled, “Kagark row the bow ashore | I’m with Veee-yaaa | Kagark row canoe ashore | I’m with Veee-yaaa!”* The rest of the heroes traveled in relative silence and they avoided another lizardfolk patrol in canoes. Shortly before dusk, they arrived at the castle’s makeshift dock, but spotting patrolling bullywugs, they circled around to some land some ways from the castle. They beached their canoes and worked their way overland toward the back of the castle, where they planned their next move…

  • Sung to the tune of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”
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