The Heroes Return

Troll Claws
Wher the heroes nearly die twice.

15429630030_020ab85567_b.jpgThe weather turned bad and they found themselves traveling in a strange storm. Lightning flashed and there was an eerie whistling on the wind. They huddled under the wagon to try and relatively dry. They awoke to a changed world.

As far as the eye could see around them, the ground was covered in 3" fungi. The fungi grew and grew until it was over a foot tall. No on dared to move for every time someone stepped on a mushroom it emitted a moan and a puff of black spores that frightened the horses. “Poisonous” men shouted.

Eventually some of the heroes determined that it wasn’t poisonous at all and began clearing it. As they swept the mushrooms aside to clear the path for the caravan, the fungi gave out a chorus of terrible cries and agonizing moans. Arastyl succumbed to the spores and was overwhelmed with feelings of grief. He dropped to his knees and wept. Never again would he eat mushrooms.

As they got closer to the Trollclaw mountains a strange encounter happened. Raist spooked a girl that was gathering herbs. Her hood fell back to reveal she was entirely green. Some of the caravan travelers accused Raist of sorcerery, including Sludig the Pole, a 7’ 6" human guard with a greatsword. A dwarf guard, Toldor, was the loudest voice against Raist, and the two nearly came to blows. Even after it was clarified that the girl had been like that since the beginning of the journey, ill feelings remained.

stonehaven.jpgOn Day 14 after a terrible cold storm they wound their way through the troll claws to find Stonehaven Inn. Resting beside the Trollclaw Ford and an abandoned hamlet, the two-story stone inn looked like a warm haven for them all. Yet they were all turned away. When the heroes inquired as to why they found out it had been bought out by four surely, arrogant men. The “judge” and his three attendants mocked the adventurers until the it seemed like the heroes could take it no longer. But it was the four humans who drew blades first.

The fight was intense and the men were skilled warriors. They nearly slew the heroes if not for the help of the innkeeper who gave a potion of healing to them before running out the door. In the end the heroes lived and prevailed. And two of them got to sleep indoors. the judge and his men turned out to have assassin tattoos.

troll.pngOn day 15 a teamster spotted something moving in the rocks off the road and the heroes went to investigate. What the found was a troll lair. They fought the troll and a pack of greasy wolves to the death and look a considerable pile of loot including several magic items.

At night they checked the items, trying to determine their functions…

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Day Six
Where the road gets dangerous...

The fifth day on the road came to a close and the sixth day came with a drizzle and fog. In the afternoon the fog returned and crept close to the Coast Way.

Then Leda, a guard from the southlands, came racing on horseback toward them. “There’s an overturned wagon and bandits up ahead!” While she raced back to her “boss,” the adventurers were made of sterner stuff. They asked for permission to go see if they could help, and that they did, with the black rider, Raist behind them.

They came around a bend to find an overturned wagon with crates pulled close to enclose those inside. A crossbow bolt flew out from under the wagon. Behind a group of boulders were nearly ten savage hobogblins with longbows pinning down those under the wagon with an occasional shot.

The heroes ran up to the boulders while the hobgoblin captain shouted for them to go away. “Stay back! Not your business, humans, elves, and dwarf! Stay clear and come back tomorrow. We’ll be done by then. You can have the wagon.”

oni.jpgThe heroes did not want the wagon. Camron shouted for the hobgoblins to put down their weapons and surrender. The hobgoblins responded with a hail of arrows.

A desperate battle was fought amongst the boulders. Rohtilav raged and slashed his way through the hobgoblins while taking tremendous blows that would have felled a lesser man. Ranpage moved in with his new glaive and skewered hobgoblins from a distance. Arastyl slipped and cut hobgoblins down from behind. Camron found himself quickly surrounded and took three mighty blows from the organized hobgoblins. He succumed to his wounds and fell to the ground.

Ranpage took on the mighty hobgoblin captain who bore a huge greatsword and weilded it with deadly accuracy. But the half-orc spilled the hobgoblin’s guts on the dirt and ended him that day.

Camron suddenly came to, as if touched by his god, Tyr. He had a look in his eyes as if he had just been whispered something from across the planes.

The merchant and his two guards crawled out from under the wagon and thanked them. Just then they heard a distant scream. Raist through the eyes of his falcon could see that the caravan was under attack. Rohtilav with his barbaric speed and Camron rushed back to the caravan. They had left Edhelri unprotected!

hu4uu5j98xnzbf9qk4qo.pngWhen they got there they saw a terrible sight. Ghouls were emerging from the fog and launching themselves at anyone they could find. They saw one leap onto a horse and start tearing it’s throat out. They ran for Edhelri’s wagon as fast as they could to see a ghoul dive under the wagon and Edhelri come scrambling out the other side screaming bloody murder. Rohtilav was the first there and came to a skidding stop between Edhelri and the ghoul, but before he could bring his axe to bear the ghoul leaped out from under the wagon upon him.

The undead thing had skin wrapped tight over bone and muscle, pieces of skin and mucle along it’s jaw were missing. It’s hands had twisted into long sharp claws and it’s mouth was full of jagged teeth. It screamed as it landed on the shield dwarf and slashed him across the face. The barbarian suddenly lost control of his body and fell to the ground in a paralyzed heap with the ghoul atop him. It smiled and opened it’s mouth to tear out Rohtilav’s throat.

Camron appeared as did Raist on his horse, albeit from a distance. Camron began swinging his sword and Raist blasted the ghoul with eldrich fury. They brought down that ghoul only to have two more come running out of the fog on either side of the wagon. Camron unleashed the divine power of Tyr and one of the ghouls ran into the fog terrorfied. As the battle raged Camron put Edhelri into the back of the wagon where she hid among the exotic wood.

The others joined them and they continued to put down ghouls as they ran at them. Then almost as suddenly as it began the attack was over. Dead ghouls lie about, as well as two dead guards, three dead travelers, and two dead horses.

They went back and helped Tolan Fiderspite turn his wagon over. But with his horses dead and the wagon damaged he wasn’t going anywhere. He took a guard with him to try and find someone that would sell him horses in the caravan.

The caravan made camp for the night, though few got any sleep.

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Heading North
Where the characters hire out as guards...

The riverboat was called the River Sprite. It’s captain, Petraus, sailed them down the Chionthar River to Baldur’s Gate in two days. There they wandered the streets looking for weapons, armor, and magic, until they visited Blackgate, north of the city wall proper.

baldur.jpgIn Blackgate they found Ackyn Selebon, Frume’s contact. He stood up from under the wagon he was repairing and welcomed them. They said Frume sent them and Ackyn had Raist meet him in private.

Ackyn volunteered to get them pointed in the right direction to hire on as caravan guards. He also said they could use his name. “I’ll vouch for you. That should help you get hired on by most people.”

inn.jpgThey stayed the night in the Purple Wyrm Inn, a comfortable inn closer to the docks. The next day Camron spotted a litter being carried through the city and inside he caught a glimpse of black scales. He followed it north.

In Dragongate, the northern district of Baldur’s Gate just outside the city walls, Rampage spotted someone he recognized from the Raider’s Camp. He and Raist went outside to see a group of guards and a litter buying wagons from Ackyn. This was it.

They began trying to get themselves hired on by merchants. Camron, Rohtilav, Arastyl, and Rampage all were hired by the moon elf merchant, Edhelri Lewel. She had a load full of exotic wood from the Jungle of Chult bound for master carpenters adn cabinetmakers of Waterdeep. She was short with the four heroes but exact and demanding about her load and her wagon.

Arlathan was hired by Oyn Evenmor, who was hauling exotic birds to Waterdeep. He was stubborn and argumentative and refused to hire Raist . In fact, Raist was unable to find anyone that would hire the sketchy looking warlock. Raist was forced to simply follow the caravan.

The caravan set off north at an agonizingly slow pace. The horses needed several breaks a day and they learned that they could walk just as fast as the caravan could travel. There were nine different wagons in the caravan, stretched out like a dashed line on the road. The cultists that they were following had three wagons themselves, but they hadn’t seen the black scaled humanoid from the litter in Baldur’s Gate.

caravan.jpgOn day three they began winding through the Fields of the Dead. All of the caravan guards, teamsters and merchants began to get on edge. One guard shouted, “No fires! It attracts the dead!” And rumors began flying about why it was called the Fields of the Dead. Everyone began seeing a ghoul under every tree.

They passed crumbling towers, walls, and burial mounds. There was an eerie silence as they passed through the land.

On day five they came upon a severed head lying in the road with the word, “Oathbreaker” painted on it’s forhead. Upon investigation the head was alive but unconscious and attached to a man buried up to his neck in the middle of the road. When questioned the man said a he was put here when he refused to marry a woman when he found out her father and all her brothers were bandits and he was expected to join them.

Arlathan, perhaps sensing something more revealed that he was a member of the Order of the Gauntlet (albiet a new one). The man, Carlon Amoffel, showed a Harper tattoo and revealed that he had really been put here by the Cult of the Dragon. He had been with another Cult caravan when they discovered that he was passing information. The Cult told the merchants they were with that Carlon had tried to pass information to bandits. The merchants refused to allow the Cult to kill him and insisted he be buried up to his neck to let “providence determine his fate.”

“I was tracking a load of loot they were taking up north,” Carlon said. “Where, I’m not sure…”

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The Road to Elturel
Where the characters are nearly imprisioned...

It was Rampage who returned with the first horses. He had been trailing the group, dealing with his gut-problem but felt better now. He had collected two of the horses that had bolted back down the road. Soon after Arastyl returned with the other two.

Rampage saw the dead ogres in the mud, rain pelting their corpses and asked, “What happened?”

They explained the ambush and he commended their prowess in defeating all four of the nine foot tall humanoids. They continued on in the rain until they found a place partially out of the rain and huddled for the rest of the day and the night. The next day brought them to within sight of the city of Scornubel. They camped and entered the city the next day.

the_foreign_market_by_shutupandwhisper-d6v59li.jpgThe Caravan city was full of merchants, traders, and travelers of all types. Wares were being sold from the far east, south, and north. It was a bustling city and the adventurers entered it to restock on supplies and find new armor for Rampage. All the adventurers entered except one. This time the mighty paladin, Camron, was down with the flu. He waited outside of the city with their horses, miserable.

Inside the city Arastyl tried to find someone who would sell him poison. Because, well, he is a criminal. While he was asking a shady looking fellow about it he felt a hand on his shoulder. “What are you doing?” the gruff voice asked.

guard2.jpgHe spun around and tried to stab the hand of the city guard with his dagger. The guard pulled his hand back in time and shouted. “Guard! To me!” And the man tried to skewer the high elf.

The light-footed elf danced away and ran through the crowded street. The guard followed, shouting. Thinking he had given the guard the slip, he stepped into the space between two booths and waited for the guard to pass him by. But the guard wasn’t fooled and cornered Arastyl. The elf, desperate to escape with a crowd gathering, scrambled across a cart to find himself facing two more spear-wielding guards.

“Halt!” they shouted.

He ran.

guard.jpgThis time he was sure he could give the three guards the slip and made a quick turn then dove under a cart. He heard the guards come near and run past. One, two… the third stopped. Arastyl’s heart sank and he felt a hand grip his ankle. He let the guard pull him out from under the cart.

“I have him! To me!”

The crowd watched as they roughly spun him around, tied him up and stripped him of all belongings. Several people in the crowd clapped and thanked the guards.

The biggest of the guards held him by the back collar of his armor and pushed him forward while the other two walked him at spear point. Arastyl knew he would be facing a cell at best, execution at worse. A city guard wizard had shown up as well as was following the elf.

flour-sack-13567237.jpgMeanwhile, Raist had noticed the commotion and quickly purchased a sack of flour. He walked toward the commotion to find Arastyl being walked by the guards. Thinking quickly he bumped into the guard and threw the four int the air causing a great commotion. At the same time he touched Arastyl and turned him inivisible.

“What the…!” the guards shouted, waving off the flour. Arastyl bolted, dancing out of the guard’s grasp. “Wha.. wha… where’d he go? He’s getting away!”

Two guards chased in the direction he thought he saw Arastyl go while the other two confronted Raist.

“I’m just on my way to bake some bread!” said the warlock.

“You don’t look like a baker!”

“I’m just… baking bread…”

He talked them in circles until they decided to leave him alone. They did not seem to completely believe him though. In fact, the wizard and guard discretely followed him to watch him purchase more flour. At that point they left him alone.

Arastyl, after giving the guard the slip, followed them to a tower and barracks. He tried to follow them in the door but made it too obvious and they began to attack the air. “He’s here!” they shouted. The waved spears and began throwing things. Arasyl left, knowing that he would never collect his belongings from the guard, including his lock pick kit. He slunk outside the city to find poor Camron, and found his other friends there as well.

He came visible and they immeditaley asked him what happened to all his belongings. In the elf’s mind he heard Rasit’s voice say, “Don’t tell them anything…”

Arastyl paused. Then Arlathan pressed the issue. “Come on, what happened to your belongings?”

Arastyl shrugged his shoulders. “There were these orphan kids and… they were going to be sold into slavery so… I decided to sell everything I had to free them all… and pay for their education the rest of their lives.”

Arlathan was shocked. It didn’t sound like something Arastyl would do. “You sold everything for orphans?”

“They were going to be sold into a life of slavery. My heart when out to them. So yeah, I sold everything I had.”

The other adventurers were dumbfounded, then congratulated the high elf on doing something so selfless. Raist looked on without expression. Rohtilav was confused. He knew that the guards had been taking him somewhere, but he hadn’t seen his belongings, so maybe he had been arrested after he sold his stuff.

The mountain dwarf barbarian shrugged his shoulders and thought, elves.

They found a farmer who took them in for the night after repeatedly reminding them to stay away from his daughters. The next day they returned to the city so Rampage could get his new suit of studded leather, then set out for Elturel.

The road followed the wide river, Chionthar toward the Trackless Sea. The trip was pleasant and they made good time. On the second day they came upon the famed city of Elturel.

elturel.jpg

The most amazing feature about Elturel was the great shining sphere above it. The light, like a second sun, blazed in the sky above the paraphets, towers, and rooftops. The entire city sat upon a great cliff overlooking the Chionthar River.

frume__0_.jpgThey found Ontharr Frume and Leosin Erlanther in A Pair of Black Antlers tavern. They joined in on rousing matches of armwrestling, knife throwing, and horse racing. Only after they had spent hours showing their prowess did Ontharr invite them into a private side room to discuss business.

After the characters described what they had found and showed Ontharr and Leosin the map Ontharr opened up to a larger plot at hand. He explained that he belonged to the Order of the Gauntlet and Leosin admitted he belonged to the Harpers. The two groups were considering working together to stop the Cult of the Dragon. The Cult had always been an eastern organization that worked to raise undead dragons to life. But now they had turned to living dragons and for some reason were gathering loot. It had something to do with trying to bring back Tiamat from the Abyss.

leosin__0_.jpgOntharr said they needed to know more and asked if the heroes would consider sailing down to Baldur’s Gate and trying to hire on as guards for the Cult’s caravan as they head north. They needed information and for this he was asking the adventurers to go under cover.

They agreed. He gave them coin and supplies.

They slept little that night thinking of what was to come.

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Dragon Eggs Found
Where the heroes get roped into carying eggs...

Rampage led the characters to the abandoned bandit camp and to the cave at the back. Yet with every step he felt pain wracking his gut again and the urge to spew wreckage from his rear overwhelming.

“I can not… go… ahhh!”

Rampage, overcome by projectile diarrhea, was unable to enter the cave again. The fierce warrior had to wonder why this affliction had beset him twice when he tried to enter the place. Perhaps the gods were against him. Perhaps they knew all the others would die again and he needed to survive. These thoughts left him as another wave of pain and rhea overtook him.

Inside the cave the new heroes discovered that the cave that once held Mondath held a map showing where the raiders and their loot were going. It also held a rug that covered a shaft. They followed the shaft down into a warm and humid worked cave that held a shrine to Tiamat. Bodies lie here, rotting and filling the cave with their stench. They moved on.

They passed through to find a cave with a lower level acessed by a wooden staircase. The stairs were enclosed in an iron cage for which their was a key hanging on a peg on the opposite wall. Before they could decide to decend the stairs bombs came flying from below. They exploded among the heroes both gluing one oft hem to the floor as well as burning them. Two rounds of bombs came over the edge of the ledge to attack them then four kobolds came rushing up. They didn’t seem to want the characters near the stairs.

After dispatching the kobolds they decended the stairs to be attacked by two fierce guard drakes. While they were still fighting them they heard a voice say, “Interesting…” Up on the ledge one of the heroes saw an eye open on one of the stalagmites. There was a roper in the cave!

roper.jpgThey killed the drakes and began to speak with the roper. It looked like a natural stalagmite with one great eye and a gaping mouth full of jagged stone like teeth. It wanted to know if they were there to feed it. While Raist was bout to feed it a dead kobold the cleric cried out and attacked the creature.

What ensued was a brief but horrifying fight. Tentacles shot out from the roper and grappled the dwarf and the warlock. The dwarf was reeled in and the roper tried to bite the barbarian in half. The dwarf put a leg on either side of the roper’s mouth and resisted while slamming its greataxe into it’s body.

The dwarf was eventually bit, but his rage protected him and he survived.

They all counted themselves blessed by the gods to be all be alive after an encounter with such a legendary creature of the Underdark.

1045dragonegg.jpgAfterward they serached the cave and found three 3’ dragon eggs. They attempted to go outside, make a litter, and carry the eggs out, but two of the three eggs fell off the litter and broke. Each time they broke the pre-hatched dragon squeeled like a newborn and died.

The third egg made it out of the cave and all the way back to Greenest. There Governor Nighthill promised to take care of it. He asked that when they get to Elturel to notify their contact that he had it. He did say if it hatched while he was waiting, the governor would kill it.

After the governor praised the new band of heroes led by the still recovering “Diarrhea” Rampage he gave them fully equipped horses that Leosin had prepared. Leosin had gone on to Elturel and was expecting them there.

They set off to the north to find their new patron and another man, Ontharr Frume, who turned out to be Raist and Camron’s mentor.

Monster_Manual_5e_-_Ogre_-_p237.jpgThe first several days were pleasant and passed without event. Then the weather turned. After passing by Berdusk, the Jewel of the Vale, they ran into trouble. The sky turned gray and rain began to fall. As they passed near some jumbles of boulders they found themselves under attack by ogres. Camron, the brave paladin, was nearly felled, but they worked together and slew the foul creatures. Among their possessions they found a elven sword with the inscription, “Mist.”

All but one horse bolted during the fight. The elf had taken the time to calm it down and put his cloak over it’s head. After the fight, the elf took the cloak off its head and headed into the rain to find the others.

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Dragon Wrath
Where the heroes defeat a mighty foe...

They entered the cavern complex and slew a cave full of kobolds, including flying kobolds. Then they found the hold of a foe that Rampage had not seen since Greenest. Cyanwrath.

Cyanwrath had nearly slain his friend, the dwarf. He had terrorized that town and mocked Rampage and his friends. And here he stood with four savaged looking humans.
cyanhorde.jpg
“Come, come to me,” said the half-dragon, blue scales glittering in the torchlight. “So you are the ones…”

They filed into the room until he saw Rampage come down the stairs.

“You look familiar… I’ve seen you around the camp. If you came looking for trouble, I am the trouble you seek.”

berserker.jpgA battle exploded. Cyanwrath had done such terrible damage in Greenest that few in the party expected to last long against him, but as the party engaged the half-dragon and berserkers Camron called upon Tyr to embue his sword with mighty strength. It glowed with power as he threw himself at Cyanwrath. The blows fell with divine strength and power and drove the fiend to his knees. As the half-dragon slipped into unconsciousness he cursed the half-elf.

Once the berserkers were dead the looked around the room. It was a shrine to Tiamat with a carving of the five headed dragon above a jeweled chest. The chest was locked and so they smashed it open. That triggered a trap that released acid into the air from the five heads of the Tiamat carving. The acid burned their flesh, but they recovered and scooped up the treasure inside the chest.

They then retreated back outside, beyond the camp, and rested in the wilderness.

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New Friends
Where new heroes join the cause...

Rampage wandered north through the wilderness, not sure what to do. Then he came to a village where he met five other adventurers. The village elder told them about a band of bugbears nearby and the adventurers decided to go and try to drive them out, keeping the area safe. They were led there by a boy.
Bugbear2.jpg
They slew the bugbears and emerged victorious. Upon their return the entire village cheered them and they feasted all night long. The elder offered room and board any time they came through.
bugbear.jpg
Rampage told his new friends all about the Cult of the Dragon, Greenest, and the bandit camp. They decided to help try and find Rampages’ old friends that had never returned.

They headed south.

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The Cave of Death
Where the hereos are slaughtered...

In the cave they found kobolds, men, drakes, giant fungi that attacked them, stirges, and worse.
Stirge_-_Lars_Grant-West.jpg
drake.pngAfter they had fought through several rooms they took on Frulam Mondath, the purple robed cleric and her minions. They were all slain, but during the fight the dwarven war cleric ran out of the room to try and flank her. He ran into a room of stirges. The others hurried to try and help him, but then they attacked a group of kobolds and guard drakes. It was too much and every last one of them was slain, except for the sorcerer. He turned invisible and ran.
violet_fungus.JPG
And he ran into the violet fungi. The fungi brought the sorcerer down and turned his body into another mushroom.

Only Rampage was alive, and that was because he never entered the cave. He was outside the camp hunkered down by himself with raging diarrhea. His friends never returned and once he recovered he left in search of new friends.

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Raiders Camp
Where the heroes investigate the cult and find a cave...

They ran into two sets of raiders on the way to the camp. They almost talked their way past the second group when Rampage, the half-orc fighter grew impatient and threw his axe at a raider’s face.

At the camp they tried to blend in and ask questions. They discovered much but nearly lost the bard when he misspoke and was brought before Frulam Mondath, the camp’s leader. He was able to talk his way out of being executed as a spy and was released but watched.

They found Leosin tied up and nearly dead. Strangely, he did not want to leave.
leosin2.jpg
They returned to Greenest with information. This was the Cult of the Dragon. The cultists spoke of the return of Tiamat, the Queen of Dragons, the most terrible of all dragons. The cult and the other mercenaries in the camp were led by Mondath and a more powerful foe, Rezmir, the “Dragon Lady.” A third foe, the blue half-dragon, Cyanwrath, the bane of Greenest, was in the camp as well.
mondath.png
They returned to Greenest with the information and Leosin. Governor Nighthill asked that they go back and watch the raiders in case they sent a large force off somewhere else. When the heroes returned the camp was empty, every raider gone. What they found was a cave.

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Greenest in Flames
Where the characters rescue a town overwhelmed...

kobold.jpgThe young adventurers came upon the town of Greenest under attack. Kobolds, humans, and drakes were rampaging through the small trading town while a dragon circled the skies. They ran to help, and help they did. They saved many townspeople and drove off the dragon. They lost only one companion, a wizard who climbed the citadel walls and engaged the dragon in deadly warfare. He was fried to a crisp.
dragon.jpg
The dwarven war cleric offered to duel the blue half-dragon in exchange for letting a family of townspeople go. He was nearly slain but survived and was rescued by his companions.

Governor Nighthill thanked them all and asked them the next day to follow the raiders to find out who they were and why they attacked. A young man asked them to look for his master, a monk named Leosin. Leosin had been investigating the raiders for months and the young apprentice believed Leosin tried to infiltrate the raiders or was captured by them.

They agreed and headed south across the Greenfields.

greenest_map.jpg

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