Tyranny of Dragons
Part 1 - Greenest to Waterdeep
A small caravan travels east from Candlekeep across the Greenfields towards the town of Greenest. Sitting in the wagon is Rusty, a chatty and friendly red-haired dwarven sea merchant and cleric of Valkur who always has a story on his lips and a mug in his hand. He is spinning a tale to a mysterious Drow woman named Dru, and her young companion, Mags, a Calashite girl with golden hair and eyes. Riding in another wagon is Jean Luc, a Sun Elf wizard, who seems more comfortable with books than being on the road.
They crest the hill towards the town of Greenest around sunset, when suddenly there is an unnatural flash of lighting. They see the town on fire and hear the alarm bells sounding in the distance. Rusty, Jean Luc, and Dru take horses from the caravan and ride into town. Mags stays behind with the caravan.
A cloaked female riding a stag stands above the hill watching the chaos unfold and rides into town.
Gamora Dreadmore, a half-orc hunter from Greenest is caught up in the chaos of the city as she is returning home. Her father Draken Dreadmore is fighting several Kobold raiders when she arrives. She joins the battle, but watches as her father is overwhelmed by their numbers and falls under a wave of Kobolds. She shouts in fury and attacks the kobolds with viscous abandon.
Rusty, Jean Luc, and Dru ride into the center of town finding the villagers attempting to escape to the keep. The three of them fight off the kobolds while they see looters stealing valuables amidst the chaos. Gamora joins them soon, and together they rush towards the keep. Rusty notices the cloaked female firing arrows at the Kobolds, protecting the advancement towards the keep, but she soon vanishes into the shadows. They soon make it to the keep with several townsfolk and the doors are sealed behind them.
A Shield Dwarf called Red seems to be rallying the defenses of the keep. When Rusty starts helping the injured townsfolk with healing, Red gathers him and the others to help the town. The mysterious cloaked female is present, a half-elf who simply introduces herself as Cora.
Red introduces the adventurers to the town Governor, Tarbaw Nighthill. The injured governor seems desperate for any aid in saving his town, and offers gold for those less motivated to help. They all agree to help.
The governor learns that the church of Chauntea is under attack and that there may be some townsfolk taking shelter in the church. Red suggests to use the sally port and make their way to the church. They rescue the villagers and a half-elf priest named Eadyan Falconmoon. The escort them back to the keep safely.
Throughout the night, the keep is constantly attacked. First by a Blue Dragon who Cora recognizes as Lennithon. The adventurers are able to drive him off, though not before losing many of the keep’s defenders. Later the gates are broken down, and the party fights to push out the raiders and repair the doors.
In the skirmish they capture a Kobold and a robed cultist. After some interrogations, they soon discover the identity of the attackers as The Cult of the Dragon. The Cult forces are made up of mercenaries, kobolds, and a few cultists led by someone named and the ‘Dragon lady’, according to the kobold prisoner.
The Cultist gives very little information though he constantly calls to Tiamat for strength.
As the party tries to rest for the night they are called again by Nighthill. This time the town’s mill is under attack. The cult mercenaries are setting it on fire, and if those stores are burned, the town will not survive the winter. The party rides out to the mill, but it’s an ambush. They survive the attack and defeat the cultists just as riders from the keep arrive to help secure the area. They ride back to the keep to rest.
They return to the keep and get an hour of rest before the sun rises. The raiding has stopped and most of the raiders have left the town. A blue Half Dragon introducing himself as Langdedrosa Cyanwrath approaches the gate. He has in tow several prisoners; a mother and her three children. He congratulates the adventurers for their strength and wishes to see their strength for himself. He offers to duel one of them in exchange for the prisoners. A tired and injured Gamora accepts his challenge. In good faith, Cyanwrath releases the children, but keeps the mother in case the rest of the party interfere. They fight, but Gamora is clearly outclassed and she is quickly overpowered as he impales her with his spear. True to his word ,Cyanwrath releases the mother and leaves the dying Gamora with his embedded spear as a memento to the others.
The party rushes to Gamora’s aid and heals her wounds with a potion. She is taken to the infirmary to rest. Gamora discovers that her father is alive and recovering from his injuries. After a joyful reunion, Draken tells her that he must tell her something, and confesses that he is not her biological father. He was part of a brotherhood of warriors and was a longtime friend of her mother. Recently Leosin Erlanthar, a member of the warrior brotherhood had come to warn him of the Cult’s movements. Draken believes the Cult may be hunting Gamora, and he wanted to ensure she is prepared.
Jean Luc, adds that he had been summoned by Leosin to Greenest and needed to find him. Draken says that he lost sight of his friend when the fighting began.
The caravan from Candlekeep soon arrives after the raiders have left. According to the guards, it was the 12 year old, Mags, who had helped organize the defense and keep the raiders at bay. The supplies the caravan brings is most appreciated by Greenest in their time of need.
Governor Nighthill approaches the adventurers and offers them a bounty if they are able to gather any information on the raiders and locate their camp. They agree and head north, following the tracks.
They locate the camp and wait until dark before they make their approach. At camp, Jean Luc discusses his book. It is a magically encrypted Tome that he is unable decode, with gold dragon heads on the cover. He shares the book, but no one is able to decipher it. Mags attempts to read the book, and seems to understand some of it, to the shock of Jean Luc and the others. He decides to leave the book with Dru and Mags who remain behind as the others infiltrate the camp.
When they enter the camp, many don’t give them a second glance, assuming they are mercenaries. Using this to their advantage, Cora, Rusty, and Jean Luc begin investigating the camp. Gamora remains outside camp, watching carefully from a distance.
Through their investigation, they discover raiders have been attacking all along the Greenfields, not just Greenest. The treasure is kept in the cave that the Cult leaders are using as a base. Some raiders even heard rumors of dragon eggs in the cave.
Jean Luc and Rusty soon find a captured Leosin, who is hung on a cross near the back of camp. Rusty manages to challenge the guard to a drinking contest, where he is eventually knocked out. The party swaps the guard with Leosin and carry him out of camp. Leosin weakly objects to being rescued, but they ignore him and return to Greenest.
It takes a day for Leosin to recover; he tells the adventurers that he was trying to infiltrate the Cult of the Dragon as a captive. Rezmir interrogated him, but he learned more from her and the guards. He hires the party to go back into the camp to find more information on the Cult and where they are headed, and points out that there is a dragon hatchery in the caves. Any destroyed dragon eggs will be well rewarded. Leosin says he will travel to Elturel and they can report what they find to him there.
The party returns to the camp that night to find that it is mostly abandoned, save for a handful of hunters. The hunters don’t challenge their arrival and take well to Gamora as she offers the standard hunter’s greeting of “Sup.” In the cavern, Jean Luc’s familiar, a bat called Bruce, finds a hidden path where they ambush a group of sleeping Cultists. The path leads to the office of their commander, Frulam Mondath, where they collect the information about the Cult’s movements. A particular note says “everything must be freighted north to Naerytar.” Remaining information suggests that the Cultists are under the command of Lady Rezmir, a black half dragon who is also the Black Wyrmspeaker.
They press deeper into the cave where they enter a shrine to Tiamat, and are attacked by Frulam Mondath, the half-dragon Cyanwrath, and three mercenary outlanders. After a fierce battle, Mondath is killed and Dru kills Cyanwrath by shooting him in the heart with her crossbow. They soon discover the dragon hatchery, and after negotiating with the Roper guardian are able to destroy the three dragon eggs and escape the hatchery.
The party returns to Greenest to prepare for the journey north. Gamora’s father takes her into the wilderness and teaches her a rite of passage of the Ondonti, her mother’s Orc tribe. This ceremony delivers her to the Spiritwilds realm where she is tricked and attacked by demons who have been hunting her. She is saved by an Owlbear spirit that claims to be her guardian spirit. The Owlbear leads Gamora back to her body and reveals to her the name of her birth father, Vayer Graverson.
The party says their goodbyes and heads north…
The journey northward to Elturel is uneventful. The party is overtaken by the beauty of the city, which is always bathed in divine light from the central tower that overlooks the city.
They meet Ontharr Frume, a Paladin of Torm and a leader of the Order of the Gauntlet. He takes thhem to Leosin, who has been waiting for their arrival. Based on the information they have gathered, they now know that the Cult of the Dragon is shipping a massive amount of treasure somewhere north. Concerned with the actions of the Cult of the Dragon, they recruit the adventurers to go to Baldur’s Gate and infiltrate the Cultist caravan to learn where they are taking treasure and for what purpose.
Both Ontharr and Leosin offer memberships to their respective factions, but only Mags accepts the offer to be recruited into the Order of the Gauntlet. Leosin pulls Jean Luc aside and requests that he investigate the pages of the book they found together in the Dragonborn ruins, stressing that it is vital to understand the knowledge within those pages. Jean Luc agrees and they part ways.
Later that evening they board a boat and sail west on the River Chionthar. Jean Luc, in his attempt to read the book is haunted by dreams; one is of his mentor Professor Adelmyder in a ghostly visage who asks him to carry on his work while voices chant “Tiamat, her glory and strength."
When Jean Luc recites the words from his dream, the Tome unlocks and the five dragon heads on the cover form into a symbol similar to the holy symbol of Tiamat. This deciphers the text and allows him to read the book, but Jean Luc finds the knowledge to be misleading and attempting to drive him to madness. While he feels the power of the book corrupting him, he is able to resist the madding effects and presses on with his mission.
3. Baldur’s Gate
Upon arriving in Baldur’s Gate, Dru, Cora, Gamora, and Mags seek out the contact as instructed to them by Leosin, an old man named Ackyn Selebon who operates an equipage business and wagon repair shop. If any long distance journeys happen within Baldur’s Gate he will know. Meanwhile, Rusty and Jean Luc go carousing. Rusty returns with a small fortune, his hair shaved into a Mohawk, and some questions about the results of the night before. Jean Luc, welcoming the distraction, finds himself gripped by another nightmare, where he is murdered by Mags in his sleep. He wakes and finds that his hair has begun falling out.
The party waits for word from Ackyn on the arrival of a caravan which could be the Cult of the Dragon. As they wait, they shop for supplies and magic items, which leads them to encounter a gnome servant named Gulligun in the Sorcerous Sundries. He discreetly invites them to a location later that evening. They find a secret magic item shop where Gulligun is willing to do business. The party purchases some items such as magic cloaks, potions, and a unique magic shield forged by the Glitterstone Dwarves. Mags is able to trick Rusty into buying her a pink bag of holding with a white kitten engraved on the bag.
The next day, Ackyn tells the party of a caravan moving North towards Waterdeep with a few suspicious wagons which likely has the Cult of the Dragon traveling with them. The party tries to find employment with the merchants traveling along the road. They are hired by a smelly, vulgar, boorish man named Achreny Ulyeltin. Achreny offers them a fair price for their services and seems to get along especially well with Mags and Rusty.
4. The Long Journey North
The caravan travels north, heading to Daggerford. On the road they have several encounters: First they save a caravan from Hobgoblin slavers. Then they are harassed by some aggressive nobles who humiliate the party and force them to weather a storm outdoors. They fend off some rapid growing fungus during a thunderstorm which causes fear and panic to those around them.
As they travel, the party notices three wagons and their drivers are distinctly removed from the rest of the travelers. They suspect these wagons carry the gold and belong to the Cult. Jean Luc sends his familiar, Bruce, to investigate and seems to find evidence that they are carrying some sort of treasure.
Sometime during the journey, Jean Luc realizes that the secrets of the book will not reveal themselves no matter what he tries. He reaches out to Leosin regarding his lack of progress and Leosin urges Jean Luc to do what he can to reveal the book’s secrets. Jean Luc then willingly submits to the madness of the book, losing his sense of self, and allowing his mind to fall victim to the corruption of the evil artifact. This drives him to madness and to the service of the goddess Tiamat. In a dream, he is told by a ghostly image of the goddess Tiamat that he must kill Mags, Cora, and Gamora. Jean Luc agrees to this.
The caravan stops in a small village on the outskirts of the Misty Forrest. Within the tavern, rumor tells of a golden stag that was seen roaming the forest and many hunters are seeking the prized game. Cora leaves in search of the stag alone. She follows the tracks, which leads her to an ancient elven shrine and she comes face to face with the golden stag.
It speaks to her in Elvish, telling her “You must continue to follow the river of gold until they reach the castle in the sky. Your road will be filled with hardship and blood, and not all of your friends will survive.” The Stag then bestows upon her a golden magic bow. Providence, and vanishes. Upon reflection, Cora realizes that the shrine is of the Elven god Solonor Thelandira, the god of the Hunt. The stag is his sacred animal, which leads Cora to believe that the avatar of the god spoke to her. The party arrives as the stag vanishes, Cora shares the prophecy with the party as they make their way to camp.
A few days outside of Daggerford, Rusty makes conversation with one of the suspected Cult drivers named Rylin. Rylin grows suspicious of Rusty, but gives him a cold shoulder and carries on with his business. They soon arrive in Daggerford, and the party spends a welcomed night in civilization. Rusty, on his quest for a bar, soon finds himself shadowed by Rylin and another pair with clear intent to cause him harm. He is able to outmaneuver them in the city and gets back to the party unharmed.
Meanwhile, Gamora makes a friend out of one of the Cult caravan guards, and proceeds to seduce him and get him stupidly drunk. After some crying, confessions of past mistakes, and cries for his mother, the guard passes out. Gamora and Cora take him to the stables to sleep off his drunkenness with little information to show for it, but Gamora’s actions do not go unnoticed.
The caravan continues up north, but the party notices the cult wagons now have a new passenger, a human male with a tattooed head and a strange foreign accent. He is not very sociable and keeps his distance from most of the travelers in the caravan.
As the journey continues, Jean Luc’s condition worsens. Gamora notices and confronts Jean Luc, who reacts violently by burning her face with acid magic. Realizing the extent of his corruption, the party takes action to restrain him, and discover his head is bald, his eyes serpent-like, and his skin scaled.
Rusty realizes that the book is cursed and calls upon his divine power to break the enchantment. He wraps the book up and throws it in his bag of holding. The power of the book seems to have been broken, but Jean Luc’s mind is still maddened by its effects, which has given him an unchecked sense of his own limitations.
The next day, they are approached by a female gnome who warns Rusty that his food is poisoned. She digs through his porridge with her dagger and finds a small egg-like object which she convinces him, and most of the party, is a barb, which would unravel after swallowed and rip him open from the inside. Rylin’s watchful eyes on the party lends credibility to this story, though Cora is not convinced. The gnome offers to meet the party later in the evening when there are less prying eyes.
When they meet, the gnome introduces herself as Jamna Gleamsilver and tells the group she has been tasked with following the man named Abara Jos, the foreigner who rides with the Cult. Jamna suspects he could be a Red Wizard of Thay, and asks the party for their cooperation with any information they may have. Cora doesn’t trust Jamna and calls her bluff about the barb in Rusty’s food. Jamna admits that it was a ruse to earn their trust, but insists she was truthful in her intent and mission. Rusty casts a Circle of Truth spell around the party and they have an honest dialogue about the events that have unfolded.
Jean Luc reveals the secrets he has learned from reading the Tome. This includes how the Cult plans on releasing Tiamat from her prison in the Nine Hells. Though he doesn’t have all the details, a place called the Temple of Tiamat is a part of it, and it will require a massive blood sacrifice. There is also a key, but he is unsure of what or where this key would be. He also shares his dream where Tiamat commanded him to murder Mags, Cora, and Gamora. (Dru feels a bit left out she wasn’t on the list but she promptly gets over it.)
Jamna confirms all the prior information she told the party was true. Their paths are aligned, although she will not reveal who she is working for.
Gamora reveals the name of her birth father, and that both she and her father may be a target of the Cult of the Dragon.
Cora reveals her name as Cora Xain for the first time, and says that her family was killed by the Cult of the Dragon. Her mission is to kill them all, every last one.
When Rusty asks Dru and Mags their story, Mags reveals that her parents were also killed by the Cult of the Dragon, and that they are helping to make sure the Cult doesn’t harm anyone else again. Rusty presses on with his questions, but when Mags reveals that she is an Ancient God of Giants who has returned from the dead to swallow the world whole, this doesn’t seem to trigger the lie-preventing spell, and with a smirk Mags walks away.
The next day, the party awakens to find that a guard from the Cult wagon was murdered in the night. It was the same guard who Gamora had flirted with and got piss drunk. Rylin accuses Gamora for his death, but without proof, the caravan begins to move on. Later Rusty confronts Jamna asking if she had killed the guard. She responds, “Don’t ask questions, when you are not prepared for the answer” and rides ahead.
They stop in a roadside inn for the evening; JeanLuc and Jamna spend the night together. This seems to re-occur frequently along the journey.
After two-and-a-half months on the road, the party reaches Waterdeep. When they arrive, the caravans split up as they go to their final destinations. They settle up with Achreny, say their farewells, and try to find out where the Cult wagons are heading next. Jean Luc sends Bruce to scout the area, keeping an eye on the Cult of the Dragon wagons, but he loses them in a warehouse district.
Dru and Mags leave the group to settle some business within the city. Rusty goes to a pub. Jean Luc reaches out to Leosin using Sending and is advised to reach out to a contact within the city. He shares this with the others and Gamora drags Rusty out of the pub to follow up on the lead. They make their way to the North Ward to an upscale club, where Jean Luc asks for a man named Gandri. Cora realizes that the environment doesn’t suit her and decides to split off from the group. Jamna decides to join her, much to Cora’s dismay.
An older male gentleman appears at the club and escorts Jean Luc, Rusty, and Gamora inside. They take in the magical marvels and displays within the club; unseen servants delivering drinks, a magical ceiling showing a sky of magical glowing lights, musical instruments playing themselves, and even invisible chairs.
They are met by Gandri, a silver haired elf, who is finely dressed in white and has a white cane. He speaks with Jean Luc, but more than once throws a probing glance towards Gamora.
Gandri advises that he had eyes on the caravan as they arrived hours ago, and tells them it seems very likely the caravan will be taking the road north toward Neverwinter. He suggests trying to find employment on the last caravan as guards. He gives them directions to the recruitment office and wishes them good luck as he dismisses them from his establishment. He grins again as he watches Gamora leave.
Cora and Jamna make their way to a small leather shop with very common wares. Jamna seems to ask the shopkeeper some very strange questions about the products he sells. He replies and after some time she pays him some gold and walks out. As they are walking away Jamna tells Cora that the individuals they are tracking have already booked passage on another caravan that leaves tomorrow, and may need extra manpower.
Jon Luc, Rusty, and Gamora make their way to the employment office where they find Cora and Jamna already securing the jobs. With that settled, they spend the evening in a local inn. Dru and Mags return in the morning with no explanation of their whereabouts. They do some last minute shopping, and Dru takes some of the party to a hidden black market underneath the tunnels of the city. The party make some choice purchases, though being in the company of slavers and their victims, monstrous creatures, and many examples of the darker side of the world, leaves some of the party uncomfortable with the experience.
The next day, they meet Ardred Briferhew, a dark-haired human male who leads the caravan. He is a stern and demanding man, who expects the party to pull their weight. As they join the caravan, they are met with hard stares from Cult of the Dragon wagon riders, including Rylin and Abara Jos. To the party’s surprise there are quite a few other travelers from the previous caravan who they did not suspect were with the Cult of the Dragon.
Not long after leaving Waterdeep they encounter a ’clever’ trap, a single stone blocking the road, as two Ogres attack from the bushes. The party makes short work of them and the caravan drives around the large stone.
Late autumn rains begin as the caravan nears the Mere of Dead men. They are attacked by trolls and a band of Bullywug raiders. At every turn the party pushes back against the monsters of the swamp until the caravan reaches its final destination.
continue to Part 2 – Carnath Roadhouse to Skyreach