Part 2 - Carnath Roadhouse to Skyreach

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6. Carnath Roadhouse

6th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

The party arrives at the Carnath Roadhouse, a fortified inn that is being used as a supply station for rebuilding the road from Neverwinter to Waterdeep. Ardred Briferhew warmly clasps hands with a half-orc by the name of Bog Luck, who is the owner and manager of the roadhouse.

The wagons are parked outside and the crates and supplies are moved into the warehouse inside. Jean Luc performs a feat of strength, carrying a huge crate of building materials on his own. Inside the warehouse he notices there is a strong room where they are unloading more valuable items. Cora takes the horses to the stables and begins caring for them.

Once the first two wagons are emptied, Rylin calls Gamora out and rushes to attack her. Rusty, Dru, and Jean Luc step in and a mob of Cultists join the fray. Roadhouse guards rush to quell the fight, but Bog Luck orders them to hold and watches.

The party makes short work of the Cultists, but Rylin, in a fit of rage unleashes raw magical power at Rusty and Gamora. Rusty finishes him off with a blow to the chest. The remaining attackers surrender, but the enraged dwarf does not accept surrender and kills one of the other attackers as the other two flee.

Bog Luck calls for the conflict to end, stating that the challenge is over. He tells the guards to collect Rylin’s body, but Rusty refuses. Bog Luck tells him to stand down, but again Rusty refuses, challenging Bog Luck’s right to interfere. Bog Luck claims his right as owner of the establishment, and ejects Rusty from the Roadhouse for his attitude, stating he is no longer welcome there. Rusty defiantly strips the gold pouch off of Rylin’s body and leaves. Gamora hastily follows him.

Dru steps up to Bog Luck and apologizes for Rusty, claiming that the road was hard and tempers were high. Bog Luck considers it, and says he understands the situation. He says he can’t have someone disrespecting his authority remain within the walls, but the dwarf is more than welcome to sleep outside. He offers the rest of the party rooms and welcomes them to the hospitality of the Roadhouse kitchen.

Mags approaches Briferhew for the payment for their journey and collects the party’s gold.

Rusty, Gamora, and Jean Luc meet to discuss a plan to infiltrate the warehouse and break into the strong room. Rusty decides to rest to regain his spells and use his magic to break into the warehouse. Gamora keeps watch over him as he rests. Jean Luc sends Bruce, in the form of a spider, into the strong room to see what he can find. He retires to his room, but he is unable to find Jamna.

Dru and Cora make their way to the kitchen, trying to gather some information and food. They see Abara Jos sitting with Bog Luck and Briferhew. Abara Jos is out of place and uncomfortable. Bog Luck and Briferhew are drinking together and clearly are good friends. Bog Luck, catching their watching eyes, walks over to Dru and Cora and offers them a bottle of fine wine from his personal collection. He speaks to Dru and says it is a pleasure to see her again, and extends his condolences over some event that isn’t very clear to Cora. Dru thanks him, but seems rather uncomfortable after his statement. He tastes a glass of the offered wine, and smiles as if showing them the wine is safe. Then he bids them good night and returns to Briferhew.

Cora asks Dru about Bog Luck. Dru tells her that he is very well connected in both the underground and local governments like Waterdeep and Neverwinter. “Basically, if you need something, he is the man with means to get it.” Cora tells Dru that Bog Luck is somehow connected with her parents’ death and the Cult of the Dragon. She does not intend to leave the Roadhouse unless he is dead. Dru nods and says she will have her back no matter what.

The party retires to their room where Jean Luc passes on the plan to Cora and Dru. In the warehouse, Jean Luc notes, that the overall lack of security will make breaking in easier than they originally believed. He tells the party that he witnessed a chest being carried into the strong room. Bog Luck has the only key to the room.

Cora decides to break into Bog Luck’s room while the rest of the party makes their way to the strong room. At midnight, Cora and Dru scout the area and head to Bog Luck’s office. Dru goes to pick the lock but notices it is already unlocked. Cora enters, to find Bog Luck waiting at his desk reading a book. He looks up and smiles at Cora, asking her to come in. Cora immediately notices a loaded crossbow pointed toward the door within his reach. She realizes he had been expecting her all along. She closes the door, leaving Dru outside, unnoticed.

Cora confronts Bog Luck about his dealings with the Cult of the Dragon. He confirms that he has worked with the Cult for a number of years, but insists he was not associated with the Cult when her family was murdered.

Cora believes Bog Luck story, but is confused as to why his name is was on her list, if he was not involved in her family’s murder. She asks him who was responsible for Illustina Leuthillote’s death. Bog Luck is confused by the question, and says he has heard the stories of Illustina but asks her what she will offer in return for his information.

Cora says, “Your life.”

Bog Luck smiles and says that she will have to do better than that. He tells her that if he dies it would cause a lot of trouble for her and her friends, especially when her party has shown aggression in front of Briferhew, who is an officer of Neverwinter.

Cora says she is considering killing him anyway, as he is working with the Cult of the Dragon. Bog Luck states that normally he would feel the obligation to tell his employers about an interfering party, but since the Cult’s grand plan would be bad for his overall interests, he is willing to turn a blind eye as long as she and her friends keep a low profile.

He asks Cora who is she to Illustina, and he recalls that she had family, a sister and a daughter. Cora does not respond, and Bog Luck smiles a knowing smile, and offers that he is willing to share what he knows if she gives her word to provide him an object if she encounters it on her journey. Cora asks what the item is, and he says a magical Black Dragon Mask; if she were to recover this object she would owe it to him. Cora reluctantly agrees.

Bog Luck tells Cora that according to the stories he has heard, Illustina was accused of passing information to the Harpers or Emerald Enclave about the Cult’s dealings. Severin asked for her to be taken in for questioning, as they were close friends, and sent Rezmir to collect her. Illustina resisted and fought back, and Rezmir had been forced to kill her and execute all those connected to her, including her husband, sister, and daughter….

He then points out that Illustina was succeeded by Galvan as Blue Wyrmspeaker, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he had somehow orchestrated these events to take her position.

Cora asks Bog Luck why someone would accuse him of being involved. Bog Luck says it’s possible that she is being manipulated towards another agenda. Cora believes him, but considers finishing him off anyway. Deciding against it, she begins to leave, and Bog Luck reminds her that they have an agreement and he expects her to keep her word. Cora nods and leaves.

As Cora is confronting Bog Luck, Bruce tells Jean Luc that there is something happening in the strong room. Through Bruce’s eyes, Jean Luc sees a secret panel open from the ground and several Lizardfolk make their way into the strong room. They begin hauling boxes which clearly have treasure, likely from the Greenfield raids.

One of them opens and lifts the chest that was brought from Bog Luck’s room, and the lid swings open, but the chest is empty. Confused, the Lizardfolk take it down the secret passage. A moment later, Jamna appears. As the effects of invisibility wears off, she slides open the secret passage and follows the Lizardfolk.

Jean Luc moves to let Gamora and Rusty into the roadhouse. He calls Dru to unlock the door to the strong room, which she does easily, and recovers Mags (who seems to be passed out after sharing some of Bog Luck’s wine). Cora joins Dru as she is carrying Mags to the strong room.

Together, they pull the remaining treasure crates and follow the path out of the secret passage, which leads them to the tree line around the roadhouse, close to the swamp. They spend about an hour breaking the boxes and picking the most valuable treasure they can carry, and discard the rest in the swamp. They begin tracking the Lizardfolk deeper into the swamp on foot.

7. Mere of Dead Men

Early hours of the 7th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

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Following the Lizardfolk’s trail, the party pushes into the swamp. The next five hours are rather difficult with the thick mud and knee high salty swamp water. Cora’s bow glows a faint black light as they press into a clearing. The party sees Jamna on her knees, trembling. She is holding Jean Luc’s cursed Tome overhead, offering it to a large black dragon the party realize to be Voaraghamanthar, the Black Death. Jamna turns her head and sees the party; she struggles to speak, but says one word, “Run.” 5QDUra6.jpg

Gamora and Cora charge towards the dragon with Rusty close behind. Dru wakes Mags, warning her of the attack. Mags, seeing Cora and Gamora charging into the figh,t shouts for them to fall back, but it’s too late and a wave of fear washes over Cora and Gamora. They are subjected to the dragon’s frightful presence.

Voaraghamanthar touches the Tome’s metallic emblem with his claw and it dislodges from the book. The Black Death opens his mouth and fires a jet of green acid that hits the gnome rogue full on and melts her and the book into a pile of bubbling gore. The Black Dragon turns his attention to the others. Mags shouts again and charges past Dru toward Cora and Gamora. The dragon in a blur attacks Cora, Gamora, and Rusty, moving with incredible speed. Cora snaps out of the fear effect and attacks the dragon but her attacks are not enough.

The dragon releases his breath attack again upon Gamora, burning away all of her clothes and most of her flesh. She is hanging on, but is paralyzed by fear. Mags puts herself between Gamora and Voaraghamanthar and strikes Gamora with her crossbow. The crossbow shatters, but Gamora’s anger snaps her out of her terror. Gamora attacks, but Voraghamanthar presses too, clearly outclassing the party.

bahamut_by_cwgabriel.jpg Dru, Rusty, and Jean Luc all notice a glowing old man appear, and his movements seem to out of synch with the world around him. The old man is lighter than air as he glides over the surface of the swamp.

Voaraghamanthar, weakening the party, opens his mouth to finish them off with his breath attack. Mags pushes ahead of the party and raises her arms to shield them. The moment when the Dragon unleashes his jet of acid, the old man appears behind Mags, bracing her back. A flash of light erupts from Mags, enveloping the party in a shied that protect the party.

The dragon appears confused. It looks at Mags and says, “You?!”

Mags’s body is enveloped in a bright red flame and she shouts, releasing a fire ball from her hand. The explosion topples the dragon back, who, clearly shaken by the turning tide, scatters, crashing and tumbling through trees until it makes its escape.

Mags faints and collapses into the water. The old man smiles warmly and reaches down to touch her cheek. At his touch, the water is purified and begins glowing a warm white light. With a blink of an eye he is gone.

They each take turns drinking from the water, which heals their wounds and removes all fatigue. Jean Luc drinks the water and he has a vision of Tiamat in his mind, taking the form of a library, where she is rampaging and destroying it. A platinum dragon appears, who binds and dispels Tiamat and restores the library to order. Jean Luc’s mind is healed of his insanity and he recalls languages he has forgotten.

Dru clothes Gamora in a pink dress after she realizes the half orc is naked. Cora, Jean Luc, and Rusty each bottle up a vial of the water, at which point the glow dissipates and the gloom of the mere returns.

Mags awakens finding that she has unlocked arcane powers. When the party asks her about the old man she seems confused. Dru offers her crossbow to Mags to replace the broken one, but instead, Mags concentrates and forms a hand crossbow formed of magical fire. After a few moments, Cora finds the trail and they press on deeper into the swamp.

It’s nearly noon by the time the party makes it to a small camp at the edge of the water. It has seen recent use and they suspect the occupants will soon return. As they go to press on, they see the rest of the journey will require boats.

Lizardfolk soon attempt to ambush the party, but find that they are no match for the adventurers. The Lzardfolk call for a surrender, where one of them parlays privately with Rusty. The Lizardfolk is called Snapjaw and he realizes they are strong, and asks for their aid.

Snapjaw explains his tribe, the Scaly Death, lost their leader Suncaller when he was killed by the Bullywugs’ leader Pharblex Splattergoo. Since then the Bullywugs have lorded over the Lizardfolk. The Cult of the Dragon leader, Rezmir, has maintained this oppression, and Snapjaw says he and his people grow tired of this.

He asks the party to help the Lizardfolk kill Snapjaw and the Bullywugs so they can have their freedom. In return. Snapjaw will lead them to the treasure being collected by the Cult of the Dragon.

The party, seeing this as an opportunity, agrees to help Snapjaw. Snapjaw returns to his companions and convinces the other two captives of the plan and merit of an alliance. The Lizardfolk Flapscar and Killfish agree and the three Lizardfolk direct the party to several row boats and they press deeper into the swamp. Three hours later they find their way to the castle.

8. Castle Naerytar

7th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

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The party arrives at the shores of Castle Naerytar. They quickly make their way to the Lizardfolk camp avoiding detection from the Bullywug patrols. They hide in the Giant Lizard stables where Jean Luc makes nice with a Giant Lizard he names Doctor Connors.

Snapjaw, after speaking to his tribe, returns to the party. He says the Scaly Death will only support the attack if Bloodclaw, their strongest warrior and next in line for chief, will join their cause. Flapscar has gone to search for Bloodclaw, who was hunting in the Mere, and they expect him back by before evening. Killfish remains with the party in the stables while Snapjaw gathers more support.

Gamora, exhausted by the day’s events, takes a nap, and in her dreams she finds herself drawn into the Spiritwilds for the second time. In her dream she faces a Barlgura Demon sent to kill her. She finds that she is armed with a magnificent Spirit Sword and uses it to dispatch the demon. She encounters the Owlbear afterwards. He seems more humanoid than before. He tells her that she will find herself facing many trials, as is the way for the leaders of the Ondonti. Gamora says she is unworthy of such a thing, but the Owlbear says they must make do with what they have. The Owlbear tells her of the fire within her soul and with its clawed hand, extracts a divine fire, revealing its power and slamming it into Gamora’s body, throwing her back to her body and awakening her from her rest. Gamora’s body feels renewed and stronger than ever.

When evening falls, Snapjaw and Flapscar return with a large Lizardfolk warrior called Bloodclaw. Snapjaw makes his case for rebellion and tells Bloodclaw of the party’s strength. Bloodclaw tells them to show him their strength. Gamora takes out a gold coin, crushes it in her hand and tosses it in the air. Cora rapidly fires an arrow through the coin. Bloodclaw inspects their handiwork and smiles wickedly. He acknowledges their strength and agrees to aid them in killing the Bullywugs.

The Lizardfolk plan to gather their forces to help them raid the Bullywug camps outside the castle walls. Once their forces engage, the party can move inside the castle and work their way to the underground caverns where Splattergoo makes his home.

Snapjaw explains that the Cult of the Dragon uses these tunnels to transport the treasure to a portal. Where it leads he does not know, but that is where they have been taking the treasure.

Flapscar and Killfish start unwrapping bundles of metal swords, axes, and spears. Snapjaw explains that the Cult of the Dragon commander of the keep, Dralmorrer Borngray has been teaching some of the Lizardfolk how to work the forge; they have been saving their creations for this opportunity.

Feeling the need for some reconnaissance, Jean Luc casts invisibility on Dru so she can scout the interior of the castle. She returns, reporting the positions of both Bullywug and Cult of the Dragon agents. Cora starts the war by firing makeshift alchemist fire arrows into the Bullywug camp, setting the huts on fire. In the confusion, Lizardfolk begin attacking the camp, while the party rushes the gate, taking out the Bullywugs along the way.

Snapjaw, mounted on a Giant Lizard, climbs the guard tower and attacks the Bullywugs manning the alarm. Jean Luc follows but falls off Doctor Connors, who proves to be an unreliable mount, and abandons Jean Luc during the fight. The party rushes to the upper level of the tower, defeating the Bullywugs, but are too late to save Snapjaw, he is dead.

They press to the courtyard where Killfish and Flapscar have mobilized the Lizardfolk within the castle and are fighting the Bullywugs in the castle. The party heads towards the lower levels where they find a dining hall with nearly a dozen Cult members sorting raid treasure.

The party engages the Cultists, but it’s not long before Rezmir, followed by Abara Jos and the elf commander Borngray, appear with several elite Dragonwing warriors. Rezmir orders the Cultists to kill them all and retreats to the lower levels with Abara Jos and Borngray.

During the fight, Mags is wounded and Killfish is killed. The party and Lizardfolk are able to defeat most of the Cultists and Bullywugs and repel the survivors to the lower levels.

The party rests and collects the raid loot thanks to some bags of holding they acquired. Gamora finds suitable clothes and changes out of the pink dress. They meet a dwarven cook named Tharm Tharmzid (and his two human apprentices), who claims he is not affiliated with the Cult and was merely taking a job. He offers to make the party food while they recover their strength for the final push.

Lizardfolk_Militia.jpg During their rest, Bloodclaw appears with the bulk of the troops and tells the party that no Bullywugs remain in the upper castle levels. He commands a final push into the lower levels, and Rusty tries to discuss an organized attack, but the Lizardfolk press on without the party. They soon follow in the Lizardfolk’s wake.

The party tries to sneak through the caverns, avoiding the skirmishes between Bullywugs and Lizardfolk. As they approach a mist-filled room they are ambushed by Dralmorrer Borngray and the Cult agents. They are able to defeat them and kill Borngray, where Dru claims his magic Rapier of Warning.

After collecting themselves, they press on down a cavern where Rusty is soundly ‘de-feeted’ by slippery stairs. The party is discovered in what appears to be a shrine to the gods Shar and Ghaunadaur. Splattergoo and his guards are waiting for the party; he has several giant toads defending his shrine. They fight, but the party is able to overpower Slattergoo and his minions. Splattergoo tries to negotiate with the party, but they finish him off, ending the threat. As they are searching the shrine, a trap is triggered which infects Rusty and Dru with powerful psychedelic spores, making them live their greatest fears in the form of waking nightmares.

Rusty’s nightmare is that he sees a large frog chewing on him and swallowing him whole. He begins to fall down an infinite well of stairs, feeling his bones break. When it ends, he falls onto his captain’s ship. The captain and crew are all dead; blood is all over the deck. The sky is dark and a huge tidal wave rises over him and the ship. The wave crashes, crushing the ship and swallowing Rusty into darkness.

Dru’s nightmare that she is drowning in darkness. Unable to swim, unable to breathe, darkness everywhere. When the taste of salt fills her mouth, she realizes that it’s not water, but blood. Floating in the blood are bodies of those she had killed.

Rusty tries to flee, but Gamora holds him in place. Dru also takes flight, and Cora attempts to restrain her, but she nimbly escapes Cora’s grip and flees deeper into the cavern. When the effects wear off, Rusty is released by Gamora. Mags finds Dru cowering in a crevice in the larger cave. After recovering, Cora removes one of the spore canisters and takes it with her.

Locating the portal, which is the source of the mist, they discover that it does not activate. When they return topside they meet with Flapscar, who confirms that the Bullywugs are defeated.

As the party starts to discuss what to do next, the observatory in the center of the castle is attacked by Voaraghamanthar. The black dragon destroys the viewing device, ripping it from the tower and dropping it to the ground before flying away. Jean Luc scavenges what pieces he can, but it is destroyed.

Flapscar tells the party that Bloodclaw is taking the Lizardfolk from the castle and back into the swamp. He wishes them well and they part on good terms.

The party takes this time to explore the castle and they find various treasures including a Dagger of Venom, a library of rare and exotic texts, and they also find Rezmir’s office, with several notes; one with the command word for the portal, another set of papers are letters which state that Rufus Adelmyder was working with the Cult of the Dragon, translating a cursed tome which contained the ritual to free Tiamat from her prison in the Nine Hells.

They rest and eat Tharm’s food. The dwarf requests that the party take him and his apprentices through the portal when they leave. They agree and enjoy his feast.
They return to the lower levels and stand within the circle and say “Draezir," and in a bright light they vanish.

9. Hunting Lodge

8th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

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They are transported outdoors, where a wave of cold air assaults their damp clothes. They are surrounded by evergreens and snow covered mountains, but unclear where they are exactly.

Next to them they find two other teleportation circles. Tharm and his apprentices move toward one of the portals. Tharm quickly says good-bye and says a command word which activates the circle. They are gone. Jean Luc investigates the circles, and finds they are of Netherese origin, very ancient, and likely re-purposed from their original destinations.

Not far from the circles is a two-floor hunting lodge. As they begin to investigate the perimeter, they are spotted by a patrol of trolls. They make an unsuccessful attempt to deceive them and are drawn into a fight. Trolls are soon joined by a pack of ambush drakes and Trespin, a four-armed troll ranger who commands the guards. The conflict intensifies with the addition of Trespin and soon Dru falls. Gamora is finishing off Trespin by cutting off his head, when the door of the lodge opens and several Cult of the Dragon members meet the party, followed by their leader.

Their leader is a blue-eyed half-elf woman wearing white dragonscale armor. She raises her hands in surrender, though Gamora, not relenting, cuts down one of her bodyguards, a human man named Maelgot. The half-elf’s other bodyguards Kusphia and Sorvac rush to her defense, but she tells them to stand down and surrender.

She introduces herself as Talis, the commander of this outpost. Cora recognizes Talis and closes the distance, threatening her, yet standing between her and Gamora.

Talis calls Cora “Ma’ree.” She looks relieved to see her and seems to have very strong feelings towards her. During their conversation it seems that Talis knows much about Cora’s past and mission. She refers to the party as Cora’s army, which confuses and offends some of the party. Cora accepts Talis’s surrender and allows her to lead them into the hunting lodge. The party is escorted to a large parlor with a warm fire and plenty of food and drink where they rest and dry their clothes.

As some of the party begin to get comfortable, Dru strikes Cora in the face, knocking her to the ground. She accuses Cora of lying to the party and being a member of the Cult of the Dragon. Cora stands up, vowing that she “only gets one and won’t get another.” When Dru strikes a second time, Cora deflects the punch and counters, knocking Dru on the ground.

Talis draws a wand to protect Cora, but Rusty tackles her, pinning her to the floor.
Cora angrily defends herself, explaining that her family was part of the Cult of the Dragon until her mother, father, aunts, uncles, and cousin were all murdered by the Cult. She survived, and has sworn to kill them all.

She explains that the only reason she is still alive is because Talis lied when identifying her cousin’s body, saying it was her. Cora says she never lied, but should be entitled to her secrets, much like Dru and Mags who have never really told the party about themselves at all. Dru stands up and walks away, an obvious unresolved tension still remaining. Rusty and Talis separate, neither one trusting the other.

Cora asks Talis if they can speak alone and they leave the parlor, heading to Talis’s chambers. When they are alone, Cora asks Talis what she knows, and what the list is about. She recounts her encounter with Bog Luck and how he claimed to have nothing to do with her mother’s murder. Talis tells Cora that the list was meant to disrupt the operation in the Greenfields and foil the mission to release Tiamat from her prison in the Nine Hells. While Rezmir was the assassin who killed Cora’s mother, the others on her kill list are key agents to the operation, nothing more.

Talis adds that leaving Bog Luck alive was a mistake, one that she will likely regret as he will not give her the chance to get that close again. Cora asks Talis who ordered her family’s death. Talis is unsure, saying the story was that Cora’s mother was supposed to be brought in for questioning. Since she was eliminated, Talis suspects Galvin is behind the order as he succeeded Illustina, but she is not able to confirm. No one speaks of Illustina anymore.

Cora tells Talis that she will destroy the Cult of the Dragon and everyone who stands under their banner. She owes Talis her life and does not want to be forced to kill her too. She asks Talis to leave the Cult. Talis states that once the leaders are destroyed, they can take over the Cult and rule it themselves. Cora rejects this idea, and claims she will erase them from existence. Talis looks at Cora for a moment and agrees; she will take her forces and defect from the Cult.

Cora then kisses her on the lips. Talis kisses back, longing for this moment since first setting eyes on her beloved. Cora firmly pushes her away and with her icy cold stare, simply says “Good-bye,” and leaves.

In the parlor, Dru and Mags talk about the encounter with Cora. Mags believes that Dru may have overreacted, and may want to consider Cora’s situation. While the Cult of the Dragon has hurt them personally, Cora was not involved in any of the incidents against them, and it may have been rash to lash out at her. Dru considers the advice.

A wandering gnome merchant by the name of Jokal is brought into the parlor where he delivers a package for Talis. Cora returns to find the gnome magically unfolding his backpack into a magical storefront.

The erratic little gnome at one point has an odd conversation with Howard, Dru’s pet mouse. After a few moments he gives Howard an amulet that allows him to communicate with the party, and some tiny clothes. To the party’s surprise Howard is actually quite intelligent, and has a lot to say.

The party takes advantage of Jokal’s presence to purchase some unique magic items. Rusty buys a folding boat and magic book; Dru, a magic crossbow; Jean Luc, his mysterious bracers, a ring of spell storing, a cloak of many things, and a fresh pineapple; Cora, a magic scimitar with a charm.

Jean Luc at one point was considering trading a strange piece of metal he had found in his travels. Jokal seemed very interested, but Howard told him not to trade it. Jean Luc heeded the mouse wisdom and kept the shard. Once all transactions were completed, Jokal departed just as quickly as he appeared.

Talis tells the party that Rezmir had not stopped into the lodge after fleeing Naerytar, and likely she hoped that Cora and Talis’s groups would have killed each other. Talis suspects that Rezmir has escaped to Skyreach Fortress, a floating Ice Castle controlled by Giants. She explains that the Cult has an uneasy alliance with the Giants and are using their castle to transport the treasure hoard to the ritual site. When asked where the ritual site is, Talis admits that she does not know as Severin does not trust her with that information.

Talis tells the party that Skyreach docks at Parnast, a village which is completely controlled by the Cult of the Dragon. Rezmir will likely have the town on alert waiting for them if she has not taken the fortress to the skies already. If it comes to that, Talis suggests using the Wyverns in the stables near the entrance of the village.

Talis gives them a banner which is used to signal safe deliveries to the castle. With the banner, usually this would allow guards to approach the castle undisturbed, but she is unsure if it will work if Rezmir is expecting them. Talis hands the banner, which hangs off a magic spear, to Gamora.

Talis warns to stay clear of Captain Othelostan; he is the commander of Parnast and a friend to Rezmir as well as a formidable combatant. He will cause trouble for them, so it’s best to avoid him if possible.

Cora asks if Talis has any agents within the castle, but she says not enough to aid them. Talis says that they may appeal to Sandesyl Morgia, a moon elf that keeps to the teachings of Sammaster; she resists the new path of the Cult laid down by Severin. Because of this it may be possible to ally with her, but she warns that the elf is no longer among the living and may be dangerous to approach.

She also warns the party of Glazhael the Cloudchaser, a white dragon that lives under the castle and guards the hoard. She wishes Cora luck, and the party makes their way to Parnast.

It’s a fifteen minute march to Parnast, which appears largely abandoned. When they make it to the center of town they see Skyreach Fortress docked on the cliffside. The party makes its way to the castle gates and is met by a guard calling himself Captain Othelstan. The party soon realizes this is not him (thanks to Dru’s warning), this is an ambush.

Captain Othelstan leads a large force of Cult of the Dragon warriors against the party. When the Skyreach drawbridge begins raising, they fight their way through the ambush, killing most of the guards and Othelstan. Jean Luc, Rusty, Dru, and Gamora make it past the raising drawbridge as the castle begins to float away.

10. Skyreach Fortress

8th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Jean Luc enters the castle, crossing the threshold to the lower courtyard, where he is flanked by two life-sized giant stone statues. His presences triggers the ward which animates the statues. They attack the wizard, nearly killing him when he is smashed by the golem’s massive fist. Using water from the swamp he is able to recover.

Rusty and a Cult of the Dragon solider lose their footing on the rising drawbridge and tumble into the courtyard. The stone golems turn on them, about to attack, when the Cultist shouts "Tiamat, Our Mother and Strength.” The golems instantly stop all aggression and return to their pedestals, becoming inert. Rusty finishes off the Cultist and thanks him for dealing with the golems. Gamora and Dru lower a rope just in time for Mags and Cora to take hold as the castle takes to the skies.

Gamora and Dru pull them up just as the castle forces move against them. Ogres in the guard towers begin firing ballista and dropping stones. A large force of Cult of the Dragon soldiers emerge from nearby barracks and attack. Ogres filter out from the towers as Rezmir attacks with a pack of ambush drakes and Abara Jos hurling spells.

The chaotic battle forces the party to fight multiple fronts. Gamora moves to bottleneck the Ogres. Cora and Mags take cover by the golems, firing arrows and fire spells into the advancing enemies. Rusty holds the line against opponents pushing for the kill, while Jean Luc rains magic attacks on them. Dru, using her Drow darkness abilities, melts into the shadows and kills Ogres with her blades.

Despite the odds the party is able to hold their own and defeat the Cult of the Dragon and half the Ogres. Rezmir and Abara Jos fall back to avoid defeat, but before the party can give chase, a Cloud Giant descends on the party with a wave of reinforcements.

Barely able to stand, they ready themselves for the next wave. The Cloud Giant asks who they are and what business they have in his Castle. Jean Luc, speaking in Giant, steps up and gracefully explains that they were not aware the fortress was his and meant no disrespect, but have followed the Cult to avenge some wrongs they have done.

Before he can respond, a smaller Stone Giant with a staff speaks in the Cloud Giant’s ear. The Cloud Giant waves him off and tells Jean Luc that he respects the way the fought and will allow him to be his guests. He introduces himself as Blagothkus, and commands the Ogres to escort them to their room and says he will summon them after they rest.

They are escorted to the upper level of the fortress to a room suitable for a Giant. They notice that the entire castle is made of enchanted ice and their room is no exception. After some moments they are given food and drink brought in by kobolds. The party eats and rests before they are summoned to Blagothkus’s tower.

Blagothkus’s chamber is heavily guarded by no less than twenty Ogres. Blagothkus discusses with Jean Luc the alliance he has made with the Cult of the Dragon, explaining that his goal is to rise his people out of their complacency and provide them a glorious purpose with a new war against the dragons. The awaking of Tiamat will bring an opportunity for glory.

Jean Luc asks why he would ally himself with thieves and cowards towards such a noble end. He asks Blagothkus to allow himself and his friends to continue their mission, and then they can help him bring the Giants to their more glorious fate.

Blagothkus glances over to the Stone Giant for a moment before turning to Jean Luc. Blagothkus says which group he allies himself with is of no consequence; let the strongest ally rise to the challenge and stand by his side. He grants him and the party free reign, provided they do not enter the forward tower.

He advised the party they should return to their rooms for the night, as the Cult of the Dragon has a vampire that wanders the castle at night. Jean Luc bows, thanking Blagothkus for his hospitality.

The party is escorted back to their room by Wiglof, the crippled Stone Giant and his companion, a lady Stone Giant warrior named Hulda. Wiglof confesses to Jean Luc that he has had dark premonitions about the alliance with the Cult of the Dragon. He has long since been trying to find another path for Lord Blagothkus, but when they arrived, he had a vision of those touched by the hands of the gods who lead their people to promised glory. He believes that they will show them the way. Jean Luc, as a gesture of friendship, gives Wiglof the remains of the Farseer telescope. Wiglof accepts the gesture and wishes them a good night.

The party decides to follow Blagothkus’s advice and stay in the room for the night. Cora is anxious to hunt down and kill Rezmir, but the others try to talk her down. Jean Luc feeds the pineapple he received from Jokal with Bruce and with a few others. The pineapple has a strange sedative effect on Cora and makes her fall asleep. It has a strange effect on Bruce, making his spirit form visible in the material plane as a ghost, and his words understandable by the entire party. While it’s unknown the full effect the pineapple had on Bruce, it is clear that it has somehow enhanced Bruce’s abilities and his connection with Jean Luc.

White-Dragon-dragons-5297591-640-440.jpg In the morning the party explores the lower caverns, trying to find the remainder of the Cult of the Dragon as well as the treasure from the Greenfields. Descending into the lower catacombs of the Castle, a strange white light seems to glow from Cora’s bow. She tells the party to stay back and carefully proceeds, when she is suddenly confronted by Glazhael, the large White Dragon. She bows before it, calling it by name, claiming she has been sent to attend to it and asking if there is anything she can provide. The White Dragon states that it is hungry and demands her to bring it food. She bows and says she will return shortly and leaves.

They party returns to the lower level where they investigate the rooms. They find the kitchen full of Kobolds, where Dru steals an entire goat for the Dragon. As they make their way through some of the other rooms, they come upon a locked door. Jean Luc tells the party they should move on, though Cora believes there is someone in the room. Rusty knocks on the door and says he is delivering Brunch. After a moment a black blade pierces the door, nearly stabbing Rusty in the face. Rusty slams his hammer into the door, smashing it to pieces, and finding a battle-ready Rezmir waiting.

Rusty moves to engage, but is entangled by the carpet as he moves. He destroys it with his lighting attack as it wraps around him. Cora and Gamora press the fight, but an injured Rezmir is quickly overpowered. Gamora lands the killing blow on Rezmir; as she dies, her body erupts into flames and turns to ash. All that remains are her burning clothes, a jeweled pendant, a key, and the Black Dragon Mask.

As Cora lifts the mask from ground she hears the voice of Rezmir, “You think you have won? This is not the end. We know who you are. We will hunt you and destroy you all. You cannot stop what is to come…” Cora puts the mask away.

Gamora takes up Rezmir’s sword, and is shocked when the voice speaks aloud. It introduces itself as Hazirawn, and says it seeks to find its place in legend through glory in combat. It says it will aid Gamora if she proves herself worthy of its strength. Gamora, slightly unnerved by the blade, sheaths it and decides to keep it close.

Meanwhile, Jean Luc, Mags, and Dru find Abara Jos in the hall running away. He attacks them with a spell as he flees, but Dru hits him with a thrown dagger, killing him.

Exploring the adjoining rooms, Rusty finds a store closet with a keg of ale and he decides it’s time for a reading break. Jean Luc checks the room where the Red Wizards came from and finds many scrolls and letters. Reading the letters over, he finds letters between Severin, leader of the Cult of the Dragon, and someone named Rath Modar a Red Wizard of Thay. The letter reveals there is an alliance between the Cult of the Dragon and the Red Wizards, but there are also some other letters from the Red Wizards who are uneasy about the goal to release Tiamat. Also, Jean Luc finds a book titled Beyond the Iron Gates.

He and Gamora are ambushed by a lone gargoyle sentry when their attention is turned, but they make short work of it and continue to scavenge the room for more information.

Cora, Dru, Gamora, and Mags follow the path that Abara Jos was heading away on and find a stable with a single Wyvern. Cora is able to soothe the beast, but it gets highly aggressive around the others when they approach. They decide to leave it be for now.

They return to their room with the stolen goat in tow. The party decides they will seek out the vampire before night falls; with Rezmir dead they need to strike fast before it begins hunting them once the sun is down.

The party asks questions of the Ogres, but they seem to have no information about the vampire’s lair. They soon realize that they are under some kind of charm effect. When they investigate a collapsed tower they are told by Ogre guards that it’s not safe to proceed. Dru outwits the Ogres into convincing them they are guards there to relieve them of duty. When the Ogres leave they enter the collapsed tower.

With the interior stairs destroyed, they scale the walls of the tower to the upper level. When they finish their climb they are set upon by vampire elves. Jean Luc casts a haste spell on Cora which enhances her speed and fighting ability. She makes short work of the vampires, but the strain on her body leaves her exhausted. With the guardians down, they proceed to the center of the room where they find a coffin. When they open it they see a female elven vampire resting. Rusty drives a stake into her heart and she screams, then falls silent as all strength drains from her body.

The party opens the balcony window and unceremoniously throws the elf’s helpless body into the remaining sunlight. The vampire ignites on fire and burns to ash. Once the body is gone, the sun begins to set. As an afterthought, one of the party members wonders what happened to the elf defector Talis mentioned, Sandesyl Morgia. Then it dawns on them that this vampire was one and the same. They shrug and take a moment to rest as the sun sets.

Evening falls and they descend the tower. When they exit, they notice fresh snowfall on the ground. As they approach their room they hear sounds of battle in the distance. As they approach they find several Ogre bodies littered on the ground. They turn the corner to find a dead Wiglof and Hulda with many more eviscerated Ogres.

The party sees Blagothkus locked in battle with Glazhael. The white dragon unleashes its icy breath, encasing Blagothkus’s head in ice. The dragon strikes the Cloud Giant with its tail, sending him crashing to the lower courtyard below. With the Cloud Giant dead, Glazhael looks at Cora and demands its lunch before attacking.

An ice wall forms behind them, blocking escape. The party turns and fights the dragon, and after a fierce battle, Dru lands the killing blow with her magic crossbow, which ruptures the chest of the great beast. But they are not safe yet – during the battle, Skyreach began losing altitude, and as of this moment began crashing into the mountains below. 9c2e96147e6d6218abaefa3138420524__2_.jpg

Cora is snatched up by a flying wyvern, piloted by a kobold named Drog. Drog claims to serve “the White” and has been charged to make sure she survives. Cora tells Drog to circle back for the others, and he complies begrudgingly. Mags casts a fly spell and gives chase to Cora, but realizing she isn’t in danger, turns back to the party.

The others begin to run as the castle collapses. They try to make their way to the stables of the remaining wyvern, but find that most of the lower level, including the stable, has broken off. They leap down from the upper level using a feather fall spell, but a slab of falling rubble strikes Rusty in the back of the head, knocking him unconscious. Gamora scoops up the dwarf and feeds him a healing potion. Dru is picked up by Mags, who flies her off the collapsing castle. Gamora, Rusty, and Jean-Luc leap off the side of the castle as it crashes into the mountainside, casting feather fall again to aid their landing.

shadow_demon_by_icefreak666-d4qwqk6.jpg After a few moments, they regroup and decide it’s best to return to the Castle. Cora tells Drog to take them back on the Wyvern. The Kobold complies but needs to take turns. He takes Cora first, accompanied by Mags and Dru, then returns for Jean Luc and Rusty.

Gamora is left alone waiting for Drog to return, when a shadow creature appears and attacks her. During the fight it cuts her with a silver clawed gauntlet which absorbs her blood. The monstrous creature laughs, claiming that with her blood it will be able to find and kill her father, Vayer, and have his revenge. With that the creature vanishes. Once Drog collects her and returns her to the Skyreach ruins she tells the party of the encounter. She is determined to find her birth father and help him.

The party spends the next few days thawing out the treasure from the vault, taking what they can carry, and finding some unique magic items. They also explore the ruins of the castle, where Cora and Mags accidentally get trapped in the hidden tomb of Esclarotta, wife of Blagothkus. In their time together they exchange some stories and learn a bit about one another. With the help of Dru, Bruce, and Jean-Luc, they are able to escape the tomb.

Jean-Luc, using his sending spell, reaches out to Leosin to update him on their mission. Leosin instructs him to make his way to Loudwater and await further contact. When the party is ready, Mags takes a teleportation arrow acquired from the vault. She fires it, transporting the party to the city of Loudwater.

End Season 1

Next: Season 2 Loudwater: Festival of Deliverance
Back: Part 1 – Greenest to Waterdeep

Part 2 - Carnath Roadhouse to Skyreach

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