Here Be Dragons

Rescued From the Rubble by Yevelda, an Orc Monk

Buried beneath tons of rubble, the adventurers are presumed dead … but they are unconscious. In this unconscious state they find themselves in the now-familiar dreamscape of dark shadows, and the Old Man speaks to them. He explains that he has summoned someone in the material world to rescue them, and that they will survive. He suggests they take advantage of the time by following him to see what they are facing, but Kurshk vociferously resists until the rest of the party override his objections.

The Old Man leads them to a viewpoint where they see a massive black dragon, “Indomitable,” with Sultana standing before him in conversation, speaking of a coming full-scale war, and the necessity of Sultana’s recovering the eggs to herald the coming Age of Dragons. It becomes clear that Indomitable, the dragon, lives in the dream realm, while Sultana is visiting this realm in the same way as the adventurers.

The Old Man is emphatic – Indomitable must NOT be allowed to return to the world of man! Lydia and Flint ask him how and where to fight the dragon, and the Old Man replies it is best not to fight him at all, but to stop him by foiling Sultana’s plan, which they must discover.

Indomitable appears, surprising the Old Man, and it is revealed that the Old Man is Bahamut (the Platinum Dragon God of justice, protection, nobility and honor)! The black birds of the dream realm do his bidding. Flint finally realizes that the feather mark on Kurshk’s hand is Bahamut’s mark, and that Kurshk is crucial to the adventurer’s success, as reluctant as Kurshk seems to be cooperative.

To protect them from Indomitable, Bahamut opens a portal and pushes the adventurers through. Without the old man to protect them, shadow creatures appear and the adventurers are forced to protect themselves …

Battle ensues, and the adventurers’ attacks deal surprisingly little damage, except, inexplicably, Flint’s bow and arrows. After the shadows are defeated, the danger is not past. More shadows appear laughing mockingly, which infuriates Kurshk, who prepares to charge.

In the nick of time, the adventurers awake and find themselves by a campfire in the woods. It is dawn, and a beauteous red-haired female orc sits nearby, eyes closed, legs crossed, in deep meditation. She turns her attention to them and asks after their wounds. She explains her name is Yevelda, and that she meditates to control her anger, seeking her inner Tor. Her ancestors speak clearly to her and told her to seek the adventurers to restore balance to her clan.

As they discuss this, several unfriendly orcs walk aggressively into the light of the campfire. Clearly, not all orcs seek their inner Tor. Yevelda bursts into motion and begins laying them low. The adventurers join the fight, though Kurshk, once again, is initially reluctant to cooperate with a stranger.

At last only two enemy orc remain standing and they wish to surrender. It is put to Yevelda whether or not to spare their lives, and she replies they were in the “inner circle of the impostor” and are only worthy of death – so they are slain.

Yevelda asks to join the adventurers, and all concur, even Kurshk, who has decided he likes Yevelda’s style. They decide to head quickly to Tyrisis in order to board an airship to Baldur’s Gate.

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The Tower

Arjhan begins the ritual to transport us to Baldur’s Gate.

While we were gone Durkon talked to the village guards, now stationed around the wall in preparation for the coming attack.
It will take Arjhan an hour to complete the ritual, and then the villagers will need to file through one by one to Baldur’s Gate and safety. We instruct the guards to attack the mages who are projecting the image of General Lamentation.

The kobolds have brought scaling ladders. We see the image of Lamentation floating above, giving directions. Althaea stares at his apparition, caressing her blade. The guards are nervous, having never seen anything like this before. The kobolds charge, Chinny casts a spell at the mages and Lamentation’s image vanishes and the kobolds seem less focused after this.

We fight and kill many kobolds; Arjhan completes the ritual and the villagers begin to file through the portal. Suddenly a piercing shriek is heard and dragons appear; like the one we saw in our dream, but small, less than 10 feet in length – A red, a black, and a white with black veins coursing thru their bodies.

We defeat the dragons. Durkon appears from within a house carrying two small girls. That gold feather on Kurshk’s hand begins to glow.

The wall around the city explodes, killing kobolds and humans alike. Durkon is dazed by the blast but sends the two little girls running towards the tower to safety.

A beautiful woman emerges, with black lizard-like scales and obsidian plate mail. She sends a ball of fire towards the guards and Durkon, cooking them inside their armor. Massive flames obscure the air. The kobolds have stopped fighting and are chanting the name Sultana over and over. The flames surround her but she is untouched. Her eyes focus on us. The feather on Kurshk’s hand is glowing brightly.

Sultana recognizes us. She raises her hand and emits a ball of blue flame. Wings of gold feathers emerge from Kurshk’s hand and he absorbs the flame. The kobolds attack and we run to the tower to escape. Sultana fires another ball of flame at the top of the tower and it begins to crumble. The light form the portal winks out as Arjhan closes it. The tower collapses around us and everything goes black….

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The "Band of Heroes" Retrieve the Gem for Arjhan

Arjhan has transported the adventurers to the exterior of a small hut etched with arcane symbols. The hut has clearly been broken into, and the sought-for gem, and other items, are missing. Flint is able to make out the three-hour-old tracks of 5 people, and suggests they follow them. Following the tracks, he hears sounds ahead and sneaks up to see 4 bandits sitting around a campfire in front of a cave that leads into a mountain. There is no sign of the 5th person, nor any tracks leading away from the cave.

The adventurers debate, then decide to attack the four: a scout, a thug, a berserker, and a priest. Lydia viciously mocks them, Cid turns into a violent bear, Kurshk flies into a rage, Chinicum unleashes his extraordinarily effective “Witch Bolt,” and Flint shoots his longbow, all to great effect. They kill all but the priest, who reveals that the “Boss” is in the cave.

Chinicum makes Flint invisible, and Flint steals into the cave and takes the gem from the “Boss,” and returns to his companions. Arjhan says, “What about the rest of my stuff?” and demands blood, but Flint with steely determination convinces Arjhan to keep his word that he would save the villagers if the adventurers helped him retrieve his gem. Exhausted, they decide to take an extended rest in the forest before returning to Clearview.

Approaching Clearview, only Lydia and Cid foresee the surprise attack by three spies and a cult fanatic. The adventurers kill all but one spy, who surrenders and is brutally interrogated by Lydia. He reveals that Sultana herself plans to oversee the coming battle, and that mages project General Lamentation’s image above the battlefield so that he can see what is transpiring.

Flint is in a hurry to return to Clearview and have Arjhan perform the ritual that will save the villagers, and to find a way to keep the dragon’s eggs out of Sultana’s hands. He orders that the spy be tied up and allowed to live, but his companions disagree and want the spy killed. As they leave the scene with the spy still living, Lydia disappears for a few moments and then returns. Has she killed the spy, or taken some other action?

Durkon Frostbeard meets them as they enter Clearview. He is excited that when he helps villagers, he doesn’t hear the crying little girl in his head. He proudly produces Wellby Tosscobble, who glady rejoins the adventurers and tells them he is writing a new ballad, “the Band of Heroes,” in their honor.

They hasten to prepare the villagers for evacuation. Arjhan recommends that he send the villagers to Baldur’s Gate, as it is a large enough city to handle so many refugees, and it might finally cause the Council to take the action against the cult.

Arjhan begins the ritual.

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A Meeting with a Dragonborn!

We battle on, killing all the spies and scouts. We find an emblem of a dragon on one of the spies, symbol of the Cult of the Dragon.

We continue on to Clearview. Guards at the front gate challenge us and call the Captain of the Guard. Lydia casts a suggestion spell on the Captain who is about to run us through, causing him to believe we are harmless and to assist us in finding Mayor Khalid.

Flint tells Mayor Khalid that Lamentation of the Cult of the Dragon is planning a large attack on Clearview, probably within 24 hours. The mayor thanks Flint for the information and says that the scouts they have sent out over the last few hours have not come back. Everyone is on high alert. He asks if we ran into their advance forces. Flint explains that we overcame and killed a party of scouts and spies that bore the dragon emblem just outside of town. The major says we have already earned our keep, but that he does not have the men or resources to repel a major assault as we say is coming. The only way out would be thru a cave network, very dangerous.

Flint says we don’t understand exactly why CV has been targeted, but that it may have to do with an ex member of the cult.

Khalid says immediately understands and tells us that a former cult member names Arjhan lives in a tower in the south part of the town.

We go to the tower and obtaining entrance, we climb some stairs and find an office filled with books, a table, and a chair with Arjhan, a red skinned dragonborn, reading. He admits being a former member of the Cult of the Dragon, but states that he left the cult over a difference of opinion with Sultana, who he calls “an insane bitch of a half dragon.” “They thought I should be drawn and quartered, I disagreed.” He says she is obsessed with bringing back her ancestors to the world of men. She is very old; some believe she was alive when dragons still walked the earth.

He admits he may have taken something important from the cult that they want back. Flint offers to examine the magic items Arjhan stole, and he and Lydia suspect that two golden eggs are dragon eggs that Sultana would do anything to retrieve.

Arjhan says he has a powerful ritual that will allow the citizens of CV to escape the coming onslaught and to evacuate his more prized possessions. However he needs a powerful gem to conduct the ritual which is stored some distance from the town. He says if we will help us retrieve the gem, he will help us save the villagers.

Arjhan agrees to give Chinny the shield and the wand from the pile of magical loot in exchange for his help and also gives a magical ring to Lydia, who places it on her left hand, as her right already has a beautiful ring.

Arjhan then teleports us to the location of the gem…

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To Clearview!

The adventurers prevail against the zombies in the room, although the zombies prove to be remarkably resilient. When the zombies have been killed, the large Ogre Zombie turns back into the weak Randal, and Flint shoots an arrow and pins him to the wall.

Chinicum and Lydia intimidate Randal, who reveals important information to the group. They learn:
• “Sultana” is the Leader of the Cult.
• Zombies are being created to be released into the city to sow chaos. Another cell will take advantage of the chaos.
• The orb was corrupted from its original healing use by Cult mages, to turn people into zombies. It can probably be shattered easily.
• General Lamentation is planning a big attack on Clearview in 48 hours, and this has to do with an ex-member of the cult.
• The zombies that were in the courtyard are no longer there and have probably been portaled away, along with the mages who are no longer in the asylum.

The group decides to take Randal captive and bring him with them to Clearview, in order to make sure he is telling the truth. Flint shoots an arrow at the orb and shatters it. They release the remaining inmates of the asylum.

The adventurers take Randal and return to Althea, Wellby, and Mad Max, and explain the situation. Wellby agrees to stay behind to find care for the released inmates and Mad Max, but promises he’ll follow as soon as he can. Flint, impressed by Wellby’s helpfulness, pays close attention to him and perceives that Wellby is a good person at heart who is struggling with some unidentifiable inner demons.

The adventurers set out for Clearview (with a bound Randal), a 12 hour journey on horseback. Halfway to Clearview, they stop for the night and they each have a dream. They are in the now-familiar, dark dreamscape. A woman says, “What have we here? Visitors? I was not aware this was even possible!” She is pale, with long black hair, and is flipping a dagger into the air. She states she wants out, and speculates that if she kills them she might escape. She draws her blade, but the now-familiar old man appears, causing her to stalk off. The old man tells them that they are heading into great danger in Clearview, and he wishes to give them something to protect them. At his bidding, a black bird flies to Kurshk, plucks out his own feather and holds it out to Kurshk. In a flash of light, the black feather disappears and a golden feather appears emblazoned on the back of Kurshk’s hand. Kursh scoffs, “A feather? Perhaps I’m to tickle my enemies with it when they come swinging their axes!” The old man, unperturbed, explains that as long as the adventurers stand before the darkness, they will be protected by Kurshk. At this, the adventurers awaken.

They continue on their way. A half-hour from Clearview, they have a clear sense that they are being watched. Flint perceives a group of humanoids trying to stealthily approach, and magically envelops these scouts and spies in fog. Cid transforms himself into a bear, and the adventurers attack the surprised enemies!

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Once Again in the Asylum!

As they are returning to the asylum, Wellby Tosscobble catches up with us and reports that he has sent a message to the Duke, via her daughter.

Lydia and Urg enter the asylum and go thru a corridor. Lydia looks in the window to the orb room and sees some cultists. One is trying to strap a struggling inmate into a chair. A cultist begins muttering an arcane spell over the orb. Lydia continues on, passing Mad Max’s cell, sending Urg to reconnoiter. Lydia then disguises herself as a cultist and enters a room where 5 thugs and 2 acolytes are talking.

A cultist asks her if her work is done and when she replies yes he tells her to go help the others. She returns to the orb room and enters. One of the cultists asks her to help strap another inmate into a chair. Having no choice, Lydia complies, and stands there as the cultist again utters a spell. The inmate shrieks and moans, turning into a zombie before her eyes. He quiets down, is released, and shambles off.

The cultists leave the room and go on to Mad Max’s cell, obviously intending to perform the same ritual on him. Horrified, Lydia watches as Max backs into the corner and then, knowing she risks discovery but unable to stand by while this occurs, she slays the two cultists and escapes the asylum with Urg and Max, successfully bypassing the zombies in the courtyard. She meets up with the others and, leaving Max with Althea, the group returns and infiltrates the asylum in their cultists’ robes.

Once again in the asylum, we enter the room that leads to Randall’s office, attacking and killing the zombie and thug that are in there. There is an acolyte there as well, who screams for us to spare him. He tells us that Randall is in his office in a private meeting with General Lamentation. We sneak up to the partially open door and hear General Lamentation blaming Randall for the problems they are facing. Randall begs General Lamentation to send reinforcements but the General replies that a move of this nature would reveal his capabilities and motives to the entire city and be seen as a threat to the Baldur’s Gate Council.

We burst into the room and see the projection of General Lamentation. He turns to us, somehow knowing who we are, saying “An incompetent member of my organization needs elimination. I leave it in your capable hands." To Randall he says, “Our mistress has rescinded her praise and support. If you …. somehow… manage to salvage this situation, then we can discuss matters at that time. Goodbye.” He winks out of sight.

Zombies enter the room to defend Randall. Randall swallows a flask of green liquid. He transforms into an ogre zombie. We engage all the zombies in a long battle…..

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A Battle, a Dream, and Zombies at the Asylum!

The adventurers believe Enna, and ask her why she was fleeing, and what she knows about the Cult of the Dragon. She replies that Randal tried to kill her and wanted to usurp her position as Director at the Insane Asylum. As for the Cult, Durkon knows more than she does. She declines to return to Tyrisis to help the adventurers, and says her destination is the elven forest a day’s journey south of Baldur’s Gate.

They turn to head back to Tyrisis. Flint perceives a dangerous group of acolytes, cultists, and thugs as they are preparing to attack. Suddenly a “google” cloud descends, postponing the impending combat! A full day later, the “google” cloud lifts, and battle commences.

Flint hides behind a rock and manages to pick off a number of the acolytes, cultists and thugs as they cast spells and engage in melee battle with Lydia, Kurshk, Chinicum, and Cid, who turns himself into a slashing, biting bear. Althea and Durkon battle fiercely at their sides, and Althea is felled several times, with Lydia healing her each time, maliciously mocking the enemy.

At last, just one thug remains alive. He offers to talk rather than be killed, and provides useful information under Lydia’s rather over-zealous interrogation. He reveals that he was under orders from Randal to follow the adventurers and Enna, and to kill them all. He reveals that Randal takes orders from General Lamentation, who only communicates through devices, and that Enna will probably be safe if she stays out of the cult’s way.

The thug, whose name is Bert and who is more intelligent than most thugs, indicates that he plans to stay out of the way of the cult himself, now that the assassination attempt has failed, and the adventurers decide to let him go. They take his thug gear and give him a new set of clothes, sending him on his way. He sets off in the opposite direction, presumably to get an education and a new life. The adventurers remove the robes from the dead cultists to potentially use for disguise, and find a safe place to spend the night in the forest near the road.

During an otherwise uneventful night, each adventurer has the same dream. They are all back in the dark dream-village. They hear a THUMP, THUMP, THUMP and can make out a massive creature of the darkest black imaginable, with massive wings tucked up against its side, a lizard-like head with fangs, and fire in its belly. The creature turns it gaze upon them and they are immobilized. Suddenly, black birds fly at the creature and distract him. As his gaze leaves the adventurers, they are able to move again. The old man in peasant robes appears, and cries, “I did not call you! Wake quickly!!!” More black birds appear and fly towards the adventurers, who wake up drenched in sweat. Exhausted from their dreams, the adventurers arise and continue back to Tyrisis.

Wellby meets them outside the gates and reports that he has been spying out information for them. He says their plan to hide at the duke’s estate won’t work, as the duke has left for a couple of days (according to the guards.) Wellby has been watching the insane asylum, and reports creepy sounds and weird shambling forms in the garden, but no inmates in sight. He agrees to find the duke and inform him of all that has transpired.

The adventurers decide to melt into the city while Lydia makes herself invisible and sneaks into the asylum to reconnoiter. She agilely scales the asylum walls and drops into the courtyard, where she counts twelve zombies. Before she can make her way inside the building, time is suspended for two weeks.

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Enna's Revelations

We grab horses and head north to follow Enna. The guard tells us that he saw her heading quickly up the road towards Baldur’s Gate half an hour earlier. We travel north for two hours until we come to a detour into a small village. Lydia disguises herself and goes into the town to investigate. At the town’s inn, the innkeeper tells her that an elven woman of Enna’s description visited earlier and gave his sick little girl some herbs. The little girl is already improving, and the woman departed.

Continuing on to Baldur’s Gate, Lydia rides ahead and sees some figures hidden in the trees off the road. They see her, and when she drops back to tell the others they come out of the woods, weapons drawn, and attack us. We battle, killing all of them except one of their spies. Althea knocks him out, and when he is revived Lydia interrogates him. He tells us that he follows orders of the Cult of the Dragon and that a short, heavy masked man gives him his orders. The man claims to be a mercenary and we attempt to hire him but realize he is lying to us, and we kill him.

Flint finds gold and, on one of the spies, the insignia of a dragon skull.

We continue to track Enna as she heads towards Baldur’s Gate. A half day into our journey, we catch up with her. Flint captures and interrogates her. She denies being our enemy and most of what we thought happened in the insane asylum, and asks if we felt an oppressive darkness before the cultists were left to deal with us. Enna says the orb she told us about has been used on us, and that between two periods of oppressive darkness we have falsified memories, that last for 24 hours. She tells us that she left us with Durkon, and that she came upon Randal as he was bringing in the Cultists, and had to run for her life. She asks us to wait 24 hours, at which time we will know that she is speaking the truth.

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Into, and out of, the Insane Asylum

Cid, Chinicum, Flint, Kurshk, Lydia, Althea, and Wellby approach the gates of the Insane Asylum, where the guard informs them that he will allow a group of 6 to enter. A disappointed Wellby agrees to wait outside.

Creepy noises greet the group as they enter, and a disturbed inhabitant, Mad Max, mutters and raves at them. An employee, Ivor, guides them to the director of the facility, Enna, who is in the middle of a disagreement with another employee, Randal. Enna cuts the altercation short to greet the visitors.

The group is immediately attracted to the sight of an orb in an adjacent room, and Enna explains that the orb is the Asylum’s prized possession – a powerful, magic gift from an Archmage. She says it can obscure devastating memories and temporarily replace them with happier memories, used only with patients’ consent. Lydia feels suspicious, but her insight leads her to believe Enna is sincere.

Lydia offers to help heal the patients, but Enna says the patients are beyond physical healing. Chinicum then offers to use earth magic, and Enna agrees to let him try. Chinicum casts a lighting spell and tries to engage Mad Max in dialog, directing him to look at the light and tell him if he sees the “source”. Mad Max cries out that Chinicum has seen the hidden faces and dark, overcast land of the dragons, and is in league with them!

Chinicum states that Max is not crazy. Kurshk blusters that they are BOTH crazy. Flint responds that he, himself is “in league with no dragon” and asks Chinicum to explain, but Chinicum refuses to elaborate, even at Lydia’s request. So the visitors are led to Durkon Frostbeard. Enna comments that Durkon is free to leave any time because he checked himself in voluntarily.

Durkon seems pleasant and rational, but tells them he keeps hearing the voice of a wee girl asking him why he didn’t save her. Lydia tries to comfort the sobbing Durkon. She also asks him about Lia, the survivor he sent south to the caves. He replies he sent her to visit his home and tell them what had happened to him. Lydia sings to him and the voices stop temporarily – perhaps she can help him! Cid occupies himself by finding and petting an asylum cat.

Lydia asks Durkon to tell them anything he knows about the Cult of the Dragon, but as soon as he begins to reply the lights abruptly go out! For a couple of seconds, everyone experiences an oppressive force that blocks out all sound. When the light returns, Chinicum attributes the anomaly to the “source.” What is this “source” that he keeps talking about?

Durkon, meanwhile, has begun to panic. Flint commands Lydia to sing to Durkon, and she begins her song again, soothing him greatly. Flint and Lydia agree that it is imperative to get Durkon away from the asylum. Durkon insists upon telling Enna first.

The group make their way from Durkon’s room and come upon a hectic scene outside the orb room. Randal is on the ground, bleeding. Enna is telling black robed figures that they were supposed to wait for her signal because of the visitors, but now it is too late and they must deal with them. She strides away.

Battle ensues! Thugs, Cultists and Acolytes war with our friends. Acolytes point at the visitors commanding them to FLEE, and succeed in temporarily terrorizing Althea and Durkon. The other friends battle on courageously. Lydia creates a distraction, sings inspiration, and attacks. Cid turns himself into a bear and bites and slashes the enemy to great effect. Kurshk charges and bludgeons, Chinicum blasts, Flint heals a fallen Lydia and shoots his longbow to kill an acolyte. Our friends prevail and destroy the cultists.

Chinicum then makes an attempt to steal the orb but it repels him violently.

Randal has survived. He explains he was minding his own business when he interrupted Enna in “whatever she was doing” with the stupid cult she’d joined – the Cult of the Dragon! Enna has fled the asylum.

The lights again go out, and the oppressive force again blocks out all sound for a couple of seconds. Chinicum suggest the orb did it, but cannot be certain. They hasten to leave the asylum to pursue Enna, and meet up with Wellby, who tells them he had followed Enna to a stable, where she had obtained a horse and ridden north.

Cidbear changes back to human, and agrees with Flint that they should follow Enna. As Baldur’s Gate is north, they may also be able to track down the cleric who had survived the kobold attack. A disappointed Wellby, who wants to come with them, is instead dispatched to tell the Duke what has transpired.

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In the City of Tyrisis

The refugees join us, running for their lives as bouts of fire burst from the orb and many of the trees catch fire. Lydia notices that Chinicum seems to have shifted a few centimeters before and after Thia’s magic, and is suspicious. The elves suspect we started the fires, but we deny it. Neirea seems convinced, but suggests we flee, and we do.

We debate in the forest what to do next. Flint wants to sneak back and find out whats going on in the Elven village: Althaea offers to join, although she feels it is a reckless course. We decide to head for Tyrisis, but en route, Flint becomes aware of an ambush and alerts us, at which point elves comes out of the woods. We engage in a fierce battle, killing them before we continue on our way.

Entry to Tyrisis is easy as the guards wave us on through the gate. The guard says that Duke Emberweld will likely want to hear of the attack on Greenest. The Guard Captain offers to arrange a meeting with the Duke.

The villagers depart, with thanks to us for saving their lives. Kurshk and Chinicum go off to a bar together to drink and relax. Lydia, Flint, Wellby, and Althaea go to the Pig’s Whistle. Flint talks to Althaea about her past. Althaea reveals that she left her people, the elves, and her husband.

A messenger tells us that Flint has an invitation to dine with the Duke at 6 that evening, and is welcome to bring his friends.

We all attend the dinner, during which the Duke informs us that the Cult of the Dragon has been wreaking havoc on the countryside. The Duke has repeatedly requested a peacekeeping force from the Council at Baldur’s Gate to protect the surrounding villages, but his requests have been ignored. He offers us 10 gold pieces a day to pursue information about the Cult to be passed on to the Council.

The Duke gives us the names of a few survivors of attacks in other towns who may be able to help us: a dwarf named Durkon, traumatized by the attacks and currently in an insane asylum in Tyrisis; a human cleric named Zasheir last known to be traveling to Baldur’s Gate; and an elf named Lia who is traveling to some caves south of the city, at the behest of Durkon. We decide to accept the Duke’s offer and that we will first visit Durkon in the asylum and then head for the caves to find Lia. Wellby Tosscobble and Althaea Halflight decide to come with us.

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