The level three heroes this session
Brog, human-reared dwarven Life cleric of Chauntea;
Kael, human fighter/Battle Master;
Lapis, two-sword wood elf rogue/Assassin;
Worm, human monk of the Long Death;
Zebedee, forest gnome wizard/Bladesinger
The story so far
Greenest in flames! A large group of adventurers arrives, and splits into two teams, both lending their services to Govern Nighthill, his mage Bambine, and Castellan Escobert. Folk are rescued, the town mill saved, and prisoners captured. Only one adventurer dies over several missions, and that is to Lennithon the Blue, an adult blue dragon! Bambine apparently also falls victim to Lennithon in a mage-vs-dragon confrontation. And now with dawn greying the smoke-filled skyline east, a battered figure is glimpsed approaching the keep.
A challenge from the enemy
Nesim Walden, Worm’s fellow-monk, leads a straggle of survivors up from the south, around and up the keep hill. He asks that the gate be opened to them. Initially suspicious, Castellan Escobert agrees. But before Worm can catch up on any news of their mutual mentor Leosin Erlanthar, Nesim is escorted away to speak to Governor Nighthill.
Then from the dark and flame near the town square comes a distant hail: From the darkness, a creature strides into the dim light of the dying fires around the keep. Although it is shaped roughly like a human, it is at least seven feet tall, its skin is covered in blue scales, its fingers bear wicked claws, and its face has the muzzle and reptilian eyes of a dragon. The creature stops about eighty yards from the main gate of the keep and scans the walls. A line of kobolds fans out behind it. With their spears, they prod four human prisoners into the dim light. The adventurers still at the keep gate can make out a woman, a teenage boy in a blood-soaked tunic, and two children. Then the half-dragon creature hails the keep.
“Defenders of Greenest! This has been a successful night, and I am feeling generous. Do you see these four pitiful, useless prisoners? We have no need for them, so I will trade them back to you. Send out your best warrior to fight me, and you can have these four in exchange.”
Zebedee makes his way past Watch Sergeant Markguth, who is being restrained by Castellan Escobert – both are vital for the remaining defense of the keep! Raising his voice Zeb calls shrilly:
“What are the terms of the combat?”
“As I said – fight me, one on one! I will even restrain my deadly breath weapon!”
Lapis strongly suggests that they don’t have to follow the rules of such an enemy, and Worm agrees that he will sneak around to lend a hand as well. Brog Zeb asks to back him up with healing and the cleric – still smarting under the realization that his parents lied to him his whole life – agrees.
However, a quick poll of the other adventurers finds none of them willing to break the deal or risk being cut down by unknown numbers of enemy.
Langdedrosa Cyanwrath is the name of Zebedee’s foe, the two exchange names, Brog slaps Zeb on the shoulder with Guidance and Langdedrosa takes the step of loudly warning any and all that breaching the terms of the one-on-one combat will see the four hostages cut down. The hidden Worm and Lapis can see at a glance that there are plenty of kobolds available to do just that. So they become witnesses to the duel.
Zeb opens up with Caustic Brew and is strikes Langdedosa squarely. It will keep doing damage too! The half-dragon returns with a spear-cast that cuts past Zeb’s agile defenses and shakes him. Then the Bladesinger (who naturally has his powers working) casts an accurate but trifling Fire Bolt, zips in closer and ushers a series of feints concealing Shocking Grasp. Then runs! He has taken a couple of near-misses from Langdedrosa’s greatsword and is close to fainting. Langdedrosa cuts the circle to stay on the gnome’s heels but misses thanks to Zeb’s Shield and Mage Armor. Zeb doubles back but this time runs into the massive blade, and that time it does get past his defenses! Brog hurries to Spare the Dying and for his part, with a muffled roar of suppressed pain, Langdedrosa rolls in the dirt of the square until the acid is expunged. Then he rises and commands that the four hostages be freed.
Overlapping missions from Nighthill and Nesim
Back at the keep the four that headed out are hailed as true heroes. They merely thank their well-wishers and cast themselves down for a
During the rest period Worm gets the chance to hear more from Nesim Walden. The monk, not in the same year of training as Worm, seems to have been taken on as Leosin’s factotum during a long period of research into the Dragon Cult. To further the research, Leosin took he and a few other young monks as far as Candlekeep. From what he understands, the cult is not behaving as it normally does. Leosin decided to pose as a cultist and learn what the truth was, undercover. (This much, Worm has already gathered from Nighthill.) But Nesim has definite word: the two tried to rendezvous but instead were separated by a cultist attack. As far as he could tell, Leo has been dragged away by the cultists. He adds that another monk has already departed east for Berdusk to see if the Hellriders can help – but that will take days.
Nighthill has a mission for all of the adventurers that are willing to work for pay: He wants to know where the camp is sited, how many raiders are there, who their leaders are, what’s motivating these attacks, and where they plan to strike next. This trio of information points is worth 250 gold apiece.
As for Leosin, if he was captured and carried away as a prisoner, then by any means possible, rescue him. No one understands these bandits better than he does, and his knowledge will be invaluable against them.
Kael throws his hand in with the four heroes at this point. Ella wants to head east but will wait here at the keep, and anyone else is free to back the five volunteers up.
Quick update on mobs:
Heller, Della and Ella remain as they were but two others have taken on identities: one is a stout halfling druid named Bramble and is the reserve mob for Worm; the other is a wood elf ranger named Erevan and is the reserve mob for Zebedee.
Two of the mob characters volunteer to support the mission, but Heller the would-be Hellrider decides his mission is to escort Ella and Della east as fast as they can. Once he links with the Hellriders he will return with spare mounts, if possible.
Evidence of absence is not absence of evidence
With that agreed most of the team begin prep work. Zebedee however has written spells into his book as fast as he can, and harks back to what he heard as Lennithon confronted Bambine. Thinking back on it, he believes there may have been more to it than the dragon tearing into the turret and devouring the old woman.
Puffing and panting he reaches what is now the very top of the donjon, open to the day – and a fine pleasant day it is, typical of this settled part of The Fading – and begins inspecting the ground and stonework minutely.
Zeb makes 26 on Investigation
He comes to a spine-tingling conclusion: Bambine was also a dragon! She changed into such a form, pushed aside the turret roof, and launched off from there.
A fine day for prairie hen
Brog has been setting the pace south, and pauses, nose twitching. That’s the smell of roasting fowl! Lapis, who is scouting, drifts off right to check it out, Worm shadowing him. Passing some fairly dense brush they come to a clearing, a natural dell where a couple of hunters have a cart, a fire, and two fowl a-roasting. One waves:
“Come in if yer friendly!”
Friendly or not – and let’s face it he is pretty cold-blooded – Lapis approaches, and begins chatting.
“Yer friend don’t say much do ‘e?”
Worm looks at the second man, solemn faced.
Hunters are nomadic, almost barbaric, denizens of the Greenfields, and regions north and south of the region. They owe no allegiance to Elturel.
Back on the road Brog smells something else: the smell of kobolds! He knows that scent now! Warning Zeb and Kael, he readies for action.
“It’s what you love Zeb, Kobolds!” – Brog
“Flambeed, electrocuted or dissolved in acid, I love ’em” – Zeb
Meanwhile as they catch sight of concealed foes, Lapis and Worm deal death to one hunter, KO the other, and Lapis backs off to some concealment.
Two cultists – rough dressed. lightly-armored, and not carrying any better weapon than scimitars – and a host of kobolds leap to the ambush. A kobold loses control of an ambush drake which pounds along the trail towards Brog and Zeb. Kael races up to support Worm who is being attacked by some numbers, and the two cut through their foes like wheatstalks.
Crossbows aimed by kobolds plink into adventurers, then the little “would-be dragons” take fright and run. But Zeb is having none of that! As Brog and he and Kael deal with the ambush drake he taunts his arch-foes. They halt, and return to the fight!
That seals their doom of course, and with a last swipe of Kael’s greatsword and arrow-shot of Lapis’ longbow they die.
The victors assemble, manacle their prisoner, and question him over the spoils of war, ie roast fowl.
Bell Ermine owes no loyalty to the governor but he also owes no loyalty to his current paymasters, the cult, who merely pay the hunters to bring in game to feed a large camp. This is a summary of his not-very-organized intel:
- The camp lies in a big canyon. It would be terrible in the rains, but is fine right now. There are two watchtowers in the canyon (x on the little map above). Caves dot the canyon walls, mostly shallow, carven out by rains.
- There is no one ‘camp’ though, each bunch has set up its own little tent town. Roughly you can divide the denizens into outsiders, kobolds, hunters, cultists, and bosses (Including the big cheeses).
- Not everyone is a full-fledged member of the cult. There are pirates from Beregost way, and mercenaries like the Storm Fist. Prisoners are there too, being used for manual labor. Quite a few of the town watch and some others have “converted” and become loyal members of the cult, or joined the Storm Fist. Other prisoners are probably killed.
- The kobolds are there because they love dragons, but they are not well liked or trusted by the other races. Most of their tents are up on a shallow shelf, not with the main encampment.
- Hunters who bring in antelope and other large game from the grasslands feed the camp. The cultists and their allies eat most of it, but some is stored in the cave to feed the “hatchlings.”
- Bosses tend to wear robes and order other folk about, but there are veteran warriors among them, not just spell-slingers.
- The big cheeses are three: Rezmir a mysterious boss that could be half-dragon but stays in a tent, Frulam Mondath a purple-robed woman who is a scary mage, and Langdedrosa Cyanwrath who is a champion. They camp around the solid dot east on the little map above.
- The cult has been ranging far and wide on small raids to collect treasure. There are a lot of wagons and carts and beast of burden. It looks as though they will be heading out soon. No idea where, except not south, that’s no country for wagons.
- There is a cave at the back of the camp which is off-limits to all but the important ones. The cave has plunder in it. It is probably the “hatchery” too, whatever that is.
- The monk Leosin is being tortured near the back of the camp. What Rezmir hopes to learn from him is anyone’s guess, but you wouldn’t want to be in that half-elf’s skin — or what’s left of it — when the questioning gets serious.
And as the team lays plans, based on that intel, the session ends.