Tyranny of Dragons

4/11/15

Written by Sergey

11 Uktar 1489 DR
My dear Sister,
I write you, not knowing when I shall be able to hire a courier to carry this letter to our homeland. But, I am hopeful that it will reach you in good time. I apologize that it’s been so long since last I wrote. I’ve been on the road for some time and the journey hasn’t been without perilous event. One such occurrence happened yesterday, so I shall relate the tale.
Yesterday was the tenth day of travel on our trek North toward Waterdeep. My companions and I rose to find our friend, Shinokage, had disappeared. In her place, we found a note indicating that she’d left in the night to investigate some lead she’d heard about off the road. If she wasn’t back by morning, something had gone wrong. Seeing that she hadn’t returned, we set out to find her.
We walked for a time in the direction that she’d indicated and came upon a ruined mill of some kind. The others seemed to think it had been a temple instead, but it certainly looked “millish” to me. But what do I know about farming?
In any case, the place was a right ruin and anyone could see it’d been abandoned for a long while. After a bit of searching, we’d found no sign of Shino (no surprise there, sneaky bugger) but we DID find an old stairway leading down. We climbed down and saw that the whole cellar had been used as a crypt. This must’ve been quite a
wealthy miller because his whole family were buried in seven great stone sarcophagi.
We searched around a bit and that mad little gnome (not the shape-shifter, the other one) climbed up on top of one to have a look. Ever the showoff, he tried to jump from one to the next and landed hard, knocking a lid loose and waking the gods-damned miller! He and his whole family came crashing out of their coffins!
Thinking quickly, the OTHER mad gnome conjured up some thorns out of the bare stone and I called upon Bahamut to help me drive these unliving horrors away. Actually, for a change we ALL seemed to work well together. We’re really pulling together as a team, no doubt due to my resolute leadership. Well, all except for that elf. I’m honestly not ENTIRELY sure that she wasn’t helping the undead along. Honestly, it seemed like every time she attacked she either missed them or actually made them stronger. If I genuinely thought she was evil, I’d not be travelling with her, but she’s certainly…off.
Anyway, we were able to smite the creatures in fairly short order and then discovered a gigantic hole in the wall cunningly hidden behind a thin curtain. Passing through this we entered a natural cave and immediately saw our friend and another figure tied up on the floor. We’d barely entered the cave when another undead horror, no doubt a powerful arch-lich appeared. He prattled on for a bit about us disturbing his rest as these bastards are wont to do. Then he raised some skeletons.
I hate to admit this, but things got a bit…grim…there for a moment. The uber-lich seemed to shrug off even my most devastating hammer blows and it sent some sort of wispy, ghosty thingy that hit me very hard. I found myself unable to move or act in any way. The others weren’t faring any better as the skeletons and their sire knocked down both Elys and that shifty fellow.
Thankfully, the madder of the two gnomes was able to revive his cousin, who in turn helped the wizard. The tide finally turned as Elys and Nam used their magic to defeat the looming demigod of the undead. Oh, and the shifter turned into some kind of big lizard, but gods only know to what end.
We were able to free our friend and the other prisoner. After a VERY thorough search of the cave, we found a hidden treasure hoard and emptied it. We were able to rejoin the caravan not too far along the road and I’ve only just now found time to write.
Ah well, I suppose that’s enough for one letter. Although I know he won’t care to hear it, please give my love to Father. And, of course, to your children. With Bahamut’s help, I hope to complete this undertaking and make my way home someday.
With all my affection,
Sergey_signature.png

View
Days 21-27
Session 6

Dear Mælström,

The morning after we fought off the spiders and ettercaps, we awoke to discover that Shinokage was missing. Upon searching the camp, we discovered a note from her which stated that she had left during the night, and that we should follow her if she had not returned by morning.

Following her trail, we came to a ruined temple, which, for some reason, Sergey insisted on calling an abandoned mill. Entering the temple, we saw that its upper levels were in complete ruins, although there was a set of stairs leading down into the crypt. In the crypt, we found many sarcophagi, but no sign of Shinokage. Nam, bless him, suddenly climbed atop one of the tombs, and before we could catch him, attempted to jump from one to the next! Knocking loose the lid when he failed, he released a horde of undead!

We all fought bravely and ultimately prevailed. However, I was not feeling well (the roast squirrel from the previous night tasted a bit off to me…), and my spells kept failing to cast properly. Worse still, in a moment of hurried frustration, I accidentally cast a necromantic spell which actually assisted the undead in their attacks against us! After the fight, I noticed that Sergey was eyeing me with great suspicion.

After we had defeated the undead, we found a hidden entry into a cave behind the crypt. There, we found Shinokage and a woman, who we would later learn is called Erin Heartshorn. Yet before we could revive them, we found ourselves under attack by a lich. He immediately raised several skeletons, and we were nearly overwhelmed! Still reeling from the last fight, I was soon knocked unconscious after only a couple very unsuccessful attempts to cast a spell and attack the lich.

After I was revived, I found that I had renewed vigor and focus. I was thus able to assist Nam, who exceeded all my expectations, in defeating the lich. I can only hope that Sergey will see that I am truly on the side of good… It is driving me mad, trying to keep my past hidden in this way!

After searching the cavern and discovering its treasures, we all returned with Erin Heartshorn to the caravan. A mighty success!

However, I must continue today with somewhat grievous tidings: Samarday has chosen to discontinue his relationship with us, despite our success in protecting him so far. Yesterday, a few days after our victory at the ruined temple, we stopped at an inn for the night, where we encountered a group of adventurers boasting in the tavern. These adventurers made quite a show of telling us all about their mighty feats (impressive though they were, I must admit). Nam, bless him, has now gotten it in his tiny head that he would like to join their order by killing some number of dragons. I do hope the little guy can achieve his dream. I’d hate to see him disappointed.

We noted that Samardag sat himself down to the group with a tankard of ale ere we retired to rest for the night, but assigned no meaning to it beyond that he was interested in hearing their tales and less in need of rest, seeing as he had not recently fought off a horde of the undead.

Yet next morning, we arose to discover that we had been rather unceremoniously… replaced.

Whilst saddened by this news, we have resolved to continue on with the caravan, as we have the pretext of his former employ in our favor. We may continue at least until Dragonspear until we must discover a new pretext.

The porcelain remains intact, though no longer in our care.

No change with the Cultists. We remain unable to learn any new information, but we also remain undetected. We shall continue to bide our time.

With all my love,

Elys

View
Days 9-20
Session 5

Dear Mælström,

We arrived in Baldur’s Gate wholly without incident. We traveled by land to Elturel, where we were able to locate a boat for swift passage up the river to Baldur’s Gate. This was tremendously to our advantage, as while passage by water is inherently more risky, we were able to reach Baldur’s Gate only a day after the Cultists. We were extremely fortunate that we were not delayed by any ill-toward events on the river, enjoying a smooth and easy passage for the entire trip. The stars were ever in our favor.

In Baldur’s Gate, we learned from Leosin’s friend, Ontharr Frume, that the Cultists were joining a caravan moving north to Waterdeep the next day. As it would have been suspicious for a group of adventurers to join a caravan of goods for no known purpose, we swiftly located a merchant who sought a guard for his person and goods during his passage north, by the name of Samardag.

At first, Samardag only wanted to hire Shinokage, but Illen, Sergey, and I were able to convince him that we could also prove useful, though at a lower rate of pay, which we grudgingly accepted. For although it is an insult to doubt our mightiness or usefulness, it is more important that we obtain entry to the caravan than that we should quibble over a few gold pieces. Nam, bless him, was kept on as Shinokage’s assistant, at the lowest pay grade. We decided not to disabuse him of the notion, as it was quite humorous indeed, how sparks flew from the little gnome’s ears.

Samardag is a queer sort. He claims to be transporting a cart of porcelain goods of great value for to sell or trade in Waterdeep. However, this porcelain is not well packed or padded in any way. We enquired multiple times whether we should repack it for him, or if I might cast a protective spell over it. Yet he insisted that the extremely delicate and valuable porcelain would survive the journey in the wagon fully intact without any need for careful packing or padding. We shall see…

On a personal note, in Baldur’s Gate, I was able to discover an important item of information. I located a scholar who had a tome of great value. Although I did not have the gold to purchase this tome, I was able to rent time to study it. Much of what was written there was already familiar to me from my previous training as a dragon scholar, but one entry in particular was new to me: I discovered that there exists a set of five dragon masks of great power which correspond to the chromatic colors. Whosoever possesses one of these masks has some sort of power over all dragons of like sort, though I know not what is the nature of this power. Should one possess all five of the masks… Well, I can only imagine. I shall surely seek further information about the helms, in particular, their nature and whereabouts. I must have them, all of them, if we are to prevail over the Cultists.

Since leaving Baldur’s Gate, we have had a series of adventures on the road. We first encountered a pair of perytons. I was able to blind one, and we were eventually able to kill both of them, though with some struggle.

Later, the caravan came upon a golden stag. Some members of the caravan were intent on killing the beast, despite our vehement protests against taking such action. Its countenance was so brilliant and pure that surely it would have been an act of great evil to harm him. After much argument, weapons were drawn and they took aim at the stag with arrows. Illen saved the golden stag from certain doom by shapeshifting into a cougar and scaring him off. The members of the caravan were quite cross with us, but we care not.

The next day, we came upon a swarm of spiders and ettercaps. Many members of the caravan were captured and engulfed in web, and they attempted to steal our horses, but we were able to subdue all of the foul beings and rescue the caravan from any serious harm.

The porcelain survived all of this completely unscathed.

We have not yet been able to infiltrate the Cultists. We had hoped to gather information from them about the Cult’s activities, but approaching them would arouse suspicion with a certainty, and they seem not to engage in much talk amongst themselves. We do not believe that they recognize us from the camp, but we cannot be certain of this. Time will tell.

With love,

Elys

View
Days 5-8
Sessions 3 & 4

Dear Mælström,

We returned to the camp, this time guised as workers as we observed them ere we departed. We brought a wagon laden with “treasure” in order to gain entry to the cave, this time through the front door! Arriving at the camp, it was clear that it had been largely abandoned. We were the only wagon approaching, and the land before the canyon was scarred with the mass exodus of a large party moving north. The guards at the entrance to the canyon were suspicious that we should be bringing more treasure to the cave, as they indicated that everyone had already left and that we were too late, but despite this, we were able to convince them that we were on Cult business.

Entering the cave, we saw that all the treasure had indeed been removed from the area where it had been stored. When the guards at the cave became suspicious, we killed them and continued to explore the cave, for if we could not retrieve the goods belonging to Greenest, we hoped to at least fulfill the second half of our mission, to discover the Cultists’ purpose in amassing the hoard and where it was being taken.

We fought our way through kobolds and guard drakes, down into the inner chambers of the cave. As we approached a stair leading further down, I heard a familiar voice coming from a chamber ahead. I carefully descended the stairs, fancying myself quite stealthy, to peek around the corner. I immediately confirmed my suspicions: Langdedrosa was in the chamber, with two of his henchmen. However, I had not been as careful as I thought, for immediately, Langdedrosa, without even turning to face me, said in a quiet, steady voice, “You never should have come back, Elys.”

I dashed back up the stairs, with Langdedrosa and his henchmen in pursuit! As soon as I was certain that the others could hear me, I shouted, “Langdedrosa is here!” We fought a mighty battle, in which I was knocked unconscious and we all suffered grievous injury. But before I fell, I was able to cast a web to ensnare Langdedrosa and one of his henchmen, which Nam, bless him, was then able to light aflame. We ultimately prevailed, though at great cost. We spent the night in the chamber above, which had housed the guard drakes, to tend to our wounds and to gather our strength to continue exploring the cave.

The next morning, we started by exploring the chamber where we had found Langdedrosa. Nam, bless him, insisted on opening a box he found there, which released a cloud of poisonous gas issuing from the mouths of the black dragons painted on the walls.

Recovering from this minor setback, we proceeded down into the lowest chamber of the cave. Here, we encountered a Roper Beast which had been tasked with guarding two dragon eggs. He hit us once, enough to convince us that fighting him was futile. Yet try as we might to reason with him, the Roper Beast would not let us anywhere near the eggs, as he had been tasked with protecting them and was very single-mindedly determined to fulfill his task.

In what was surely his most brilliant moment, Nam, bless him, threw a love potion he had found earlier that day into the Roper Beast’s mouth. He fell immediately in love with Nam, bless him, though he remained sorely distrustful of me, as he now perceived me not only as a threat to the eggs, but also to his new love. Nam, bless him, was able to discover that the Cultists had fed him meat in order to win his loyalty. Having no meat to hand, I attempted to heat and flavor a bundle of clothing in order to disguise it as meat, but this not being my area of expertise, the Roper Beast was not impressed.

As we conversed with the Roper Beast, we learned that the kobolds were bringing him a lot of meat, and we reasoned that this must have been stored in the cave. Remembering a strong smell of decay in a chamber off the main path as we had descended into the kobolds’ chambers, we suspected that they housed the meat there. Nam, bless him, was able to convince the Roper Beast that he should come with us to the meat chamber, where he could have all the meat he wanted. It was a slow and arduous climb up to the chamber, on which we had hung all our hopes that we would find the meat, until at last, the Roper Beast reached the chamber, where we did indeed find a vast room filled to the brim with meat. We told him that he could eat his fill, and that this was his new task.

Having distracted the Roper Beast for the foreseeable future, we swiftly returned to his chamber and destroyed the eggs. Afterwards, as we were leaving the cave, we discovered a small passage off the main entrance that we had failed to observe before. Entering the passage, we found more Cultists, whom we swiftly killed.

Weary, we pressed forward into the chamber below, only to discover none other than Frulam Mondath. A great battle ensued, in which we almost perished, but ultimately we prevailed and defeated her. Shinokage kept her cloak as a trophy, and we raided her chambers for what information we could discover. From the scrolls and maps we found, we learned that the Cultists were taking the treasure to Baldur’s Gate, but for what purpose, we know not.

After resting briefly, we discovered a final chamber with a lone Cultist. We swiftly finished him, and took what treasures we could find, few though they were.

We returned to Greenest the next morning, dismayed to report that we had not been able to locate their stolen goods. Yet there is still hope, if we can track the treasure to Baldur’s Gate, although it seems more important now to discover what is being done with the treasure than any attempt to return it to its rightful owners. I can only hope that the good folk of Greenest understand that, for the greater good, we may not be able to return the treasure, though surely we will try.

Tomorrow, we will make for Elturel, and then on to Baldur’s Gate. If we move swiftly, we may be able to reach the city in time to head off the Cultists, or at least to interrupt their delivery. In Baldur’s Gate, we must seek Leosin Erlanthar’s friend, as per instruction.

There are no words for my own private joy at the news that we will be making for Baldur’s Gate. With any luck, I will be able to spend a little time reading what scrolls and materials I can find, through which I hope to discover what I can about what is happening to me and how we might defeat the Cultists once and for all.

With great anticipation,

Elys

View
Days 3-4
Session 2

My dearest Mælström,

Today we narrowly escaped with our lives! All the while, as I stood tied to a stake, face-to-face with none other than Frulam Mondath, all I could think was that I should perish and my last words to you were, “I will be right back!” How miserable you must be now! I have not kept that promise, as far as you know, I have abandoned you entirely, and now you are of a certainty in the dungeons of the Complex, wasting away and despairing of my return!

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you the entirety of the tale.

We set forth from Greenest at first light, following the Cultists’ trail. We encountered a group of kobolds on the way, who proved no match for our might. As we neared the raiders’ camp, we saw that it was in a canyon of sorts. We scaled around the back side to understand their movements, and soon concocted a plan: We would lower a rope down the back of the canyon, and climb down under cover of darkness. In this way, we might have a chance to gain entry to the cave, where we could see that cartloads of treasure were being brought.

We were successful in entering the camp undetected in this manner, and in joining a group of workers by the fire. We obtained much valuable information from them, though I think they thought we must be quite stupid for our lack of knowledge (though they in turn were too unintelligent to recognize our stupidity for the farce it was). We did not discover the Cultists’ purpose in what they are doing, but we at least now know that they will soon cease collecting treasure to the hoard in order to deliver it to Waterdeep. It seems the workers know no more about the Cultists’ ultimate purpose than we do, rather they are simply working to earn their meager wages without question.

Suddenly, Frulam Mondath and Langdedrosa emerged from the cave and approached our fire. Upon recognizing us, we were captured, although fortunately, Illen was able to shapeshift into a mouse in order to avoid detection and capture. Though we fought capture, disposing of a dozen or so kobolds and guards in the process, we were ultimately overcome. We were tied to stakes, to be dealt with in the morning. All our weapons and supplies were taken from us, stored in a supply tent on the other side of the camp. Knowing not what had become of Illen, we were left to contemplate our fate, whilst Shinokage and I both attempted escape at various points, most unsuccessfully.

As we later learned, Illen was not idle during this time. He was able to retrieve all of our weapons and supplies from the tent by sneaking in as a mouse, returning to his own form to place everything in a bundle, and then shapeshifting with the bundle back into a mouse. He scurried back up the rope, which we had fortunately left well-hidden, and hid our supplies in the woods above the camp. After resting for a time, he scurried back down the rope to see how he might help us in our plight.

Nam, bless him, was able to conjure a thick fog and thus create a distraction at Illen’s instruction. Illen then untied us in the ensuing confusion, and we were able to escape up the rope again. After retrieving the rope and resting for a time, we carefully retreated from the canyon and are now returned to Greenest to deliver what news we could discover and to replenish our supplies.

A narrow escape if ever there was one! I’ve no doubt that we must return to the camp and gain entry to the cave. We might be able to retrieve some of the treasure stolen from the good folk of Greenest, and more important still, we may yet discover the Cultists’ true purpose in amassing such a hoard. Yet in order to do so, we must discover a new means of entry. Certainly the woods surrounding the rim of the canyon will now be closely guarded. We are unlikely to gain entry again in such fashion, nor will we be able to enter the cave undetected.

Tonight, we rest. I have sought what information I could in Greenest, but have found little that is helpful. I am hopeful that the great libraries in Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep will have more to offer, if ever we journey north.

What I do know for certain is this: I must find you again, if it is the last thing I do. I cannot fail in this, for I cannot suffer to know that you should ever think I had truly abandoned you. We will be reunited. This I swear.

Yours forever,

Elys

View
Days 1-2
Session 1

Dear Mælström,

Today I encountered a group of adventurers whilst preparing to travel to Greenest. Although I was hesitant to shackle myself indefinitely to a group of unknown providence with unknown intentions, I felt strangely drawn to them. Reading the heavens, it was clear to me that the stars in their infernal alignment were pulling me to them. I had no other course available to me but to join them, lest I risk disturbing the delicate balance of the Wyrd and destroying in a single fell swoop any chance I have of gaining the knowledge and power I need to rescue both you and myself.

And so we ventured forth.

The road to Greenest was uneventful. When we arrived, however, we discovered that the town was under siege by the Cult. We fought our way through masses of kobolds to the town center, and managed to reach the top of the tower, where a dragon was attacking the innocent townsfolk. We are no match for such a formidable foe in our current state, yet somehow we prevailed. We did not defeat the dragon, but we were able to defend the townsfolk and send it fleeing to whence it came.

I do not believe, however, that we did so by our might alone. Nay, I believe this was the Cultists’ plan all along, to distract the townsfolk with the dragon attack so they could conduct their vile business undisturbed. The dragon likely would have left of its own accord without our intervention once their task was complete, though I do believe we saved many lives by acting as a shield, so it was not for naught. However, we were ultimately unable to prevent the Cultists from completing their evil work, which we only discovered after the dragon had been dispatched: They were come to loot and plunder the riches of Greenest.

I know not the Cultists’ true purpose at this time. Yet knowing as I do the ways of the Cultists and of that foe whom they serve, I have my suspicions. Why else should they undertake to gather all the riches of the realm to themselves, if not for the brood of Tiamat?

The stars portend a dire future indeed. The road to your rescue is proving to be most perilous. I only hope I can gather the knowledge and power I need in time.

After we had routed the dragon, we encountered Langdedrosa. He engaged Sergey in single combat, and nearly killed him. I knew that he would recognize me immediately, and feared greatly that he would reveal my true identity to the party! He named me, calling me foolish for leaving the Cult, yet the others were so distracted with tending to the wounds he inflicted on Sergey that they seemed not to notice or care. My secrets are safe for now.

I do want wish them to misunderstand my purpose. I know now that the Cult is truly evil, yet I cannot abandon entirely my quest for knowledge of the necromantic arts. I am bound now to discover all that I can, if I am to save myself, and ultimately, you, Mælström. I can only hope now to bend the powers of darkness to my will, to harness them for good. I fear they would not understand. I must have more time to prove myself before I can reveal the foolishly naïve mistakes of my past.

I digress momentarily to tell you a little about the members of my party. I have already mentioned Sergey, so I begin with him. A paladin in worship of Bahamut, I feel a certain affinity with him, a desire to share his knowledge of Bahamut’s power. Perhaps he will have knowledge of how to use the power of dragons for good. Sergey is a mighty little dwarf, steadfast in his righteous purpose, even to my great frustration at times. I fear, however, that my respect for him will not be mutual, should my past be revealed. He will be with a certainty the most resistant to allowing me to remain in the party. I must be especially careful to guard closely my secrets from him.

The gnome, Illen, has vast knowledge of the druidic arts. He understands the importance of maintaining the delicate balance of nature, which after all is but a visible manifestation of the Wyrd. He will be a valuable ally, should the others wish to ignore the movements of the Cosmos and all they portend. Illen, I believe, will show me compassion. I must try to win him over.

Shinokage is a fellow elf, yet we differ so much that I struggle to feel a connection with mine kin. A monk with great prowess and skills in hand-to-hand combat, she seems to place little value on gathering knowledge beyond what is necessary for her immediate purposes. So bent on revenge is she, that I fear to do anything to cross her. I can only hope that she will accept me as an ally, for certainly I would never wish to have her as my foe. I do not doubt that she will defeat Frulam Mondath at the first opportunity, so I needn’t concern myself with her any further, which is a welcome relief.

Nam. How does one even begin to explain Nam? He fancies himself a wizard, but in truth is a sorcerer, and a haphazard one at that. He spouts showers of sparks and bursts of magic at random intervals, his spells backfire more frequently than is reasonable. I must be sure to keep my distance, when next we enter combat. He keeps a book of random scribblings and drawings, which for some reason he calls his “spell book”. In truth, I’ve no clear notion of his purpose or intentions, though I am not certain that he does, either. Suffice to say: Nam is a very special gnome, with a sweet spirit.

I have written much today, Mælström. I must retire, for tomorrow we must venture forth in search of the hoard of riches which the Cultists have gathered to them. Langdedrosa and Frulam Mondath are near at hand, I’ve no doubt that we will meet again, and soon. The good townsfolk of Greenest have been most generous in their gratitude for our efforts in saving those we could. They have replenished our supplies and tended to our wounds, even specially preparing moste potente bandages for our journey tomorrow. We are most grateful in turn for their generosity.

Until we meet again,

Elys

View
Day 0

Dear Mælström,

Words cannot express my sorrow that you are not here with me. All I can do now is pray to all the gods and goddesses that will hear me that you understand that I left you locked in my chambers for your own safety whilst investigating the Cult’s rituals in the library. My greatest regret will always be that I was unable to come for you when I escaped from the clutches of their ritual.

Now I fear that I am dying, nay, wasting away into the wretched, soulless quasi-existence of the undead. My only hope is to discover what was done to me before it’s too late.

I will come for you, Mælström. I will not let them have you! I am gathering strength and knowledge to reverse what was done to me, and as soon as I am able, I will storm the Complex and we will be reunited at last!

Until then, I must remain satisfied to keep a log of my adventures for you. Only in that way will you ever be able to truly understand my longing for you and the sacrifices I know I will make for you. For our bond is eternal, and my love for you vaster than the firmament of stars sparkling brilliantly on the darkest of moonless nights.

With all my love and devotion,

Elys

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