Everyone made a concerted effort to arrive on time and well before 6:00 we were diving into Garr’s ham and cheese casserole. Soon, we fired up the digital mapping projector and we were off and running.
We left off last session after the final member of the Dragon Cultists had been slain deep within the caverns of The Hatchery. Before our heroes lay the hot, acrid egg chamber. While the group was discussing what to do with the eggs, Brokk got to wondering about the potion he’d found on Cyanwrath. He decided to drink it. Feeling a touch more mobile, a touch more lively, he decided to run into the egg chamber and grab the first giant egg and retrieve it. He didn’t make it far before four ropey tendrils snapped around him and pulled him toward a giant toothy maw. Chomp!
The rest of the party began to prepare for battle, but Valeriya shouted out that even more food could be delivered if the thing would let the chomped barbarian free. Please let him free! “But, me very hungry!” And so on went the conversation until bodies of dead dragon cultists were delivered. Finally, Brokk was allowed free. There was a bit more back and forth about the eggs and how many bodies for each, but eventually, all the bodies went to the Roper and all three eggs went to our heroes – who then left the caverns.
With some of Frulam Mondath’s treasure, three large dragon eggs, Olishia the rescued rape victim, and Ralishuul, their cultist prisoner, our heroes trudged back to Greenest. Townspeople quickly gathered to follow our heroes into town, and around Ralishuul. Soon, it was a throng, and they were determinedly gathering stones to put an end to the prisoner. It took all their efforts to persuade the crowd to wait even a few moments. Luckily, Governor Nighthill appeared on the scene and agreed that Ralishuul should stand trial in the morning. After some fierce words, the crowd reluctantly agreed to wait – Ralishuul would be tried and then stoned to death on the ‘morrow.
Meanwhile, on fresh horses, our heroes headed off toward Elturel as arranged. They bore precious information about the direction and possible destination of the Dragon Cultists, as well as three giant dragon eggs.
Cold autumn rains and dark skies loomed overhead. Three days out, late in the afternoon, a line of nine orcs was spotted on the grassy plain ahead. Their heavy loping forms were spread out and moving as fast as possible from west to east. Wounded stragglers lagged behind. Some of the slowest still bore green feathered elven shafts. Our heroes wasted no time – they rolled initiative and attacked.
This wasn’t an ordinary band of orcs however. These were captains and leaders of an elite war band. The battle was quick and fierce. A few of the weaker orcs tried to run, as orcs will. They were no match for Himo’s speed, however. Himo caught and killed the weak. The others fell in a brutal, bloody last stand.
Two long days later, on the other side of a seemingly endless rolling grassy ridge, the river Chionthar spread out to the east and west before our travellers. On the far side, the dusty streets and rust-brown roofs of Elturel. They took the last ferry across just as the lanterns and lights of the evening flamed to life.
A few quick questions led our group to Leosin Erlanthar and Onthar Frume at the welcoming hearth of the Black Antlers Inn. The night was wrong for deep discussions however. Many prying ears were present and Onthar, particularly, needed a bit of time to make some arrangements. All would be ready tomorrow evening.
In the morning, our troop decided to stretch their legs a bit and take in a bit of the local color. This day happened to fall on the first day of Elturel’s autumn harvest festival. There were games and assorted entertainments. Brokk tried his hand at several events – sadly, he fared poorly in archery, arm wrestling, and wrestling. Terredon took home the championship for the archery contests – and captured the reward of half a dozen very special arrows. Himo won the running contest hands down despite an attempt at sabotage which was foiled by Terredon. For his part, Terredon exercised some restraint in not winning the race as he transformed into a war horse and easily outpaced the pack but, in the end, declined to cross the finish line.
For the people of Elturel, a small outpost in the middle of a grassland sea, running speed is a highly prized quality. Himo won the grand prize. He shared a private dinner with the Lady Melowna, aboard the private barge of her father, High Rider Lord Dhelt. The Lady being only 14, Himo managed to restrain himself.
Late that evening, our heroes were finally called into an upstairs room of the Black Antlers. Leosin and Onthar awaited with pitchers of wine, and ale, boards of meats, cheeses and bread. Drinking and eating, our heroes told the tale of their adventures in the Hatchery and relayed that the Dragon Cultists were making their way west, toward Beregost and then north along The Coast Way, toward Baldur’s Gate. Also relayed was the impression that the loot of Greenest was of particular importance to the cultists.
Onthar and Leosin explained that many interests are coalescing against the Dragon Cultists up and down the Sword Coast. What is needed, at this point, is solid information as to where the cultists are taking the loot. Further, it is still a mystery as to the intentions of the cult. What is their plan? Where are they going and why are they gathering such treasures?
To this end, there was some long discussion. Onthar revealed that he had already made arrangements for our heroes to take a boat to Baldur’s Gate via the River Chionthar in the morning. He suggested that our heroes significantly change their appearance to avoid being recognized. All agreed that the best plan was to await the arrival of the cultists and their loot at Baldur’s Gate. See where they take it. If the cultists continue to head north, Onthar gave the name of Ackyn Selebon, a friend of his in Blackgate. Traders and travelers group together on the northern road, the Trade Way, for protection. Ackyn can help our heroes obtain passage or even employment on the northern route if necessary.
About this time, Tan Meng, who was well into the pitchers of ale and wine had his own revelation. “What about if we find some old skiff or boat and float down the Chionthar to Baldur’s Gate?!” With a dramatic flourish, he announced his plan and smacked a map down on the table with triumphant exultation. “What do you think of that, bitches!”
Laughter all around, except for from Tan Meng who grinned a bit sheepishly realizing he wasn’t quite up to speed.
In the cool morning fog, Captain Yomadan pushed off the dock and all began to drift downstream. Each sported a remodeled appearance. Tom Haverford probably made out the best with some fancy halfling merchant attire including striped silk pantaloons (red and yellow), a new red velvet jacket, and a fancy foppish hat. The dragon egg cargo was kept beneath crates and warmed by lanterns. Despite their efforts, the two black eggs were smelling pretty sour as they drifted into the morning.
It was late by the time we all arrived in Baldur’s Gate. Under cover of darkness, the barge passed beneath Wyrm’s Crossing and beside Wyrm’s Rock. Yomadan brought the ship quietly into the docks. With a few brief words, our heroes parted with their cargo, and made their way to The Dagger and Hook. With the eggs settled in a storage shed, some took watch while others found their rooms, glad to be on dry land once again.
The next morning, Tom set about finding a buyer for the eggs, while Valeriya and Tan Meng set about finding a solution to Valeriya’s cobalt plates and the symbol of Tiamat branded into her chest by Cyanwrath’s minions. For six hundred gold, Brother Maris of the Temple of Chauntea was willing to perform the deed. Cleansed of those insults, Valeriya set out a free woman once again.
Tom found two potential buyers. An alchemist named Shoulhoris was interested, but another, a wizard named Habakuk seemed the better prospect so all made their way to his house boat. Dirty plates and cups were strewn about the cabin in keeping with the unkempt decks and untended woodwork outside. He’s bit of a quirky and unkempt old fellow – but when it came to price, Habakuk was focussed and solemn. 10,000 gold for the blue egg.
This is where Tan Meng decided that what was needed was a Zone of Truth – and he proceeded to set about casting such.
Meanwhile, Raynard The Mild was thinking about the opportunities the egg presented. What if one were to raise such a beast and gain its service in this struggle? Wouldn’t that be of potential great benefit? (Raynard’s powerful patron encouraged him to explore this option before parting with the opportunity).
There was dissension among the group, differing opinions collided. Some were pleading with Tan Meng to be more tactful, others were warning Raynard of his path…. and that is where we decided to call it an evening. This is moment to where we return at our next point of gathering.
Will Tan Meng proceed with casting a spell in the small cabin of Habakuk’s floating home? Will that result in fiery death for all? Will they sell the egg or will Raynard The Mild convince the party to at least explore the option of harnessing the potential power to their cause? When will the Dragon Cult show up with their loot? Where are they taking it and why?
(Many thanks to Courtney C. Campbell for his excellent supplemental works for the HotDQ campaign. I usually borrow material rapaciously when I run a game, but Courtney’s contributions over at Hack & Slash helped to elevate HotDQ toward being one of the best games I’ve ever run.)