Terredon, moon elf druid (often in bear or dire-wolf form) provided a delicious repast. There were rolls, noodles, parmesan cheese and meaty red sauce. Delicious.
After gluttony, we set to work. The question: What to do about Lasfelro? The quiet teamster realized he’d seen Raynard (human warlock) at the camp in the hills outside Greenest some weeks ago. Moments passed, various plans were discussed. Jamna dramatically found a poisoned bone in Tan Meng’s (human cleric of Chauntea) oatmeal. Later, that very same bone made its way into Lasfelro’s supper. He died painfully in the night. His gargoyle remained motionless on the buckboard of his wagon.
The next night, Losvius Longnose died in the dark, his corpse stabbed deeply between the scapula. Saul accused Garr (dwarf fighter). And looked with suspicion at Raynard and Himo (elf monk). Calm voices prevailed. Among them was Azbara Jos who intervened on behalf of sanity and carrying on the journey without further violence.
Everyone was tired of the trip and tired of one another. Quietly, in the cold, they marched on toward Waterdeep. Jamna sought a connection with Tan Meng, but failed to find common understanding. The little gnome spoke with Terredon and found they shared an enmity for the Dragon Cult, at least. Terredon filled Jamna in on some of the other members of the caravan, especially the suspected cultists.
Terredon also connected with Carlon Amofel, a fellow Harper. Carlon wanted to help Terredon meet with some of his Harper friends in Waterdeep.
The deep wilds of The Trade Way faded as the caravan approached that sprawling port city. For two days, they passed through farms and small hamlets, even staying a night at an actual inn before heading into town. Still, it was a tired, worn, and road weary troupe that plodded into Waterdeep. All gathered before their wagons for the ceremonial last toast. The warm Rashemaar (also known as Dragon’s Breath brandy) went down sweet and hot in a toast to mutual health and success, though some eyes were now loaded with intensity and suspicion, where before they were filled with uncertainty and excitement at the coming journey. All shared a moment of silence for those unable to share in the moment; Beyd, Tyjit, Achreny, Sulesdeg, Losvius, and Laselfro.
Valeriya (human paladin) bid adieu to Green Imsa, Samardag, and Orvustia. Raynard said goodbye to Lai Angesstun and his load of scented and cooking oils. Tan Meng and Brokk (human barbarian) said their farewells to Oyn Evenmore and Enom Tobun and their load of tropical birds (only 6 died on this passage). Himo and others said a terse goodbye to Vyerhite and Saul. Radecere was present for the toast, said goodbyes to a few, but disappeared immediately thereafter.
The caravan disbanded after the toast. Waterdeep went by in a flash. The suspected cultist wagons made for the north gate with most of our party following. Himo and Brokk wandered off in an absent minded moment, but then realized they were uncertain as to where the wagons and the rest of the party were headed. At the north gate, all met Ardred Briferhew as he organized teams for the next stage of the journey. The wagons of the dragon cult were headed further north as part of a caravan loaded with road building supplies to rebuild The High Road, an ancient flooded roadway passing through The Mere of Dead Men.
As requested by Carlon Amofel, Terredon had an interesting meeting with Remalia Haventree and a silver haired elven-looking woman named Elia at the Yawning Portal. Both were advancing the ideas of the Harpers and informing Terredon of some of the central tenets of the Harpers. Among their main requests, Remalia underscored the value of capturing and interrogating senior members of the Dragon Cult.
Tan Meng was especially concerned about his identity. He took extreme measures to hide his face, and form. Given his concern, he brilliantly had a cleric of Chauntea to cast Cause Disease to give him an especially nasty disfiguring case of face-herpes. Along with 10 GP worth of beggars rags, several bottles of low grade hooch, and a shuffling limp, eh approached Ardred for a role in the Caravan. Ardred was, unfortunately, skeptical about Tan Meng’s value to the expedition. Furiously attempting to convince Ardred, Tan Meng grabbed a shovel and demonstrated his facility. Ardred chuckled at his determination and offered he could come, as long as he walked, and cook for the caravan. Tan Meng was in.
The caravan headed northward into a chill breeze off the Sword Coast. Six wagons, guards and teamsters, twenty laborers, and their shuffling cook, headed north toward a remote construction outpost known as Carnath Roadhouse.
Ardred Briferhew, replete with overwhelming optimism about their journey into the fog shrouded swamp, filled in those who were interested about some of the history and denizens of the Mere and the High Road.
“Twisted trees, vines, and thick vegetation cloak the mist-shrouded surface of the cold saltwater swamp. Its air is foul with rotting stenches, and its water is black and opaque. Visibility, given fogs and rolling topography, is rarely more than half a mile.
The Mere of Dead Men is known for its monstrous denizens. Travelers on the High Road skirting its eastern verges often travel for three days and nights without stopping, to avoid camping within reach of “dark, wet, clutching things raiding out of the swamp.” Bobbing will-o’-wisps are common night sights from the road. Sword Coast lore speaks vividly of floating islands moving in the Mere, lizardfolk commanded by liches, a penanggalan of monstrous size, drowned ships swarming with sea zombies, gigantic darktentacles, yuan-ti slavers, temples to inhuman gods, giant leeches with bullywug riders… and many other horrors.” – Master Greenwood
True to Briferhew’s description, the group happened on a group of Lizardmen seeking to trade some trinkets for slaves. Before the transaction could progress very far, however, caravan and Lizardmen alike were beset by a Bullywug ambush. It was quick and bloody. The Bullywug’s lost horribly. While their corpses were still being looted, Valeriya, Terredon and Himo negotiated for the “sale” of three human slaves owned by the Lizardmen in exchange for steel weapons. The three slaves, two women and a man named Ged, were seemed dazed from their months of servitude. Healing helped all.
The Lizardmen, on the other hand, greatly respected their fellow Bullywug haters, and received their new steel weapons with great honor. That wasn’t the last of the perilous encounters, however. Many narrowly escaped permanent impairment as a result of Tan Meng’s cooking skills, or lack thereof. And Tan Meng, he narrowly escaped death at the hands of hungry and disgusted laborers.
The night on the road, a giant walking tree monster stormed into camp attacking everything in its path. Valeriya hit hard with her sword and did great amounts of damage. She did so much damage that the thing wrapped her in roots and swarming tendrils and engulfed her into its very mass, crushing her breathless as it did so. But, fire and blade from the rest of our heroes took their toll. The creature was brought down and Valeriya was able to extract herself from the great Shambling Mound where it lay.
The last day was especially long and Briferhew pushed the wagons and walkers late into the evening to make their arrival long after dark. Carnath Roadhouse sits beside The High Road. Before the gates, on a mud smeared lot, lay piles of earth, stones and gravel, interspersed with a few odds and ends of rough splintered timbers. Within the gates, still more mud, the two level roadhouse buzzed with activity. At the direction of a giant half-orc named Bog Luck, the wagons were wearily unloaded into the great warehouse.
As the laborers returned from hard days toiling at their task, all were greatly refreshed at some of the hearty fare prepared by Gristle Pete, cook and kitchen-master of Carnath Roadhouse. All were relieved to have Tan Meng far from any sort of food prep responsibilities. For many, this was their final destination after weeks and weeks on the long, dangerous road. Most celebrated, some heavily. Saul was one who imbibed deeply. In his state he began to dwell on the loss of comrades, especially Losvius Longnose. “Such a clever little fellow,” he choked. Saul blamed Garr and Raynard and Himo. Garr packed it in early, leaving Raynard and Himo. Saul chose Raynard to vent upon. With the dirty, sweaty crowd of laborers jeering and shouting, eventually words escalated into a drawn blade and that resulted in Saul being scorched by Raynard’s Fiery Rebuke!
Briferhew and Bog Luck looked on and allowed “affairs to be settled by those involved.” It was a bitter battle with blood and fire back and forth. Finally, Raynard fell before Saul. In that same instant Saul’s armor heated greatly and scorched him painfully (Terredon?). Tan Meng showered Raynard with some of Chauntea’s grace, and as Raynard’s vision cleared again, he fired a bolt of fiery purple energy into Saul, now very near death. Much to the disappointment of many, Terredon stepped in and stabilized Saul. Nobody died. The crowd quieted and drifted off toward their rooms and sleep.
What about Lasfelro’s wagon and the gargoyle? Did anyone unload that wagon? Where did the cult’s crates go and why? Who here is a cultist and who is a mere laborer? Something needs to be done to get to the bottom of exactly what is going on at Carnath Roadhouse!