We gathered once again at Nerd Central. All but Garr were present and all feasted on sandwiches courtesy of Tan Meng. Piles of meats, nice breads, pickles, mustards, cheeses – and a toaster oven. Delicious.
We cleared the table and considered again the question of where to return to within the walls of Waterdeep.
The city was awash in refugees. The normally busy streets were choked with families, the belongings they carried, the wounded, and the sick. Terredon scouted for a suitable location and finally settled for a shuttered upper balcony of a quiet estate. All were freed from the mirror and just as quickly on their way to the Council.
Our heroes drew a crowd as they walked to The Lord’s Palace – now the official home of Lady Laeral Silverhand, Open Lord of Waterdeep. The palace guards made way for our heroes and saluted as they passed. The Council still gathered at the early hour. Lady Silverhand herself greeted our bloodied and beaten group. The debriefing commenced at once.
All were deeply saddened to hear of the fall of the Village of Xonthal’s tower. All sympathized with the horrible decision our heroes faced. Most understood that there was no choice – The Blue Dragon Mask is too important. Brother Micram urged that the Arcane Brotherhood be allowed to hold and examine The Mask at once. After some discussion, he was allowed to depart with it to some distant study.
Tan Meng and others were eager to raise the corpse of Iskander and learn all the slain cultist could share – but was short the diamond.
Rian Nightshade, Council representative of the Zhentarim and a comely tiefling was near at hand. She offered the stone, one of several, from her pocket. As Tan Meng departed to the chapel of Lathander within The Lord’s Palace, Rian enquired about the status of Xonthal’s Tower. After some discussion, she further offered to purchase our heroes’ interest in the tower… for 200,000 gold pieces. … Though the offer was kindly refused, Rian made it clear that she’s willing to purchase lesser shares as well or to negotiate with any willing individuals from the Raiders of Xonthal.
Iskander confirmed to our heroes that the plans of Severin and the Dragon Cult point toward The Well of Dragons. Fragments of evidence and bits of stories supporting this claim are also arriving at the Council from Zhentarim agents, Harper scouts, and others. Supposedly, hundreds of chromatic dragons are gathering above “The Well” – which is or was an ancient caldera on the northern end of the Sunset Mountains a few hundred miles east of Baldur’s Gate.
The forces of The Council are gathering and moving against The Well.
Teleporters are busy all over the Sword Cost.
Beneath the broad banner of the Lord’s Alliance, the massed forces of the separate members are second only to the Order of the Gauntlet in fighting power, and far more numerous. These form the backbone of the attacking force. Of these troops, with just over six thousand swords, the soldiers of the Flaming Fist from Baldur’s Gate under Marshall Ulder Ravengard are the most numerous. Second are the forces of Neverwinter under Lord Dagult Neverember including conscripts and mercenaries from across the seas. Lady Laeral Silverhand leads the army of Waterdeep.
Under Ontharr Frume, the troops of the Order of the Gauntlet are among the toughest, most steadfast soldiers on the Sword Coast. Besides serving in their own units, their leadership bolsters other troops. Delaan Winterhound and the druids and rangers of the Emerald Enclave answer the call to arms. They bring their treant, lycanthrope, and griffon allies from the forests and mountains of the Sword Coast.
The Zhentarim assassins stalk and kill enemy leaders and messengers. Though only a handful of Zhentarim have joined the fight, they will seek to paralyze enemy units at decisive moments or prevent crucial orders from reaching their destinations. Remalia Haventree and the Harper agents will try to provide key information about cult plans and deployments. As well, Harper archers, infantry, and spellcasters will have an enormous impact on the battle.
Ambassador Connerad Brawnanvil is arranging the arrival of the dwarves of the North, including the armies of his cousins at Citadel Adbar and Citadel Felbarr, as well as supplies of dwarven armaments and dwarven siege weapons.
King Melandrach, King of the Misty Forest, and his son Alagarthas, lead a contingent of eleven High Elf eldritch knights against the armies of the Dragon Cult and against his other son, Neronvain, wearer of the Purple and wearer of the Green Dragon Mask.
Taern “Thunderspells” Hornblade brings the army of Silverymoon (The Knights in Silver) and Silverymoon conscripts. Sir Isteval, legendary adventurer, Purple Dragon Knight of Cormyr, and dragon slayer in his own right, leads the might of Cormyr, including Purple Dragon Knights and the War Wizards.
As The Council set again to discuss preparations and strategies, some of our members set out to aid the plight of the locals. Valeriya and Tan Meng, at the foundations of the yet-to-be-built Temple of Bahamut, healed the sick and tended to the wounded. Tan Meng let loose some great area healing in the name of Chauntea.
That’s when they both noticed a heavily clad and deeply frowning figure watching them all. Valeriya detected it to be a fiend!
She lead the creature away while Tan Meng disbursed the crowd of devoted followers, supplicants and other onlookers.
The ‘thing” for it was not humanoid, had an aura of death around it which withered vegetation. The two proceeded to a park as, in infernal, it haltingly explained it speaks for those who wish Tiamat to remain in Avernus. The thing, Bel, will be present with more of its kind there, at the summoning, to try and interrupt or otherwise defeat the attempts at summoning Tiamat. Valeriya agreed to leave the fighting among the Devils to the Devils – the forces of the Alliance will ignore all fiends – unless attacked themselves.
Meanwhile, Tan Meng noticed a pair of poorly disguised cultists making a move to flank Valeriya and himself. He cast Command and froze each of them.
Their negotiations complete, Bel asked, “are these two your enemies”?
“Yes,” said Valeriya.
With approval, Bel took a great leap, crushed the life out of each, and then disappeared in an acrid puff of black smoke.
Back at the council chambers within The Lord’s Palace, a Wizard of Thay, one Nyh Ilmichh, discussed a possible alliance with those present. Lich King of Thay, Szass Tam, was looking to make certain that the members of the “Thayan Resurrection” as they call themselves, die painful and protracted deaths. After some lengthy discussions, our heroes agreed to go with Nyh to Yeth-Gloam Keep, in the Tharch of Lapendrar, just inside the Thayan Frontier, and to speak with Tharchion Eseldra Yeth.
All held onto the wizard’s Chain of Passing and with a step, stepped through the fires and winds of the Nine Hells. Only Tan Meng succumbed to the rigors of travel – but the blessings of Chauntea healed him on arrival. Before them stood a great jagged stone keep on an isolated and arid windswept plateau some twenty-five hundred miles east of Waterdeep. The dark skies were constantly clouded by volcanic ash. Around them, undead servants and the free-thinking undead soldiers of Thay.
Each “guest” had their own suite – the food and comforts were exceptional.
The discussions with, or rather the interrogations by, Thrarchion Yeth seemed to go well. Valeriya made a particular impression – as did Tan Meng. Raynard attracted the attentions of the delegation as well – with offers of special instruction and solitary conversations.
The night passed badly for some, especially for Tan Meng who suffered terrible dreams of being tortured and interrogated by the wizards. In the morning, all was agreed to. The Red Wizards of Thay will join The Alliance to see that Rath Modar and The Thayan Resurrection suffer for their betrayals. Nyh Ilmichh set to accompany the group back to Waterdeep.
As a parting gift, the group was each given a small box with a wrapped human finger – a token of Protection from Undead. In return, Tan Meng requested three corpses brought to him and, true to Thayan hospitality, after some awkward passage of time, three corpses were brought. Tan Meng raised the corpses to create three ghouls – which gibbered and glowered hungrily against the wall. The Thayans were greatly surprised and perhaps even touched by the thoughtfulness of the gesture.
In a flash, Nyh and our heroes were suddenly in an abandoned house about a mile north of Waterdeep. About this time, Garr arrived! He was fresh from a flight from somewhere far away. Impressive!
Walking back into town through the North Gate, our company parted ways. Tan Meng, Valeriya and Terredon headed for the warehouse and the Wyvern stables. Himo, Brokk, Raynard, Nyh, and Garr headed for The Lord’s Palace.
Near Ahghairon’s Square, Raynard noticed a few poorly disguised cultists (of the green dragon variety) milling with menace. Simultaneously, Raynard was accosted by a drunken fellow – announcing the presence of Raynard and the rest. As the cultists began to prepare for a fight, across the street, ahead, a voluptuous red headed lass smiled and smirked and began to giggle at the scene. Innocent Waterdhavians scattered and ran
Raynard opened with fire, Garr, Brokk and Himo charged. Nyh looked a bit stunned. Our heroes urged him to join in the killing.
“Kill…. everyone??,” asked Nyh.
“Yes!!” hollered our heroes!
Nyh cast fireball, immolating two of the cultists and badly burning another…and a few civilians.
Our heroes finished their attack.
The buxom red headed maid began to laugh hysterically. Her laugh became deeper and deeper until a deafening roar as she transformed into a huge red dragon…and breathed fire all over our heroes.
The drunken onlooker behind our group looked on in amusement. Raynard and Nyh ran for the safety of a nearby building. Brokk ran as well.
Before Himo could move, the scaled terror lashed him to death with its tail. It then stooped its great head and, placing one giant talon across his legs, gulped down his torso and head.
It then leapt to ram its horned head into the building holding Nyh and Raynard – and breathed again. Raynard died. Nyh was still alive – but barely.
Heroically, Garr ran toward the dragon to save Raynard – and did so.
Meanwhile, the drunken fool outside noticed Brokk’s departure and leapt into pursuit – as a second huge red dragon!
Raynard got his feet and ran as the first great worm sought for Garr. Once again it spewed flame into the building – this time utterly slaying the red wizard Nyh and lightly roasting Garr – who miraculously survived. Nari Gartha, “Death Flame,” kept up her pursuit. She followed Garr, tearing rooftops apart and ramming her head through like a cat looking for a mouse in a field. Finally she breathed flame upon the hundreds of people cowering beneath the lofty ceiling of Mirt’s Market, and then lashed the dwarf with her tail. Garr faltered and healed himself.
Her partner, Thraxanar, sought for Brokk.
About now, Tan Meng, Valeriya and Terredon showed up on Wyverns. Valeriya announced her arrival with a lance attack upon the exposed rear of Thraxanar. The dragon had buried head and shoulders in pursuit of Brokk. The blow was deep. The dragon wheeled and breathed and clawed and snapped – Tan Meng, burned, fell to the street – but alive.
Terredon summoned a horde of pixies to attack the dragons – like flies on eagles.
Nari Gartha finally spotted the dwarf hiding and moving amidst the ruble and corpses within the market and with great relish, clawed and bit him to pieces, again swallowing his head and shoulders in a great terrible gulp.
By now, a few citizens of Waterdeep joined the fray – mostly from behind heavy concealment. Arrows and searing bolts and rays drove the dragons away – but none so much as the damage wrought by Valeriya, Terredon and Tan Meng. Brokk let loose with two arrows of slaying – missed with one, but the other drove home – and Thraxanar bellowed.
Raynard, now seeing the tide of the battle turning, began running back to the fray – but it was too late.
The great beasts gave wing with amazing speed. Terredon considered following – but noticed a squad of red robed cultists approaching from the east. Together they chanted and slashed one another with their razors and axes. On they came as they screamed and bled.
Our heroes turned their attentions upon them – and wiped them out.
Himo and Garr are dead and partly eaten. Nyh is dead and partly incinerated. Hundreds of civilians are dead and horribly burned and injured. Buildings all around are in flames and ruins. One wyvern is dead. Another is badly wounded.
Still, a large part of our company of heroes survived an assassination attempt by two red dragons.
The Armies of the Alliance are on the move against the Armies of the Dragon Cult. A great moment draws near. Little time remains before a great test of all involved. What part will you play? Will the good peoples of Waterdeep, Cormyr, Baldur’s Gate, and Neverwinter find peace again? Will Faerun survive? Everything is at stake.
Will Brokk get his axe?