We gathered again at nerd central to to revisit the smoking steaming carnage and death left behind by Nari Gartha and Thraxata – Red Dragon assassins!
Before facing the aftermath, we had Monster Stew courtesy of Brokk. There was some driveway shuffling but Tan Meng fetched Brokk and stew from the bottom of the drive. All ate their fill and then some.
Back in Waterdeep, Himo and Garr lay dead and partly eaten. The Red Wizard, Nyh lay dead and partly incinerated. A dozen and a half cultists lay dead and burned around them. Hundreds of innocent citizens of Waterdeep and refugees of the Sword Coast were dead and dying. Tan Meng and Valeriya set to work helping the wounded. Terredon gathered hunks of flesh from Himo and Garr. Raynard gathered Nyh’s corpse.
To the west, toward the Lord’s Keep, a plume of smoke marked the site of another battle. Terredon flew off like a shot. Others followed on foot.
Armored bodies lay scattered and torn among dead civilians in the smoldering street and amid the collapsed remains of a corner shop. It was Lady Laeral Silverhand’s personal guard. The Lady herself was nowhere to be seen. Two guards barely survived and were yet stricken with deep terror. Slowly, after healing and calming, they recounted that a great fiend appeared and slew all who ran and all who approached with a fell word. The Lady brought a great light to bear, but the creature threw her down with a single blow. Her guard cowered. Three searing hot explosions burned and shattered buildings and the few still alive. The creature bent low over her body and then with it, disappeared.
This attack happened while The Lady was coming to the aid of our heroes, coming to help fight their own red dragon ambush.
It was a dark day in Waterdeep.
Even before the dead were buried, new reports from spies and informers arrived from all across Faerun. Chromatic Dragons gathered in flocks a few hundred miles east of Baldur’s Gate, at the northern tip of the Sunset Mountains – The Well of Dragons. The armies of The Lord’s Alliance, The Council of Waterdeep, and their many diverse allies moved with all haste to Baldur’s Gate.
Himo and Garr were resurrected by High Radiance Ghentilara at the Spires of the Morning, Waterdeep’s Temple of Lathander. Nyh was raised from death by Tan Meng. Connerad Brawnanvil arranged for his cousins to bring a great axe for Brokk to use in the coming battle. This axe of his kin, Obryn’s Sorrow, was used once before in pursuit of dragons, and its bearer was burned to death in the flames of a great wyrm. The axe now radiates cold, protects its bearer from flames, and chills and slows its victims. With a big smile and talk of new suits of dragon scale armor, Connerad said, “Make us proud, my friend.”
Logistical challenges immediately arose in every direction. Every commander and every captain looked to their own. Arguments arose when dwarves could be moved to Baldur’s Gate quickly but their food and provisions would come later. Likewise, many of the “Recruits of Cormyr” (Cormyrian conscripts) wanted to be positioned further back rather than take the forward positions they were assigned. Our heroes helped settle disputes left and right – Tan Meng gave a rousing motivational speech in the Council Chambers and the diplomatic and organizational skills of others were fully tasked.
Troops from all over The Sword Coast transported to Baldur’s Gate. The Arcane Brotherhood established another set of transporters a few miles to the east. On arrival in Baldur’s Gate, troops immediately marched east to the transporters, located in some giant tents, and emerged some hundreds of miles east on the edge of an area of desolation around The Well of Dragons. As forces gathered there, they rallied into formations and continued marching toward The Well with metallic dragons and wizards of the Arcane Brotherhood providing cover.
A steady stream of armored men marched into the gateways of Waterdeep, Neverwinter and Cormyr. There are clearly many gateways in and round Baldur’s Gate but thousands emerged from Habakuk’s tower transporter alone. They marched through the steep narrow streets of Baldur’s Gate toward the eastern gates. So many troops and material filled the roads that traffic was choked for almost two straight days.
On arrival, Onthar Frume and 600 Order of the Gauntlet Knights led the army through fields and forests of complete desolation. Burned farms, villages, and the rotting corpses of their dead occupants lay about them. Six thousand men of the Flaming Fist led by Marshall Ulder Ravenguard, Grand Duke of Baldur’s Gate followed Onthar and next came Lord Dagult Neverember and his 8,000 men of the Waterdeep Guard and conscripts from Neverwinter. Between them, to keep them from running, were 3,000 armed men of the wilds of Cormyr. King Connerad Brawnanvil led a host of 300 dwarves from Mithral Hall in the north, and an additional 380 from his cousins at Citadel Adbar and Citadel Felbarr. King Melandrach, the ancient high elf from the Misty Forest, brought a small squad of elves, including his son Alagarthas.
The contingent flowed across the landscape like a glittering tide toward darkened skies and heavy clouds, toward lightning and storms and toward The Well of Dragons. They marched into deeper gloom.
Others joined the march as well including heroes with faces familiar to our adventurers, and strangers with weapons and cloaks that showed their experience. Delaan Winterhound walked with fey spirited wolves and were-creatures of the deep forests. A handful of giants strode along in the center, speaking occasionally with Onthar and Lord Neverember in low shaking rumbles. Leosin and Lady Haventree joined the march. Sir Istevaal and Taern “Thunderspells” Hornblade were there with men and wizards of the east. Unseen but present, members of the Zhentarim and roaming members of the Harpers gathered information and ferried intelligence for the Alliance leadership.
Overhead, metallic dragons wheeled and soared – more than once driving away bold red and black would-be attackers.
Our heroes began to formulate a plan of attack even before they left Waterdeep. As they marched forward with the forces of the Alliance, more and more questions pressed on their decision making. Tensions and indecision grew. Finally, Terredon took elemental form and flew to the Well of Dragons to reconnoiter. He discovered hosts of the Dragon Cult Army encamped on the east and north flanks of a great hollowed out caldera. Men and fiends, evil giants and dark humanoids gathered and prepared their ranks and machines. Hostages, slaves, victims of sacrifice continued to arrive and be pulled in wagons and carts deep beneath the mountain. A number of entrances were guarded by the cultists, but one, on the southern flank of the mountain, was abandoned.
Terredon took a quick look over the edge of the caldera. Voaraghamanthar, the ancient black dragon, and a dark rider sat at the edge of the caldera and looked down within, and at the same time without and across the gathering host. Inside, Terredon saw a great valley floor awash in giant bones of countless dead dragons. On the northern end were pens of people. At the southern end, a great crevasse opened into shadow. Afraid of being noticed, Terredon took this precious information back to his waiting comrades and the leadership of The Alliance.
After conversations with Neverember, Frume, and others, our group fixed on a plan. They set out to infiltrate the great mountain through the southern abandoned passage in shadow form, an aspect of the Shadow Walk spell. Once there, they were to wait until closer to the time of the summoning and synchronized with the time of the clash of armies and then act to intervene and stop the summoning of Tiamat.
Intel seemed to indicate that the ritual would begin sometime approaching midnight on the evening following. Neverember and his captains arrayed their forces to arrive and attack the forces of the Dragon Cult late in the afternoon – but still in the light of day.
Our heroes made it inside the southern entrance and quickly found a collapsed passage. Rather than wait for the appointed time, curiosity got the better of them and they set to exploring. Soon they found inhabited chambers, chambers decked out in the accoutrements of Red Wizards. Lengthy discussions ensued as to whether to press the attack now, or to wait.
Finally, they decided to wait and perhaps reconnoiter further. While many took a long rest, Terredon once again took to looking around. He pursued passages and found a way to the bottom of the crevasse in the floor of the great caldera. As he peaked out from the depths, he saw that the caldera is blanketed beneath the bones of hundreds of dead dragons, but that’s not its most arresting feature. A newly erupted, mind-numbing structure had pushed up from beneath the tangled bones to tower above the blasted volcano. Partly volcanic ash fused with dragon bones and partly stone imbued, with faces and tortured souls of the dark magic of the Nine Hells, the Temple of Tiamat is all chaotic angles and jutting buttresses. Within that snarl of cornices and soaring angulation, Terredon made out five asymmetric towers topped by twisted steeples.
He noted a half dozen, eight, maybe ten or more dragons perched around the walls inside the caldera, as well as several dozen cultists and red wizards milling about the floor of the great space. Huge doors stood open at the north end of the Temple, with Red Wizards and high ranking purple cultists milling in the doorway.
He cautiously moved away, passed across the caldera and into another set of passages, found rooms of cultists and a great hall of treasure beyond counting.
Suddenly something was following him – some spirit presence which could easily fly though walls and bore a flaming brand and a burning vengeance. But Terredon was faster.
He made his way back to his resting comrades and all began their preparations.
Tan Meng summoned a great final meal. A Heroes Feast indeed. All have taken their final long rest. Shadow Walking, all made their way into the depths of the crevasse, and then out, over the edge and deep into a pile of dragon bones where they slowly transformed back into themselves.
In the middle of that minute-long process, suddenly the mountain trembled. From some deep nearby chamber, the Draakhorn screamed with such violence that rocks fall from the walls of the caldera and piles of bones settle around our heroes. It was so loud, all other noise ceased. The deafening shrill brought near silence.
Fire erupted from the far side of the Temple of Tiamat. Hundreds or perhaps a thousand voices cried out and were quenched in fire, ice and deadly poison gas. Two red dragons and a white leapt to the skies and out of the Caldera – Nari Gartha and Thraxata for sure. Perhaps Aurathator was the white?
From over and around the walls of the Temple, you saw a great green dragon settle out of view. Astride the beast, Neronvain, son of King Melandrach. Above, in the sky, dozens of chromatic dragons headed east as one.
The battle has begun.
Your goal is to stop the summoning of Tiamat. Neronvain and a great green wyrm is in your path. Beyond, within the Temple, you may need to kill red wizards as they release the evil god from her hellish prison. Dragon cultists abound. You may need to, you may want to, kill Severin, Wearer of the Purple and likely Wearer of the Dragon Crown.
You must stop the summoning. Everything comes down to this!