Hoard of the Dragon Queen [tadley/basingstoke]

Nemo's Third letter home
Safe on guard duty in hatchery

Arronax

I continue to write, and hope you have been able to reply. I have yet to receive anything. I hope beyond all hope that this is not due to illness or injury. I suspect we will be returning to Greenest soon, and have yet to feel your scrying to find me or my companions wellbeing. It concerns me.

We sought to chase after the raiding party after returning to the keep, having been asked by Governer Knighthill to seek out and return people and possessions to Greenest. We went on foot and within a short time came up against the rearguard of the raiding party. We overpowered them, mostly kobolds, and a couple of mercenaries. We were lucky enough to be able to put a sword to one of the mercenary’s throats, and offer him some money to join the Abland fellowship, as we are now known, for a short time. I feel he was rather grateful for his life (less so his fellow mercenary’s money we ‘paid’ him, given the length of time he stayed with us.

We were able to enter the camp under cover of darkness and to cut a long story short, we managed between us to release all the prisoners who remained alive within the camp. After a quick overnight break for food we were able to return early to Greenest. Lia also brought away an ‘rock monster’ – later named ‘Petra Monstrum’. Far from being a rock monster she was a wolf cub, rather underfed, but I could see a close bond formed rather quickly between the two. I may grow to like the dog with time, but I don’t feel the feeling will be mutual.

Anyway, to continue with our adventures we were aware of a hatchery in the camp and returned after a night of entertainment from our bard, (who was rather amusing in trying to keep up with the larger folk’s tankard sizes). I feel a lack of confidence in the other members of the group, and find myself going forward so often, but I failed to foresee a trap on the first set of steps and quickly found myself ovewhelmed by giant mushrooms. Only too late did I discover they were Violet Fungus plants – more like Violent Fungus. I damn my lack of concentration in your attempts to teach me herbology! I can only assume the cave was the abode of a druid, since after being revived and the remaining conscious members of the fellowship defeating the attackers, we discovered the tools of a gardener with a spell scroll. I await the time needed to study the magic such that I may make use of it.

We moved forward and were attacked by flying animals – the bats were of little worry, but the stirges were more difficult to destroy. In exploring we found further signs of habitation, drakes and soon after their keepers – after another battle ensued, we lost a couple of our comrades to another trap. We hope we have not lost them forever, and will meet up as we explore the deeper caverns. After a short battle, we reached our current resting place. My sentry duty is nearly finished and I must go wake Lia. I will write again as time allows…

Your student,

Nemo

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III:i Dragon Hatchery
into the caves

During the merry-making, Leosin beckons a couple of the group over to join him and asks them to return to the Raider’s Camp once more to investigate. He’s heard that they are starting to travel north and wants to know what, if anything has been left behind.

The group agrees to head back to the camp, minus Rennu, who has had enough of adventuring for now and decides to stay in Greenest and help with the wounded and rebuilding there.

On reaching the camp it is nearly completely deserted. The majority of the tents have been cleared away or burned, although a few hunters remain.

The Fellowship decide to approach from the East, down the cliff and explore the cave, unfortunately Nith takes a fall. He appears to draw no attention immediately, although this is later proven to be false as when they enter the cave, they are attacked by two Dragonclaws (a level of Cultist) who had been lying in wait for them.

After fighting off these cultists, Nith decides he will wait at the entrance of the cave to watch their backs, while the rest of the Fellowship continue on. A look around the first and second cavern reveals nothing of interest, but a ledge with a 10ft drop leads down to cavern three with some steps on the right side.

Nemo started down the steps – on reaching the bottom two, the steps collapsed into a slide and springboard that catapulted him into the middle of the third cavern – right in the middle of a patch of violet (and violent) fungi. Their first attacks left Nemo unconscious and struggling for life.

The others tried to attack the fungi, from a distance as it was apparent that the plants could not move, only reach out with their tendrils. At one point Brykk cast a light charm to try and help, but the light drew the attention of a group of Kobolds who ran in to attack. The battle was close, with Nemo dangerously close to death, but eventually the Kobolds and Fungi were defeated, and Nemo healed.

The Abland Fellowship moved rather more cautiously into the next cave. This one had a few dead bats and guano on the floor. Some less-than-stealthy sneaking caused the bats to swarm – thankfully they were more of an annoyance than a danger, just limiting hearing and vision.

However, then something began to attack from within the swarm – Stirges! These creatures – a cross between an oversized mosquito and a bat – began to drain blood from their victims. They are easy to detach, but seem to be proving rather difficult to actually kill.

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Raiders Camp! II.ii

As this was ages ago, just the main points:

The newly named Ablan Fellowship completed the fight against the stragglers and were able to recruit one of the remaining Mercenaries – a fellow called Nith. The party rested after that fight, allowing Rennu and Nith to get chatting and form a bond.

Once rested, they were able to take on the raiders Rear Guard and avoid getting crushed by falling boulders.

After that it was on to the camp. Investigations there identified a prisoner who was probably Leosin tied up near the back of the camp and other prisoners held elsewhere. Many kobolds and cultists filled the camp, lots of tents of differing quality and a cave mouth leading east. Rumours that a dragon hatchery containing eggs lay in the cave circled the camp too.

The group split into two with Avinia, Nemo and Lia heading to help the prisoners, and Brykk, Daeris, Arlen, Nith and Rennu heading to help Leosin. The first group managed to get the prisoners out without too much fuss – one tried to escape but they managed to capture and explain they were there to help. They also found a small wolf cub who Lia decided to take on and train.

The second group, however, nearly got themselves caught, ad a small run in with Wearer-of-Purple Frulam, and were identified as infiltrators. A fight broke out. However thanks to some quick-thinking from Nith (played by Paul this session), they managed to convince the cultists that another couple were the infiltrators and get them to defeat their own men. After letting things settle down, they escaped with Leosin, who was a little reluctant to go, but in no state to resist.

The two groups reassembled at the straggler camp, then hiked back to Greenest. There, they spent the night recovering and celebrating – spurred on by free drinks from the Greenest Tavern’s barkeep.

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The Journal of Arlen Ironshield
Entry 1

My search still isn’t going anywhere. I may have only seen a small area of The Sword Coast, but there are no results. Last night I remembered something though. Before Yili left, she did say she was headed for a town called Greenest. I need to find her or her team. I need to find Yili.

Currently I’m in an inn about a days walk to Greenest. It’s called the Black Calf Inn. Someone said it was a bad idea to go there alone, and I don’t want to take any chances. Maybe I could find a team to work with. The family who owns the place seem really nice. I haven’t caught their names yet, but I’m sure I will. Aside from the family, there are about five other travellers here. There are a couple of elves, a human, what looks like a halfling with a giant backpack, and a gnome. I’ve never seen a gnome or halfling before!

This place is actually quite cozy. I’ll only spend the night here for now, but I need to get to Greenest. I’ll head out early tomorrow morning. For now I need to sleep.

Arlen Ironshield

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Nemo's Letters home
Letters from a travelling wizard

First letter home.

My dear Arronax,

I have been desperate to write to you since my departure, as I have had time to reflect on my note, telling you of my reasons for leaving. I know I my actions are against your advice, but please don’t take this as a personal affront. You are all I have as a family, unless I do what I am doing.
This infernal damp weather has delayed my writing you, as I’ve been sleeping on the hoof so far. My cloak serves me as well as it always ha to keep me warm. Tonight however, I have made it to an inn – I forget the name – but it is about a day’s walk from Greenest. I am still damp and hungry, so will write until I need to light a candle, before seeking some supper and sleep.

I’m am hoping to hear news of slave traders in the town, and seek my sister. I can’t leave her unknown to me any longer. I know you feel my skills are not refined or diverse enough to support such an adventure, but I can feel my confidence growing, and I feel stronger with each step of independence.

I know you need my youth to help you in your home, and please don’t feels I am deserting you, but I need this. I feel Lathendar calling me away. I can’t ignore it. I will grow and return a wizard of the world.

Yours,
Nemo

Second letter home.

Dear Arronax

Adventures abound! I left you with news of my travels to Greenest, and the adventure started that evening. We were woken in the night to screams, and on investigating it transpired a child had been taken from the inn. A few of the less merry ones of us (it is an inn after all and there remained many slumped over the tables as events progressed), well those that were able formed a group to go in chase. We had a dwarf, a couple of elves, a gnome and a halfling, anyway, we followed a trail out the window which led to a funny smelly sewer. To cut a long story short we managed to do over a few guards – that Dwarf did some good stuff on them, and rescue the child.

After returning the child, we all made our way together into Greenest. It was a merry journey, getting to know my new companions. As soon as Greenest was in sight, the first thing we saw was the smoke. It wasn’t the smoke of the industry – the town was on fire, with a dragon in a field near by. We aimed for the keep and skirted round the town via a stream. Our plan may have been successful if we hadn’t met some guards and the like – the worst are the Kobbolds. Even then the dwarf who is in my understanding very amiable for a dwarf, showed she is the brawn and certainly not the brains. Having shouted at the bad guys, ‘Hey we’re the good guys!’ did nothing to help our surprise attack, so it was just as well that she did have the brawn to use. Swiftly defeated we had some more Kobbolds on the way to the keep. We rested there and then set out on several missions to the temple and the mill, to see if we can save any of the townsfolk.

There was a really bad sewer we had to walk down. This was full of rats, and I had a terrible spell. I firstly learnt a valuble lesson – my magic is a ranged weapon, not for close combat. And I know what you taught me on the power I have with magic and how it should be used for good, so I don’t talk of killing lightly, but these are evil times of dragon worship. Also I failed in a spell. It wasn’t that it was the wrong spell or against a hard target, it was that I didn’t feel it. It just didn’t happen. The fizz was all wrong. I wish I were able to consult you on it. It seems to happen sometimes, as it was when I was first studying but I don’t know if it is because I am in strange lands. It is happening more and more and I wish I could have your expertise to understand it.

We were able to get the townsfolk to the keep and are now resting. I suspect we will be heading off to follow the cultists, acolytes, kobbolds and look to rescue any captured townsfolk. I would love to spend time writing about my companions. The elves are beautiful, and Brykk is a bard. He sang a lovely song for us earlier, but I’m not convinced he wasn’t singing it for Arlen, the dwarf, but I’ll keep you posted on that!

I’ll write you again when we next rest, but until then, I’ll send you my love,

Nemo.

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Episode II.i - Investigations and Stragglers
the adventurers are asked to track down the raiders camp

Roughly 48 hours passed, allowing the adventuring party to rest and heal. Brykk took the opportunity to entertain his fellow travellers with a song, like all good bards should!

Governor Nighthill approached the group to inform them what he had found out from the interrogation of the prisoner. The raiders were all members of the Cult of the Dragon and were collecting loot for ‘the great hoard that will usher in the reign of the Queen of Dragons’. The cult apparently has a clutch of dragon eggs at their camp. The camp is located due south of Greenest. Nighthill asked the adventurers to investigate and find out the following:
Where the camp is.
How many raiders there are/will be coming
Who their leaders are
what’s motivating them
also as a secondary goal, to recover any stolen property from Greenest.

He mentions that he was due to talk with a Monk, Leosin Erlanthar, who had mentioned a dragon cult, but he hasn’t seen him because of the raid.

The adventurers headed through the town asking about this monk’s whereabouts. In the tavern, they found out that the monk and his apprentice, Nesim Waladra, were staying at the tavern. On talking to Nesim, they discovered that Leosin had been researching these raiders for months and had been looking at ancient Dragon lore at the library in Candlekeep. Leosin, however, went missing during the raids. Nesim thinks that he may have tried to infiltrate the cult, or was perhaps captured. He gave the adventurers Leosin’s broken staff and ripped-off choker. Nemo decided to have Avinia mend the choker and he put it on.

They all had a Small at the tavern and the barkeep, on discovering that they were going to track the raiders, asked that they look out for his missing wife Dogrose (and promised free beer for life on her safe return).

The adventurers headed south and then tracked the raiders. They came across a small group of 4 mercenaries and 8 kobolds who had stopped to make camp, and they launched battle, gaining a surprise attack. The kobolds immediately fled and hid. Amongst the fighting, Nemo managed to firebolt himself (but was healed by Rennu), Lia managed to fire an arrow at Daeris’ foot and Nemo failed to charm a mercenary. Brykk put one merc out of action for a while with his dissonant whispers and the party as a whole managed to defeat one mercenary and weaken another.

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Episode I.v - Save the Mill (and Prisoners)
The adventurers go to Greenest's Mill to save it from apparent fire (and capture a prisoner)

(Holland/Brykk was absent for the second part of this mission, hence his ‘guarding’ mission.)

The party and Rennu headed to the Mill. On the approach they noticed groups of Kobolds and Cultists setting fire to the mill.

Brykk and Daeris crept forwards to inspect what was going on and Daeris noticed that the fires seemed to be more for show than actual substance. She suspected that it was a trap and they returned to the rest of the group to inform them.

They decided that they would try to capture a prisoner from one of these outside raiding groups. As they attacked, most of the kobolds fled. Lia managed to rope one of the cultists and, having defeated the others, they managed to subdue and tie up their prisoner.

Brykk guarded the prisoner, hidden by the stream, while the others went to the Mill to investigate the fire.

They were definitely suspicious as they approached – smoke seemed to be coming from within the Mill, but they couldn’t tell if this was some form of illusion, or smoke from a small ‘false fire’, or the actual Mill alight. As they entered, they were cautious and some of them noticed either sound or a presence in the loft above them.

Nemo launched a blind magical attack and Lia followed it up with arrows. The noise of a cultist taking an injury confirmed their suspicions (or as Arlen put it "Oh there’s definitely someone up there!!) and they all joined in – Daeris and Avinia using magic, and Arlen rushing up the ladder to the loft to attack with her ‘Wit’ (her warhammer). They were attacked by a volley of spears, but ultimately managed to defeat the cultists and guards that had been waiting to ambush them.

After the fight, some backup arrived from the Keep to guard the Mill and they left, meeting up with Brykk again and escorting their prisoner back to the Keep via the tunnel.

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Episode I.iv - Sanctuary
The adventuring party head to the temple to rescue the townsfolk there

(again, I’m writing this way after it happened, so apologies if I miss anything)

The adventuring party used the stream again to creep along to the Temple. As they approached, they saw three groups of raiders outside the temple.

Group A was at the front doors of the temple with a battering ram, attempting to force their way through the doors.

Group B was circling the temple in something of a parade.

Group C was at the rear entrance to the Temple, attempting to stack hay against the doors and set it alight.

The adventurers decided to wait until group B had passed the rear entrance and then they attacked group C. They managed to get inside the temple where they found more than 30 townsfolk all huddled in a panic. The noise of the battering ram rang through the temple every few minutes, causing plaster to tumble from the ceiling as the room shook.

The adventurers managed to locate Priest Eadyan Falconmoon who worked with them to usher the townsfolk out of the rear entrance of the temple and to the stream, taking care not to alert the circling group of raiders in the process. Most of the group started to escort the townsfolk back to the tunnel entrance, but Nemo stayed behind with some intention of exploring or looting, and Arlen stayed with him to protect him should anything happen.

However, the ever increasing bangs from the doors that were struggling to hold back the battering ram made the wizard see sense and he and Arlen retreated back to the stream with the others.

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Episode I.iii - The Old Tunnel
The adventurers meet Governor Nighthill and are recruited to aid the town

(posting this waaay after it happened, so apologies if I miss anything)

After healing and resting at the Keep, the adventurers were informed that Governor Nighthill – the town’s official – wished to speak with them. They met with him on the parapet. He appeared worried, and was nursing an injured arm, although seemed more concerned about his town and the wellbeing of his people than his own injury.

Governor Nighthill thanked the adventurers for their part in defeating some raiders and rescuing the Swifts, but asked that the group assist further if they were able. He mentioned a Dwarf, in charge of the Keep’s defense, Castellan Escobert the Red, and told the group to ask him about an alternate way in and out of the Keep to avoid the danger of the main gates.

He then presented the group with a series of tasks which they could choose to assist with if they wished:
Prisoners – he requested that a live prisoner from the raiding party be brought back for interrogation.
The Mill – he worried that the Mill may not be safe and the town’s main food source, as well as any people there, may be in danger.
Sanctuary – he expressed concern that a great deal of townsfolk had been seen rushing to the town’s chapel to seek shelter, and that they may be trapped there or in danger.

He offered the adventurers a temporary addition to their group – a young human acolyte called Rennu, who could be helpful to them as a healer.

The group sought out Castellan Escobert the Red, as suggested. He informed the group that there was indeed an ‘escape tunnel’ built for the Keep, although he doubted it had ever been used – at least not for several centuries. He showed the party the place where it began and gave then the keys.

The group cleared away the boxes blocking the doorway and were able to open the door with the key. The tunnel appeared clear, just choked with cobwebs. Due to the small width of the tunnel, the group had to progress single file. Nemo and Arlen took up the front, with the others following behind.

It wasn’t long through the tunnel that they encountered two swarms of rats. The rats attacked Nemo and Arlen, but were ultimately defeated. Rennu then healed Nemo of his injuries.

At the other end of the tunnel, they encountered a large iron grate which was locked and also corroded. They managed to open the grate with the key and they noticed a passing party of raiders on the other side. They decided to stay hidden and avoid them, waiting for them to pass.

With the tunnel open and clear, providing them with a way in and out of the Keep, avoiding the majority of the raiders, they decided that they would head to the chapel first, and planned to capture a prisoner if they could.

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Episode I.ii - Seek the Keep
The adventurers rescue Linan Swift and head to the Keep

(posting this waay after it happened, sorry, so apologies if I missed anything)

After their initial encounter was over, the adventuring party headed from the stream into the town, coming across many kobolds (small lizard race) and cultists of various races in the process. Having successfully defeated a small raiding party, they noticed an armed woman, her injured husband and three small children dash out from between two houses, chased by a group of kobolds. The kobolds didn’t seem to notice/pay attention to the adventurers at first, focused on attacking the woman who was defending her family.

The adventuring party of course stepped in to help, defeating the kobolds. The woman introduced herself as Linan Swift, gifting the adventurers two healing potions for their help and telling them that they had to get to the town’s Keep – the only safe place in town.

The group, along with the Swift family, made their way up the winding road towards the keep. They encountered more raiding groups on the way – one they were able to convince that they were cultists themselves, and they learned a name – Tiamat, although were not sure what or who Tiamat was. The next group, however, were not convinced by subterfuge and attacked. The adventurers and Linan fought bravely, but were ultimately overpowered.

Thankfully, some town guards from the Keep came to their assistance, having spotted their plight, and ran off the last of the attackers. The adventurers and the Swift family were escorted safely up to the Keep where they were provided with healing and a short rest (1 hour).

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