While in the employ of Lord Dagult Neverember, the Company traveled from the city of Neverwinter to Phandalin to deliver a precious relic to one of the newly formed churches. Now they are headed South towards the town of Greenest. On the way, they discovered the Karst Caves, a base of operations of the Black Spider whom is an agent of the legendary Cult of the Dragon! Quite on accident, the Company was transported to a War Council meeting where the Cult of the Dragon has revealed their plans for conquering the Sword Coast. During the meeting, the Black Spider threatened to reveal their deception, and the Company responded with violence …
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!”
– Sir Walter Scott, Marmion
- Vrae’ree Everhurden, 2nd Level Drow Elf Wizard
- Fo, 3rd Level Human Monk [Faction: Lord’s Alliance]
- Tharivol, 1st Level High Elf Fighter
- Deiter, 2nd Level Human Fighter (Noble)
The Company infiltrated a War Council meeting of the Cult of the Dragon, discovering many of their secrets. The meeting was being lead by a Half-Dragon named LANGDEDROSA CYANWRATH. Discussion revealed that the newest leader of the Cult of the Dragon is a Calishite man named SEVERIN SILRAJIN. This new leader has broken away fom the traditional teachings of the Cult and has decided to interpret religious texts in his own perspective. He believes that true power lies within the living dragons of the Reams, not Dracoliches. SEVERIN has dedicated the Cult to venerating TIAMAT, THE DARK QUEEN and seeking to complete an ancient ritual that will finally undo the spell that banished TIAMAT to the Nine Hells so long ago.
Tiamat has smiled on SEVERIN, revealing to him the existence of ancient artifacts known simply as THE DRAGON MASKS. There are five, each colored in representation of the Chromatic children of TIAMAT. These ancient masks allows their wears to commune with Dragonkind including Dragons, Drakes, Wyvern, Dragonborn, and Kolbolds – to only name a few. More importantly though, the wearer of each Mask becomes a WYRMSPEAKER able to influence and sway the thoughts of Dragons. SEVERIN claims that when all five of the Dragon Masks are brought together and assembled, the masked join to form the single MASK OF THE DRAGON QUEEN. By using the assembled mask, SEVERIN will be able to tear open a rift to the Nine Hells and release TIAMAT into the Realms.
The Cult has managed to keep its plots a secret. Many know of the Cult’s increased activity but few know the purpose behind it. Besides drawing together the various Cult cells throughout the Sword Coast, SEVERIN has also used his influence to forge alliances with several powerful criminal organizations throughout the Realms. These include such groups as THE RED WIZARDS OF THAY, and THE CHURCH OF BANE.
LANGDEDROSA CYANWRATH explained that although the Cult has operated in small cells which vary in size, it is time for the Cult to come together and focus their attention on SEVERIN’s orders. Any cells that are not willing to comply as to be considered splinter factions and will be eliminated. The Half-Dragon continued by saying that at this time the Cult has already found most of the Dragon Masks. While SEVERIN works to obtain them all, the Cult cells here in the Sword Coast are to focus on smuggling a vast treasure hoard worthy of thr DARK QUEEN North towards the WELL OF DRAGONS. While the treasure is being transported, the main trade routes between Neverwinter and Candlekeep must be controlled. Loss of the HOARD OF THE DRAGON QUEEN will mean major set backs to the Cult. The organization has been working to gather these vast amounts of treasure for several years awaiting the opportunity to release TIAMAT from her prison.
The Black Spider is a renegade Drow named NEZZNAR. He joined the Cult of the Dragon after being recruited by a man named FAVRIC. Nezznar encountered the Dragon Cultists accidentally while leading raids against wagons and caravans on the Triboar Trail and High Road. The Black Spider saw the power and resources of the Cult of the Dragon as a means to an end. NEZZNAR would help to guard and maintain one of the Cult’s DRAGON HATCHERIES located in the KARST CAVES while he continued to search for the fabled FORGE OF SPELLS.
Becoming a lieutenant in the Cult of the Dragon was useful for NEZZNAR. It put him into contact with KING GROL of CRAGMAW CASTLE who placed several CRAGMAW GOBLINS at his disposal for raiding on the trade routes. The Black Spider made sure that 10% of the loot was constantly carried to CRAGMAW CASTLE while the remaining 90% was added to the treasurey within the Cult’s complex in the KARST CAVES. NEZZNAR was also in contact with several of the other DRAGON HATCHERIES in the surrounding area hidden underground between Neverwinter and Candlekeep. When his soldiers weren’t raiding on the routes or transporting treasure, he had them searching the vast KARST CAVERNS looking for entrances to the WAVE ECHO CAVES. The Black Spider knew that somewhere in the WAVE ECHO CAVES was an ancient temple of DUMATHOIN which contained the legendary FORGE OF SPELLS.
When NEZZNAR encountered the Company in the KARST CAVES, it was purely by accident. He was exploring another set of Dwarven secret passages that crisscrossed throughout the cavern networks. He recognized the Company as wearing regalia of the Cult of the Dragon, but he was unsure of their purpose within the caves. NEZZNAR feared that this was one of the rumored “splinter factions” who were still loyal to SAMMASTER rather than SEVERIN.
NEZZNAR used his spells to interact with the strangers. He cloaked himself in an Obsuring Mist and spoke with them. But this proved only to further confirm his fears. Casting Suggestion to weaken them seemed only to affect one of the Humans. Using Misty Step, he took a position where he could better assert himself. But this led only to combat. He attempted to escape using Invisibility, but the Moon Elf with them had too keen of senses to be fooled. As a last resort, he called cast Darkness and then used his magical staff to slip away. He was already late to the War Council meeting. He would report these traitors to the Council, and in doing so prove himself to be a valuable resources. Of course, he would need help from the Cult’s clerics first … he was severely wounded.
Damn that Dark Elf and his Company… thought the Black Spider … I will have my revenge. I swear it by Lady Lolth.
Fo and Tharivol launched themselves into the air thirty feet above Vrae’ree, brandishing their weapons. Deiter lifted a javelin and launched it mightily at the Black Spider. Vrae’ree watched the actions of his companions and felt a sickening in his stomach. This was going wrong. Horribly terribly wrong.
“This is death…” whispered Vrae’ree. “We cannot survive.”
The javelin flew through the air, striking Nezzar the Black Spider in the chest. The Drow stumbled backwards, crying out in pain as he clutched at his chest. He fell backwards on the to the ground near the table. Vrae’ree watched in shocked awe as the leaders at the table all recoiled, retreating from the platform as several black-clad guards rushed the stage.
Tharivol landed roughly and was grabbed by two Dragonclaw guards. He shrugged off one, but the second overpowered him. He was forced to the ground, and held there in a hammerlock. Fo on the other hand landed gracefully and tumbled away from the oncoming Dragonclaw thugs.
“No,” shouted Vrae’ree. “You fools! This is not the time for bloodshed or petty revenge!” The Dark Elf waved his hands in there air, watching the War Council meeting erupt into chaos. He looked over to see Cyanwrath stomping angrily towards the stage. He seemed to have the angry air of an annoyed Father watching his young children fight among themselves needlessly.
“Stop these childish games!” boomed Cyanwrath. “Now is not the time for challenges or duels!” He stomped up on to the platform in the middle of the battle and raised his oversized Bastard Sword. He growled, his golden eyes gleeming brightly. “Stop!”
There was a flash of lightning, and suddenly the Company found themselves in a different location. They were unable to move, entrhalled by some kind of magic. They were no longer in the huge meeting chamber, but now they stood in some kind of Shrine to Tiamat. The chamber had cleared been reshaped and rformed from its original form. The floor and walls were smooth like glass, the stalagmites and stalactites polished into gleaming columns. Every surface glistened with moisture, and the air was warm. The flat walls of the chamber were engraved with abstract carvings of different kinds of Dragons. In the Northwest corner of the chamber stood a monstrous scrimshaw carving of a five headed dragon emerging from an erupting volcano. In front of the statue was a large wooden chest filled with gems and silver coins.
Langdedrosa Cyanwrath sat on a throne flanked by two large men dressed in the traditional black leather armor of the Cult. Both men were nearly seven feet tall. It was possible that both men could have been barbarians from the Far North. Although Cyanwrath seemed to be relaxing, the two guards appeared to be coiled and ready to strike.
Looking around, Fo realized that the throne Cyanwrath was sitting on was decorated to resemble Tiamat. However, usually the Red Dragon head would be in the center of the throne. However, this one epresented the Black Dragon head at the center of the throne. Fo found this interesting. What could it mean?
Vrae’ree observed that the carvings on the walls overrepresented Black Dragons for some reason. Nearly half of the Dragon ingravings on the walls are those of Black Dragons, and nearly every one had small holed drilled into their mouths. What could be the purpose of this detail?
Tharivol noticed that the chamber was certainly a shrine to Tiamat. He recognized the goddess from folktales from his youth. He remembered learning about how the Dark Queen was banished to the Nine Hells long ago by Elven Wizards. She remains there, and cannot return unless the Elven magic is undone. Could the Cult of the Dragon really undo such ancient and powerful magic?
Deiter studied the carvings, and realized that the intricate patterns appear to be some kind of language. He peered closer, drawing on his knowledge of Draconian writings during his childhood studies at the Castle. He can to the realization that the markings were a poem of some kind, possibly a spell that was protecting this shrine. What exactly was the true purpose of this paticular shrine?
All of them noticed at the same time that NEZNARR, the Black Spider, was laying unconscious on the floor in the center of the shrine. He was still bleeding freely from his wounds. Given enough time, the Drow would simply die from blood loss. Already his deep black skin was beginning to pale.
The Company suddenly felt that they were released and able to move again. Cynawrath greeted them and explained that he had grown weary of the squabbling at the War Council meeting. Cyanwrath explained to them that although he had reason to bring action against The Black Spider, that now was not the time to do so. The Cult’s plan was entering the second phase, and everything must continue as it is. During the conversation, Cyanwrath demanded that they remove their masks while they spoke with him. When they did, Cyanwrath seemed to recognize Fo.
“I remember you from Greenest,” said the Half-Dragon with a toothy grin. “You are the Sorcerer who assisted us in setting fire to the Mill. What is your name again?
Fo hesitated. He glanced at his companions and then back at Cyanwrath. “Fu,” said Fo. “My name is Fu.”
Cyanwrath laughed. “Yes!” He slapped his knee. “Fu, that is right.” He leaned back into his chair. “You did well at the siege of Greenest. We were able to raze the town and take the salves we needed without much effort at all.” He paused. “Yes, you did well for us.”
Everyone stood silent for a moment, not sure what to make of this new information. One, it appeared that Fo might have been assisting the Cult in Greenest. Second, it seemed that Greenest had been sacked. This was yet another bit of distressing news for them all. Most of them had personal business to conduct in Greenest. Family and friend were there … and now may be slaves of the Cult … for worse … simple dead.
“I do not trust this Drow,” said Cyanwrath finally. “But he serves a purpose and must be allowed to live … for the time being.”
Fo and Vrae’ree both argued that the Black Spider should be executed for his failure to the Cult. Fo suggested that Vrae’ree be promoted to a position to oversee the Black Spider’s operations, but in the end Cyanwrath made it clear that there would be no changes in operations at this time.
“However,” commented Cyanwrath as he sat forward. “I do have a mission that you can do that is very important.”
Cyanwrath continued to explain to them that The Mere of Dead Men has become a very important location for the Cult of the Dragon. At the edge of the swamp lies CASTLE NAERYTAR where one of the Cult leaders, REZMIR, has decided to use as a base of operations because the castle contains not only a Pool of Radiance but also an ancient portal called THE FARSEER OF ILLUSK.
Cyanwrath sighed. “REZMIR is a trusted sister within the Cult. However, she is focused more on the portal than the operations of the Castle. I fear that she has instead put some of her minions in charge of overseeing transport of the treasure. Since most of the soldiers in that area are subjugated Lizardfolk and Bullywugs, I fear that REZMIR may have made NAERYTR a weak link within our chain.”
Cyanwrath continued. “I would like you to go to CASTLE NAERTYR and ensure that all is well. No not interfere in the operations unless it is clear that things are being delayed or threatened. There is an Orc named BOG LUCK and a Bullywug Shaman named PHARBLEX SPATTERGOO that you will need to make contact with when you arrive.”
The Company explained that they would need provisions and supplies for the mission. Cyanwrath agreed, and instructed one of the large guards to lead them to the treasury to obtain what they needed. He also supplied them with a fist-sized ruby that would transport them to wherever they needed to go next before starting their mission. And at the request of Vrae’ree, they were also given a small scroll with a seal that would identify them as agents of Cyanwrath and the Cult of the Dragon.
Tharivol walked with his companions towards the treasury. “What have we gotten ourselves into?” he thought. “And how long can this ruse last?”
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