While in the employ of Lord Dagult Neverember, the Company traveled from the city of Neverwinter south towards Waterdeep. Their first stop was at Phandalin to deliver a precious relic to one of the newly formed churches. Now they are on the High Road heading South. Ultimately, they intend to end their journey in the far South at Greenest. On the way, they discovered the Karst Caves, a base of operations for bandits who have been raiding the trade routes between Neverwinter and Waterdeep. They have decided to clear out the caves, depriving the enemy of supplies and resources. However, the enemy is aware of their presence…
“If quick, I survive.
If not quick, I am lost.
This is “death.”
― Sun Tzu
- Vrae’ree Everhurden, 2nd Level Drow Elf Wizard
- Fo, 3rd Level Human Monk [Faction: Lord’s Alliance]
- Therivol, 1st Level High Elf Fighter
- Deiter, 2nd Level Human Fighter (Noble)
During this blog post, you may see red text. This is my Dungeon Master Voice chiming in about the events of the session. I want to take this chance to thank my friends who share in my adventures. You guys are amazing, and I enjoy rolling dice with you. If you are reading this post and you are playing through the adventure, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page with your character’s name. This will get you a point of inspiration for the next session!
The Company was just recovering from their encounter with The Black Spider when they heard something approaching from the South. The noise was an odd flip-flopping sound. The Company spread out. Fo moved forward with Therivol, both readying themselves just at the bend in the tunnel for whatever might be approaching. Vrae’ree stepped back, and prepared to call forth magic. Deiter withdrew an arrow, notching it into place and preparing to fire. All of them expected the worst.
At that moment, something or someone attempted to make a telepathic link with the Company. Deiter forced whatever it was from his mind, but the others succumbed. Everyone except Deiter could see an image in their mind’s eye of a large concave cathedral with several ledges overlooking a central large platform. The cathedral was filled with hundreds of humans, all wearing garb and regalia of several different villainous organizations throughout Faerûn.
At the same time, everyone expect Deiter was also aware that whatever was making the telepathic link was the creäture flip-flopping towards them up the tunnel. They heard broken Common in their mind saying, “You late. Master send for you.” At this moment, a strange creature rounded the corner and stopped when they saw the Company. It was a monster standing maybe six feet tall, but hunched over as it walked. It’s feet were webbed like a frog’s causing the odd flopping noise as it walked. It’s crooked back was covered in dangerous looking spikes, and it’s wide head featured a large, green eye. It’s maw was filled with tiny, sharp teeth and its hands ended in terrible claws.
“A Nothic,” said Vrae’ree in surprise. “A monster of the Underdark. Wizards use them to carry out mystical tasks. It’s gaze can rot flesh from the body. It is a deadly beast indeed.”
Deiter scowled. “Shall I kill it?”
Therivol shook his head at the noble. “It means us no harm.”
The Nothic seemed to ignore what the Dark Elf said, and raised it’s clawed hands up in a peaceful gesture. They heard the voice in their minds again. “Away your weapons. Follow to the Master.” With that said, the creature started plodding down the hallway back the way it came.
Fo smiled dubiously, glancing at his companions. Clearly, whatever it was that this monster was referring to as “The Master” was aware of their presence in the Karst Caves. He whispered softly, “Our disguises.”
Therivol nodded in agreement. “It would seem that the Black Spider reported our presence and believes we are a part of the Cult.”
Deiter relaxed slightly, unnocking his arrow and lowering his bow. “I don’t trust it.”
Vrae’ree strode forward confidently, gesturing for his companions to be quiet. He spoke a little louder than needed with a smile. “Come along. We are late enough as it is!” He hoped that his fellow adventurers would understand that he was falling into character as the leader again as he had claimed to the Black Spider. “Let’s not waste any more time!”
Everyone except Deiter followed Vrae’ree’s lead. Deiter didn’t budge. “This is a trap. It’s a bad situation. I don’t trust that thing.”
Fo clapped the nobleman on the shoulder, whispering softly. “Then stay here, friend. Maybe you will find some more Kobolds in the dark.”
Deiter watched the others walk down the corridor following the Nothic. He watched the hunched, olive-green skinned humanoid as a magical doorway composed of crackling purple and black energy appeared in front of it. The monster peered back at the Company with its single, enormous emerald eye. Then the thing stepped through the doorway and disappeared.
“No,” breathed Deiter. But he watched as each of his companions stepped through the magical portal. He sighed, and walked forward into the magical doorway. Stepping through, he found himself within a huge underground meeting hall. It was an enormous concave cathedral with ledges all around the sides at ten foot intervals. These ledges were occupied by hundreds of humans all wearing the regalia of different criminal organizations in the Realms. Deiter saw that the bottom two ledges were filled with Wearers of Purple, high ranking memebrs of the Cult of the Dragon. Higher up he saw representatives of the Cragmaw Goblin tribe, Thundertree Kobold clans, Red Wizards of Thay, Asmodai priests from Neverwinter, Netherese wizards, and even a few People of the Black Blood. Overwhelmingly there were twice as many Dragonclaws on the ledges dressed in their black leather armor, cloaks, and masks.
A hundred or so feet down the cavern ended in a wide floor that served as a huge platform. Standing on the platform was a giant creature that appeared to be half man and half dragon. It was speaking loudly in a booming voice. Behind the half-dragon-man was a large table where several humanoids sat. There was an odd assortment of various humanoids. This appeared to be some sort of gathering for the Cult of the Dragon. And they had wandered smack dab into the middle of it!
Deiter looked to his companions. The rest of the Company seemed to be taking in the spectacle as well. As the fact that they had literally walked into the headquarters of the enemy began to settle into their minds, they all noticed that the Nothic they had followed was joining with three others of its kind who clung to the walls surrounding the large alcove doorway that lead into the cathedral. They all exchanged glances, knowing that one stray thought could cause the Nothics to realize the deception at hand, and send them into a murderous rage.
They could hear that the loud booming voice addressing the group was speaking in Draconic. However, as they listened they felt the Nothics penetrate their minds again, translating what they heard into his native language. They would have to be very careful to contain their thoughts as much as possible.
Vrae’ree Everhurden strode forward past the Nothics and through the alcove. He saw two large men on the other side dressed in Dragonclaw armor. The first masked man gestured for Vrae’ree to stop, and the second pointed to a ledge down the stairs that was perhaps thirty feet above the main platform on the ground. “There is room for you there,” the cultist whispered and started walking in that direction to escort them. Before Vrae’ree could follow, the other man clapped him on the shoulder and pulled him to the side. As the others follow the first cultist down the stairs, he asked Vrae’ree: “Which of you is your leader?”
Vrae’ree hesitated. He considered claiming that the Black Spider was their leader. Then he realized that the cultist was asking which one of the Company was the leader. It made sense of course. The “Master” had them transported here because he mistakenly thought they were members of a rival sect of Dragon Cultists who raided the Karst Caves. Fo and Therivol were wearing the regalia of Dragonclaws, and the others were dressed in the garb of the Wild Elves that had attacked them on the High Road. Their disguises has accidentally landed them into the midst of the enemy, and the enemy assumed they were allies.
“I am the leader,” Vrae’ree said. “Of course.” He sneered at the Dragonclaw allowing his purple Drow eyes to shimmer. Drow eyes are usually bright red, but some are known to have different colored, commonly much paler, eyes such as blue, lilac, pink or silver. Sometimes their eyes are even green which would implicate that this particular Drow has some surface elven blood in their veins. However, purple eyes are usually a tell of something more interesting,some sort of anomaly or heritage that is not that of pure Drow.
The Dragonclaw nodded. “Well then, brother, follow me.” He turned and started walking down the stairs. “You will join the other leaders at the table.” Vrae’ree glanced helplessly at his companions who were now being ushered on to the ledge to observe the meeting. He pulled the hood of his robes up, and followed the cultist down to the platform where Langdedrosa Cyanwrath continued to speak in a loud, booming voice.
Vrae’ree sat down at the table, and glanced around. He noticed right away that the Black Spider was at the other end of the table. The Drow appeared to now be in good health, and was sneering at him angrily with a look that could kill. Vrae’ree met his gaze and sneered back, causing the rival Drow to look away in disgust.
Next to the Black Spider sat a Goblin. It’s teeth were carved into sharp points. This was the right hand of King Grol of the Cragmaw Goblins who harass and raid caravans along the Triboar Trail. The Goblin was larger and uglier than most of its kind, and wore a talisman that was marked with a sumbol of Maglubiyet. The third leader was a young woman with short black hair. Her name was Frulam Mondath, and she was charged with the rear guard of the caravan smuggling the Hoard of the Dragon Queen towards the North. She seemed displeased, and sat scowling. She was dressed in purple robes, and armor signifying that she was an officer in the Cult of the Dragon. The fourth was a rotund, bald gnome wearing loose-fitting brown robes. His cheeks were flushed red and he had a jovial smile plastered on his fat face. He openly wore a large medallion around his neck marked with the symbol of Urdlen.
Vrae’ree continued to look around him, trying to settle in and take stock of the other leaders. He took care to keep an air of importance and to try to look like he belonged at the table. He noticed that the fifth member of the table was a handsome, golden-haired Elf that seemed out-of-place among these devilish characters. He wore a silver circlet in his shimmering hair and gossamer robes of the brightest azure along with a royal blue cloak trimmed in silver. Next to him sat a brown-skinned bald man dressed in gold and red robes. His forehead was marked with intricate tattoos and it was immediately clear that he was a high-ranking member of the Red Wizards. Vrae’ree sighed. This wouldn’t be easy.
Meanwhile, Fo was listening closely to what Langdedrosa Cyanwrath was speaking about to the crowd. It was clear that they had accidentally stumbled into a War Council for the Cult of the Dragon! Fo knew that these meetings were usually held to decide on a course of action, usually in the midst of a battle. Under normal circumstances, decisions are made by a commanding officer, optionally communicated and coordinated by staff officers, and then implemented by subordinate officers. But Fo knew that Councils of War are typically held when matters of great importance must be decided, consensus must be reached with subordinates, or when the commanding officer is unsure of his or her position. Apparently this Cyanwrath had brought together several leaders from across the Sword Coast for a vote. Fo grinned broadly under his mask. He must report this information to the Lord’s Alliance.
Langdedrosa Cyanwrath was explaining that for years, the evil Cult of the Dragon has devoted itself to creating undead dragons in a vain attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy. However, the cultists were misguided. They misunderstood. But now, under new leadership, the cult believes that the prophecy does not speak of undead dragons, but of a dragon empire that’s been extinct for 25,000 years. Tiamat, Queen of Evil Dragons, has languished in the Nine Hells for millennia. The cult believes that the time of her return is at hand.
He described that the Sword Coast was ripe for the picking. With the Sundering in full swing, the land is in chaos and turmoil. Neverwinter struggles to maintain its security from enemies within and without. Lord Protector Anivar Daoran, is dead, and the city of Phlan is in disorder. Waterdeep is under siege by Drow streaming out of the portals of Undermountain. The city of Iriaebor is cut off from the Western Heartlands, ruled by foul creatures who serve Ghaunadaur, The Elder Elemental Eye. Baldur’s Gate is fully under the control of the Church of Bane. Pwyll Greatshout has been bought off to along for Cult activities to go unmolested within Daggerford while Dragonspear Castle is under the full control of the Cult at this time. And most recently, the town of Greenest was razed to the ground. The Cult is in control of the major trade routes and cities within the Sword Coast.
And best of all, added the half-Dragon with a monstrous smile, Lady Lolth remains in control of the Weave and has revealed the location of several Pools of Radiance that the cult will be able to use to tear open a rift to the Nine Hells. One of these is located in Phlan and is already being harnessed by a cabal of spellcasters. Another lies in the North near Ten Towns and Icewind Dale.
The half-dragon continued to explain the current state of affairs with the Cult of the Dragon’s activities. The Cult searches for the five ancient Dragon Masks needed in a ritual to raise Tiamat’s temple from the Nine Hells. The cult leaders believe that the Red Dragon Mask is buried in Icewind Dale. The cult’s supreme leader, Severin, has set out to retrieve the mask while his most trusted subordinate, Galvan, has contacted a Red Wizard name Rath Modar, living in exile nearby in Luskan. Rath’s magic will prove useful to help the cult hide its activities.
The cult has also reached out to its dragon allies in the North. An ancient white dragon keeps the people of Ten Towns holed up in their settlements, while red dragons harry the barbarian and orc tribes on the slopes of the Spine of the World and lash out at nearby settlements and wayward caravans.
At this, the crowd cheered. Their voices echoes throughout the cavern, threatening to deafen the Company as they watched and listened somewhat dumbfounded. Fo exchanged glances with his comrades. All of this seemed overwhelming and impossible.
The cult has a new face and a new mission. It seeks to free Tiamat from the Nine Hells and bring her into the Forgotten Realms. To carry out its goal, the cult needs five ancient dragon masks and the support of evil dragons everywhere. The cult leaders—each one a “dragon whisperer”—have reached out to the evil dragons of the Sword Coast and earned their allegiance.
Meanwhile, evil dragons in partnership with the cult seek to amass a treasure hoard worthy of their dark queen, not by plundering their own hoards but by stealing money from cities, caravans, good-aligned dragons, merchant ships, and other sources. Their ravenous hunt for treasure throws the Sword Coast into upheaval. Neverwinter, Waterdeep, Baldur’s Gate—no city is safe from their depredations.
He also described their adversaries in this plot to control the Sword Coast region. The Harpers are a scattered network of spellcasters and spies who advocate equality and covertly oppose the abuse of power. The Order of the Gauntlet is composed of faithful and vigilant seekers of justice who protect others from the depredations of evildoers. The Emerald Enclave is a widespread group of wilderness survivalists who keep the natural order while rooting out unnatural threats. The Lords’ Alliance is a loose coalition of established political powers concerned with mutual security and prosperity. And the Zhentarim is an unscrupulous shadow network that seeks to expand its influence and power throughout Faerûn. He reminded them that none of these organizations can be trusted.
Finally, the Half-Dragon speaker turns to face the table of leaders. “And now, I turn the meeting over to our various Masters. I thank you all for coming to the Council meeting. I know that many could not attend, but it is good to see our allies joining us in making further plans to crush the Sword Coast below the Dark Queen’s talons!” Again, the crowd cheered, and Cyanwrath gestured to the Black Spider. Then, the Half-Dragon departed from the stage and walked away to a secondary chamber nearby.
The Drow Elf stood up, and adjusted his robes. His red eyes flashed with hate, and he turned to point an accusing finger at Vrae’ree. “My first order of business is that of revealing a traitor in our midst!” He took a few steps towards Vrae’ree and then turned to face the crowd. “This Dark Elf raided my domain and slayed many of my soldiers! They stole from the hatchery and even went so far as to attack and wound me personally! He and his cell are traitors to our cause, and should be executed immediately!”
The crowd exploded into murmurs and discord. Several shouted for Vrae’ree’s blood. Others called out that the Black Spider was a weakling. Fo glanced around, and nodded to his companions. Now was the perfect opportunity to launch an attack at the Black Spider before the Drow could say too much and show their deception.
Meanwhile, Vrae’ree waved his hands and argued with the Black Spider. “Now is the time to put our differences to the side,” he shouted. “We cannot help that you attacked us when we entered your lair! You were the aggressors and we merely defended ourselves!”
Fo and Therivol 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.”