Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Part II

Posted on Posted in Campaigns, Tyranny of Dragons

As a new day dawned over Greenest its inhabitants came forth from the shelter of the castle to inspect the damage. A palatable sense of loss hung in the air but also a sense of unity; the people of Greenest would endure, they would rebuild and in time would prosper once more.
As the sun reached its zenith the Five Heroes were called together by Nighthill and the town council. Nighthill was deeply troubled for two reasons: he feared that the raider was just the beginning of a larger threat to Greenest. He wanted more information so he could best know how to protect the town. Secondly, nearly a dozen inheritance of the town were still unaccounted for and it was feared that they had been dragged away by the raiders to be slaves or worse.
Would the Five Heroes be able to track down the raiders’ camp, gain intelligence to their plans and rescue any townsfolk that had fallen into their clutches? Without hesitation the five agreed to undertake the mission.
Quickly the Five Heroes began gathered together their weapons and equipment. As they rendezvoused at the edge of town they were approached by a young man, perhaps no more than sixteen summers old, with an injured leg. He introduced himself as Nessim Waladra, the servant of a half-elven monk called Lisinth Erlantha. According to Nessim his master, rather like Garrick, had been investigating the activities of The Cult of the Dragon but had vanished during the attack on Greenest. Nessim feared that Lisinth had fallen into the hands of the Cult and, having learnt of their mission, begged The Five Heroes to save his master if they could.
Following the trail left behind by the raiders as they departed with their spoils proved to be simplicity itself. The Five Heroes followed the tracks off to the south east. For the first two miles they travelled through farmlands but soon that was left behind and they were out into a hilly, boulder strewn wilderness where they only had each other to rely upon.
As the long summer day started to draw to a close they spotted a tell-tale trail of smoke ahead; a campfire. Stealthily they approached the camp and discovered that it belonged straggling band of raiders composed of four humans and eight kobolds.
Sensing a chance to gain some of the answers that Nighthill needed The Five Heroes attacked. Meela leapt into the melee. Mort and Belinda first threw divine spells into the raiders before drawing their weapons and rushing in. Evandar kept his distance and employed his arcane arts on the enemy. Garrick employed hit-and-run tactics; firing an arrow before melting back into cover to reappear somewhere else to fire again. The kobolds scattered at the first sign of trouble and the four human warriors were soon overcome, the last dropped by an arrow from Garrick. Believing the skirmish over the gnome didn’t hide again and this almost proved his down fall. The kobolds had managed to rally and, loading slings, counter-attacked. Half the sling-stones ended up going Garrick’s way, knocking him senseless. Luckily the healing powers of Mort were sufficient to revive him while Meela, Evandar and Belinda made short work of the kobolds.
Despite the savagery of their attack The Five Heroes had been careful to take the four human mercenaries alive for questioning. However, despite some earnest efforts, Mort was unable to get the captives to cooperate. In the end it fell to Evandar, showing a shrewd insight into the mind of the fighting man, to win the cooperation of one of the captives.
From the mercenary The Five Heroes learnt the location of the raider’s camp, in a hidden valley cut into the side of a hilly plateau some four miles further on. It was commanded by a purple robed woman called Mondath. The goods stolen from Greenest were to be part of a great hoard of treasure to honour “The Dragon Queen”. There had been captives taken in the raid and they were to be put to work as menial labour in the camp.
By now it was too late in the day to travel so The Five Heroes bedded down in the remains of the raiding party’s camp. Amongst the kobold’s possessions they found a sack of what was clearly goods looted from Greenest. It was barely the tip of the iceberg of what the townsfolk had lost but it was a start.
The next morning Evandar, true to his word, released the mercenary that he had struck a bargain with. The fate of the remaining three mercenaries provoked some disagreement amongst The Five Heroes but in the end it was decided to tie them to a tree with the intention of collecting the raiders on the way back to Greenest. There they could be called to account for their crimes.
The Five Heroes made steady but slow progress during the morning over the increasingly broken and hilly ground. About a mile from their goal, despite their efforts to keep vigilant, they blundered into a trap. While passing through a narrow valley between two hills The Five Heroes were aisled from both sides by rolling rocks. Bruised but undaunted The Five Heroes charged up the nearest hill eager to take the fight to their assailants. At the top they found themselves in a brutal, close-quarters combat with five Cultists while four more, from the safety of the far hill, hurled spears into the melee. To make matters worse two of the Cultists were no mere swords-for-hire but wielded the power of their Dark Goddess to bolster their troops.
Despite the odds The Five Heroes proved to have the quality and the battle quickly swung in their favour. Sensing that they were lost one of the dark priests made a run for it but he had not counted on Evandar. In a burst of magical speed Evandar ran the fleeing priest to ground and, after a brief battle of spells, slew him.
As The Five Heroes caught their breath after the battle an idea dawned on Belinda; they should take their vanquished enemies robes as a disguise.
After traveling on far another mile The Five Heroes found the camp of the raiders. As the mercenary had told them the evening before it was nestled neatly in a well concealed valley within a flat-topped hill. By carefully climbing the hill and looking down The Five Heroes were able to take in the layout of the camp. They estimated the raiders to be at least two hundred strong, a mixed band of humans and kobolds as were a few lizards the size of large dogs, or small ponies, that Garrack identified as Drakes. The only way into the valley was guarded by a wooden watch tower while there was a second guard tower at the side of the valley, perhaps to watch the goings on in the camp itself. While some tents were larger than others there was one that drew The Five Heroes’ attention by its size and quality. Surly this must be the leader’s tent. The Five Heroes considered the possibility of sneaking in to it but the tent was too heavily guarded, four mercenaries and four drakes, and too exposed, nearly fifty feet from the nearest cover, to be attempted.
As they continued their hidden surveillance The Five Heroes spotted other details. The walls of the valley were honeycombed with caves of different sizes but there was one especially large cave at ground level. In and out of the cave passed a steady stream of kobolds and one or two cultists.
The Five Heroes also spotted the missing townsfolk. They are shackled together in a chain-gang and toiling away on their captor’s behalf.
Finally The Five Heroes spotted Liasinth Erlantha, tied to a wooden frame near the back of the camp. The priest looked like he had endured quite an ordeal courtesy of his captures and, even as The Five Heroes watched, was subject to some rough handling by a passing guard.
Before long a tall woman with short, dark hair and clad in purple robes, Mondath herself, left her tent to pay Liasinth a visit. After a clearly one sided conversation with the prisoner Mondath left in disgust but not before setting her guards upon him. This proved almost too much for The Five Heroes to bare and both Belinda and Meela were all set to head down at once to free the priest. Luckily the cooler heads of Evandar and Mort prevailed. As Evandar pointed out; Mondath clearly wanted something from her prisoner, information or compliance perhaps, and would be a fool to kill him until she got what she wanted.
Grimly The Five Heroes waited for the sun to set and darkness to gather. They had noticed that the second watch tower was manned only by humans and as such should be easy to bypass in the dark. Garrick, Meela and Evandar all had excellent night vison and were able to help Belinda and Mort climb down into the raiders’ camp. Once in the camp The Five Heroes donned their disguises and set to work. They quickly found that the prisoners, with the exception of Liasinth, were confined to one tent guarded by a single, rather reluctant mercenary. Displaying a natural flair for this sort of subterfuge Evandar easily convinced the guard that he had been sent to relieve him as part of a punishment detail. Once the guard was gone Belinda and Garrick slipped into the tent. The young priestess was quickly able to reassure the prisoners that they would soon all be free if they followed the plan. Meanwhile Garrick made short work of the prisoners’ chains and began to hand out stolen robes.
While this was going on Mort strode boldly up to the captive priest. While acting out the role of any other brutal guard for the benefit of disinterested onlookers Mort had a whispered conversation with Liasinth. Initially the half-elf was surprisingly reluctant to be rescued. In a daring attempt to learn more about The Cult of the Dragon he had let himself be captured in Greenest. Mort was able to convince Liasinth that, if he was going to escape at all, it was tonight or not at all. As they spoke Mort learnt a surprising fact; it was not Mondath who was in charge or even the blue half-dragon Scion Wrath. Rather it was a second half-dragon, this one with black scales, called Resmear who called the shots. After healing the captive’s wounds Mort slipped away to find the others.
Belinda, Garrick and Meela began to take the prisoner, in groups of twos and threes, across the campsite to the second watchtower where, uing ropes, they climbed back up out of the valley to safety. For their part Evandar and Mort stalked the camp until they found a mercenary who as deep in his cups. Quickly overpowering him they carried the unconscious guard back to where Liasinth was bound and swapped the two over.
Soon The Five Heroes and the former captives were all clear of the raiders’ camp. Marching through the night they came to the small camp where they had bedded down the night before. The three raiders that they had left behind had managed to escape their bonds during the day. After letting the prisoners rest a bit they all pressed on into the morning and soon were back in Greenest.