Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Part IV

Posted on Posted in D&D, Tyranny of Dragons

While his companions rested Evandar had a poke around the kobold barracks. His curiosity was rewarded as he found some hidden coin as well as some well carved talismans that he suspected would be worth something to a collector. Peering off in the only direction The Five Heroes had not explored he sa a flickering light a little way ahead.

When everyone was ready Garrick scouted on ahead to find the source of the light. What he found was a large cavern that had been sculpted into a temple dedicated to dragon-kind. In the chamber the gnome spotted the massive half-dragon who had bested Meela so easily in Greenest, Cyanwrath. He seemed to be talking to at least one more person but whoever they were was out of Garrick’s line of sight.

Quickly Garrick returned to tell his companions. The Five Heroes decided that what they needed the element of surprise if they were to overcome the half-dragon warrior and crept forward. Unfortunately some of them proved to be less light-footed then others and, as the Five Heroes snuck up to the entrance to the temple Cyanwrath was waiting for them flanked by two burly, axe-wielding men.

Meela, her pride still smarting from her earlier defeat at the half-dragon’s hands, went straight on to the offensive and fired an arrow. It flew true and drew first blood. Almost simultaneously Belinda, calling upon the divine magics of Tymora, beguiled Cyanwrath’s bodyguards, keeping them out of the fight. Cyanwrath retaliated with devastating power, exhaling a bolt of lightning that smashed into The Five Heroes. Now the battle was joined in earnest. Howling like a wolf Meela, closely followed by Garrick, surged forwards to engage the half-dragon while the rest attacked him from range. Despite being outnumbered Cyanwrath proved to be a mighty foe but he fell before the combined strength of The Five Heroes. Even when the half-dragon was slain the danger had not completely passed however. Her blood still boiling with rage Meela stabbed her spear into the dead warrior. Even in their charmed state this offended the body guards and they almost came to blows with elf before Garrick was able to defuse the situation with some quick words and a hefty bribe.

Cyanwrath might have lost the fight but he had left his mark on The Five Heroes, forcing Mort to expend his last healing spell of note to repair their injuries.

As the former bodyguards left the caves The Five Heroes were able to take in the temple more fully. They found that there two ways out, one a broad but short flight of stairs going down and the other a hole in the ceiling accessible by rope-ladder. The cave was strangely warm, the air moist and humid. One wall of the temple was dominated by a huge picture of the five-headed dragon queen Tiamat and at the base of this wall was rested a small chest.

With great skill and cunning Garrick first examined the chest for bobby-traps and then picked its lock. Once the chest was open he was surprised to find that the chest had in-fact been trapped but he had picked the lock with such a steady hand that it had not gone off. Inside the chest was a selection of gems and jewelry at least one of which, Belinda was able to point out, had been stolen from Greenest.

While her companions had been interested in the chest Meela had become fascinated by the painting of Tiamat. To her simple mind Meela saw a direct connection to the five pairs of eyes in the picture to the ten eyes that had been haunting her dreams. On top of that the various heads of the Dragon Queen were belching forth the terrible dooms that she had seen overwhelming the land, fire, lighting, poison, etc.

Soon it was time for the Five Heroes to move onwards, but which way? Meela volunteered to climb the rope-ladder and see what was at the top. Silently and swiftly she ascended. At the top she found her way up blocked by a rug. Carefully lifting it the bare minimum she peaked out and saw what appeared to be desks of paperwork. More in worryingly there was also a booted foot only a few feet away. As carefully as she could Meela replaced the rug and climbed down to report what she had seen.

Garrick was confident that he could gather more information and headed up the ladder. With nerve and skill he rolled back the rug and lifted his head into the chamber. He discovered that the room was part planning room and part bedroom. No more than four feet from Garrick sat the purple-clad leader of the cultists, Mondath. Spying several rolls of lose paperwork on one of the desks the daring arcane trickster reached out with a mage’s hand and began to float a rolled up scroll towards him. Unfortunately Mondath took that second to take a break from her work. She leant back from her writing desk and caught a glimpse of the floating scroll out of the corner of her eye. Taking advantage of her surprise Garrick grabbed the scroll (it later turned out to be full of rather sub-par poetry in praise of Tiamat, much to Garrick’s amusement) out of the air and began to descend the ladder.

Recovering quickly from her surprise Mondath moved to the top of the ladder and tried to thwart Garrick’s escape by casting a spell of paralysis upon him. The gnome proved to be too strong willed to for Mondath’s magic and a second later she was forced to jump back to safety as Evandar and Meela launched a spell and an arrow up at her.

Hearing Mondath calling out for guards The Five Heroes decided to leave the temple in a hurry, dashing down the broad steps at the far end of the cavern.

What The Five Heroes found soon gripped their attention more than the possibility of pursuit. The cave they found themselves in was broad and long. At the far end it sank down into a shallow pit or crater. Along the right wall the floor fell away so that The Five Heroes were overlooking a larger chamber filled with stony columns. Planted in the rocky ground were three, large eggs; dragons eggs.

While Meela took up watch at the top of the stairs back to the temple her four companions went over two the edge to look down into the “hatchery”. As they had wandered further along the ledge both Belinda and Mort noticed furtive movement coming from the pit. They barely had time to register a kobold head duck down out of sight when two clay pots were hurled out of the pit at them. Belinda was able to dodge aside in time but the pot aimed at Mort struck home coating him in a sticky slime that set in seconds, gluing him to the spot. As Mort, aided by Belinda, tugged at the bonds that held him as second volley of put flew over the edge of the pit. This time, rather than bursting open to release glue the jars exploded into flames.

Evandar, Garrick and Meela charged over to the pit and found four kobolds lying against its shallow sides. In close combat the kobolds proved to be no match for the trio who quickly dispatched them. During the brief scuffle Meela’s sharp, elven eyes had spotted a strange, serpentine movement from down in the hatchery. Once the brief skirmish was over Belinda did her best to look down into the hatchery for the source of the movement that Meela had glimpsed. She spotted two drakes skulking in the gloom but more disturbingly noticed that one of the rocky pillars was nothing of the sort but a strange creature with a tall, vaguely cylindrical body from which sprouted four powerful looking tentacles. The main body also boasted a wide, dangerous looking maw and a single, baleful eye. When this creature was pointed out to the rest of The Five Heroes Meela’s first thought was to put an arrow into its eye. As she drew back the bow ready to fire Garrick called out to the beast and, to everyone’s surprise, the creature called back. Garrick and Belinda were able to open a dialogue of sorts with the creature. It only seemed to be interested in food and guarded the eggs in the hatchery in return for being fed by The Cult of Dragons. Garrick began to explain that the Cult has been killed or driven away and as such no more food was coming unless, of course, it wanted to eat the drakes.

Feeling baffled by this turn of events Meela wandered back to her look-out point on the stairs only to find herself face-to-face with Mondath backed-up by a dozen armed men! The ledge overlooking the hatchery became the site of the most desperate and hard-fought battle that The Five Heroes had been in. The width of the chamber meant that, even if they had had time to organize themselves, The Five Heroes could not have formed a defensive line. Instead they found themselves quickly swarmed and surrounded by the cultists. For a long time things looked grim for The Five Heroes. They were already slowed by the many half-healed wounds that they had suffered getting to this point and most if their magic had been exhausted. By comparison the cultist and guards were fit and rested and fought with a fanatical zeal. Magic was ruthlessly employed by both sides of the battle. At one point Meela, to her shame and her enemies delight, was magically compelled to grovel at Mondath’s feet like a whipped dog. Belinda used a magical duplicate of herself to cause confusion and, using the duplicate as a conduit for her magic, scourged Mondath with a spell that would have slain a lesser foe.

One by one the enemy began to fall and the tide of the battle turned in the favor of The Five Heroes. When the last of her guards fell Mondath tried to flee but was cornered by Belinda and Meela. Belinda’s mace delivered the last blow of the battle but the priestess of Tymora was feeling merciful as she only knocked out Mondath rather than splitting her skull.

The casualties were not all one sided however. Mort had gone down during the melee and had not gotten up. Luckily an investigation of his wounds revealed that they were not life threatening but without healing magic he would have to recover in his own time.

Garrick was able to complete his negotiations with the strange, tentacle creature in the hatchery and, much to Belinda’s distress, the corpses of the cultists were hurled off the ledge to feed the creature. While this was being done Evandar used his dark magics to smash the dragon eggs.

Worn thin by their many brushes with death The Five Heroes decided that they needed to time to treat their injuries and for Mort to regain consciousness. Carrying the unconscious forms of both Mort and Mondath, The Five Heroes returned to the cult leader’s lair. Evandar made sure Mondath was stringently bound. They found a comfortable bed for Mort to rest on. While they waited for Mort to recover his companions searched the room. As well as more bad poetry they found an order from Mondath that suggested that the bulk of the loot that they had stolen in various raids had been sent on to someone called Rezmir. They also found a map of the region. As well as showing which settlement had been attacked it indicated the city of Beregost and a place called Nareryar.

It took Mort about an hour to come to his senses during which time his companions bandaged their wounds, rested and chewed on rations.

When the young priest was feeling strong enough The Five Heroes searched the few caves that remained. One, just off of Mondath’s chamber, was clearly a barracks. Beyond that was a now empty store room, empty except for a drunk cultist who was sprawled on the floor. The wine-addled sot proved to be too inebriated to question so The Five Heroes decided to take him with them as their prisoner. The cultist, like Mondath herself, would return with them to Greenest.

Off of the store room was another passage which looped back around and entered, in a remote corner, the very first cave The Five Heroes had explored.

The Five Heroes were now confident that they had searched the caves from top to bottom and learnt all its secrets but there was still one danger that needed to be braved. Belinda had warned her companions that the charm she had ensnared Cyanwrath’s bodyguards in would only have lasted an hour. Cautiously Garrick crept out of the cave and, as they had suspected, found the two axe-men waiting in ambush. With no other way out The Five Heroes resorted to a surprise attack on the two warriors hoping that numbers and shock would carry the day. If they were hoping for an easy fight The Five Heroes were disappointed. The two bodyguards were seasoned warriors and fought with a reckless fury. The Five Heroes immerged victorious but with a newfound respect for their enemy and grateful that they had not had to battle Cyanwrath and his guards at the same time.

Battered, bruised but victorious The Five Heroes herded their two captives over to Mondath’s own tent where they decided to rest until sun-up. Come the morning it was their plan to make their way back to Greenest before heading to Elturel to meet up with Lisinth.