Tyranny of Dragons

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Session 1
Greenest under attack!

Just as dusk fell Benduin Farcryer and his caravan crested the last hill to see the town of Greenest just a few short miles away. But instead of the pleasant, welcoming town you expected, you see columns of black smoke rising from burning buildings, running figures that are little more than dots at this distance, and a dark, winged shape wheeling low over the keep that rises above the center of the town. Greenest is being attacked by a dragon!

Benduin turned to the five guards who’d proven to be the most capable on this long trip and tasked them with helping the townsfolk in any way they could. He made clear he would pay them their hazard bonus (50 gp each) for undertaking the task. He wasn’t worried about keeping his caravan safe until morning given the circumstances. He recommended they seek out his contact at the keep as soon as they are able, Castellan Escobert the Red.

There was so much noise with all the screaming, yipping and yelling, and so many figures running around with raiders chasing townsfolk that it was easy to approach the town. Fires were scattered throughout the town providing both light and shifting shadows. It became quickly apparent the raiders were a mix of kobolds, mercenary bandits & robed humanoids that were more focused on looting the rich town than they were on killing its inhabitants. Still most of the townsfolk were easy prey quickly dispatched and many died very quickly in those early minutes.

It wasn’t long after the party entered the edge of town trying to move stealthily that they turned a corner and literally bumped into a trio of kobolds with an ambush drake. Luckily Callahorn spoke their broken draconic dialect passingly well and was able to understand their commands to “go loot over that way.” The party tried to continue heading in their chosen direction but when the kobolds ordered them away again the party simply dispatched them and dragged the bodies into a nearby home. They received some injuries but nothing that kept them from pressing on.

After another minute or so of traveling in the shadows they came upon an injured man fleeing out of an alleyway. He was limping heavily while holding a very young child and herding two slightly older ones towards the direction of the keep and hopeful safety. A woman bearing a round shield and a broken spear appeared on their heels and turned desperately to face a band of eight kobolds that quickly poured out of the alleyway. The party intervened immediately with Katya proudly displaying Torm’s gauntleted hand on her shield and Crosby casting his magic to drop over half their number into magical slumber. They made quick work of the few remaining standing but not before one was able to slip away into the night. The family praised the gods and thanked the characters, introducing themselves as Linan & Cuth. They begged the party to help escort them to the Keep and the relative safety it provided.

The larger group had a harder time staying hidden as they tried to pass several groups of raiders including more robed foes, kobolds & drakes and they had a couple more battles and picked up about a dozen more townsfolk before making it to the keep. During one battle they heard a robed raider mention the name “Frulam Mondath”, one of the likely leaders of the raid.

As they tended their injuries with a short rest the gates of the keep were drawn closed and more raiders seemed to encircle it. The blue dragon continued to circle the town blasting his lightning breath down at seemingly random intervals every minute or two igniting fires here and there. Before long Governor Tarbaw Nighthill sought them out and introduced himself, thanking them for aiding many of the townsfolk. At his side were Castellan Escobert the Red and before long Ilestra Springriver as well. They discussed and argued what the best way to defend the town was and what there options were.

Escobert mentioned the old tunnel could be used to likely get a small group in & out of the keep but not to evacuate everyone. Tarbaw agreed the keep was the safest place for the night and strongly believed the raiding force would be gone by morning as their kobold allies would be more a liability in the light of day. He felt their best course of action was trying to capture a low-ranking commander and bringing him back to the keep for interrogation to gain some information. The party and town leaders were able to see the likely raid leader safely outside the keep’s arrow range surrounded by a large number of tough raiders. It was about this time that Tarbaw came to a decision and hired the party to help defend the town at a rate of 150 gp each. He also ordered Ilestra to provide them with some of her healing potions. He actually ordered all of them but she refused and he didn’t push her after she turned over three of them.

Talk then turned to the old tunnel and how best to utilize it, but before any decision was made the huge blue dragon swooped in and attacked the defenders of the keep! It made a few passes staying about 25-30’ away but that was more than close enough to devastate the defenders with its lightning breath. Their returning arrow fire did nothing to deter it. The party was able to mount a much more effective defense with Callahorn’s Eldritch Blast, Crosby’s Magic Missile and Katya’s Sacred Flame. Yumiondis helped tend to the fallen defenders injured by the dragon’s attacks. Though they were able to injure it with their magic they were all surprised when it suddenly veered away with a deafening growl and flew off into the night. A quick glance down at Frulam Mondath showed her shaking her head in what appeared to be frustration before she turned away from the keep and disappeared behind some buildings.

To be continued….

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Session 2
A Long Night in Greenest

After driving off the huge blue dragon’s half-hearted lightning breath attacks the party formed a plan with input from Governor Tarbaw, Castellan Escobert, and Wisdom Ilestra. They’re goal was to use the old tunnel to sneak out of the keep and follow the trees and overgrowth near the river’s edge east to the Temple of Chauntea to rescue those townsfolk trapped inside and try to escort them to the keep. If they could they were also going to try and capture one of the cultists for Governor Tarbaw to interrogate.

Castellan Escobert gave them the keys to the gates at either end of the tunnel. The first opened easily but the tunnel was covered in dust, mold, cobwebs and rats. After a hundred feet or so they encountered a couple swarms of rats that were difficult to drive off with their conventional weapons before a few of the party were injured. The outer tunnel gate was more difficult to open but Seef was able to finagle it open after some initial difficulty. He also was quick to notice a search party of some raiders moving nearby along the riverbank heading west towards the Mill. The party opted to let them pass by without revealing the tunnel exit but they were prepared to attack if the tunnel itself was investigated. The raiders remained oblivious to their presence and moved on. The party wasted no more time leaving the tunnel and heading east reaching the Temple of Chauntea rather quickly without incident.

At the Temple they found several groups of raiders laying siege around the Temple. The first was at the front door with a makeshift battering ram and obviously under the command of a well-armored kobold with a dragon embossed shield who was issuing commands in Common much more clearly than any kobolds they’d encountered so far. A larger mob of cultists, kobolds and drakes was slowly circling the outside of the church throwing stones, yelling at those trapped inside and generally raising a ruckus that made it easy for the party to approach without being noticed. The mob took several minutes to get around the large temple even once. The final group was trying to start a fire at the back door of the temple but the billows of smoke and lack of flame was easy proof this wasn’t going well.

The party waited for the mob to pass the back of the temple and then, using robes they’d captured from cultist raiders earlier, played the part of raiders sent to take over the job of breaking into the back door since the current crew wasn’t doing a good job. The half dozen kobolds bought this story right away and immediately went off to find their immediate commander elsewhere in town. The remaining human cultists weren’t so easily convinced but the party managed to trick them into naming their commander and then Callahorn was able to use that name to convince them he was angry at their incompetence and that they were to report to him at once near the siege group at the front of the keep.

With them gone Katya was able to recite some teachings of Chauntea and convince those inside to open the door just as Seef was able to pick the lock. Inside they found Eadyan Falconmoon and several dozen townsfolk. They quickly closed and relocked the back door and came up with a plan as the battering blows against the front doors became more pronounced. Strengthening their resolve was a ritual blessing from Chauntea that Eadyan was able to perform using the holy implements he was most interested in protecting. The timbers of the doors and their frame started to splinter and crack as the ritual finished. Luckily the mob didn’t notice the raider group missing from the back door on their next pass around the back of the temple and several of the party members were able to shoot crossbow bolts and throw darts killing several of the kobolds on the battering ram which slowed down the effectiveness of their blows. The party then used church pews and bookcases to reinforce the front doors preventing the raiders from seeing inside effectively.

Over the next minute the kobold dragonshield barked at several kobolds in the mob to take up the ram while the party quickly ushered all the townsfolk out the back. The townsfolk all made it safely to the woods at the river edge but Katya’s armor and Callahorn’s urgent instructions to the townsfolk caught the attention of a few kobolds. One was sent to the front to inform the dragonshield but they party was able to quickly drop the remaining three with ranged weapons and slip into the woods before any other pursuit followed.

The party quickly scouted ahead of the frightened townsfolk to lead them to the old tunnel sewer gate and discovered another small group of raiders searching the riverbank area. This time the party was able to send Seef & Yumiondis silently around the group and ambush them, taking them out very easily. The townsfolk were then ushered through the old tunnel into the keep to safety. Tarbaw was thrilled at their return with so many townsfolk and even Ilestra apologized for her earlier behavior. She also provided them with five more of her healing potions, the last of her supplies.

After discussing the current situation with Tarbaw the party rather quickly went back out the old tunnel and made a much longer trek west to try and save the old mill and the town’s winter supply of flour. They encountered no groups of raiders this time as more of them seemed to be surrounding the keep, possibly to mount an offensive of some sort. At the old mill they saw a few kobolds with an ambush drake lighting rather ineffectual fires around the building. They were quickly dispatched and easily made their way inside the mill where they discovered the mill wheel slowing turning. That noise is what likely distracted them from noticing the single cultist and five guards waiting in ambush in the loft. The party was totally surprised by the volley of spears that struck several of them and the battle that followed was desperate at times. The cultist they dropped easily early on and knocked him out with plans to bring him back to Tarbaw for interrogation, but the guards proved much more resilient and several party members were knocked down. Thankfully Katya’s faith in Torm allowed her to hold firm and help others out with some of Ilestra’s healing potions. The last couple guards tried to flee but the party cut them down with a vengeance for their failed ambush attempt. As promised within 5-10 minutes a group of about 30 town militia arrived to properly defend the mill for the rest of the night and the party returned to the keep with their cultist prisoner in tow.

Though they didn’t get a name from the cultist before too long he was only too happy to laud the power of the Queen of Dragons and identify himself as a member of the Cult of the Dragon, no surprise to anyone at that point. They were interested in his ravings about collecting loot for the great hoard that will usher in Her reign. Tarbaw became very thoughtful but before any more could be learned they heard Castellan Escobert raising the alarm about a breach force attacking. Quickly heading up to the courtyard the party encountered a group that had managed to break through the sally port door and were trying to hold it until they could be reinforced. The wall defenders were busy with an attack on the main gate and few grapple hooks being thrown over the battlements. The small force was quickly dispatched and then their reinforcements were easy to cut down as they zealously barreled into the party in the tight confines of that tunnel. Unfortunately Content Not Found: crosby had not memorized mending magic this day but Katya had earlier thought to send for Tarbaw’s hedge mage who finally arrived and was able to make the necessary repairs.

It was shortly thereafter the entire siege force retreated and a hush fell over the town. Into that silence and out of the crowd of raiders an imposing half-dragon stepped boldly forward followed by his contingent of kobold guards. They held prisoner a human woman, a teenage boy and two younger children. “Defenders of Greenest! This has been a successful night, and I am feeling generous. Do you see these four pitiful, useless prisoners? We have no need of them, so I will trade them back to you. Send out your best warrior to fight me, and you can have these four in exchange.” He named himself Langdredosa Cyanwrath and laid out the terms of battle. With little hesitation Yumi exited the keep and strode out to champion the folk of Greenest. Langdredosa waved at his kobolds and the three children were released and ran to the safety of the keep. The battle was swift and Yumi managed to land a couple good blows and dodge the first few attacks from Langdedrosa, but the first blow took most of the fight out of him and the second dropped him entirely. True to his word Langdedrosa didn’t use his lightning breath and also let the woman flee to the keep at the end of the battle. He did kick Yumi harshly as he turned to his forces and bellowed something in Draconic (#) to the raider force as he brandished his greatsword high overhead. The kobolds started yelling wildly and soon all of the raiders were doing the same. The couple hundred strong force headed to their wagons laden with stolen wealth on the west edge of town and before long the sounds of crackling fires scattered all over town were all that could be heard in Greenest. In less than an hour the sun started to rise and the night was finally over.

(#) “Let’s go home boys!” :)

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Session 3
Raider's Camp

The party managed to catch at least a few hours sleep before they were all roused and asked to meet with Governor Nighthill. Seef was up before the others already working the keep and tavern for information about last night’s raid, what & who were taken, what was lost, any rumors of treasure’s lost or fortunes to be recovered. Nighthill paid them the agreed upon 150 gp each for their help the previous night and Benduin paid their hazard payment of 50 gp plus Yumi’s haggled partial payment of 10 gp for their caravan escort work to date. The Governor and his advisors then asked the group to help Greenest further by follow the trail to the raider’s camp and gather information; specifically where their camp is sited, how many raiders are there, who their leaders are or at least confirming what they learned from the interrogations last night, what’s motivating these attacks, and where they plan to strike next. If the group recovers any stolen valuables he will help arrange a reward but this is secondary to acquiring the knowledge he feels is far more important. Ilestra then shares she’s learned that at least half a dozen townsfolk are still missing after efforts to locate all those who were able to successfully hide through the worst of last night or who’s bodies were identified. For all of this Nighthill offers each of them 250 gp and any basic supplies they need prior to leaving.
The party accepts the mission and is ready to leave fairly quickly but not before Katya seeks out Eadyan Falconmoon and donates 100 gp to his efforts to restore the church of Chauntea and his parishioners. He is overwhelmed by her generosity but she simply repeats some of Torm’s teachings about self-sacrifice. He honors her and Torm with plans to dedicate an alcove in the church to Torm. Yumiondis meanwhile was able to barter for the few remaining horses in town though it, the tack and a saddle still cost him about 90 gp. The rest of the party chose to walk and had no trouble following the wide, trampled trail leading to the southeast but before they left town they were approached by a young monk named Nesim Waladra who asked the group to look for his master, Leosin Erlanthar, who is one of those missing. He and his apprentice monks were returning from Candlekeep where Leosin had been studying dragon cults and dragon folklore.
After about 10 miles of easy travel they spotted smoke from a cook fire in a light copse of trees. Most of the group was able to stealthily approach where they found 4 cultists and 8 kobolds trying to cook a pair of chickens likely stolen from Greenest. The entire group was fairly self-absorbed as the humans were trying to bully the kobolds while they were focused on eating the chickens. The party’s ambush allowed them to dispatch all of the kobolds and 3 of the cultists. The last they knocked out and then interrogated and learned about a likely rearguard in the next mile or two, most probably at a river ford. There was some discussion about killing the last raider vs turning him over to Greenest though the party didn’t want to waste a lot of time doing the latter. Ultimately it was Yumi who offered to return him quickly on his horse while the party scouted ahead and tried to find the rearguard group. Seef was able to find them at the river ford without being detected and the party was glad for his efforts once they discovered these tough veterans were not mercenary lackies or distractible kobolds. Katya felt strongly given her martial training in Torm’s service that not only should this group be avoided rather than fought but that taking out the rearguard would only put the entire camp on alert when they didn’t check in like they were certainly supposed to do at times.
With Yumi’s fairly rapid return on a fresh horse the party used Seef’s alternate ford to the south to successfully bypass the rearguard completely and made it in short order to the camp itself. Nestled into a horseshoe shaped rocky plateau the camp is segregated into rough huts for the many kobolds who make up the majority of the raiders, then areas for the predominantly human mercenaries, prisoners (including Leosin) and the cultists. They scouted the area and Yumi decided to remain outside the camp and observe until nightfall while the remainder of the party walked into the camp in the guise of mercenaries. Yumi was concerned about being too easily recognized after fighting Cyanwrath in personal combat. As it was Callahorn was recognized by an acolyte but was able to slip away into one of the many small caves around the edges of the plateau before the acolyte returned with some guards. As night fell Katya was able to help many of the mercenaries near Leosin’s tent celebrate quite a lot and before too long she, Crosby & Seef were able to successfully help him escape though they did take time to lure a mercenary away from his fellows long enough to knock him out and exchange his clothes with Leosin’s as a decoy. Meanwhile Yumi had no difficulty quietly climbing down into the basin and then working with Callahorn to help the ten or so prisoners escape. Six identified themselves as coming from Greenest while the others were from smaller hamlets and farmsteads from further away. With great strength Yumi was able to break their chain and just as they were looking to find the others they were able to group up and quickly scale the pockmarked wall after helping the prisoners up. Katya was the rearguard of the group and again her armor made a bit of noise but the party was about 20 minutes away before the camp alarm was raised. They recovered Yumi’s hidden horse and helped the prisoners back to Greenest where all of them were welcomed and quickly taken care of.. Thrilled with everything they’d learned and Leosin’s safe return Governor Nighthill paid each of them the agreed upon 250 gp and they were finally able to get a full night’s sleep, but not before Katya donated another 100 gp of her earnings to Greenest, asking Ilestra to use it to help those that needed it most, again quoting Torm’s self-sacrifice teachings.
The next morning Leosin not surprisingly asked for their help again.

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Session 4
Raider's Camp & Nursery Cave

Leosin hired the party to head back to the Raider’s Camp and learn what they can about the Cult of the Dragon’s plans. He’s most interested in their next target, or where they’re headed next, what’s really in the cave and what they’re planning on doing with all their looted treasure. He offers 150 gp apiece and the party agrees to the task. He is going north to meet Ontharr Frume, a paladin of Torm who is both a friend to Leosin and an ally against the Cult of the Dragon’s machinations. When they learn something significant he asks them to meet him in Elturel, or if he’s moved on already to pass along what they’ve learned to Ontharr. Katya, also seeking Ontharr Frume, asks Leosin to take a missive to him which Leosin agrees to do.
Since Leosin doesn’t expect the cultists to make any sudden changes in their plans or mode of operation he encourages the party to rest up for a day and head back to the camp on the morrow. The group has no shortage of tasks to attend to, both personal and to help the townsfolk, but they all feel stronger for taking the break.
The following morning they are introduced to Lucius, a gnome warlock, by Governor Nighthill who asks that he accompany them. Since some of their party are going to be deterred for part of the day the remainder agree, though he does seem to enjoy testing Katya about her faith.
The trip was thankfully uneventful as they chose to scout the location of the rear guard they’d previously encountered and were again able to use the ford Seef had found a bit north without incident. In hindsight this was unsurprising as when they reached the camp they could quickly see it was all but deserted. While the guard towers at the front gates and overlooking the command hut were still intact neither were manned. As they approached closer they could see all the kobold huts had been burned down and only a handful of hunters were in the upper plateau, all sitting around the same camp fire. While they didn’t take to Katya and her direct questions, Lucius was able to put them at ease and learn quite a bit of information. Most notably that nearly the entire camp had been broken down and dispersed with a few hours of the half-elf monk’s escape a couple days prior. The tracks of small groups heading in most all directions were easily spotted as they entered the camp, as were the tracks left by numerous carts & wagons heading almost due west. The hunters continue to bring in regular amounts of game for those few left in the cave, namely the Wearer of Purple (Frulam Mondath), the dragon man (Cyanwrath), the better warriors and the dragon dogs (kobolds) who are supposedly caring for the dragon eggs. They are all practical men and as long as the the cultists pay them well for fresh meat, the trackers continue hunting for them. It doesn’t take the group long to do a fairly thorough search of the empty camp and they find nothing of value; in the process though they do spot a couple guards keeping watch in the cave tunnel.
They approached from the side of the cave mouth and were able to quickly rush in and take down the two cultist guards before they were able to raise any alarm. There was a surprisingly loud amount of natural echoes, mostly from dripping water, which did a great job of masking the sounds of the quick battle. They stuffed their bodies behind some stalagmites and moved deeper into the caves.
Off to the left they looked down upon a large cavern full of various fungi with a couple paths leading off of the stairs in front of them. Looking around they realized there was a much smaller, almost hidden cave behind and to the right and decided to explore that first. That tunnel went only about 15 feet before splitting off to the left & right. To the left they heard some voices in mundane conversation so they first went down the tunnel to the right. At the end they found a very large cavern mostly empty cavern except for a few overturned boxes, broken items, scattered coins and a few small gems that were seemingly dropped during the hasty evacuation. They also found a drunk cultist and several empty bottle of cheap wine. They collected the former and dispatched the latter once Katya was in the tunnel looking out for any signs of approaching trouble.
That done they went back and took the path originally to their left. With care they were able to approach very close to the next cavern without disturbing the guards & cultists who, to be fair, were heavily focused on their card game. Before attacking they also identified a couple more resting or relaxing to the left & right. All were surprised as the group rushed in and again they were able to dispatch them before any alarm was raised. One of the cultists tried to flee down a passageway at one end of the barracks so the party decided to investigate there next. They were surprised to follow the bends in the tunnel and find numerous tapestries blocking the way, all of them nearly wet with the excessive damp found throughout this network of caves. They had swiped cultist robes and weapon scabbards inscribed with stylized dragons from the veteran guards they’d downed, however these availed them nothing as they stepped through the wall of tapestries and found themselves face to face with Frulam Mondath speaking with some additional cultists & another veteran guard. “I do not recognize any of you, so surrender to me now!” She then ordered her cultists to attack as she cast Spirit Guardians on the party. While this did damage them somewhat her minions attacks were disappointing and they were able to hit Frulam several times with ranged attacks & spells. She was pushed back by their attacks and was forced to step behind her desk where she suddenly dropped down and disappeared. After dispatching her abandoned flunkies the party found an escape tunnel that dropped down about 30 feet into a much larger cavern. Taking discretion over valor the party overturned her desk and barricaded the top of the tunnel before searching her quarters. They found a map of the area surrounding Greenest with a large arrow pointing towards the west and the town of Beregost on the Trade Way, where the arrow turns north. They also found an inventory list containing a note stating “Everything must be freighted north to Naerytar. Rezmir allowed us to keep some pearls, a ring, and a handful of small stones.” In her bed chamber they find two trunks, one with Mondath’s regular clothes but the other held her Cult of the Dragon regalia that identifies her as a Wearer of Purple.
With this portion of the cavern fully searched they went back to the ledge looking over the fungus garden and walked down the stairs. Unfortunately one of them triggered a trap on the bottom stairs dumping them into a small patch of violet fungi that immediately rose up and attacked them. Ranged attacks quickly made the difference before the party suffered significant injury. Moving deeper they entered a very large cavern whose ceiling was completely covered with bats. Unfortunately Katya’s armor prevented her from moving silently enough and the bats awoke en masse and started flying around in a blinding cloud of flapping and squeaking rodents. The party simply ducked down to avoid the worst of this but this left them open to the stirges who took advantage of their distraction to try and feed. While they did some damage overall the stirges were killed fairly quickly and before long the group could move out of the chamber and allow the bats to return to their rest. Taking stock of their current location they realized there were at the top of several ledges dropping down in front of them with passages going off to their left & right.

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Session 5
Nursery Cave, the Deep Tunnels

Stupid website just ate my 45 minutes of typing :(

Shorter version:
Cavern ahead: garbage dump, only Crosby interested in looking for another man’s treasure.
Tunnel to the right: down stairs to a very cold chamber functioning as a meat locker, trapped by hanging strips of poorly cured leather with multiple poisoned barbed hooks. Yumi buries one in one of the front haunches while the others don’t find any secret doors.
Tunnel to the left: everyone but Callahorn steps into a spiked & poisoned shallow pit trap but the poison doesn’t make them run wildly or attack one another. The cavern opens up into an upper ridge to the north and a lower southern section blocked off by a gate with the key hanging on the top of the small set of stairs. They hear kobolds talking around the bend at the far end of the upper northern ridge and rush them, taking them down quickly but not before the noise attracts a couple guard drakes locked away down below to the south and a larger number of kobolds down a stairway to the north. A devastating curse from Callahorn takes out a couple of the winged flyers trying to fly over the party’s heads and half of the six kobolds charging up the stairs. The others on the ground were demoralized at that point and quickly taken down by Yumi’s attacks but the party didn’t have any obvious way to stop the remaining two winged kobolds from flying over to the gate and key and using them to let the guard drakes out to rip into the party. Ultimately they were all taken out but not before giving some significant wounds. They used most of their healing potions from Ilestra to recover and missed Katya’s blessings from Torm. They were happy to find some gold & silver coins in the makeshift kobold barracks but were mostly confused by the 88 stacks of 8 copper coins each.
Following the last unexplored tunnel they were surprised by 3 things as they entered the largest cavern yet: 1) the many and varied dragons etched into all the walls and stalagmites; 2) the 5-headed dragon above a chest in the far wall; and 3) Cyanwrath pacing around the room, apparently waiting for them. They talked about various options and Seef was the first to enter with plans to try and sneak around Cyanwrath and check out the chest’s contents. He was spotted immediately by Cyanwrath so Yumi stepped in anxious for a rematch. While no formal duel was accepted by Yumi, Cyanwrath was clearly frustrated and a bit surprised when the party all started attacking him. He seemed to let loose and pull no punches then which allowed his lightning breath weapon and multiple attacks to devastate most of the party. Using the last of their healing potions Yumi was able to take out Cyanwrath as he declared her dishonorable. Seef was able to open the locked chest but not adept enough to disable the poison gas trap first which took the entire party by surprise. Ultimately they were able to claim the treasure inside which was mostly outlined by the papers on Frulam’s desk, some of which was likely stolen from Greenest. Before leaving they were able to find the bottom of the escape tunnel from Frulam’s quarters but do not find her or where she may have fled.

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Session 6
Travels to Elturel and Baldur's Gate

After defeating Cyanwrath and claiming the treasure in the trapped chest, the group finds three black dragon eggs secreted in the back of a very dark & wet cavern. They also find a roper who was fairly congenial since it apparently was recently fed. They quickly describe the location of the meat locker cave and it moves off in search of many meals.
The arcane members of the group agree the dragon eggs are likely only days away from hatching in these near perfect conditions but only Seef hesitates and ponders some possibilities before smashing them. The infant black dragons in turn each struggle for breath, cry and squirm like a human baby for a few minutes, then die. No one is surprised when Yumi gleefully starts preparing a cookfire.
It is an uneventful and familiar trip back to Greenest where they are welcomed as conquering heroes once again by Governor Nighthill and the other townsfolk they’ve come to know over the last few days. With their help they are able to locate the owners of the string of pearls and gold-and-sapphire ring they found in the treasure chest, and for returning them receive a finder’s fee of 300 gp. They keep the bag of gemstones. Nighthill is quick to tell them before Leosin Erlanthar left Greenest he purchased horses & riding gear for all of the characters except Yumi (who’d purchased his own in the last few days, those expenses were reimbursed instead).
Their travel by horseback to Elturel was expected to take about 6 days though after only a couple they were able to resupply in Berdusk, including purchasing some healing potions for each of them. About a day outside of Berdusk they were ambushed by three ogres that were interested in lunching on their horses. They threw several boulders and hit hard but were fairly quickly overwhelmed. The remainder of the trip went quickly and quietly.
It was before noon when they crested a hill and gazed upon Elturel for the first time. It is well described as an orderly city overlooking the River Chionthar filled with merchants, river traders and farmers’ markets. Its most distinguishing feature is a brilliant magical light that hovers above it, illuminating it day and night. This light is reportedly painful to undead and is certainly visible to every corner of Elturgard (of which Elturel is the capital), and did appear from afar to the party as a star or distant sun.
Upon reaching Elturel around noon about 8 days after Leosin left Greenest they were quick to discover no one in town knew of him. It was Katya who first thought to ask about Ontharr Frume and it was quite difficult to find anyone who didn’t know of him. Everyone pointed them towards his “headquarters” at a tavern called A Pair of Black Antlers. They were quickly recruited into the near constant challenges taking place between Frume’s company members and sometimes Elturel’s monk disciples. It doesn’t take them long to understand Frume is taking their measure so each of them in turn participate in a challenge of some kind. Most of them do well and overall the group impresses him. They spend the night in rooms set aside at the inn for them and the next day are summoned to meet with Frume & Leosin in a private study off the common room.
Frume is quick to praise their successes and laments the failures of the entire region related to the Cult of the Dragon. Immediately after he asks them flat out to join the fight against the Cult, stating “we need people like you, who know how and when to fight, and how and when to keep their heads down and observe. We can’t promise you anything except long days filled with danger and stress—but what could be better than that, eh?”
Leosin then speaks up and shares that he is a Harper and tells the party a bit about their organization and aims. Ontharr then describes his faction, the Order of the Gauntlet and discusses how their goals align against the Cult of the Dragon. A third faction is also mentioned, then Emerald Enclave. It is then they both ask the group if any of them want to join. Katya is quick to commit to the Order, and Seef & Callahorn are interested in becoming Harpers. Pleased with the group’s choices to consider joining their respective factions and to continue fighting the Cult, talk then moves about the best way to spoil their plans. Problem number one is, of course, not knowing exactly what they are. Leosin & Ontharr have already made use of the information the party discovered from Frulam Mondath’s desk notes and arranged for transportation the following morning on a boat down the River Chiontharr to Baldur’s Gate. They expect to beat the Cultists loot wagons since they moved much slower west to the Trade Way and then north to Baldur’s Gate.
Ontharr describes his contact, a human trader named Ackyn Selebon, who operates an equipage business in the Outer City north of the city wall in a district called Blackgate. There he sells all the material needed for long-distance freight hauling: wagons, rope, netting, grease, chains, wheels and so on. His shop also repairs wagons. He is not directly involved in the hiring of guards for caravans, but he knows people who are. With him to vouch for the party, they don’t expect to have any trouble getting hired on as guards for a northbound caravan, but he can’t give them work with any specific merchant.
The party finds lodging in Blackgate at his recommendation and figures they have anywhere from 10-15 days in Baldur’s Gate before the Cult wagons are likely to arrive. What’s the best way to spend that time?

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Session 7
Joining the Caravan and the first part of the journey

With the help of Frumar’s contact in Baldur’s Gate, the human trader Ackyn Selebon who operates an equipage business in the Outer City north of the city wall in the Blackgate district, the group is able to watch several caravans assembled. With that knowledge they know what to look for and how to join the caravan when the raiders finally arrive. Given how much faster the party traveled they had outpaced the loot raiders’ slow wagons by more than a tenday. With the extra time they are able to enjoy some of what Baldur’s Gate has to offer including each of them purchasing some items of magical power.
Finally the day arrives when Rezmir and her bodyguards come to Selebon’s yard but within a couple of hours they purchase five wagons & supplies and quickly move out with two of them. The other three are prepared more traditionally by the lower ranking cultists disguised as caravan sergeants, guards & drivers. The group is able to scout out and ultimately get hired on as guards with some of the merchants also making preparations to leave on the morrow.
Callahorn & Seef join Edhelri Lewel, a female Moon Elf merchant who’s wagon is loaded with exotic wood from the Jungle of Chult for the master carpenters and cabinetmakers of Waterdeep to turn into exquisite furniture. Her temperament is easily seen within a few hours time, she is impatient with people but exacting about her wagon and doting on her animals.
Yumi joins Lasfelro the Silent, a male Human merchant, who inexplicably breaks into merry songs and short stretches of joke-telling. His voice is a fine tenor and his jokes are hilarious, but these gregarious moods are always short. The rest of the time, he is silent as the grave, staring sullenly at the road ahead, barely moving on the set of his wagon, seeming hardly to breathe. No one knows what he transports in his wagon, but it is guarded by a brooding gargoyle that is tethered to the wagon by a slim, silver chain.
Crosby & Katya join Nyerhite Verther, a male Human merchant, who has a load of Calishite silk that he believes will make him a rich man.
The caravan starts out well enough, but on the second day a noble was regularly seen mistreating his horses. This was very disturbing to Edhelri Lewel so Callahorn tried unsuccessfully to intimidate him to stop. The noble was not so easily cowed, however, when backed by his knight & mage bodyguards. Crosby has more luck with his diplomatic tongue and offers to buy the “useless nags” from him and after the noble’s tirade gets them at a low price. Yumi later on is able to slip some purgative herbs into the noble’s dinner, and great laughter was had by the party with his effort.
On the 4th day as they were navigating through the Fields of the Dead one of the cult wagons overturned on a difficult corner and broke a wheel. Of the crates that tumble free, one smashes open, revealing dozens of beautiful items of jewelry wrapped in wool for protection. Yumi noticed that 3 travelers rushed a bit too quickly to help them recover and hide the items. Crosby offered his help and boldly asked about the treasure; in response he was given canned answers of nothing and it is obvious they mark his interest in their affairs.
On the 11th day several horses were attacked by perytons as traveled the Trollclaws including those guarded by Callahorn & Crosby. They attack relentlessly until they are killed by the party and they gain the respect of many in the caravan as they come to the aid of others.
The next day as they leave the the Trollclaws the entire caravan stops as they spot a herd of deer grazing on a nearby hill including a magnificent stag that shimmers in the light as if its coat is spun from gold and its antlers plated with platinum. Nearly everyone in the caravan who can handle a bow wants to bring down the beast but the party feels this would not be wise. Yumi harasses people to stand down and when that failed Crosby used both sleep and illusion to hinder the hunt. With the combined efforts of Yumi & Callahorn they successfully track it to some tumbled ruins. There it waits for them and greets them in Sylvan first, getting no response it switches to Elvish. With Yumi responding to its greeting it then assures them they are on the right track, and they must continue following the river of gold until they reach the castle in the sky. Sadly, the path will be filled with hardship and blood. To aid them it offers a magical longbow which appears on the ground before Yumi, and then the stag fades from view while saying, “Not all will survive…”.

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Session 8
The Cultist Caravan and the second part of the journey

A few days passed before the golden stag hunt faded from fireside talk amongst the caravan. It was on the 16th day of the journey that one of the “traveling” cultists, identified as such by Yumi when some of their ill gotten gains spilled onto the road back in the Fields of the Dead, came up to Crosby asking about a ring he wore on a chain around his neck. The ring was special to him as it bore his family’s crest. The man seemed overly friendly as he introduced himself as Kylar and asked about the ring. He assumed it was for sale despite Crosby’s polite but firm response that it was not; he offered a mere 5 silver. Over the course of the day’s travel Kylar became more insistent about buying it and then in the afternoon more angry about it. He made one final attempt at dinner offering a “generous 10 silver” and became angry when Crosby again rebuffed him and thereafter looked at him with animosity.
Around dinner on the 22nd day of travel two buxom sisters found their way to the caravan’s fires. They were not looking for companionship nor selling anything but were very interested in learning all they could about the various travelers, teamsters and guards. They were turned away from the cultist campfires but others were not concerned by their presence. Seef was most disturbed by their questioning and was able to watch them as they sat and talked with several others. Before long he realized they were picking up the mannerisms of those they spoke with longer and he became more suspicious about their true nature & purpose. He introduced himself as a great wizard, one of his alternate roles that he’d cultivated in the past, and was very convincing; so much so they two ladies shortly thereafter took their leave of the caravan and bid goodnight to those they seemed most focused on. He followed them a couple hundred yards into the woods before heading back to the caravan and gave some special words to remember to their likely targets. Over the next few days nothing seemed amiss.
At the same time Katya noticed that Nyerhite Verther’s silk stock was infested with worms and this caused him a great deal of anguish. He was comforted only when Katya agreed to mend the wagon & his silk and eradicate the infestation. She stayed up all night performing this service mouthing prayers to her deity all the while. Crosby helped initially sort through the good & bad bolts but went to bed eventually. For the remainder of the trip he was obsessive about Katya checking his silk rolls and making sure there was no recurrence.
On the morning of the 23rd Crosby awoke to find his necklace & ring had been taken. He’d not taken it off the night before. A search of his bedroll and the immediate area found the broken necklace but there was no sign of the ring. He & Katya immediately confront Kylar who surprisingly assumes Crosby is approaching because he’s ready to sell the ring to him now. His response seems genuine as he denies any part in the theft. Before anyone can react Crosby casts Shocking Grasp on him and he all but dies. They search him and his few belongings but don’t turn up the ring. The rest of the party notice the other cultists are angry and debating about becoming involved but before they do Katya heals Kylar and the pair leave him alone. He and the other cultists focus their gazes on Crosby for the remainder of the journey.
On day 26 the caravan comes upon a man buried up to his neck in the middle of the road with “Oathbreaker” painted on his forehead. He is in bad shape from exposure and dehydration and it’s obvious from wheel tracks on the turned-over earth that other wagons have passed him by during the last few days. That is what the cultists & some other wagon masters feel is best but none stop Katya as she approaches and immediately starts digging him out. Nyerhite does not second guess her decision and neither does anyone else, leaving her to deal with him and the hole she dug in the road. He is found to have a Harper tattoo on his arm if they dig him up. They borrow Yumi’s horse to catch up to the others by nightfall. After receiving some water and benefiting from her healing ministrations the man introduces himself as Carlon Amoffel. He is very thankful for her help and is quick to identify her as a cleric of Torm and confirms she is a member of the Gauntlet. Upon hearing a basic pass phrase from Crosby he openly shares he was on a similar mission to the party’s: tracking a shipment of stolen loot north along the Trade Way, but the smugglers—he’s sure they’re members of the Cult of the Dragon—became suspicious of him. He passed information to another Harper at a roadside inn and members of the caravan witnessed this. The cultists then successfully manufactured a story that he was passing information to bandits. The remaining merchants were unwilling to kill him outright but were willing to leave him buried in the road and “let providence decide the man’s fate.” Over the next day or so he regains his strength and then purposefully distances himself from the party after letting them know he has Harper contacts in Waterdeep and knows his way around the city; he’ll help them continue their mission when the caravan reaches its destination.
On day 31 the caravan was passing through a small forest and was attacked by a fairly organized group of ettercaps and giant spiders. While the party fought off the creatures with no losses the caravan as a whole lost five people and five horses before they were completely driven off. Unfortunately none of those killed were among the cultists.
The next few days and nights were filled with rain, lightning and strange whistling sounds on the wind. On the morning of day 34 the entire caravan awoke to find the surrounding countryside was blanketed with fungus. It grows everywhere, including on the road. The spores release a puff of black spores and a moan of pain when stepped on or crushed but they are easily destroyed. The sounds spooks the animals and none will willing walk on the mushrooms. Over the next couple hours they grow to over a foot tall each as the caravan debates about what they should do. Yumi is the first to try making a path broad enough for the caravan to move forward and uses silence to keep from going mad from their moans and shrieking. Unfortunately she succumbs to the hallucinogenic spores and falls into a deep despair for the next day or so filled with nightmares. Her training allows her to recover from these effects far faster than some other members of the caravan similarly affected. Armed with this knowledge the remaining members of the party cover their faces with wet cloth and are able to clear a path through for the caravan over a few hours.
On day 40 Seef comes to believe that one of the cultist teamsters has likely recognized Crosby from the bandit camp near Greenest. That night with the help of a distraction he’s able to slip an ingested poison into the man’s dinner stewpot and the following morning he is found dead. Though there is no proof Crosby receives even more dirty looks from the various cultists.
On day 44 the caravan arrives in Daggerford and rests for the night. As is typical along this type of journey some travelers leave the caravan and others join, among the latter two are noteworthy. The first is a robed human wearing an odd wool cap with ear and neck flaps who is surprisingly welcomed by the cultist wagons and rides with them; something they’ve not allowed anyone else who’s approached them and tried to pay for. The other is a female gnome who later identifies herself as Jamna Gleamsilver.
The following day Seef and others notice Jamna has spoken with all of them at different times and many other members of the caravan. She leaves the impression of being someone who flawlessly takes in every detail about people and her surroundings. Seef also comes to believe she recognizes that he is watching her watching everyone else. She doesn’t get closer to anyone in the party but is often observed near the cultists and especially their new riding companion in the robes, being in a position to eavesdrop on many of their conversations surprisingly unnoticed (probably because they’re all busy scowling at Crosby!).
The morning of day 49 Jamna fairly openly joins Crosby and Katya as they sit down for breakfast. She surreptitiously takes Crosby’s bowl of oatmeal before he takes a bite and with the blade of her dagger pokes through it and lifts out an oatmeal-smeared object resembling a tiny bead. She whispers to them that it’s a sliver of bone curled into a circle so it can be easily swallowed without noticing it. Once eaten, she explains, it uncurls exposing needle points that pierce your guts and kill you slowly. She suspects their in the breakfasts of the entire party and as she departs tells them they’ll talk more this evening. Other party members look for similar bone sliver beads in their bowls but find nothing; some skip breakfast.
True to her word that night after most of the caravan have bedded down she comes around again to Crosby and Katya. She gets right to the point stating “we don’t work for the same people, but we’re all on the same side—we share a belief that the Cult of the Dragon must be stopped. I need to know what they’re carrying in those wagons and where they’re taking it.” The party shares some details about the raids on Greenest and the area surrounding the bandit camp down south and she is grateful to learn that information without having to risk breaking into their wagons. She also points out that the robed man traveling with the Cultists, Asbara Jos, is a Red Wizard of Thay and is openly curious why he is chumming it up with them. Suspicious of her motives and allegiances the party is appropriately wary dealing with her and after she’s gone agree she’s not telling them everything she could, but none of them feel like she’s lying either.
The following morning Katya openly approaches Azbara Jos and introduces herself. The cultists bristle at her approach and seem tense but don’t interfere in any way. When he shares his name with her she asks simply if he is a Red Wizard of Thay; he denies and explains he’s another refugee forced to escape his country after it was overrun with undead under the control of Szass Tam, the story of which is well known across Faerun. She does not detect any falsehood in his statements.
The morning of day 53, only a few days outside of Waterdeep, the caravan awakens to find one of the cultist wagon guards was murdered overnight. He was stabbed in the back with a sword and left where he fell beneath a cult wagon. The cultists immediately accuse Crosby of foul play and are not deterred by the fact that his gnome-sized sword is not large enough to make the wound in the dead man’s back. Many footprints are around the wagon but nothing can be determined from this since most or all are from people crowding around the body that morning. The cultists then argue it was one of Crosby’s party members but they have no proof and other wagon masters are quick to rise to the party’s defense given how much aid they’ve provided to many of them personally and the caravan as a whole over the last nearly two months. One of them then asks what was stolen and recommends their wares be opened and examined to ascertain what might be missing. Azbara Jos then comes forward and tries to calm the situation, in the process saying more than anyone has so far heard him say at one time. The wagon masters ultimately agree that without witnesses, nothing can be done and the gods will punish the guilty party and life (for everyone else, at least) will go on. The cultists thereafter look at Crosby with undisguised hatred.
On day 58 the caravan reaches the great city of Waterdeep.

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Session 9
Waterdeep, Northbound Again, the Carnath Roadhouse

As the caravan arrives at the gates of Waterdeep the caravan masters efficiently pay all of the guards and disperse in all directions. Those three that hired the PCs are told they may use them as references and they’d be interested in having them for similar work in the future. The party members earns their agreed upon wages of 1 gp per day, so 58 gp for each of them. Carlon tells them to follow the Cultists wagon convoy to the north gate and that he’ll learn what he can and catch up with them there later tonight at an inn called the The Frog & Folly.
Callahorn tries following Carlon but loses him fairly quickly in the large crowds and unfamiliar streets. He then checks the main library for some ancient scrolls. He doesn’t make much progress but doesn’t want to tell the archivists exactly what he’s looking for. By evening he hooks up with the rest of the party but hopes to do find time to do some more research.
Katya goes to the Temple of Torm, tithes 50 gp and gives her report to her superiors at the church and in the Order of the Gauntlet along with a letter from Ontharr Frume he asked her to deliver. She learns there have been about 6 such caravans in the last two to three tendays, all following the same pattern of hooking up with caravans headed further north.
Seef tries following Jamna and isn’t surprised when she gives him the slip, he then goes and buys some better armor before visiting a few taverns and learning what rumors abound. The most interesting is about a black half-dragon supposedly seen in the area at least a tenday ago. There are, of course, many versions of the story but it’s pretty easy to tease out that there was a strong escort of mounted guards and they were all headed north.
Crosby spends most of the day tracking down some spells of the second and thirds levels of power he’s interested in at a few of the Waterdeep Wizard Academies.
Yumi is the left to actually follow the Cultist wagons and arrange their lodgings at the Frog & Folly which he does without incident. He is also able to learn that the the Cultists have joined a supply caravan chartered by the High Road Charter Company and that they are provisioning to leave two days hence. Finally he learns that a human veteran named Ardred Briferhew commands the entire convoy and is in charge of hiring all the wagon guards. Once the others arrive they are joined after dinner by Carlon who is able to give them a Harper reference to give to Ardred the following morning to insure they’ll be hired as caravan guards and he also shares that he suspects, but wasn’t able to confirm, that Jamna works for the Zhentarim, which surprises none of them really.
Yumi then slips out as the others head to bed. He follows the signs easily seen for one of the initiated to a cell of his church, tithes 10 gp and informs them about the doppelgängers along the Trade Way to the south so they can possibly be recruited, as well as his possible recruits in Baldur’s Gate. He is able to confirm that Jamna works for the Zhentarim and may be a possible ally.
The following morning they very quickly are hired by Ardred as caravan guards and are asked to be present at sunrise the following morning in the large warehouse. Callahorn returns to his studies of ancient secrets and is more successful, making some progress. Yumi sleeps in a bit before heading to a circus during the afternoon (with Seef) and that night going to a wealthy show before returning to his church for a service and acquiring some poison. Crosby confirms with Katya’s Locate Object spell that his sigil ring is in the warehouse and then explores some of Waterdeep to become more familiar with the large city. After the circus Seef heads back to the inns & taverns near the large supply warehouse and is able to hang out, buy a few drinks and make some friends among the caravan teamsters the party will be leaving with on the morrow. Katya spends the day working @ Torm’s temple.
On Day 3 the party assembles in the large warehouse and find the Cultists are not at all pleased to see the party members among the caravan guards. It’s not clear how many of the Cultists or party members are surprised when Jamna also shows up as a guard. There are the 3 wagons the Cultists have plus 3 others, all laden with supposedly supplies for the new High Road being built. It’s easy for Katya & Crosby to determine as they leave Waterdeep that his signet ring is in the second wagon.
The next several days are pretty easy going giving Yumi a chance to talk with Jamna more about the Zhenatrim (which she doesn’t have any qualms about discussing out of earshot of others) and they learn to respect each other even if ultimately Yumi determines she’s not a good fit for the Zhentarim and that Jamna’s not a good fit for her church.
On the 8th day out of Waterdeep the caravan is attacked by a large force of bullywugs. These prove no match for the party but they are not unhappy to learn one of the cultists was seriously wounded.
In the late afternoon a full tenday out of Waterdeep they arrive at the Carnath Roadhouse, which has been rebuilt and put to use as a supply depot and wagon park. The whole caravan gets settled in and they meet Bog Luck, the superintendent of the camp, a burly half-orc who is the only one with a key to the Strong Room and also, the party notices quickly, happens to have a shortsword scabbard decorated with dragon motifs matching the ones they found on Cultist guards in the Raiders Camp cave.
The following day they figured out unpacking and inventorying one wagon takes a whole day, and the first wagon unloaded was one of the non-Cultist supplies. Very little was considered valuable enough for Bog Luck to direct it be placed in the Strong Room, however as Yumi watched he realized many of the caravan members, teamsters and guards, both Cultists and not, were asking Bog Luck to protect their own personal valuables in the Strong Room.
The second wagon chosen for unloading at Roadhouse on day two was a cultist wagon and most of the contents was placed in the Strong Room while some little things were unpacked and stored in the open warehouse and in the courtyard. Yumi watched this as well. Seef took advantage of the inattentiveness of some drinking Cultists that he was able to use Mage Hand to swipe something special from one of the Cultists, a personal memento that appeared to be a good luck charm of some kind. He also was able to learn while drinking with his teamster friends that Gristle Pete is frequently grumpy because of all the noise he hears below his Kitchen in the wee hours of the night, from what he calls "all the critters in the floors banging and knocking and hissing and whispering at all hours. With a little sympathetic questioning Seef learns they’re not present every night but instead seem to be typically a few nights after one of the supply caravans shows up. He figures all the new people staying at the roadhouse makes those rats nervous!
The next day the second Cultist wagon, the one containing Crosby’s ring as confirmed again by Katya’s Locate Object spell, was chosen and that morning Yumi asks Bog Luck to lock up his Calligraphy set in the Strong Room which he has no problem doing. Yumi has to persuade him to prove that the Strong Room is actually safe and Bog Luck is appropriately proud of the system he’s devised to make sure everyone gets their belongings and only their belongings, mostly due to his meticulous notes in a large ledger book. During this distraction Crosby is able to look around quite awhile invisibly and is able to determine one of the large “heavy” crates is actually bolted to the floor, possibly acting as trap door. He leaves before his spell wears off and the party then makes plans to slip into the Strong Room later that night to check everything out and try to recover Crosby’s Signet ring. Seef, meanwhile, has managed to hide his borrowed good luck charm in one of the other Cultist’s rooms just as that individual starts throwing around accusations about his stolen item. After some deliberation the party chooses to include Jamna in their plans since, while they don’t completely trust her they are sure she’s not in league with the Cultists and they’re sure she could interfere or interrupt their plans unknowingly if she’s off doing something at the same time.
They wait until even Gristle Pete is asleep and a couple hours past midnight creep down and make their way to the Strong Room. Through the door they hear some whispering and muffled banging noises just as Gristle Pete complained about. The lock proves not at all difficult for Seef to open and the party tenses as the swing the door wide. Inside they are confronted with about 10 lizardfolk moving boxes down into a tunnel below the trap door Crosby had discovered!

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