Session 1 - HotDQ: Episode 1 - Greenest in Flames, Part 1

September 7th, 2014 - Episode 1: Greenest in Flames, Part 1

<== Session 1 Session 1 Session 2 ==>

Kythorn 5 (Time of Flowers), Sunset


A Blue Dragon Attacks Greenest

The Heroes Meet

► The heroes met on the eastbound Uldoon Trail, a little over two miles out of the trade town of Greenest, about an hour before full sunset.
► Sato Blackwing and Durn Heavyscales were aiding a peddler in repairing a broken wagon wheel. The peddler was obviously afraid of the huge, red-scaled dragonborn, even if he was helping. Sato was accompying Durn as he sought a land where he was not reviled, and could be accpted.
► Ithilliel Mistadaneth had been following the two and came out of the treeline to help after she recognized Durn, whom she had met a few years earlier at her home monastary. The elf monk sought a missing monk of her order, Leosin Erlanthar.
► Wallister Smigh arrived moments after speaking of road taxes and protection from banditry.
► Xilosar silently came up behind them as they finished the repair and spoke of rumors of kobold raids and dragon attacks along the Sword Coast. The black robed mage seemed nervous, petting the crow perched on his shoulder, scanning anxiously behind him, and frequently cocking his head and asking if those were baying dogs he heard.
► Introductions were made, and suspicions rose with the realization both Sato Blackwing and Xilosar were infamous criminals. The paladin was known as the Butcher of Abri, where 83 men, women and children were massacred several years ago; the black-robed mage was rumored to be a necromancer who murdered his wealthy father, than later murdered his brother, a high priest of Lathander, in front of 300 witnesses, then burned the temple to the ground.
► Before much more was said, an explosion thundered through the air, from the direction of Greenest. A large, winged shape could be seen wheeling over the town, though Greenest was currently hidden by rolling, forested hills.
► The peddler turned back the way he came, fleeing the dragon, the criminals, and the red-scaled dragonborn.
► Sato and Durn quickly conferred, deciding to go to Greenest and tender what aid they could. Ithilliel claimed she would join them … to keep an eye on Durn, of course. Looking back towards far off Candlekeep, Xilosar agreed to join them. Wallister shrugged, mumbling something about easy prey and coin.

Arrival in Greenest



► The heroes passed through several abandoned farms and homesteads, some obviously damaged, others smoldering or burning.
► From the vantage of a hilltop, they spied kobolds and humans spread throughout the town, easily a hundred or more, as well as many large, sinuous drakes, obviously trained and controlled by the marauders. Of the dragon they saw no sign. Smoke from smoldering thatch roofs and burning outbuildings drifted in gritty clouds across the town. A grain silo lay in burning splinters; likely it was the source of the earlier explosion. The marauders were chasing villagers, breaking into buildings, and many appeared ot be carry large sacks stuffed with bulky items.
► As the heroes reached the edge of the town, a limping man, an arrow through his leg, herded three small children between some buildings and across the wide main street. Moments later a bloody woman carrying a broken wooden shield and a shattered spear backed into the crossroad, screaming for the man to get the children to safety. A horde of kobolds swarmed into view, surrounding the embattled woman.
► Sato threw a handaxe and yelled, grabbing the attention of six of the nine kobolds surrounding the woman. they ran at the paladin, brandishing spears, daggers, and clubs.
► Durn stepped out into the fire-lit street, momentarily confusing the kobolds. Xilosar surrounded himself in mage armor and sent Kalvar, his crow familiar, to harry the three kobolds attacking the lone woman. Wallister tossed vicious insults, mocking the scaly marauders, distracting and enraging them. Ithilliel, belying her small frame, fairly flew into a knot of the beasts with a spinning staff, palm strikes, and elbow smashes.
► The battle was short, but not without the heroes taking minor blows.

Swift Escort


Ambush Drake

► After calming the woman down, Linna Swift, and assuring her Durn was "tame", the woman called for her husband and children to come out of hiding.
► The heroes surrounded the Swift family and decided to make a fast run towards the well-lit keep, towering on a hill in the middle of town, some 500 feet distant. The way was currently clear, but the yapping of kobolds and shouts of the human were all around them.
► After only a few streets, four kobolds and a trained ambush drake burst from a house and into the middle of the heroes and their charges. The melee was confusing and brutal. The ambush drake seemed to like the taste of elf, as it clamped onto Ithilliel's arm. Children screamed and cried as Linna and her husband stood over them, Durn and Sato standing over the parents. Wallister pulled out a short sword, while Xilosar summoned ghostly hands to chill touch the kobolds. The remaining kobold threwdown its rusty dagger and begged for its life, offering to tell the heroes anything they wanted ot know, if they let him live.
► After the skirmish, the group slipped into the house to check for survivors and bind their own wounds. An old woman lie dead on the well-swept floor, her throat slashed open. the house was ransacked, but the muffled keening wail of a baby could be heard from upstairs. Wallister located the infant hidden under stacks of linens and clothing and carried it downstairs to find Sato had finished binding the small cuts and bite marks of the others and was packing his well-worn healer's kit away. Xilosar reported the kobolds outside had sacks with looted items such as candlesticks, small painting, silverware, carved wood, and small bits of coins.
► Ithilliel and Durn, after being treated for their minor injuries, interrogated the kobold in his native Draconic tongue. They learned a "black dragon lady" was in charge of the Cult of the Dragon; he didn't know her name. The humans wearing purple were the leaders of the cultist army. He didn't know where the dragon went, but it was a big blue one named Lennithon, and it was going to zap everyone but good. He claimed they were told to loot everything they could and bring it back to camp … which was located a day or so "that way, somewhere", waving a hand southwest.
► Sato asked the elf and dragonborn if they were done talking to the kobold. When they replied yes, he thrust his sword into the creature's chest saying the damned beast will kill no more.

Crossroad Combat


Cult of the Dragon Symbol

► Again eschewing stealth in favor of speed, the group raced towards the still open gates of the keep, now 300 feet away.
► As the party entered another crossroads, this one with a small fountain in the center, a large band of humans, kobolds, and another ambush drake came into view. The marauders seemed to be looting several destroyed and damaged houses and shops. The heroes quickly realized they were surrounded on three sides.
► A human wearing acolyte robes and a chain with a symbol of the Cult of the Dragon, prayed in Draconic for a blessing from |the Great Dragon Queen". The cultists and kobolds swarmed towards the heroes and the rescued villagers. The ambush drake leaped into the fountain, rushing the elf monk.
► Xilosar and Wallister both chanted honeyed words of arcane magic, dropping the acolyte, several cultists, and a handful of kobolds to sleep. Wallister was even able to shift a bit of the magics to put the squalling babe in his arms in a deep slumber. With the formerly deadly odds turned back to their favor, Ithilliel, Sato, and Durn rushed into melee.
► Sato and the elf monk dispatched the ambush drake and a kobold, though not without some nasty bites. Durn was attacked by two kobolds, obviously used to working together. One kobold slid to his knees as the other leaped upon his back, then up and over the huge dragonborn's shield, landing on its top edge and slashing the warrior badly. the kneeling kobold slid under the hastily raised shield and slashed Durn's legs. Durn slammed his tower shield down, crushing the kobold on the ground, then with a mighty surge, Durn bull rushed the one clawing on the top of his shield, slamming it into a nearby wall.
► Quickly dispatching the sleeping cultists and kobolds, the heroes gathered up the Swifts and rushed the last few hundred feet toward the keep.

Gate Crashers

► As soon as the party began the last mad dash up the hill to the still open gates to the keep, a large mass of cultists and kobolds, nearly two-score, boiled out of the town behind them.
► A cry from within the keep yelled for the portcullis to drop and the gates to be closed; the guards outside tried to tell the gate commander more refugees were almost there, but the portcullis began to drop.
► Sato rushed forward, pushing one of the children through the rapidly descending portcullis. The paladin then caught the heavy gate in both hands, staggering under the massive weight, but slowing it enough for Linna to get her husband and two remaining kids through. Ithilliel jammed her quarterstaff into the gate channel, bracing her bowing staff to further delay the heavy iron. Xilosar slid under, his back robes bunching up to show pale, spindly legs and polka-dotted small-clothes. Wallister cradled the sleeping babe against his chest and rolled under the blunt bars.
► Durn was last, providing a rear guard, of sorts. Crossbow bolts from the keep's walls rained around him, one taking the big dragonborn in the shoulder. Linna and Ithilliel screamed the dragonborn was with them, not the cultists. With a mighty leap, Durn dove headfirst under the groaning portcullis just as Sato let go and the elf nimbly snatched her staff back. The iron bars crashed down behind the party, and heavy iron-banded gates shut with a thud.

A Pointed Welcome


Castellan Escobert the Red

►A dozen spears and crossbows were pointing at the heavily breathing dragonborn as he slowly got to his feet. Looking around, Durn deeply sighed and sank to his knees, hands raised in the air, disappointed yet again he was viewed with fear, hatred, and suspicion. The back-robed mage, too, had more than a few weapons pointed his way, but he seemed not to care, merely straightening his robes and petting the crow, Kalvar, who had appeared from who-knows-where to once again perch on the mage's shoulder.
► Sergeant Markguth stepped forward, and after a few tense moments of questioning and reassurances from the Swifts that they were heroes who helped them, not some sort of trick to infiltrate the keep, motioned for the guards and militia to stand down and get back to the walls. The keep was filled with refugees huddled together in hastily constructed lean-tos of scraps and cloth along the inner walls. The Sergeant called for Castellan Escobert, who arrived shortly and escorted the heroes into the tower after being searched and handing over their weapons.
► Most of the first floor had been converted to a field hospital, tending to the wounded. they went to the second floor, filled with children and the elderly, with a handful of women to watch over them. the heroes were led into a small, cramped room where the red-bearded dwarf began to interrogate them.
► When asked who they were, Sato and Xilosar were cagey with their answers, not wishing to reawaken the previous hostile suspicions. Sato mentioned he was associated with Ontharr Frume, of the Order of the Gauntlet. Wallister gave yet another name, which was noticed but unremarked upon by the other heroes. Durn and Ithiulliel spoke plainly about who they were and why they were here. The castellan did not entirely trust Durn, a red-scaled dragonborn showing up just as a raid by dragon cultists was occurring was not comforting. Let alone with a creepy black-robed wizard … no offense. But the word of several of the guards who had seen the final flight up the hill, and of the Swifts, decided Escobert to beleive the party was not involved with the cultists, even if he didn't entirely trust them. He allowed the group to use the room to rest and recuperate, and told them they would meet with Governor Nighthill within the hour.
► The heroes bound their wounds, caught their breath, calmed their minds and ate of their rations and water, offering to share what they had with the kids and others in the keep.

Meeting with the Governor


Governor Nighthill

► An hour later, the heroes were taken to the third floor to meet Governor Tarbaw Nighthill. He was a tough-looking 60-year-old human whose right arm and face were heavily bandaged. The governor got right to the point.
► Nighthill verified Sato did indeed know the dwarf paladin of Torm, and decided to trust the group. He debriefed them on what they learned from the kobold, thanking for the new information and verifying other information they suspected. He asked the group for their aid, as the town had not been raided in a very long time, decades, the guards and militia are woefully unprepared for what needs to be done. He couldn't, at this time, offer recompense, as almost everything would used to put the town back in order once they survived this raid, but he hoped they would be willing to use their unique skills to continue aiding the town. At the very least, he requested they take rotations on the walls to bolster those who have been wounded and would need to be pulled to attempt the sorties he had in mind.
► The heroes agreed, though Xilosar and Wallister were a bit hesitant to do so. The governor asked Castellan Escobert to show them what needed to be done, thanked them, and returned to his table and dealing with the refugees.

Eye in the Sky


Dragon Cultist

► The castellan showed the heroes a secret passage built into the keep's tower walls and into a small room that held only a gold-inlaid, inscribed stone basin of crystal clear water. The dwarf pulled a pendant from under his doublet and dipped it in the water, asking to see the Sanctuary of Chauntea. the water swirled and showed a wavering image of a stone temple besieged by a large number of cultists, kobolds, and drakes. The dwarf explained this was old magic that had survived both the Spellplague and the Sundering, and was used solely in defense of the town. It was created by the Divinator, Enessay over a hundred years ago. It could be used to get a bird's eye view of Greenest up to a quarter mile from the top of the tower.
► The Sanctuary had been besieged by the cultists since the attack began several hours ago. There were at least a score or more of men, women, and children trapped inside. Watchful Brother Eaydan Falconmoon was also inside; he was the caretaker and priest in charge of the Sanctuary, along with several young acolytes.
► The front of the Sanctuary was being assaulted by several kobolds, cultists, a drake, and a cultist wearing a purple-edged mantle and cloak. The rear had kobolds and cultists currently stacking dry brush and wood along the temple's rear entrance. A very large contingent of kobolds and two drakes were slowing circling the temple, cavorting and throwing rocks and flaming branches in through the high stained glass windows of the temple. It was only a matter of time before they were smoked out or the front group bashed their way in.
► Seeing as how the cultists were now beginning to ring the keep, using the front gates or sally port is inadvisable. The dwarf explains there is a long-unused tunnel in the cellars that leads to a hidden barred outlet along the small creek, very nearby the Sanctuary. He wants the heroes to use the tunnel, sneak to the Sanctuary and break the siege upon it. He could provide a key to the end grate, but he didn't know how well it would work after all this time.
► The castellan also stated, per the heroes information, he believes the cultist wearing purple might be a commander, or at least someone with more knowledge than a common cultist of kobold. He asks the group to capture the purple-marked cultist and bring him back to the keep with the villagers they rescue at the Sanctuary. The heroes agreed.

The Old Tunnel


Swarm of Rats

► After being let into the old tunnel below the cellars, the heroes used a lit torch to guide their way through the narrow, cramped space. Damp, crumbly walls crushed in on the hulking dragonborn who almost filled the entire space. It took a couple hundred winding, uncomfortable feet until the group debouched into an area near the end where a small cave of sorts had crumbled open.
► Ithilliel, barely containing herself in the cramped space underground, frantically tried the corroded iron grate, but it would not budge. She shoved the key in the rusted lock but it would not turn. Durn inched forward and triedthe key, snapping it off in his huge hand. Xilosar moved forward, squeezing past as he pulled a leather case filled with strange tools and proceeded to work on opening the lock.
► Without warning, a cacophony of squeaks and skitters filled the small chamber as rats began swarming into the tiny chamber. Space was tight, and the heroes blows seemed to do little harm to the mass of screeching, biting rats. Fortunately for the heroes, the rats were mostly unable to get through their armor or the quick blows of the monk.
► With an ear-splitting screech, Xilosar shoved the now unlocked grate open. Itilliel wormed her way out, gasping in relief to be out of the confining space. The others moving out in a fighting withdrawal with the massed rats. Unfortunately, they left their burning torch inside the tunnel. With a soft caw, Kalvar flew in and dropped the burning brand in the middle of the rat swarm, cackling as it burned out under their mass. Durn slammed the grate shut and hoped the rats were too busy with the torch to follow them out.
► The group looked at another, then around them. wondering if the rats were still coming, or if any cultists had heard the screaming grate hinges and were coming to investigate.

To Be Continued in Session 2 ==>

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