Lost Mines of Phandelver

End of the Siege

The fight at the Townmaster’s Hall was brief and bloody, the cultists slain in a swift flurry of blades and arrows. The Talons then evacuated the surviving townsfolk, leading them through the shattered streets and to the relative safety of the fortress.

Upon returning to the fortress, panicked guards appeared, reporting that the remaining force of cultists was assembling on the field, several prisoners in tow. The Talons rushed to meet the threat, and saw before them the assembled ranks of dragon cultists, eight or nine bedraggled prisoners kneeling in front of their ranks. At this point, a monstrous blue Half-Dragon warrior declaring himself Langdedrosa Cyanwrath, pushed his way to the front of their army, challenging the Talons to send a champion against him, or watch the prisoners die.

Grey was eager to meet the challenge, and test his blade against that of the blue monstrosity, he pushed his way through the defenders and into the field. Adaven felt he had to try and help the Dragonborn, and so he cast a spell of invisibility and followed his ally out into the night. The Half-Dragon warrior, Cyanwrath, was a boastful and arrogant combatant, but clearly competent. Regardless, Grey was able to defeat the champion of the Cult of the Dragon, but not before the monster directed a cone of electrical energy at him, frying the unfortunate Elmar Barthen, owner of the provisionsstore in the process.

On seeing their champion fall, the cultists made their retreat back to their main camp, spitting and cursing at the Talons as they left.

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Rescue Party
Once more into the breach

Disguised as cultists, the Talons pushed into town, running into another group masked dragon cultists, chanting in draconic as they marched. Thanks to Grey’s grasp of the draconic tongue, the trio were able to bluff the enemy, and began marching with them towards the Townmaster’s Hall. Before they could reach the Hall itself, Grey elected to kill the four cultists they had joined, leaving their bodies in the dirt at the side of the road.

On reaching the Hall, it was clear that an out-and-out assault was out of the question. A procession of cultists and kobolds, with two of the wingless ambush drakes, marched round the town centre, their voices raised in praise to Tiamat. At the rear of the building, a small group of kobolds led by a hulking, bloodstained Dragonborn, were attempting to claw open a sturdy door. At the front of the building, two cultists hefted a battering ram, attempting to smash the double doors open. They were directed by a familiar masked figure, Favric, the same cultist the Talons had crossed after defeating Venomfang in Thundertree.

Grey was able to convince the Favric that he would be able to smash the door much faster, and moved to grab the ram himself. He then attempted to slow the process down using what sleight of hand he could manage, giving Tarlach Malthar and Adaven time to distract the remaining forces.

Adaven managed to convince the forces at the rear of the building that a group of armed Dwarven warriors were advancing on the town, and directed them to move to the north side of town to confront this new threat. After some persuasion, the aggressive Dragonborn led his kobold minions away, eager to fight. Adaven was then able to convince the villagers within to open the rear door, and was heartened to see that Sister Garaele was amongst their number. Adaven then began firing arrows through the rapidly disintegrating front door, making sure not to hit Grey in the process.

Tarlach Malthar meanwhile, had been able to rile up the procession of cultists, convincing them their efforts would be better spent intimidating those villagers holed up in the Tresendar Manor, and led the procession away from the Townmaster’s Hall. He was able to slip away as the procession moved off, and made his way back to the town centre, taking up position in the shadows of a large tree, with an excellent view of the remaining dragon cultists.

Grey had delayed long enough, and as his battering ram finally smashed the wooden doors, he dropped the heavy ram, drawing his sword as he wheeled on the unsuspecting cultists, as Adaven stepped forth from inside, crossbow levelled at the advancing foes.

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Phandalin beseiged

Having resolved to travel to Yartar as soon as Grey had taken delivery of his new armour, the Talons spent the next few days seeing to the renovation of the Tresendar Manor, each seeing to the design of their own living quarters.

The town and surrounding area was buoyed by the return of the Talons, and their renovation of the manor, the community relaxed and completely unprepared for a surprise attack by masked cultists and a familiar dragon. The Talons were roused from their business late at night by screams, shouts and the banging of desperate villagers on the main door of the manor. Letting the bedraggled survivors in, the heroes were stunned to see Phandalin burning before them. Immediately efforts were made to barricade the manor doors, and on the suggestion of Sildar Hallwinter, efforts were made to scout the town and bring in more survivors.

The Talons made a brief foray into town, bringing back a few survivors and coming into contact with several strange, winged Kobolds, as well as cultists with metal piercings thrust through their bodies, grasping strange batons that crackled with electricity. After rescuing a few civilians, the Talons began shoring up the secret entrance to the manor, setting traps and charging Iarno Albrek with warning the Dwarves, and bringing reinforcements if possible. Adaven was also able to question a cultist prisoner, who gave away the location of the main force, camped some way outisde town, as well as hinting that the leader of this particular army was known as “The Wearer of Purple”.

The beseiging army battered away at the front entrance, and the dragon Venomfang slew many guards, before he could be driven away once more by the wild magic of Adaven. The Talons could be sure they had not seen the last of this particular foe, as he wheeled away spitting curses in a booming draconic voice.

Meanwhile, kobold minions managed to breach the kitchen door, and clashed with the meagre forces remaining within the manor. The Talons rushed to help, and were able (with the help of Sildar Hallwinter) to beat off the attack, collapsing the kitchen door in the process. The attackers consisted of several strangely mutilated cultists wielding odd weapons, as well as a strange lizard-drake the size of a large dog. Unfortunately, as the doorway was destroyed, Grey was trapped outside, forcing him to dispatch two more cultists and rush to affect a disguise in order to escape the attention of the remaining attackers. Grey was able to slip his attackers and circle round to the secret entrance, running in to Daran Edermath in the process. Daran Edermath resolved to guard the entrance, and ensure that any survivors were guided through the traps laid out by the Talons. Grey returned just as Adaven spied a further problem, dragon cultists setting fires around the farmsteads, as well as the miner’s exchange.

The decision was made to save the farmstead, despite being wounded and battered, the Talons headed back out of the rear entrance, and on to the farm. As the Talons exited the treeline, fleeing peasants were attempting to reach the relative safety of the woodland, pursued by ravenous kobolds. A quick volley of arrows from the bows of the Talons put the beasts down, although one peasant was brutally killed before they could finish the vile creatures. The remaining peasants were advised to linger in the trees and await their return, or keep watch for Daran Edermath, who would guide them to safety.

Upon reaching the farm, the Talons advanced softly and reached the relative cover of a dry-stone wall, peeking at the farmstead beyond. Tarlach Malthar noted that the cultist was making a great show of directing the kobold minions, and that the fires were being placed in an odd manner. Suspicious of an ambush, Adaven cast invisibility on himself, and scouted the building himself. Adaven had to be especially careful, as another of the odd dragon-lizards prowled the exterior of the farm. Adaven made his way in without issue, and discovered the presence of six mercenary warriors, clearly an ambush for the Talons. He attempted to leave, but attracted the attention of the mercs. In his panic, he attempted to cast a Phantasm to distract the foe, but the spell failed to affect the mercenary soldier. Fortunately for Adaven, his wild magic erupted once more, shrouding the building in fog and allowing him to escape.

As the shouts came from the farm, Grey leapt to his feet and began closing the distance on his foes. He was spotted by a kobold, but Tarlach Malthar put an arrow through the creature’s throat before it could utter a sound. Adaven made use of his spider staff to scale the farm wall, and began picking off mercenaries and kobolds alike with his crossbow. After a brief but violent scuffle, the cultists were defeated, and the Talons held position until Sildar Hallwinter’s forces arrived to take over.

Sildar’s reinforcements informed the Talons that the townmaster’s lodge was now under attack, and survivors had been spotted within. Wearily, they headed once more into the burning town, disgusing themselves as cultists in order to avoid unnecessary combat.

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Return to Phandalin
Risk rewarded

Upon returning to town, the heroes sought out Gundren Rockseeker, who was most glad to see one of his brothers still alive, and professed his gratitude to the Talons by gifting them a claim in the profits of the mine. Gundren Rockseeker, Nundro and the Talons spent the ensuing days tending to business, Gundren Rockseeker arranging his dwarven crews in preparation for re-opening the mine, Adaven catching up on local events, Grey attending to business, and Tarlach Malthar carousing.

Harbin Wester was also grateful to the Talons, pleased that the newly opened mine would increase traffic to Phandalin and help the small town bloom. The townmaster was grateful enough to present the deeds for Tresendar Manor house to the trio of adventurers. Several days were spent surveying the ruined building, and drawing up plans for its renovation, a process made easier by Gundren Rockseeker providing Dwarven labour.

Whilst this building work continued, Grey had been attempting to negotiate purchase of an extra Rothe to ease Greg’k’s burden, and in the process come across a rather irritating dwarf, named Escobert the Red – who agreed to the sale on condition that they helped him with some business. This business led to a meeting with two travellers from a passing caravan, one a flamboyant halfling, named Losvius Longnose, and the other a stern human female, clearly a warrior named Leda Widris. The business involved transfer of an unknown items to a third party to the south, through Yartar. The pair made some attempt to hire the Talons as guards for their journey, promising to meet them in Yartarr in one week if they were interested. During the course of conversation with the Dwarf, it transpired that the item he was transferring to the duo might not be of the nature they expected, and possibly not genuine. Adaven and Grey kept this rather quiet, reasoning that the whole exchange was only a means of getting hold of another Rothe, and that any business transaction was between the Halfling and the Dwarf.

Tarlach Malthar, meanwhile, had been observing the conversation from a darkened corner and had noticed a rough looking traveller listening in to the conversation. Resolving to follow the unknown eavesdropper, he waited outside the inn until the fellow left, picking his pocket as he passed. The contents of the travellers pocket were suspicious, particularly a piece of parchment with symbols and writing, clearly in code. Tarlach Malthar followed the gent to the centre of town, where he watched the Halfling visit the shrine of Tymora and sister Sister Garaele. Smiling, the stranger left town, pausing only to notice his empty pockets, and curse loudly as he mounted his horse and headed out of town.

Tarlach Malthar showed the stolen parchment to Adaven who noticed similarities to a code he had seen before. The duo took the parchment to Sister Garaele who betrayed some concern and appeared to hint the code may be Harper in origin. Tarlach Malthar wondered why the Harpers may be watching the pair of travellers and reasoned that something iffy was going on, resolving to meet the caravan in Yartar just for the satisfaction of sating his curiosity.

The trio retired to their manor house, in the few weeks since the liberation of the mine it had been restored to a livable state, with roof intact and only interior work to complete. The Talons spent the next day or two moving their personal effects in, and securing the secret entrance to the rear.

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The Mines of Wave Echo Cave

The Talons march bravely into the mysterious Wave Echo Cave, determined to end the drow threat to Phandalin. They battle acid-spewing oozes, ravenous ghouls and undead spiders, eventually working their way through the rough-hewn tunnels to the entrance to a dwarven complex. Here they encounter the traitorous mage known as Glass-staff, who seems most unhappy with his dark elf masters. Although weapons are drawn and Glass-staff’s bugbear bodyguards are dispatched, Adaven manages to forge an uneasy alliance with the cunning wizard – if he helps them defeat the Black Spider, they will allow him to both investigate the fabled Forge of Spells, which lies deeper within the complex, and escape with his life.

In an abandoned temple of the dwarf god Dumathoin resides the drow wizard known as the Black Spider, as well as his devious doppelganger ally. A vicious battle ensues, with the drow wizard casting magical missiles and commanding his pet spiders to devour the Talons. Our heroes are beaten back, but Glass-staff stays true to his word (for once), joining the Talons in battle. While he and Tarlach destroy the horrid spiders, Adaven and Grey dispatch the Black Spider with dagger and axe.

Adaven claims the drow wizard’s staff, a length of black iron capped with a carved spider. It can both cast webs to restrain opponents, and allow the wearer to climb walls with a spider’s uncanny grace.

The heroes also rescue Gundren Rockseeker’s last surviving brother, Nundro. He’s a little worse for wear, and the heroes decide to leave him to recuperate in the cleansed temple with a few kegs of dwarven ale and some strips of beef jerky while they explore the rest of the mines.

Explore they do, clearing various monsters from the rest of the structure. One memorable battle sees them come face to undead face with a hideous flaming green skull, which summons a horde of skeletons to its side while it hurls fireballs at the Talons. With Glass-staff at their side, however, there is nothing in Wave Echo Cave that can stand against our heroes.

Eventually they make their way into a huge, open cavern, dominated by two structures clearly built for humans rather than dwarves. Here is where the human wizards of Phandelver enchanted wondrous magical items for their dwarven merchant allies to sell. The Talons enter the largest structure, where they come face to face with a strange, floating [creature]] with a gaping maw and several eyes on stalks covering its orb-like body. Behind this strange beast lies the magnificent Forge of Spells itself, a mighty slab of black iron that glows with a pale green light.

Rather than eating them, the creature asks them, quizzes them on their knowledge of the Mine’s history, clearly testing them to see if they have the proper authority to use the Forge. After a bit of quick thinking from Tarlach, the creatures questions are answered correctly and it disappears in a flash of light.

Drawn to the Forge, the Talons and Glass-staff bathe their weapons in its green light. Each of them feels a rush of magic, and Tarlach’s glaive, Adaven’s dagger and Grey’s greatsword are all infused with the strange luminescence, strengthening and sharpening them to a razor’s edge. The heroes feel a rush of power escaping the forge, and a presence seems to sigh in thanks as the green fire gradually ebbs away. The Forge still stands, but it seems less powerful than before.

Looking around the various bits of armour in the forge room, the heroes discover a wondrous golden breastplate, clearly magical, with a dragon’s head engraved on the front. Tarlach claims this, as it matches his ‘Ogre Strength’ gauntlets. And also Glass-staff thinks it might help out if he gets breathed on by a dragon again. He rubs his horrible facial scars and winces at the memory. The group also finds a beautifully crafted mace in the shape of a suburst. Glass-staff recognises it as Lightbringer, a weapon commissioned by an order of sun priests that does extra damage against undead creatures. No one really like to use maces, so it’s pocketed in case it comes in useful later. The group decides to honour its word and let Glass-staff go free, under the proviso that they’ll kill him good and proper if he starts causing trouble again. He decides to stay and investigate the Forge in more detail.

And thus, Wave Echo Cave has been cleared of the foul drow threat, and Phandalin is safe once more! With Nundro Rockseeker in tow, the heroic Talons make their way back home.

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Cragmaw cleared
the new owners move in

Upon killing the remaining goblinoids, the decision is taken to interrogate the captured drow, as well as investigating the various paraphenaelia left behind by the deceased bugbear, King Grol, and his immediate subordinates.

Some time is spent reviving Gundren, who is considerably grateful for his rescue, although still singularly focused on his previous business, liberating the lost mine of phandelver. The details left behind by the drow and their bugbear allies point to an exact location, as well as implicating the previously mentioned Black Spider as being the leader of the small drow incursion.

After resting, recouperating, and interrogating the imprisoned drow, a conflagration is heard from the interior courtyard of the castle. The hustle and bustle of armoured folk rooting through the ruins can be heard. Deciding that on this occasion discretion is the better part of valour, Tarlach Malthar and Grey decide to lay in wait for the unknown intruders. It turns out they are a band of hobgoblin warriors, lead by a particularly cruel looking fighter named Targor Bloodsword. Some thought is put towards slaying the goblinoids, but Tarlach Malthar and Adaven make it clear to Grey that the dwarven brothers and their lost mine are the priority on this occasion. The hobgoblins can be dealt with at a later date.

Collecting their gear, the Talons return to Phandalin, to find the settlement in the midst of election fever. They are given a rapturous welcome by the citizenry, and Gundren Rockseeker is keen to throw a small homecoming party for himself. Before the party can begin, it is announced that Harbin Wester has somehow been given a further term as townmaster (largely due to the fact none of the Talons could agree on a suitable candidate to back). The townmaster realises his position is weak at best, and appoints Sildar Hallwinter as head of the militia, a position Sildar Hallwinter intends to use to bring order and stability (as well as a Lord’s Alliance presence) to the town.

Tarlach Malthar spends the next few days carousing with the populace, drink, coin and women won and lost in equal measure. Adaven uses his few days down-time to further the interests of the Alliance, catching up with Sildar Hallwinter as he does so. No-one is sure what Grey gets up to, but he is suspiciously absent from the celebrations.

After a few days of rest, the Talons decide to take the final step on Gundren Rockseeker’s mission, heading off to expunge the drow threat from Wave Echo Cave, and open the lost mine of Phandelver for business.

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Clearing Cragmaw - part two

Adaven, invisible once more, slips through into a square chamber, where two hobgoblins wait, spears ready. To the left, a drape covers one exit from this room, while a closed door marks another on the right. One hobgoblin guards each of these doors. Choosing the door on the right, Adaven slips in close to the hobgoblin and cuts his throat. Grey and Tarlach rush the other, but the creature is too quick, it scarpers past the drape and down a short corridor, heading to a large door on the right.

The heroes give chase. Inside the room on the right, a guttural voice booms out a challenge. “Who dares invade the castle of Grol?” Grey marches into the room, sword ready. Inside, a hulking bugbear, clearly King Grol, holds a battered and bruised Gundren Rockseeker by the beard, a dagger to his throat. To the side stand the hobgoblin guard and a more unexpected guest. A dark-skinned elf woman narrows her eyes at the heroes, and draws a shortsword.

Grol threatens to kill Gundren unless the Talons leave, but Tarlach calls his bluff. Why would he do so now, when clearly the dwarf is valuable while still alive? Grol roars in frustration and drops the dwarf, pulling out a morningstar, which he wields in gauntleted hands. He swings at Grey, who accepts the blow on his shield, and scores a nasty cut on the bugbear chief in return. Adaven attempts to cast a lightning bolt spell from a scroll, but yelps in surprise when the scroll catches fire.

Tarlach leaps in and strikes the hobgoblin with a neat thrust, only to be savaged by a pet wolf that rushes in from the side. He retreats, and blasts the room with a thunderwave spell. The hobgoblin falls, and the wolf is thrown back. The dark elf named Vyerith charges in, wielding a fine pair of short blades. Adaven and Tralach duel her, almost ovematched by her skill.

Grey exchanges blows with Grol. His axe Hew cuts down, but the bugbear king blocks the hit with the metal haft of his crude weapon, and boots Grey in the chest. Grey flies backwards through a second door, which leads into a storage closet.

Adaven and Tarlach finish off the pet wolf and concentrate on the elf. Tarlach engages her in a fierce duel, while Adaven slips out of view to the side. As Tarlach manoeuvres her into position with neat footwork and a defensive parry, Adaven steps in and clocks her on the back of the head with his dagger hilt. She goes down hard.

Grey, meanwhile, shield bashes Grol back out of the storage room, hacking away as he rushes to finish off the bugbear. Severely wounded the creature grasps for something on the floor and attempts to utter another threat. Adaven’s orb of lightning takes him in the chest, pitching him over backwards. Grey steps over and looks down at him. King Grol, menace of Phandalin, is nothing more than a smoking corpse. The object he grasped in his hand, a parchment map, flutters slowly to the floor.

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Clearing Cragmaw - part one

Through the thinning forest, the Talons see the six-towered, shattered ruins of Cragmaw Castle. Here is where they will find the dwarf Gundren Rockseeker, who first sent them on their quest all those weeks ago. Goblins man arrow-slits above a main gate, and two stand watch at the ground entrance.

Goblin captive nervously pointing directions, the Talons sneak over to the back door. Goblin voices and the sound of smashing plates come from behind a sturdy iron door. Adaven gets his thieves’ tools out and gets to work. He hears a “urk” sound from behind him, and turns to find Grey wiping his blade on the grass and no sign of goblin captive. He sighs, and with a click, swings the door open.

Hearing the sound of multiple goblins from a door on the left, Adaven magically disguises himself as the wizard Glasstaff, and enters. Eight surprised goblins, one a fat fellow wielding a filth-encrusted ladle, stare at him. He orders three to follow him into the corridor. The fat goblin (named Yegg), who appears to be a chef and leader of sorts, eyes him suspiciously. Adaven realises this plan wasn’t thought through that well, and that the goblins owe no particular allegiance to Glasstaff.

He leaps forward and stabs the surprised chef through the guts, and at the sound of combat, Grey and Tarlach come in swinging. The goblins take heavy losses, and with he chef dead they break, scampering away through a nearby crack in the castle wall with howls of terror. Everything alive in Cragmaw Castle will definitely know they’re under attack.

The Talons haul a table across to block the door they came in by, and Adaven scatters some caltrops to slow any pursuit. Turning invisible with a spell, the half-elf heads off to scout, while Grey and Tarlach head along a corridor and into a hallway intersection. The hear goblin cries down the tunnel behind them, and exchange arrows with their pursuers, felling two goblins who sprawl face-first onto the floor.

Adaven narrowly avoids being crushed by a falling wall trap, and notes some gruffer goblinoid voices coming from the eastern tower. As he passes through a central chamber that appears to be some kind of shrine to a human deity, he glances upwards to see a horrid worm-like creature hanging from a broken rafter. He edges past beneath it, protected by his invisibility spell, heading back to where Grey and Tarlach are waiting.

The trio regroup, and Adaven points them to the east. He mentions the creature, which Tarlach identifies as a grick, an ambush predator. Grey hurls a goblin corpse into the creature’s lair. No reaction. Tarlach says this is odd. Gricks usually love fresh meat.

Deciding on a more straightforward approach, the three rush into the room, intending to take the beast down quickly. As soon as Tarlach passes through the grick drops on him, snapping at him with a toothed tentacle. Grey steps in and runs the grick through, and it expires with a hiss.

The trio move into an adjacent corridor, and into the northern tower. Inside are three goblin priests, failing to hide very convincingly. The Talons dispatch them easily. They move into the eastern tower, which houses four hobgoblins. The heroes have fought these beats before, and approach them with more respect than they showed the goblins. Despite their martial skill, the hobgoblins are outmatched by the Talons. After a quick, brutal skirmish, this side of the castle is cleared. The group heads towards the western section, dealing with a few stragglers, and readies to enter the final rooms they have yet to clear… does the mysterious King Grol, leader of the Cragmaws, lurk within?

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A chase through the woods

Searching through Venomfang’s treasure horde, the heroes find all manner of goodies, including a rusty, nasty-looking battleaxe that radiates a magical aura. It is identified as Hew, a powerful weapon enchanted long ago by a dwarven smith who was embroiled in a quarrel with creatures of the forest. Hew does horrendous damage to anything made of or crafted from wood.

The Talons spend the rest of the day clearing the remnants of Thundertree’s monstrous population, and then they pack up their cart, harness Greg’k, and head off with Reidoth, who is irritatingly chirpy now that the dragon has been defeated. He even agrees to visit Tarlach’s pet owlbears.

The trip south is largely uneventful, and the group arrives at the southern edge of Neverwinter Wood in around a day. They stop the cart, and plan to get some sleep before they head into the trees in search of Cragmaw Castle.

Adaven is on guard, idly playing with his pet mouse Nasher as his companions grab some well-earned rest. He hears the snap of a twig out amongst the trees, then a high-pitched giggle. Shaking Tarlach awake, he points to the trees and slips out of the cart. Adaven creeps into cover, working his way through the brush and circling around behind the source of the noise. Which happens to be three goblins, chuckling eagerly to each other as they tie off a noose trap.

Adaven sighs and shakes his head at this amateur ambush attempt, and shoots one of the goblins in the head with his crossbow. Startled, the unfortunate creature’s two accomplices scatter into the woods. Adaven, Tarlach and Grey give chase.

All employ different methods in their hunt. Adaven skips across the forest floor, neatly sidestepping obstacles and hopping over blocked paths. Grey smashes through everything in his way like a juggernaut. Tarlach gets his foot caught in a rabbit hole, falls over, then gives up and wanders after his friends half-heartedly.

Adaven sprints past Grey and leaps upon one of the fleeing creatures, while Grey sights, hurls and takes down the other with a thrown axe. We secure the remaining goblin, and a quick interrogation reveals the location of a secret back door into Cragmaw Castle. Though Tarlach and Grey are tired from the chase, the group agrees to head on. The less time spent in Neverwinter Wood, the better.

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A dance with a dragon.

As the Talons explore the ruined town of Thundertree, they hear a thunderous beating of winds. The dragon Venomfang soars down from on high, landing with imperious grace in the main street as our heroes scamper for cover. Rather than devour them, or blast them with his poisonous breath, Venomfang instead requests a parlay. His voice booms across Thundertree, inviting the Talons to audience at his residence, the half-destroyed tower that overlooks the town.

The dragon departs, and the Talons slip from their hiding places. Though none of them relishes the prospect of entering a dragon’s lair, Grey points out that if the creature wished to kill them he would surely have attacked them there and then. Perhaps a deal can be met.

After preparing their spells and blades, the Talons march to the tower, leaving a nervous Reidoth behind. The heroes enter a small cottage beneath the tower, the stench of roasted meat, ash and brimstone filling their nostrils. A small room filled with timeworn furniture and tattered books leads to another doorway, which in turn opens into the base of the tower In the corner of the ground floor lies a pile of coin and discarded equipment, while broken rafters, ledge and loops of rope stretch upwards to the roof of the structure, the very top hidden in shadow. A voice bids them welcome from the darkness, and with serpentine grace the mighty Venomfang slides down from on high, dropping to the floor and stretching his wings imperiously.

He bids the Talons welcome, and prowls towards them. The adventurers and the dragon circle each other warily while Venomfang outlines his offer. He will leave Thundertree if the Talons hunt and kill his sister. Raising a claw the size of a dagger, he beckons the heroes over to a pile of parchments, innocently suggesting they come over so he can show them a map with her location marked upon it. Grey and Tarlach cautiously approach. Adaven holds back, spotting an worrying glint in the beast’s eye.

Venomfang begins to chuckle, an evil sound that turns into a terrible rasping roar as he spins around and breathes a torrent of toxic green mist across Tarlach and Grey. Grey barely raises his shield in time, and feels an awful burn as the poisonous vapour eats away at his scales. Tarlach leaps to the side, but not quick enough to be similarly marked by the foul breath.

Adaven, his caution rewarded, scampers across the room and leaps onto a hanging rope, shimmying up to a rafter just above the dragon’s head. He brings his crossbow to bear and begins to send bolts down at Venomfang’s head. Grey and Tarlach scramble to their feet, rolling to avoid a flurry of bites and claw strikes from the dragon, and scoring blows in return with their blades. The Talons have never fought a foe such as this, and the dragon’s sheer strength batters down Grey’s stalwart defenses and finds a way past Tarlach’s expert swordplay. Both warriors are smashed aside by mighty raking swipes.

But the heroes are not so helpless as the dragon imagined. Grey leads with his shield, the ancient blade of the Tresendar family biting deep into Venomfang’s flank as the dragonborn fighter blocks a descending claw and stabs forward. Venomfang roars, and roars all the louder as Tarlach summons a mighty, rolling blast of thunder to batter him backwards. The dragon’s bulk is thrown into the wall of the tower, and the weakened structure groans under the blow. Masonry and shattered flooring topples from the roof above, as an entire section of the wall falls upon the dragon.

Adaven rolls underneath a tumbling rafter and comes to his feet, arcane focus in hand. He summons an orb of coruscating flame, which bursts across Venomfang’s back, causing the monster to howl in pain and outrage. Grey charges in, roaring almost as loudly as the dragon as batters into its hide with his sword, tearing bloody chunks.

Despite the Talons’ heroics, however, Venomfang is no bugbear chieftain or petty bandit. Once again the mighty foe blasts the heroes with poisonous vapour, and the toxic mist strikes Tarlach on the left side of his face, searing the flesh from his bones and dropping him screaming to the floor. Grey can barely stand, and the dragon begins to laugh once more, certain of his triumph.

Suddenly the ground beneath Venomfang erupts, huge vines and twisting roots reaching up to claw at the dragon’s face and wrap around its bulk. Adaven spots a hunched, decrepit looking figure crossing the field towards the tower. It’s the mad old druid, Reidoth!

With the dragon distracted momentarily, Grey rushes to Tarlach’s side, administering a healing potion that cannot repair the gruesome damage to the bard’s face, but does bring him back to consciousness. From the ground, Tarlach once more smashes Venomfang with a peal of thunder, blasting him into another portion of the tower wall. Once again it crumbles, and this time both the dragon and Adaven are battered by the increasing volume of falling debris. Rain begins to pour through the widening hole in the roof, a squall that falls so heavily that the heroes can barely see the town and grounds past the shattered wall of the tower.

Clambering gingerly to his feet, however, Adaven does spot a new threat approaching through the mist and the deluge. A band of rogues dressed in black leathers and cloaks is sprinting towards the tower, drawn by the cacophony. A leader strides behind them, a distinctive horned mask covering his face. Adaven hears his cries, ordering his troops to defend the dragon and defeat its enemies. Interesting, if clearly bad news.

Inside, the dragon wavers between flame blasts from the druid Reidoth and a renewed counterattack from Grey and Tarlach, who despite reeling from a dozen deep wounds, refuse to give in. Tarlach strikes the beast with the last of his spells, hurling the dragon clear outside the tower. Grey charges in, and Adaven draws two daggers and leaps at the creature’s back, raking it deeply as it struggles to stand.

The cultists, presumably the same band that Reidoth had described earlier, charge in to attack Adaven and the druid. Reidoth summons another patch of vines, which entangles them and impedes their progress. Adaven takes the opportunity to dispatch one with a bolt of flame.

Roaring in fury, Venomfang spits a curse at the Talons, and attempts to fly upwards awaay from the chaos. Grey leaps into the air, striking the beast’s wing and causing it to drop back to earth with a crash. Tarlach moves into the fray, slashing with his blade, but despite the bard and Grey’s best efforts, they cannot quite finish the beast off. Once more it beats its massive wings, and this time Grey is powerless to prevent the dragon from climbing into the air. Blood pours from the dragon’s grievous wounds, mixing with the rain and turning the churning mud a deep red. Venomfang roars a final curse at the Talons as he departs into the mists, swearing that he will have his vengeance.

With the dragon gone, the leader of the cultists raises his hand and barks a command. His band lower their weapons, and the cultist leader says that with Venomfang safely departed, there is no cause for further violence. Grey wishes to dispute that claim, but the others manage to calm the dragon born down – none of them are in the shape for any more fighting. The cultist leader nods to the group, and he and his men disappear into the mist. The Talons sink to the floor, thoroughly exhausted. They have fought and defeated a dragon.

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