Lost Mines of Phandelver

Waterdeep
Joining the caravan

Waterdeep was by far the biggest city any of the Talons had visited thus far, hemmed in by the sea on one side, and a mountainous ridge on the other, towering buildings littered the skyline, even a city dweller such as Adaven took time to get used to such a metropolis.

First things first, the trio headed for their appointed meeting with Ackyn Selebon, an agent of Ontharr Frume, and the person best placed to advise them on gaining access to the southbound caravan. After spending the evening at Ackyn Selebon’s town house (and somewhat overstaying their welcome) the Talons were forced to come up with separate identities, in order to con their way into jobs as guards on the caravans. Tarlach Malthar decided to tone down his garish dress and shining breastplate, reinventing himself as a down on his luck mercenary named Erasmus Tarleston. Grey became the travelling warrior Balosar and Adaven decided to run his own caravan, using Grey’s cart and taking Greg’k along for the ride.

The time in Waterdeep was spent carousing, and making plans for the journey. The three spent a fair amount of time at The Yawning Portal, an inn run by a rugged ex-adventurer named Durnan. Tarlach Malthar used his time wisely, beginning an illicit dalliance with a noble-woman, while Grey and Adaven talked business. The Yawning Portal’s main feature was an entrance to Undermountain, for a fee budding young adventurers would be lowered into the depths and began their quest for fame and fortune amongst the arcane ruins of Halaster’s former lair. Adaven managed to convince Durnan to give him a cover for his caravan, transporting Waterdhavian ale south, and bringing back samples from breweries along the road.

Three or four days were spent tying up business, chatting to locals, and trying to avoid the temptation to explore the underdark passages that littered the old city. Instead, the Talons presented their credentials to the various parties involved in the next caravan journeying south. Tarlach Malthar got a job as a guard on a small caravan run by a nervous looking merchant, this merchant also had a second guard, who appeared to be incredibly green and barely able to swing a sword. Grey used his impressive bulk to sign on to one of the biggest and best caravans, convincing the canny caravan master through a show of sheer strength.

Adaven’s efforts were less successful, the area where the caravaneers hired their guards just happened to be on the site of a former Inn, which had exploded in a magical conflagration. Adaven’s wild magic responded unpredictably and he summoned forth several flumph’s, causing a wild panic in the square. Citizens ran for their life, while Adaven made a bolt down a side-alley, spewing magical effects as he fled. Robed wizard-guards in service to the city appeared, and it was only by sheer luck that Adaven managed to flee their pursuit. The square was locked down by the investigating wizards, and Adaven was forced to improvise in order to gain a place on the caravan, managing to convince the other caravan members to allow him to join them on the journey.

Finally, after several eventful days, the trio headed out of Waterdeep’s impressive gates, and started on the way south, the comforts of Waterdeep receding slowly into the distance.

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En-route to Waterdeep
river based entertainment

The trip downstream to Waterdeep was eventful to say the least. First, an attack by river pirates along a wide stretch of the Dessarin river forced the Talons to resort to combat, their new shipmates also taking up arms to defeat the larger force. A prisoner was taken during the short but bloody scuffle, the intention being to drop him off for a small reward upon reaching Waterdeep. The scenery on this first stretch of the journey from Yartarr was certainly impressive, a giant dwarven bridge spanned the entirety of the river’s width, the structure having no barriers atop it’s thin surface, Tarlach Malthar recalled stories of entire baggage trains taking the risky crossing and being blown from the top, to crash to their deaths in the river below. Several small forts and abandoned castles littered the banks along the journey, relics of bygone days, left abandoned to monstrous creatures and brigands.

Later, the small crossing town of Ironford provided a brief distraction from the journey, being mostly populated by yokel ranchers and small-time merchants. The stop was brief though, and the Talons were soon on their way again, fighting their way through a field of Merrow, who had been disturbed from their field of floating corpses by the passage of the boat. The fight was vicious, and several brave sailors lost their lives to the wicked harpoons of the foul Merrow warriors. Eventually the creatures were driven off, and the remainder of the journey was plain sailing, straight to the city of splendours.

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Yartar: Part 2
Let the games begin!

The Hiring Fair began with a morning banquet, at which Ontharr Frume formally introduced himself, and wished the competitors the best of luck. The Riverbaron (the ruler of Yartar) was also present, overseeing the festivities.

Tarlach Malthar decided to enter the horse-racing, talent contest (at which he would play the lute) and the joust, as well as taking part on the theatrical performance. Adaven busied himself preparing for a foot race, and decided to chance his arm in the drinking and eating competition. Grey decided he was better suited to wrestling, and put his name down for that.

The events were contested by a motley crew of adventuring types from all corners of the world, from tattooed northern barbarians to slight southern gamblers. Ultimately, Tarlach Malthar was successful in all the events he entered, earning the admiration of the crowd, as well as Ontharr Frume. Grey was also complemented for his excellent performance in the wrestling competition, beating all comers to claim the prize. Even Adaven managed to set foot on a podium, winning the footrace with some rather underhanded tactics (spells not strictly being permitted). On completion of the days events, the trio attended a great feast at the local fest-hall – Beldabar’s Rest – for a night of wine, women and song. They agreed to talk more the following day, and spent the night winding down.

After meeting Ontharr Frume for a more formal discussion, the Talons learned that the Cult of the Dragon had been funnelling coin and treasure south, toward and beyond the great city of Waterdeep. Ontharr Frume hired them to head to Waterdeep by river, providing transport to get them there, they would then meet with his contact, Ackyn Selebon with a view to sneaking on to a caravan train and attempting to find out where the Cult were sending the loot. The Talons quickly agreed terms, and left town on the next available boat.

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Yartar: Part 1
It is a silly place..

Yartar soon turned out to be a strange place for visitors, the introduction to the city being a guided walk through a haunted battleground, restless spirits walk the perimeter, held at bay by some form of magic the city guard are able to exert through the use of magic lamps. The Talons were somewhat taken aback by this strange experience, but the guardsmen themselves seemed entirely comfortable with the whole thing, so no questions were asked.

First stop upon entering the city was obviously the pub, they had to find Ontharr Frume after all, and couldn’t think of a more appropriate place to start. The town was abuzz with travellers, who seemed to be in town for a the Hiring Fair, with events from horse-riding to drinking competitions and even a performance of the Courtship of Szass Tam, a rather controversial comedic piece that would not be popular in Thay. The heroes learned that rooms were mostly booked out, but accommodation was available at the temple of Tymora, rather extravagantly named the Happy Hall of Fortuitous Happenstance. The heroes also ascertained the location of Ontharr Frume, who seemed to spend most of his time drinking and brawling at a place named Beldabarr’s Rest.

The Talons headed to meet Ontharr Frume, and after some initial haggling with the bouncer, headed into the strange underground drinking den. Beldabarr’s Rest was a real old fashioned dive, the floor sticky, bloodstains barely mopped up, and a set of patrons that would frighten the most hardened law-man. Drow, Minotaurs, Orcs, the place was open to all, and strangers were not entirely welcome. The Talons learned that Ontharr Frume would be at the Hiring Fair, and impressing him would be a quick way to set up a meeting. They three of them spent a bit of time drinking, before heading to bed, ready to sign up for the various events on the morrow.

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Yartar Bound

The Talons of Tresendar discussed their options with their allies in Phandalin, and it was decided Yartar would be the next port of call, Ontharr Frume being a known ally within the town. To get to Yartar would mean travelling through Triboar, and could take several days.

The trio packed and left swiftly, heading along the Triboar Trail. A brief but bloody encounter with a band of Many-Arrows orcs and a larger skirmish with a group of Umberlee worshipping river-raiders serving to alleviate any boredom during the journey.

Triboar proved to be a welcoming town, with a surfeit of pubs and coach houses. Tarlach Malthar was able to find a watering hole that met his exacting standards. After visiting several establishments, he settled on the The Frost-Touched Frog, an Inn that embraced fine drink as well as the arts. The staff were friendly, and even a potential confrontation with Yreskan Ammulk, a Half-Orc wheelwright. ended in amicable relations, with the Half-Orc offering his services in order to repair and maintain Grey’s cart.

Tarlach Malthar spent the evening working on his poetry, while Adaven got stuck into the fine food and drink on offer, unused to having so much money at his disposal.

A relaxing night was followed with an early start, the Half-Orc wheelwright made good on his word and the wagon was soon good to go again, for the second half of the journey, this time on the well-made road to Yartar, a welcome change from the rutted and ill maintained tracks around Neverwinter Wood.

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A Chance Encounter
Suspicious folk on the road

While journeying back to Phandalin, with Sergeant Markguth and his new recruit, Private Nighthill, in tow, the Talons of Tresendar happened across three travellers camping out along the road. Their suspicious behaviour led to a brief exchange of fire, in which Grey brutally killed two of them.

The survivor was able to tell them he was a cultist, and confirmed that the rest of his allies had split up, their mission in this particular part of the Sword Coast now complete. He clearly had no idea of the real goal of the Cult, but his information served to confirm that at least some of his allies had headed in the direction of Yartar.

All three of the cultists had displayed strange twitching behaviour, and Tarlach Malthar performed an impromptu autopsy on one of them, much to the horror of Sergeant Markguth. He was, however, unable to find the cause of their symptoms. All three cultists had strange holes, in their skin, and claimed a ‘worm’ had been placed inside them. It appeared something was growing within them, using their bodies as a host in order to grow. Adaven recalled seeing a pile of corpses that seemed to have large holes in their skin, as if something had eaten it’s way out of them, they surmised that a proportion of the strange draconic enemies, for example the dog-lizard attack drakes had been grown inside unsuspecting human hosts. Not a pleasant thought for the trip back to Phandalin.

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The Hatchery

On returning to the dragon cult, the Talons of Tresendar found the camp to be largely abandoned, bar a light guard surrounding the hatchery itself. They waltzed unopposed into the camp, slaying the guards at the entrance to the hatchery before following the path Adaven had scouted on his previous visit.

After fighting a larger group of cultists and Dragonclaws, who were eliminated thanks to a well-placed shatter spell from Tarlach Malthar coupled with some equally well placed strikes from Grey. Adaven then led them to the Wearer of Purple’s inner sanctum, where they uncovered a secret hatch leading into the depths of the cavern. The Talons climbed down the rope ladder and tumbled out into a large cavern, covered with relief carvings of dragons, the black dragons being noticeably more detailed. Standing in the centre of the room, her hands playing across an orb of pulsing black energy stood the Wearer of Purple herself, Frulam Mondath.

Frulam Mondath moved to attack immediately, ordering two lumbering Dragonborn warriors to engage the Talons in melee combat. The Dragonborn made the mistake of crossing swords with Grey, who wasted no time in cutting them down, with a modicum of help from Adaven, who slung spells at the trio of enemies, whittling them down. Soon the trio of enemies fell, despite the orb feeding on the wounds of the Talons, and directing the leached life energy into the desperate Frulam Mondath. Even with the aid of her twisted magic, she soon fell.

A small box lay under the orb of darkness, and whilst opening it, Tarlach Malthar triggered a trap, poisoning himself in the process. Despite this minor setback, the Talons were soon rested enough to push further into the interior of the Hatchery. Their exploration took then into a large cave with a sharp slope down to a lower level, the entrance covered with a thick cage. A malnourished band of Kobolds began a half-hearted attack from the darkened corner of the room, but were soon crushed. The Talons noticed a couple of the Attack Drakes that had been present during the siege, these were slightly larger however, and a set of collars and leashes nearby suggested they had been tamed to some degree. Dragon eggs littered the far corners of the cavern, their ominous forms illuminated by a series of pale blue lights at the perimeter of the room.

Whilst investigating the cavern, the Talons were then assaulted by a roper, a vicious stone-like creature who’s strength sapping tentacles pulled prey in to a gigantic maw. The Talons managed to fight the creature to an impasse, and convinced it to let them go in exchange for a supply of food (the corpses of cultists and kobolds alike sufficed). The Roper, happy with its tribute, allowed the Talons to proceed, fortunate for the heroes as they were sorely wounded during the encounter.

The Talons then spent several minutes scouring the rest of the hatchery, finding a large cavern filled with stirges, as well as a further cave with yet more dragon eggs, and more of the lizard-like attack drakes. A nest of kobolds also fell to their blades, the creatures lair a filthy stinking mess of discarded bones and rotten food.

The exit was blocked by a field of noxious fungi, which began to move, knocking Tarlach Malthar flat with their poisonous spores. Above the field of mushrooms swung a naked and bound halfling, who asked politely for their help as he dangled over the cavern floor. The Talons recovered their wits, and cut the remaining fungi to pieces, before rescuing the halfling, who introduced himself as Ratshadow.

Having scoured and secured the hatchery, the heroes headed back for Phandalin, the knowledge they had picked up suggesting the bulk of the cultists had headed for Yartar, although Rezmir seemed to have taken a small forced into the Mere of Dead Men. They decided to rest at the manor before deciding their next course of action.

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Returning to Phandalin

On returning to Phandalin, the Talons of Tresendar were met by Sildar Hallwinter, who congratulated them on the information they had attained, as well as the rescue of the captured townsfolk. Leosin Erlanthar the harper was also glad to see his master Escobert the Red, who in turn chose this moment to reveal himself as Rodolphus Crownhollow, former mentor to Adaven and powerful mage in his own right.

The heroes used their brief time in town to catch up with their goblin quartermaster, Droop, as well as overseeing the remaining repairs to Tresendar Manor post-siege. Grey used the time to exchange messages with Halia Thornton, whilst Adaven caught up with his Dwarven tutor.

After this brief respite, the Talons were tasked with a further visit to the Dragon Cult’s camp, in order to further scout the camp, as well as dealing with whatever threat lay within the hatchery.

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The Cultist's Camp
Here be Dragons?

The Talons disguised themselves as cultists and followed the trail left by the passing army with ease. Despite dispersing on their retreat, groups of cultists had trod the ground flat in their passing. The Talons soon happened upon a rear-guard, holding out in a small hollow, their number consisted of a group of cultists and a large red Dragonborn, as well as a small band of Kobolds. After some awkward small-talk, the Talons were on their way again, the foe none the wiser for their passing and the location of the camp disclosed to them by the unsuspecting cultists.

The camp itself lay in a wide hollow, with sloping cliff faces surrounding the settlements, rising to over 100ft at the tallest point. Kobolds made their filthy lair at one end, whilst at the other lay a network of caves, guarded by several of the black-robed and masked Dragon cultists. Security was lax, and the Talons easily talked their way into the encampment, before setting about investigating the size and threat of the enemy force, as well as searching for the mysterious Dwarven Harper.

The prisoners were soon located, and with some friendly banter, the guards allowed the Talons access on the pretence that they wanted to gloat at the captives. Tarlach Malthar was able to converse with the Dwarf, who seemed unwilling to be rescued, having formed his own plans, but grudgingly agreed to accompany the trio. Adaven and Grey decided to gather more information on the camp, in order that a plan could be formed.

Grey spent several hours conversing with the mercenaries and soldiers in the camp, running into a fellow Dragonborn who had been present when the Talons ran into the rearguard of the cult army on the approach to the main camp. The red Dragonborn and Grey made small talk and Grey was able to gather some intelligence on the number and leadership of the cult in the Sword Coast.

Adaven made even better progress, casting a spell of invisibility, he was able to access the cave (ominously referred to as the hatchery), and observe the leadership in conversation, the mysterious Wearer in Purple – Frulam Mondath and her superior, the Half-Dragon, Wyrmspeaker Rezmir. The Wyrmspeaker appeared to be heading south on cult business, and had charged Mondath with protecting the hatchery before moving on with the remainder of the cult’s forces. Adaven was also able to gather further intelligence on cult numbers and hierarchy, stealing ledgers and papers from Mondath’s desk.

On meeting again, later at night, the trio forged a plan to escape with their prisoners. They would gather garb to disguise the prisoners, Adaven would disguise himself as Frulam Mondath in order to convince the guards to let him see the prisoners alone while Grey set fire to the Kobold camp, causing a commotion and drawing defenders away. Tarlach Malthar aided the plan by building piles of flammable material amongst the haphazard Kobold tents. The trio and their liberated allies would then scale the sloping wall of the canyon by rope and escape into the night.

The plan started smoothly enough, Tarlach Malthar and Adaven were able to secure the prisoners, and Grey certainly caused a distraction. Unfortunately, the distraction was entirely focused on Grey himself, and he was outed as “the Slayer of ”/wikis/langdedrosa-cyanwrath" class=“wiki-page-link”>Cyanwrath“, a title he took some pride in, but one that made him rather unpopular amongst the ”/wikis/Cult%20of%20the%20Dragon/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Cult of the Dragon. Grey decided that flight would be more prudent than flight on this occasion, and took to his heels, gathering a sizeable following as he went.

Adaven and Tarlach Malthar were thus able to escape with the liberated prisoners far easier than they had suspected, and after ushering them into a safer position away from the ridge, began looking for Grey. Fortunately the Dragonborn had eventually shaken his pursuers, and was able to spy his allies atop the camp’s natural wall, he quickly made haste to the rope proffered to him, and began scrambling to safety. As he climbed, Tarlach Malthar fired a few arrows into the pursuing cultists, and was able to wing the Wearer of Purple, much to his satisfaction.

With the prisoners free, the Talons made haste back to Phandalin while confusion still reigned in the cultist’s lair.

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The Lonely Hunt
Tracking the Cult

After the cult’s forces retreated, the Talons took some time to recuperate, and inspect the damage to their facilities – arranging for Dwarven help in repairing the battered manor.

It wasn’t long before another visitor arrived, a man familiar to Tarlach Malthar, who had earlier followed him through Phandalin’s streets, after having suspected him of spying on the Talons. The man was a Half-Elf monk, introducing himself as Leosin Erlanthar. Erlanthar was cagey about his employment situation, but after Tarlach Malthar presented him with the coded message he had taken from Leosin during their last brief encounter, it became clear he was affiliated with the Harpers. Leosin requested the aid of the Talons in rescuing his master, a Dwarf who had gotten himself captured in an encounter with the Cult of the Dragon in order to gain access to their camp.

Sildar Hallwinter was most interested in scouting the camp as well, reasoning to Adaven that the Lord’s Alliance would benefit from knowing the plans of the cult, and would be able to divert resources to protect any potential target the cult may have.

The Talons of course agreed to take up the challenge, deciding to set off after the cult at first light. The size of the force made tracking rather easy, and they soon set off to the south in pursuit of their foes.

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