Against the Dragon: Episode 11: Sundry & Permission
[ I missed this session, so the following entry is from the perspective of Varo, the Drow Sorcerer ]
Upon arrival at the massive seaside city, our respective caravans dispersed and paid us. Shade and I bade farewell to our master of the smelly hides. The cultists did not stay; they continued north through the city, and Shade followed, sending his owl ahead. Outside the warehouse of the High Road Charter Company, he gathered that they would continue northward through the Mere of Dead Men.
I spoke to Jamna Gleamsilver, who met us in the city and recommended an inn to us, the Happy Hippo (whatever that might be). Privately, she showed me a mark she bore, and asked if I’d heard of the Zhentarim and whether I might be interested in such a mercenary group. I agreed. I then visited a local merchant of sorcerous goods to acquire a Wand of the War Mage, and joined Antony drinking in the inn, hiding my excitement.
That evening, Jamna bade us attend a “quiet council,” and led us into a back room, where stood Ontharr Frume of the Order of the Gauntlet, looking shiny and humorless, and Leosin Erlanthar of the Harpers, trying to look like his history doesn’t include “being captured and beaten nearly to death by cultists.” There also was Lady Laeral Silverhand, the “Open Lord of Waterdeep,” representing the Lords’ Alliance rather prettily, and Delaan Winterhound of the Emerald Enclave, trying to look more Elvish.
With all the factions together in one room (I must assume they know whom Jamna represents), they reiterated their goal of uniting against the Cult of the Dragon, to prevent the rise of Tiamat, in the service of the common good, et cetera, et cetera, political heart’s warmth without a hint of reward. Indeed, they offered us whatever common goods we might need, but I honestly believe it never occurred to them that such an undertaking might benefit from, say, monetary recompense? (Jamna agreed later that it is their way… I am confident that the methods of the Zhentarim will prove more lucrative.)
Our mission, then, is to continue following the cultists as they accompany a work crew northward to rebuild the High Road, which runs through the Mere. Our goal is eventually to slay two Wyrmspeakers: Galvan the Blue and Severin the Red… and eventually, Rezmir the Black, against whom I hope to test my skill. I never got a chance to get under that reptile’s skin, if for no reason than she shares a similar bloodline.
The High Road
We met Ardred Briferhew, who despite the misfortune of his name is a capable caravan master of the High Road Charter Company. With a writ from the factions, he agreed to hire us as laborers and guards. We headed north with the wagons. The cultists were none too pleased to see us. Bendrin threw them a kiss and I threw them a wink, so that they would remember us favorably as we traveled.
The High Road is in disrepair, stabbing through the seaside hills into the endless cold bog of the Mere. It is miserable stuff, and the sea is terrifying to look upon, a vast, unknowable expanse of water greater than any cavern. I never want to travel upon it.
After seven days of plodding through mud and pulling wet reeds and cattails from our boots, our tedium was broken. Shade and I were on first night watch when a wave of giant frogs leaped from the darkness at us. Shade fired an arrow, I fired fire, while calling for our companions. Bendrin laid about with his axe, Gorunth (Gopher no longer) with his hammer, making short work of the soon-to-be-frog-leg delicacies. One unfortunate frog lashed Gorunth with its tongue, only to disappear in an eye-blinding rebuttal of lightning. One does not strike a follower of Thor without consequence, I gather.
However, behind the frogs was at least a dozen bullywugs tramping toward us, which would have been of some concern except that I have recently discovered a new trick. Fireball! The resulting expanding globe of fiery death was a pleasure to unleash.
Grrff (I don’t recall how many, or if any, vowels exist in his name) added his own fire, and Antony leapt with dancing blades, and cleaned up the remaining creatures.
Cannarth Roadhouse is actually a well-built place of stone and wood, where both the horses and caravaneers are kept inside behind walls of stone. Bog Luck is the half-Orc owner of the roadhouse. We sat upstairs and ate and drank, hearing rumors here and there, including one from Gristle Pete the cook, who insists that he hears noises at night.
Shade immediately went to work and earned his keep. He chose a room directly below the cultists’, in order to spy upon them via his familiar. Bits of conversation revealed words like “strong room,” “tunnel,” “lizardfolk,” and “Bog Luck,” which is enough for us to condemn him as a collaborator. Shade then sneaked about and found where the Cult’s stolen goods were offloaded. He was shouted out of the storeroom by Bog, but managed a glimpse of another room.
That evening we appeared to retire. Bendrin and Gorunth, with their Dwarvish senses, checked the stone of the building in hopes of finding secret passages, then strode back in, waving away Bog’s questions with the claim of having done a security sweep around the perimeter. Shade left invisibly to pry into the secret room. He picked the lock, verified the stolen treasure and, I hope, lightened it somewhat. He hasn’t said.
In the morning, we were figuring out how to proceed. Our cultist friends were preparing to return to Waterdeep, their work done, and being sick of seeing them for over a month, we looked forward to ambushing them outside and wiping them out. Yet we also needed to determine when the treasure would be handed off.
That question was solved for us in the form of a vengeful cultist, who for some reason bore a grudge against Antony, simply for killing a dragon. He challenged the Ranger, which is a terribly bad idea, because Rangers always accept, and we all gathered in the main room, we and the cultists, staring each other down.
The fight went quick. The cultist was a fast hand with blades, and dealt Antony some hurt, but our delightfully brutal Halfling took him down and stabbed him dead for good measure, meeting the eyes of each cultist to make damned sure they saw it happen. Shade, being impulsive, highlighted them in faerie fire. Grrff entangled more of them with brambles, and two of them started to run upstairs to get at our Rogue.
It was apparent that maintaining my pretense of being on the side of the dragons would be made more difficult. Our cleric Gorunth stood in the line of fire, but he gave me a grave nod. He could withstand what I had to offer them.
“This is how she rewards failure,” I called to them, before dropping another ball of fire on their lizard-loving heads. Gorunth walked out of the fire and delivered lightning and thunder in murderous waves against the remainder, while Grrff and Antony dealt with Bog.
Bog’s guards rushed in, which I cannot comprehend since they have seen what we can do, and are obviously not paid well enough to die in a half-Orc’s defense, even if he is their employer. Shade put three of them to sleep, and we urged Bog to surrender. He called them off.
And now? We talk.
What will our “talk” with Bog Luck reveal? Tune in to Episode 12.