Discussed our options about how to proceed in Valin’s absence. Options included:
1. Avoiding the dragon and returning to Phandalin to level up and return later.
2. Negotiating with the dragon to have him take up residence in Cragmaw Castle, using the diamonds as an incentive.
3. Picking up a bunch of archers in Neverwinter and returning in force to address the dragon.
Pros and cons were reviewed and weighed. While there was little real consensus, we went with 2.
Discussed the fact that with the next level, we can choose between 2 ability skill points or take a feat. Unlike Pathfinder, there are no “teamwork” type feats.
Instead of leaving a loose end, O’Dell put the dragon cultist in manacles and kept him with the party.
Confirmed with Reidoth that green dragons have a poisonous breath weapon. Reviewed the Thundertree map and remaining known threats together. Then set out to clear the remaining threats and confront the dragon after a long rest.
And so began the long, slow slog of finding and dispatching what evils Thundertree yet sheltered. We avoided making any loud noises that might attract the dragon’s attention. Up to this point, we had only gone through the town’s outskirts. So no shatter spells today.
Twig blights were found and eliminated in several of the remaining buildings. Other brush was cleared away with torches and oil, just to discourage their return. Naturally, the twig blights had nothing of value.
While burning away their webs, two nasty giant spiders decided the party looked like lunch. Instead, spider guts were soon splattered across the area as hammer, ax and arrow made short work of them. The party really needs someone who can cast prestidigitation.
The remains of a long dead elf were found amongst the webs. Thankful Valin was busy with Reidoth, we claimed the supple studded leather armor, short sword and scarab, potion of healing (fat lot of good it did him), 23 gold and 35 silver. The dead elf won’t be needing them anymore.
Making for the last unexplored area, we found a statue of Palien, a local hero. Nothing magical about it, but also not overgrown with brush either. Perhaps the heavily traveled paths around the statue discouraged overgrowth there?
Based on its appearance, the barracks building may have once been used as “the keep” in times of emergency. It certainly would have contributed to the foot traffic around the statue.
The barracks building, while likely having housed many troops, now housed 5 ash zombies. This time, they were armored, but the armor was so poor, it only served to further slow the already lethargic zombies. Taklann was unhappy about not using his shatter spell. But it was like shooting fish in a barrel as they shambled out of the door one-by-one and were returned to their afterlives. The barracks had a kitchen and some sleeping quarters, but nothing of valued remained. Even the rats had vacated the premises.
After a few more patches of twig blights in what appeared to be a textile maker’s ruined shop, the town was cleared, leaving only the dragon in the tower. As we stared at the tower, a few of the party remembered it had been built by a wizard after the volcano disaster. The wizard was killed by ash zombies some 35 years ago.
That had some in the party pondering why a wizard would build a tower in a zombie infested town that had already suffered from a volcano eruption? And who created the zombies and twig blights to begin with? It seems Thundertree had seen its share of bad times and maybe was cursed…or simply a magnet for evil.
After another long rest, the party approached the tower. On the path were two giant dead spiders, mauled by some creature. Klang inspected the remains and concluded it was likely the dragon’s handy work.
The party noticed a cottage was attached to tower and the main tower’s roof was missing. That eliminated the possibility of caving the roof in on the dragon. What remained were 40 foot high walls and a dragon within.
As agreed, the three dwarves approached the dragon while the human stayed within bow range near the entrance. O’Dell did the talking, attempting to win over the dragon. The dragon was skeptical of what was offered – Castle Cragmaw deep in the Neverwinter forest, 3 diamonds, and 10% of our adventuring booty so long as it did not threaten the nearby towns. During the exchange, the dragon asked why it would leave what it had here, yet never explained what exactly that might be.
The dragon negotiations failed (so many failed persuasion checks!) and the dragon offered the dwarves 5 seconds to leave. Instead, the dwarves launched an attack. Klang’s attempt to blind the dragon failed, but O’Dell, Taklann, and Kevin were far more successful with their damage attacks. So much so that when Klang rushed into the fray on the next round, the dragon took flight to flee. What a push over!
Unwilling to let such an evil creature loose on the world, the party loosed their ranged attacks with O’Dell delivering the killing blow with a simple arrow from short bow. The youth of the dragon and the dwarves’ natural resistance to poison (and all making their saving throws) played heavily into the party’s victory.
While Klang waffled on whether to heal the dragon to extract information from it, his fellow party members were already removing the beast’s hide and loading it into the wagons. Everyone agreed that fresh Dragon flank is tasty when slow roasted over an open fire.
The dragon’s “horde” was the departed wizard’s chest, including 800 silver, 150 gold, 4 moon stone silver goblets (60 gold each), a scroll of misty step, a scroll of lightening, and a rusty magical battle ax of dwarven make with “Hew” inscribed on the ax head.
All those who participated in the dragon slaying leveled up. We each took a little time to adjust our ability scores or select our new feats.
- O’Dell took the Sentinel feat
- Kevin too the Dungeon Delver feat
- Klang took two points of Wisdom
- Taklann took the Heavily Armored feat
Once the treasure and dragon carcass were loaded into the wagons, the party took a long rest to recover. After notifying Reidoth and Valin of the dragon’s demise, the party set out for Phandalin. It was not an easy trip – the stench of rotting dragon drew some unwanted attention.
That included 9 Stirges (who took a roll in the camp fire with O’Dell), 6 hobgoblins, and 5 ghouls. It seems with every group of nasties we dispatch, there were a dozen more eager buggers to take their place. With the addition of 6 long swords, 6 long bows, 93 arrows, 6 sets or chain mail, and 6 shields, the wagons were overflowing with gear and dragon parts as we rolled into Phandalin.
Our business was brisk, trading in most of the haul for coin and then converting that coin to minimize weight. The plate armor O’Dell had ordered had arrived and was purchased. His chain mail was given to Taklann. Some locals asked about Valin, certain the elf was dead. They were assured by the dwarves that he was simply spending some quality time with the druid Reidoth in Thundertree.
The party visited Mirna and returned her family’s heirloom. She was thankful and gave each a kiss.
Gundren was on his feet and eager to get on with learning of his brothers’ whereabouts and the status of the Wave Echo Cave. So we were off early the following morning and soon were passing through the entrance to a cavern. It appeared natural with stalagmites here and there. At their touch, each of the dwarves let out a sigh of relief – finally some solid stone under their feet and roof over their heads.
The back of the cavern was a large pit with 20 foot sides – had the floor simply collapsed? It was pretty dark, but the dwarves could make out what appeared to be tunnels on either end at the bottom of the pit. To one side they saw a rope tied to stalagmite. Upon closer inspection, it was sturdy dwarven hemp rope.
It was there, in that first cavern, behind a stalagmite that the party found Tharden’s and Nundro’s camp. Tharden’s body lay dead. Nundro was missing. It was a most disturbing sight for Gundren and Klang. Taklann discreetly informed Klang that Tharden’s boots were magic.
So while preparing the body for transit back to town, Klang removed Tharden’s boots, claiming it was a custom so that he can feel the stone under his feet when he passes to Moradin’s realm. Gundren simply nodded to Klang, then added that Klang should probably keep them for his own use as they are magic (Boots of Striding & Springing). Klang felt like an ass as he helped Gundren load Tharden’s body on a cart and watched as Gundren headed back to Phandalin.
The party would investigate the mine and find what became of Nundro – hopefully he’s still alive. When Klang returned to the edge of the pit, Kevin had made his way to the bottom and was in complete darkness. Klang cast light on a stone and tossed it down to Kevin, who held it with only a small beam shining out.
Kevin confirmed the two exits were indeed tunnels. O’Dell made his way down and decided they would investigate the northwest tunnel. It led down a short way before Kevin spotted an ochre jelly. Taklann had made his way down the rope and found Kevin and O’Dell backing out of the tunnel. After a quick exchange of words, they started striking at the slime with both arrows and hammers.
Klang, still at the top of the ledge, decided that there was no sense in attracting more attention and cast a silence spell on them. That got him some mean and questioning looks as the three squeezed the ooze out of existence.
Once Kevin got back to exploring the tunnels, he found many ended in collapsed dead-ends. Using the “always go left” technique to mapping a maze, the party eventually located a tunnel that led to a cavern. During this process, the party became aware of a rhythmic beat of pounding…almost like a dwarven forge or the waves on a beach. As they entered the cavern, the sound grew louder. Hmm…perhaps the place was named well, in good dwarven fashion.
The cavern itself was fairly large, with a pool of running water and a stalagmite jutting up in one corner. Kevin shined his light into the pool and spotted a skeleton at the bottom. After tying one end of the rope to himself and handing the other end to Taklann, he dove in and retrieved two rings (75 gold each) and a magic wand. It appeared that the corpse was a human wizard. Seems like wizards lead short lives in this part of the world – first at Thundertree and now here. Some wondered what became of Goldtooth.
After exiting the water and removing the rope, Kevin kept the wand, not really sure what it might do. There was some head shaking, but no one challenged him for it. He found it, now it’s his.
On the far side of the pool, the water ran out of the room and a crashing of water could be heard in the distance. On their right, a set of stairs led up. Kevin again led the way, beaming his light careful not to let it attract too much attention. At the top of the stairs was a hallway with a door immediately opposite the stairs. Listening at the door, Kevin recognized it as Goblin-speak, but it took O’Dell’s weak grasp of the language to make out something about “hungry”.
The door itself opened inwards and was unlocked. So there was no point in breaking it down. O’Dell just opened it and made the best of the surprised bugbears inside – all 5 of them. Taklann quickly joined him in melee while Klang and Kevin kept back outside the door throwing spells and firing arrows into the room. Taklann was wishing he had some heavy armor on about now.
Kevin’s first use of the wand was at full strength, firing 3 magic missiles into the fray. His giddiness at being able to cast magic was evident as he kept firing until it appeared to be weakening. At which point it was back to business, firing arrows. Klang used his spiritual hammer, but it was O’Dell and Taklann who stole the show, demonstrating the proper fashion to flatten and dismember goblin-kind.
After a quick search of the bodies and the room, we found 5 morning stars, a potion of vitality, 15 copper, and 13 electrum. At the back of the room was a door, barred on this side as if keeping something inside. If it’s that dangerous, we’ll come back later for it.
After some more exploring, Kevin came upon another cavern, only this one was occupied by a drow looking down over a ledge and barking commands. The waterfall could be heard very close now, drowning out nearly all other sounds. This enabled the party to get a surprise round with O’Dell charging in without hesitation after Kevin’s mention of drow.
O’Dell was frustrated that the drow was again just a doppleganger. However, there was fun when Klang cut one of the two ropes the two bugbears at the bottom were climbing up to the ledge. The landing grunt was satisfying. The other received the kiss of Taklann’s magic war hammer just as it crested the top and another satisfying grunt as it landed. A few ranged weapon attacks and the two bugbears were no more.
It was obvious the bugbears were digging for something. A quick detect magic identified something in the rock near where they were digging. After several hours of digging, the party found the magical gauntlets still attached to their dead dwarven owner. After some tests, Taklann identified them as gauntlets of ogre power and were given to O’Dell.
Total party wealth is 2807 gold with 20 gold given to each party member and the rest kept in the chest in the wagon. All the scrolls are held by Taklann as is the ring of protection. The magic long sword +1 named Talon remains with Valin. O’Dell holds the gauntlets of ogre power and wields the magical battle axe +1 named Hew. Kevin passed the wand of magic missiles to Klang. Two potions of healing, a potion of flying, and a potion of vitality remain unassigned to specific party members. The magical boots are also unassigned.
We probably need to search the doppleganger and bugbears too. Then get rid of their bodies as they’ll have started stinking during hours we’ve been digging. Toss them in the river?
What do boots of striding and springing do exactly?