Eleak Melner (Ed)
Valin Numenor (Steve)
Caesare Corvis the Rogue err…Wizard (Kurt)
O’Dell Hammersmiter (Bob)
Klang Rockseeker (Toby)
The Waterdeep Shortcut
We find our heroes exchanging boasts around a small fire, a few dozen yards off the damp road to Waterdeep and sheltered by a natural wall of stone. While far better than the swampy gloom of the Dyrgalas Fens, it was no soft bed or or life of ease. Wary of what the forest might conceal, they kept one or more of their number always on guard.
Valin and Orik had gone off on their nightly Emerald Enclave indoctrination process. It wasn’t long before the dwarves grew hungry, so they sent Raven out to hunt and Izzionoir had insisted on accompanying her.
O’Dell and Klang had tapped the keg of ale while Eleak practiced a few chords of a new sonata. Technically, Eleak was on watch, but there was little worry this early in the evening. They had only seen a few travelers on the road that day, most farmers and woodsmen on their way to market in nearby towns. However, it was the disheveled hooded figure that caught their attention.
Caesare was a little worn and road weary, but otherwise appeared unharmed. When questioned about his whereabouts, he gave a strange story about his bladder relief turning into a wood nymph encounter that was hard to believe. Yet he offered no alternative accounting of his time despite the skeptical looks of his fellow adventurers…and it was a watery area that nymphs prefer. There was no accounting for wizard’s (or nymph’s) tastes, especially when one fashions himself a rogue.
So it was that Caesare, resting on with his back to the fire, noticed him first. A man dressed in what appeared to be Red Wizard trappings, approached the camp calling for Eleak. O’Dell and Klang were quick with their weapons as their previous encounters with the Red Wizards of Thay rarely ended well. This one pulled out a Harper symbol and requested he speak with Eleak.
Setting aside his instrument, Eleak pushed past the dwarves and approached him. After some verbal exchanges with Eleak (and some insight checks by the dwarves), he was allowed to into their fire’s warmth and light. He introduced himself as Paelius, a wizard of some renown. He had come to speed our travel to a vitally important meeting in Waterdeep concerning the dragon cultists.
Between his robes, articulate speaking, and lack of wear on his hands confirmed his claim to wizard. His description of the dragon cultists and how “they’ve opened a door to make things much worse” made it clear he wasn’t necessarily interested in lawful intervention. Rather, he was concerned about his self-interests.
He mentioned Leosin and that Eleak would not be known to him. He also described a Remallia Haventree as a “goody two shoes” who he respected by had no “chemistry” with, suggesting he may not be a clearly good actor. He suggested we befriend her to get help and “resources” as she will speak at the meeting on behalf of the Harpers. She’s open and friendly, so even the Goblin Stompers might receive an audience with her.
When questioned about his choice of robes and possible links to the Wizards of Thay, he pointed out that he had no tattoos, was not bald, was not being hunted by local authorities, and was not here to negotiate on their behalf. He was here to offer his help in hastening their travel to Waterdeep by way of a nearby teleportation circle. He is seeking a return to balance, further suggesting he was more neutral in his views.
He then went on to say that he is aware of strife amongst the Red Wizards about the dragon cultists’ plan to see Tiamat’s return – some in support and some not. This has weakened them. Their dismal land, guarded by undead and controlled by a lich (Szass Tam) whose grip is weaking. The Red Wizards are generally guided by Zulkirs (one per school of magic). But that’s a story for another time.
After hinting he may have something for O’Dell, he gave Caesare a scroll book. In it were several spells, one of which was teleportation circle. As he handed it over, they noticed the name Hobart (something) and when asked about that, Paelius explained that he won’t be needing it anymore.
Spells in spell book: color spray, sleep, dimension door, invisibility, phantasm force, polymorph, haste, water breath, hold monster, teleportation circle
Paelius stressed that the Goblin Stompers leave immediately as there was no time to waste. He asked that we pack up now and leave as the meeting is on the morrow. Do not wait for your hunting party to return…make haste! Klang asked where exactly this teleportation circle would lead and Paelius simply smiled and replied, “A welcoming temple of Marthamoor Duin in downtown Waterdeep good cleric.” That sealed it for Klang.
There was a brief digression about Lord Flotion in Phlan as O’Dell’s Lords Alliance contact and how Paelius worked in the Phlan library for many years. It was interrupted by the return of the arrogant Izzionoir, who was suitably flustered by Raven’s sending him back to camp after scaring away some game on her hunt.
Paelius, seeing his opportunity to escape further questioning and needing to be on his way, said some quick goodbyes and walked off into the darkness just as he had come. Wizards…odd lot they are.
As they discussed the usual problems of splitting the party, Leosin’s voice once again emanated from a large raven who has perched nearby – “Paelius, a planeswalker, will be visiting you. Heed his words. Raawk!” That ended the discussion and they left.
Leaving a message scrawled in the dirt for their comrades, they made haste for the teleportation circle. After casting the incantation, all five stepped into it. Despite the odd sensation of moving without moving and some emptied stomaches on arrival, the trip was thankfully uneventful.
Waterdeep – Fear in the City of Splendors
As promised, they had arrived in Waterdeep’s Marthamoor Duin temple and Leosin was there to greet them. He explained a Great Council of Waterdeep would have the 5 factions meeting tomorrow at the Lord’s Palace.
Klang was pleased at visiting one his deity’s grandest temples. Greeting all the acolytes he could quickly find, he made himself a nuisance for the temple leaders who were eager to see him on his way.
As they stepped outside the temple, a sudden shift in the wind and a tremor shook the air, like an approaching storm, and then all went unnaturally quiet. After checking that this wasn’t a normal after-effect of teleportation, they realized something serious was going down and it must involve some serious magic.
Leosin suggested we seek out Dala Silmerhelve, a Waterdhavian noble. He explained he was not invited to the meeting at the Lord’s Palace (he prefers working in the background), but that he had made arrangements for the heroes stay at the Cracked Barrel inn. When O’Dell pressed him for better accommodations, he said he would ensure they were private quarter arrangements and left.
Being a bit concerned about how fast the Goblin Stompers were being moved along, O’Dell decided to do a little sanity check by using his divine sense…just to make sure no celestial, fiend or undead were manipulating them nearby. There were none detected.
Eleak requested new armor, so he and Klang went shopping. Waterdeep had an extensive market for many hard to find goods, particularly those of a magical nature.
O’Dell, snapping out of his divine sense efforts, realized he was now with two wizards and no idea how to find this Dala person. Doh! Bribing the nearest acolyte with a 5 gold donation to the temple, he asked how he might contact Dala. The acolyte brought him to one of the clerics who provided directions and an introduction. O’Dell convinced the cleric to let the acolyte guide him and was off.
Caesare left explaining he need to make contact with his faction. O’Dell was relieved he only had to suffer the presence of the arrogant Izzionoir now. At least he wouldn’t have to explain Caesare’s rogue-like appearance to this Dala person.
The meeting with Dala (a human) went smoothly by dwarven standards. She explained the strange sensation today was the sounding of the Draakhorn. A horn of immense proportions that summons chromatic (evil, mercilous) dragons, and it’s summoning them to the Well of Dragons (you know, where those armies were being gathered by the dragon cultists) in the south west part of the Sword Coast. In fact, it alerts all dragons in Faerûn…and the good dragons are concerned.
She explained that the Goblin Stompers were uniquely positioned to receive support in the meeting as it had representation of all the factions within its ranks. That would make it much easier to quell dissent and get all 5 factions working together. She is certain that unless something is done to stop it, the dragon cultists will see the return of Tiamat.
She asked O’Dell that the Goblin Stompers be on their best behavior…and be sure to bathe before hand (a not so subtle jab at O’Dell’s less than savory odors that serve him so well when adventuring). O’Dell thanked her for the information and advice, then departed for the Cracked Barrel.
Upon arriving he found Eleak in newly tailored studded leather armor, admiring a ring (of protection +1) on his finger. Shaking his head at the vanity of the half-elf bard, O’Dell cornered Klang for coin to freshen up a bit. Klang knowing this wasn’t going to be an inexpensive effort, handed over a sack of silver and a few gold. With that, O’Dell headed out for his annual cleansing event.
Ceasare returned after meeting with his faction contact. While he shared none of that encounter, he found it reassured himself that he had selected the right faction. He had been informed that his faction planned to “take care of some problems” with this joint effort, they were eager profit from it, and Ceasare’s role was to make sure no other faction got the upper hand on the Zhentarim. He was to be their eyes & ears, keep all this from his fellow Goblin Stompers, was to take no white wyrm speaker alive…and should prevent their resurrection. That suited Ceasare just fine as he didn’t like taking prisoners. His contact’s last instruction was that they had not met and do not know each other. And with that, Ceasare left for the Cracked Barrel.
O’Dell returned the next morning with a braided beard and flowers in his beard, his plate armor aglow and Clangeddin Silverbeard’s holy symbol radiating with new found glory. Valin, Orik and Raven had arrived, but were extremely road weary. It had taken them all night to reach Waterdeep and one of the horses died shortly after arrival from exhaustion.
Leosin further informed the Goblin Stompers about the events that precipitated this meeting – one of the Lords of Waterdeep was assassinated and all suspicions are on the dragon cultists. Guards from all areas of northern states and cities would be present for security reasons.
He explained the Harpers preferred that he play a background role, in this case he was facilitating a desire by multiple factions (including the Harpers) to have the Goblin Stompers attend. After centuries of bad blood between the factions, it would be difficult to agree on much and what little trust exists would be tested. So it was paramount that the team be composed of all the factions.
Even the less perceptive among our heroes could sense a lack of courtly grace and patience might be more the reason for the monk’s lack of invite to the Lord’s Palace, yet none voiced this more obvious reason. They were a bit focused on the tension between their factions. Uneasy glances went around the room.
Lord’s Palace – Council Meeting
And so it was time to make their way to the Lord’s Palace. After being escorted through the palace grounds by a contingent of guards, they were handed off to the palace guard who handle security within the palace itself. After passing through several well appointed hallways and posh anterooms, they came to a large chamber where many nobles were gathered. Banners of the various local and other nobility hung from the walls and ceiling.
Faction representatives were present as were several kings, ladies, and other influential leaders including Taern “Thunderspells” Hornblade (Silverymoon), Lord Dagint Neverember (Neverwinter), Marshal Ravengard (Baldur’s Gate), King Melandrach (Misty Forest), Delaan Winterhound (Emerald Enclave), King Connerad Brawnanvil (Mithril Hall), Lady Laeral Silverhand (Waterdeep), Sir Isteval (Daggerford / Cormyr), Remallia Haventree (Harper).
The meeting was called to order. The nobles discussed the threats being faced and their need for information to combat them. Their intent is to deputized the Goblin Stompers, providing a writ of investigative powers.
However, there were some dissent among the nobles. It seems the adventures of the Goblin Stompers preceded them, with both good and bad perceptions. Klang looked to O’Dell and they nodded in agreement – damn bard songs! Have to pay more attention to those. Some questioned the wisdom of destroying the dragon eggs, leaving a half-crazed cloud giant with a flying castle, and dispensing weapons to children. After some smooth talking by O’Dell, he got them to overlook some of their past less stellar moments and focus on the future.
Eventually, the nobles agreed to move forward together on gathering information on the nefarious cultists’ plans. They all agreed that Tiamat would rise again unless stopped. They provided two threads for the Goblin Stompers to follow – find out what happened to the Draakhorn or chase down Varaam, the White Wyrm Speaker who holds the white dragon mask. After the recent Draakhorn sounding, they agreed that is probably the higher priority.
It seems a tiefling soceress named Maccath the Crimson, of the Arcane Brotherhood, went in search of the Draakhorn but hasn’t been seen since. Her last magical sending spell to the brotherhood said she was far to the north in The Sea of Moving Ice and going with a tribe of locals called the Ice Hunters to a massive iceberg. Scrying only found her ship and no sign of her. The lair of a dragon would be warded from scrying.
If Maccath is alive, in addition to the lore she can share regarding the Draakhorn, the Arcane Brotherhood would be most grateful to get her back. The council could certainly use the brotherhood’s assistance.
The council offered to equip the Goblin Stompers with cold weather gear, snow shoes, and a ship for icy waters that is owned by Dala. The ship’s name is Frost Skimmer and is piloted by Captain Lerustah.
O’Dell attempted to negotiate more, but was summarily shut down. At least they didn’t put any limits on the booty our heroes could take, should the opportunity arise.
And with that, they headed back out of the palace, once again escorted. Back in the city of Waterdeep, Orik spoke up, asking about laying his hands on some magic weapons. Raven chimed in with similar desires. So instead of heading back to the Cracked Barrel, Klang and the two magic deprived adventurers made their way to the city’s market district. The rest felt they needed some downtime to think, prepare and eat back at the inn.
When Orik, Raven and Klang returned, they were tired of shopping and haggling. Orik got himself a battle ax +1 decorated with leaves, vines and stars on it’s hilt and head. It always points north and is distasteful for him to hold, but it was on sale! Raven was slightly more pleased with her newly acquired scimitars +1 and a pair of daggers (one was a dagger of venom). Even Klang was closely examining a wand of cure light wounds. This all reduced the party’s coffers by 10,000 gold.
The next day, they headed to the Frost Skimmer down at the docks to meet and greet this Captain Lerustah. He wore a hood to hide his face, one side of which had suffered frostbite and now offered only a disfigured glare to contrast with the other, mostly intact and once handsome half. Certainly a man who had seen some tougher times.
The ship itself was a long ship with a shallow draft and oars. From bow to stern, she was maybe 60 feet. As the captain explained, they could opt to rest and pull the boat onto an ice flow, or continue rowing through the night. Weighing anchor was dangerous among the ice flows – you could become ice locked or worse. Never want to stop moving among the ice flows.
O’Dell did most of the talking while the others considered how they might defend or assist on such a craft. Having been trained as a mercenary on an island, Klang was well aware of water and its tricky ways. His first stop after this would be for some flotation devices (aka. water wings) – a dwarf in heavy armor sees nothing but danger in the sea. O’Dell had confirmed the trip by sea would take at least 3 days to reach the ice flows, depending on the weather, and another few days of searching.
Izzionoir, Eleak and Caesare were mulling over what spells they might use aboard a ship. Fire wasn’t a great idea and many other spells were equally poor choices. A long lasting ritual alarm would offer some defense and mage hand would prove helpful at the oars.
While leaving, O’Dell talked up some of the seamen about Captain Lerustah, just to confirm he is indeed a respected if not might explorer in icy waters. He has experience in moving people, so it all seemed to check out as good. Never be hasty to get aboard a ship without checking on the captain’s background.
Heading North by Sea
The next day, our heroes set sail on a slightly overcast day into the Sea of Swords, due north. Tacking to stay parallel with the Sword Coast, those on deck could just make out the Mintarn Island to the northwest as the sun set. Otherwise, the day was uneventful…well, there was the small matter of finding their sea legs, which some did better than others.
The second day had the water a bit rougher and the wind a lot colder, ending with the The Ice Peak barely visible to the north east. Still uneventful. It was about then that Valin and Klang came up with an alternate name for the ship, but the captain was not interested.
Reaching the Sea of Moving Ice the next day proved even less exciting. It was bitter cold now and everyone had put on their winter gear. South of them, between snow squalls, they could make out the Spine of the World – the mountains that marked the northern edge of the civilized world. And so it was that they entered to Sea of Moving Ice in search of Maccath.
As they searched, the would occasionally see native hunters on shore or making their way across the ice. They seemed to keep their distance though, something the captain remarked on as being odd. The natives were short, brown skinned, and dressed in heavy furs. They number about 12 or so. Their dogs would sleep in the distance, so no accurate count of those.
This went on for over two days. On the third day, about midday, they came upon a massive iceberg – something that matched what Maccath described. It was hundreds of meters tall, yet had a small landing area for ships. A hunter village could be seen in the distance with smoke trailing up from their huts and structures.
The captain gathered the Goblin Stompers in his quarters. “Tain’t seen nut’in like dis ice-burg before and der ain’t no telling what’er ‘appen when me crew steps afoot of it, ya see…Yar!”. O’Dell assured him that the Goblin Stompers would take it from here if he would simply stay docked here until nightfall. The captain saw this as a kind gesture and offered a translator to join them at 50 gold per day.
After some haggling, O’Dell could see they was at the mercy of the captain and let it go. He planned to request reimbursement from the council later. Departing from the boat with the translator, the Goblin Stompers could better see the yurts made of seal skins and igloos that had obviously been here for some time. Off to the side, near the shore, they also noticed some large quantities of bones scattered about – whale and seal from the looks of them. Raven and Valin took a closer look and confirmed that was indeed what they were, but they had large teeth marks on the bones, like something very large at them.
The village was at the top of an ice cliff, the face of which had stairs cut into them that led them up. Carved from the ice wall, they made for a challenging climb. A good ways up, they noticed some figures in the ice wall – 10 in all – and they seemed to be Luskan warriors, a dwarf, and some local natives. Valin remembered one of the nobles mentioning that Maccath had some dwarves with her.
Those attuned to magic sensed a little necromancy magic was used here. Perhaps to ward off others who would look to betray or steal from the village? It was time to get to the top of the cliff and to the bottom of all these mysteries. So they hustled up the rest of the stairs.
At the top, the Goblin Stompers were greeted by a group of natives, 8 warriors among them who kept looking beyond the party, as if expecting something to follow. The natives seemed content to talk through the translator and cast ugly looks at the magic casters. After managing to ask a few questions, it was clear they were not interested in having guests or visitors in their village.
When asked about Maccath or a dragon, they said they knew of no such thing. They did mention a sea monster (that’s what the bones are from), but no dragon.
It was about then that the village shaman joined the not-so-welcoming committee. He seemed much more interested in a little wager between Orik and the village champion – Orca Heart. No magic was to be used – just straight combat sport…weapons optional.
They opted for weapons, Orca Heart went with a spear and shield. Orik for his battle axe. Orik lost and was revived by O’Dell. In exchange for the loss, we gave them most of our non-magical weapons. That seemed to settle the deal as the villager did not trust magic and were always in desperate need of metal. As O’Dell said, “Don’t squeeze the shaman”.
The villagers made sure we found our way back to our ship and bid us fair well – in no uncertain terms. As our heroes left, they noticed the shaman was staring at them in thought. Puzzled about where to go, they decided to circle the iceberg in the hopes of finding another landing or some idea how to proceed.
About half way round, O’Dell realized he could use the boots of flying to do a flyover. Donning the boots, he set off. Not long after, he noticed the shaman, alone, flagging him down. Landing near the shaman, O’Dell learned the the chief and other villagers had lied. There was a white dragon lairing within the iceberg and the villagers were there to put off visitors and help feed the beast. That didn’t please the shaman, who was intent on driving it off.
There was also a magic caster matching Maccath’s description held below as well, but it was unclear if she still lived. The dragon’s main entrance is below the water, but there were also tunnel entrances in the village – one in the main village hall and one in the shaman’s hut.
And so it was that O’Dell and the shaman concocted a scheme to sneak the adventurers into the village while the dogs were silenced. Raven was to go in with a silence spell cast on her and mute the dogs. The rest of the party would follow a few minutes behind, also with a silence spell on them. Amazingly, it all went like a well oiled machine – it helps to have someone on the inside.
Once in the shaman’s hut, they quickly hustled down the stairs before the silence spell wore off. The shaman covered their tracks in the snow, so no one was the wiser. Too bad they were in such a hurry as three heroes slipped and fell, taking serious damage in the process. O’Dell healed the worst of the wounds and then they took a short rest.
The Icy Caverns
The ice caverns and tunnels were lit by whale oil fueled lamps. As they entered the first room, they found it large with a 20-foot high ceiling, draconic imagery decorating the walls, and no occupants. Taking the 10-foot wide corridor down about 30-feet, they came to a fork. Taking the left, they followed it about 60 feet before they came to a narrow side passage that was 7-feet wide. Deciding to abandon the relatively exposed position in the corridor, which continued on, they took the narrow side passage.
The smell of filthy creatures quickly filled their nostrils (even O’Dell smelled them) and Raven, scouting ahead, called a halt. She scampered back to the rest and explained there was good sized kobold group ahead. They agreed to take a prisoner or two for questioning as kobolds usually service a dragon’s needs.
Well, after slaying 10 of the 12 kobolds, it turned out they were being held captive to serve the white dragon, named Arauthator. When asked what else inhabits the place, they learned ice toads, ice trolls, more kobolds, and a dragon were all present. When asked about Maccath, they eagerly offered to lead the Goblin Stompers to her. On the way, they stopped in what could only be described as the dragon’s trophy room, full of various creatures remains – yetis, remorhaz, and a long ship with sails – most frozen into the walls of ice.
The next room they came to had a large pit in the center with cold issuing from it. The kobolds informed them that’s where they lower stuff to the dragon here. Carefully keeping the kobolds between themselves and the pit, they moved on.
Once in the next hallway, the saw someone moving towards them, still a ways off. They were dressed in a red cloak and was moving to one side as if to go by them. Now in close quarters, Izzionoir recognized the silver broach of the Arcane Brotherhood (a warship) on the cloak and it became clear she was a tiefling. The kobolds confirmed this was her, but isn’t she a captive? Wouldn’t the dragon need to keep such a powerful magic caster bound and gagged? Hmm…more mysteries.
Before they had a chance to do more than greet her, an ice troll rounded the corner ahead. The blue tinged creature seemed to be keeping a close eye on her, an eye that was quickly decimated along with the rest of it’s body. The Goblin Stompers would not be deterred when their goal was so close at hand.
It was the two kobolds that accompanied the troll that was more of an issue as they turned and ran. They were taken down by a fire bolt. Then it was time to question Maccath, or at least this person matching her description.
It seems she and the dragon struck some sort of agreement where she remains as a “guest” of the dragon and provides it with information about the brotherhood while she learns more of dragon lore and relics (seems the dragon is the only one who knows how to use certain magical relics). However, she was growing weary (and possibly frustrated) with the dragon and would entertain the idea of “rescue”.
After describing the usual Goblin Stomper tactics to kill the dragon and escape the iceberg with as much loot as they could carry, she insisted on learning the whereabouts of the Arcane Brotherhood’s property (a magical ring, magical arrows, etc.) and securing it before the dragon is slain. Seems the dragon stole somethings from the Arcane Brotherhood and they wanted them back.
She likewise confirmed the dragon’s main entrance/exit is by a watery passage and that the Draakhorn had been here about 18 months ago. It was then taken by the Dragon Cultists after some negotiations with Arauthator. The Draakhorn was forged when the dragons were fighting a war against the giants to alert all dragons within 2000 miles. It take a large or two medium sized creatures to operate it. It will unsettle all creatures within a mile when blown.
There was more background, but none of that history seemed particularly important to the situation at hand. What they did learn was the Maccath had been here for 3 years and that if they tried to leave with her by ship, the dragon would easily be able to sink the ship on the open water and send them all into frigid waters of the deep. Yeah, they were not leaving with her without killing the dragon first.
No experience awarded yet. No treasure either. It’s one of “those” adventures.