Lost Mine of Phandelver

Session 23

Of Dragons and Elephants

Cast
Raven (Kayla)
Orik (Alex)
Klang Rockseeker (Toby)
Valin Numenor (Steve)
Caesare Corvis the Rogue err…Wizard (Kurt)
O’Dell Hammersmiter (Bob)

The Maccath Tour of White Dragon Iceberg
Standing in the cold tunnels within the iceberg named Oyaviggaton on the Sea of Moving Ice, our heroes listened intently as Maccath enlightened them with the history surrounding the Draakhorn. Well, most of them did – Eleak and Izzionoir wandered off without anyone noticing. It was unclear if they left together or separately, but suspicious innuendos kept circulating among the Goblin Stomper team…but that came later.

Right now, Maccath the Crimson was describing the Draakhorn’s history…
The Draakhorn was a gift from Tiamat to dragonkind in the war between dragons and giants. It was once the horn of her ancient red dragon consort, Ephelomon. The Draakhorn is a signaling device. It requires two Medium creatures (or one Large or larger) to hold it while a third creature sounds it, making the earth resonate to its call. It has a dark ebony hue and is wrapped in bands of bronze with draconic runes that glow.

The low, moaning drone of the Draakhorn discomfits normal animals within a few miles, and it alerts all dragons within 2000 miles. Coded blasts were once used to signal specific messages, but they have been long forgotten.

Valin, uninterested in this boring historical minutia and put off by her tiefling heritage, took a closer look at the silver broach she wore. It was a tree who branches curved in around, supposedly the symbol of the arcane brotherhood. Nice bit of artwork…almost elven in nature.

Maccath then explained the current situation – the dragon keeps close tabs on her and if she is gone for more than a day, it will come looking for her. So our planned escape by boat would be short lived. In fact, given all the ruckus the Goblin Stompers have made down here, it’s likely the dragon is already well aware of the heroes presence.

She motioned that we return to her quarters so she could retrieve some items that might help defeat the dragon. Moving past the dead kobolds and trolls, they entered her room. While there were many of the usual naturally derived items like whalebones and furs about the comfortable room, it was clear the desk full of papers and sundry items had been retrieved from a ship.

Maccath retrieved a few personal items, then turned to the team and gave them a map, two magic dragon slaying arrows and a ring of cold protection +2 that she had crafted during her time here. Explaining that this is where her assistance against Arauthator, the adult white dragon, would end. Those of the Arcane Brotherhood don’t take orders from others well and, frankly, she would prefer not to be affiliated in any way with the Goblin Stompers. A girl has a reputation to look after you know.

Raven remembered that the Arcane Brotherhood were rivals with the Red Wizards of Thay and suspect that might be influencing Maccath’s decision making process. Or perhaps her agreement with the dragon included some provision of peaceful coexistence…?

It didn’t take long to tell that some rooms were warmer or colder than others. While generally cold in the iceberg, some were downright frigid. As she led them into the scriptorium, they noticed it had a huge opening to the dragon’s lair below and was one of the most brutally cold rooms they had entered. No mist lingered here as it did in other rooms and floor was little less slick than elsewhere. It was then they figured out that any room with a connection to the dragon’s lair was much colder, and those with connections to the top surface were warmer (but certainly not warm).

The scriptorium was “decorated” with frozen yetis, whalebone, and loads of stuff. Maccath warned us against trying to read the markings on the walls for our own safety. It was diabolical / fiendish lore that would have dire consequences – driving some mad, others to die. Similar fates may await those who dared to tempt the traps therein.

It wasn’t clear to some why Maccath brought the Goblin Stompers here, other than to show off. However, it did give Klang the realization that they’d need some extra protection before going down to the dragon’s lair. Talking it over with Valin and O’Dell, they agreed Klang should ward himself from death and Orik from cold.

Reviewing the map, O’Dell decided we’d better clear the place as he didn’t want to be surprised from behind. Making their way back through Maccath’s chamber, they walked north towards the ice toad workplace.

Along the the icy tunnels, they encountered an ice toad…likely on his way to the privy. Before they knew what happened, Orik was held fast in the toad’s bite. O’Dell attempted parlay, but failed. So he resorted to smacking them both with his ax. Valin following his lead with a few arrows to kill the beast.

With a heavy mist now in the air, they reached the branch in the tunnel that led into the ice troll’s chamber. Using their dark vision, the dwarves peered into the lair and spotted two of the ice trolls. O’Dell quickly flanked one, Klang used sacred flame, Valin launched a volley of arrows, Raven dealt slashing wounds with her scimitars, Orik gave them a taste of his ax, and Caesare dealt death with his magical fire.

Moving on, they came to the ice toad workplace. Within they found a bizarre scene – a gaggle of ice toads busily transferring scrolls from one place to another, a masterpiece of organizational efficiency. Ten of their number were hard at work under the watchful eye of a slightly larger one, presumably their leader. The leader broke away and approached the heroes as they came into sight.

As O’Dell began to parlay with her (Marfarb by name or at least that’s what it sounded line coming from a toad), Valin launched a preemptive strike with his stone bow. Valin was not going to suffer making friends with the dragon’s evil toadies.

O’Dell, had a momentary flashback to his brother-in-arms El’Brian, being similarly struck down by the dark elves in a preemptive and unprovoked attack, and it took a moment to pull himself back to the present. There’s a reason for laws he thinks to himself, a view to which his elven friend Valin was oblivious. It seems Valin learned little from the Ent encounter…but damn was he a good archer!

The rest of the party responded quickly, with attacks being launched, folks suffering from cold damage, lots of fire, Maccath pleading that we spare the scrolls from fire a moment too late, and so on. It was rushed and with little forethought, but it got the job done. Ice toad ichor covered the icy floor, some still on fire along with several scrolls, now ash.

Picking through the remains, they salvaged many of the scrolls which were protected in casings, placing them into the bag of holding.

<metagame>
Yeah, remember that bag of holding? The one we bought when the dragon cultist’s caravan reached Waterdeep? Yeah, me neither. But I checked the notes and it’s true! We had filled it with books, parchments, and tablets from Rezmir’s stash at swampy Castle Naerytar.

We still have Borngray’s traveling locked spell book, 3 scrolls (one in a clay disk, one in thin copper sheet, and the last in thick vellum), and a book entitled “Beyond the Iron Gates” (which we need translated) from the Castle Naerytar too.

Also, it was unclear if these ice toad scrolls would be retained by the party or turned over to Maccath and the Arcane Brotherhood.
</metagame>

With their fingers nearing a state of unresponsiveness despite the heavy gloves, the Goblin Stompers agreed it was time to find a warmer room as these ice toads liked the dragon’s chill a little too much. Navigating their way back into the tunnels, they headed to an area that led to the surface and slightly warmer temperatures. As they neared the warmer room and entrance to the village hall, they heard someone coughing. Cautiously entering the room, they found a sick villager. O’Dell immediately went to his aid, diagnosing him with no mere cold, but a disease, he reached for his divine-granted powers to banish the disease. O’Dell could hear Klang mumble “show off” in dwarven behind him, which made O’Dell grin like Hugs.

Since the translator opted not to join them on this adventure, they were momentarily stumped as to how they might communicate with the villager. Then Maccath stepped in, conversing with the villager. He warned them that the dragon and his minions know you’re here, then headed up the ladder to the village hall.

With that, they decided to take a short rest in the tolerably cool room and talk about next steps. They needed to hurry up as they couldn’t take much more of this cold or they might fall prey to all sorts of maladies…never mind all the slippery stairs, slopes and what not in this place. And there was still the dragon who knew they were mucking about in his iceberg. So much for the element of surprise.

Moving to junk room, they found where all the waste was deposited. Oy! Even with the freezing temperatures, it stunk! Quickly moving on, they came upon the kobold’s den. A sleep spell kept the kobolds from using their group fighting tactics against the heroes, but they didn’t stay asleep for long. It was a messy business, but was ended quickly, leaving 12 dead kobolds behind.

Finally, they headed for the last unexplored room – the hall of giants, which sounded ominous. With the giants – several ice giants, a fire giant, and a cloud giant – all frozen into the walls, it became obvious this was another trophy room for the dragon. While some were optimistic they might be revived, it was clear they did not have time for that nonsense. They needed to clear the chambers of this iceberg, get back Maccath back the Waterdeep, and report their findings to the council…and collect some booty along the way before they’re privates froze off.

Perhaps it was their lethargy or carelessness, but the 8 kobolds here got a lot of solid hits on the Goblin Stompers. While it was a one-sided fight, the kobolds boldly accounted for themselves. They must have been the elite troops on cushy duty – guarding the trophy room.

The Dragon’s Lair
With all the room’s clear, it was time to prepare for battle with the dragon. Klang went about buffing them up. First was protection from (cold) energy on Orik as he would be in front. Then there was locate creature (and Klang had been up close with a white dragon before) to make sure they knew the dragon’s whereabouts. Then there was a death ward on himself…no sense in taking chances.

Then they needed to get down into the dragon’s lair, which all involved a deep slippery holes. The initial plan was to lower a few down using the food pulley system, but then Caesare suggested feather fall. He could cast it on all but one of us, which was fine as O’Dell had his boots of flying.

So down they went, landing on a large shelf of ice with a few columns. Doing a quick look around, there were two columns – probably icicles that had grown from ceiling to floor – that might offer some cover. O’Dell stayed in flight, dozens of feet above his fellow team mates. Visibility was limited by the frozen mists, but Klang pointed to where the dragon would come.

Then the dragon was upon them, landing on the edge of the shelf and breathing a wind so cold that ice and snow formed from the very air around them, freezing some in their tracks while driving others away in fear. It was not a proud moment for the Goblin Stompers to be sure, but they didn’t immediately die from the ancient…err adult white dragon’s brutal attack.

<metagame>
Good catch by Kurt got Paul (the Dungeon Master) on the correct page…from the ancient dragon page to the adult dragon page. Whew! Lucky we survived that first round of combat.
</metagame>

O’Dell could clearly see from his lofty vantage point the cone shaped path of devastation and his friends scattering in different directions. Raven put the most distance between her and the dragon, hiding behind one of the icy columns, probably frightened by dragon fear. Valin was down, frozen to the icy floor. Orik held his ground while Klang broke to the opposite ice column.

Then O’Dell saw from the corner of his eye the dragon’s tail swinging in his direction and managed to dodge it to land a counter blow along the dragon’s back. A loud “crack” echoed through the huge cavern as O’Dell put his divine-granted powers to use again, conveying his oath of vengeance, divine smite, and weapon of retribution into a single blow.

While that got the dragon’s initial attention, it was the fireball from Caesare that earned the dragon’s next blast of cold. Klang’s small glowing form was channeling divine energies into Valin and others, bringing them a substantial measure of health. Valin got off both dragon slaying arrows with only one finding its target, but the dragon’s frigid breath once again had him laying prone on the icy floor of the dragon’s lair. Frost covered his face now and he could no longer see his own exhaled breath – not good.

Valin didn’t see the dragon fall with the continue blows by Orik, O’Dell, and Caesare. When he came to moments later, he was again glowing in the light of Klang’s channeled divine energy. The ache in his limbs receded a little, but sitting up was almost beyond him until he broke free of the ice holding him down. Looking at his benefactor, Valin realized Klang wasn’t in much better shape and resting on one knee and the divine light fading from his small form. Valin made a mental note not to undervalue the tight-fisted, not-so-clericy cleric and his focus on preserving life.

In the absence of the dragon, the room seemed to warm slightly. Perhaps it was the dragon’s blood leaking from its huge body, steaming as it came in contact with the floor. Or perhaps it was amount of magic expended in so short a time. Whatever it was, it gave them time to recover. Valin retrieved the unused dragon slaying arrow.

After a short rest, O’Dell flew back up and operated the feeding crane to bring his comrades up out of the bitterly cold cavern of the dragon’s lair. Raven made a sure to point out the treasure frozen in the floor of the dragon’s cavern was concentrated in the farthest reaches. It would take time (probably a day) and heat to collect it.

Upon returning to the village, there were cheers for the heroes – a welcome sound to the very cold and exhausted adventurers. A feast of their best fermented fish was prepared that night in the party’s honor. Orik was just pleased someone else did the cooking for a change.

So it was for the next day or so that the party set about defrosting treasure. They needed several sacks from the villagers to carry all the loot back out to the ship. There was again some debate about reviving the giants, but all their fire magic and patience was used up getting what they had. With the dragon laid low, Maccath was eager and insistent to be gone from the place.

<metagame>
Loot:
700 gold
1000 silver
5 stones at 200 gold each
5 stones at 400 gold each
5 stones at 600 gold each
5 stones at 800 gold each
3 potions of supreme healing
1 potion of stone giant strength

As a result of defeating a tremendous ally of the dragon cultists, all characters’ experience points are increased to the minimum required for the next level of their class.
</metagame>

The villagers, no longer enslaved by the dragon, had left the iceberg. And so it was that they set sail away from Oyaviggaton and towards the city of Waterdeep without the Draakhorn they sought. The return trip, while long, was uneventful. There was the small matter of Orik gambling with the crew, but somethings are best left to the imagination.

Upon returning to Waterdeep, they were greeted by Remallia Haventree and Leosin. Eager to hear what transpired and no bard to spin a tale, O’Dell did his best to fill her in, starting with Maccath’s introduction. Maccath had become something of a nuisance on the ship and the Goblin Stompers were eager to be rid of her. Yet they let her described how men dressed in ornate robes (sounding a lot like dragon cultists) had taken the horn from Arauthator some 18 months ago. After spilling her guts, she was quickly dismissed by O’Dell with “you are free to go”.

After telling Remallia an abridged version of their travels, O’Dell had her secure a well-appointed stay at the Cracked Barrel once more. Then Remallia informed the heroes of the rumor about the White Dragonmask having gone “missing” and that the Harpers were still gathering clues to its whereabouts.

And then it was off for a good night sleep with solid land beneath their feet. Caesare sought out his Zhentarim contact in Waterdeep, briefing him on their success and subsequent mission. The Zhentarim confirmed the rumors…one of their own (Varram) took it…and this was not to be shared with his fellow Goblin Stompers.

The following day, the Goblin Stompers again met with Remallia who relayed that they have reports of the White Dragonmask heading south and inland, towards the Boareskyr Bridge, just south of the Serpent Hills. Why was unclear.

The Goblin Stompers’ mission: to learn of Varram’s (and presumably the White Dragonmask’s) whereabouts.

The Hunt for Varram
The most expedient travel was by sea to a rural port, more of a settlement actually, and then make their way inland by land. There was rumor of a keep run by a bunch of paladins who watch over the bridge. It seems the bridge is a key/major trade route in the jungle-like area.

The trip there was uneventful and asking around, they were soon directed to a halfling woman named Bolos who runs the local watering hole. The heroes discovered that Varram (a dwarf in purple robes) and his henchmen (described as “a dozen barbarian mercenaries – bearded devils”) had been in the area, pausing only to slay a serpent-man that had been causing trouble, which had quite impressed the locals.

Realizing they would need mounts, provisions, a map of the area, and “quarters” to sleep in, Klang offered one of the rare gems (800 gold) for a tent, solid and untainted food, a crude map, and 3 elephants along with their feed and instructions on how to care and handle them. Practicing with the elephants that night was entertaining.

The next day, Valin picked up the tracks Varram and his retainers had left. They led into the Serpent Hills. They soon found a shallow grave of one explorer who died of an animal attack…an ominous sign. If a dozen henchmen can’t protect one of their own number, this must be a naturally dangerous area.

That night, Raven and Valen took watch. It passed without incident. The following day, the Goblin Stompers reached a courtyard containing a well that was surround by the ruins of a small town. At the far end was a path to a cliff face with an entrance surrounded by a carved relief and crumbling statues to either side. While foreign to the area, they got the impression is was a tomb of some kind.

There were also signs of recent visitors – a smoldering campfire, 3 bedrolls, and 7 shallow graves. Upon closer inspection, it appeared 3 trolls were here and they recently headed into the tomb. Did they take down Varram and his henchmen?!

The heroes looked around more and then approached the tomb. Two great statues stood before the entrance to the tomb, now damaged and time-worn. One had the warning “stay away” scrawled on its base.

As the party advanced, the statues animated and addressed them: “Halt! You come before Diderius, ether walker and conduit of clairvoyance. Behold ye now his wondrous triumphs! Diderius extends wisdom, and Diderius offers knowledge. Which do you seek?”

O’Dell answered “knowledge” and then, at Valin’s prompting, “wisdom”. The statues did not attack, nor did they block our way. In fact, they said, “Proceed”. Unsure how the statues took O’Dell’s two-part answer, the team slowly approached the door, which had been busted off it’s hinges…the place looked to be looted already. The carved relief/mural pictured humanoid creatures looking into a pool and can see hell. Splinters of bone lay on the ground and tracks in the dust made it obvious this looting happened recently.

Entering the tomb, they saw a long hallway with several hooded statues to either side, spaced out along both sides creating niches between them. Each niche they could see contained bones littered on the floor. A few steps in and a voice sounded, “Some secrets are not for mortals to know”. Raven and Orik looked at each other, then to Klang for guidance. Klang just shrugged and headed for one of the niches to inspect it’s contents more closely.

Valin, in the lead, covered his ears when he heard the voice and kept moving forward. Orik joined him, but did not cover his ears as it didn’t seem to help (telepathic?). O’Dell, a ways behind Valin, slowly followed them. Reaching the halfway point a loud grinding noise was heard, O’Dell froze while Valin and Orik continued. Moments later with Valin and Orik nearing the far end, O’Dell started jibbering and wandering aimlessly. Klang and Raven decided to keep an eye on O’Dell and followed him to see what he was about.

Valin, eager to be beyond this room, opened the far door and moved into the room beyond. Orik was more cautious and waited just inside the doorway to see if Valin would set off any traps. After a few steps into the room, a tile resembling a Chimera began to move. Valin grew concerned and backed out of the room, alerting the others to what he was found.

By this point, Klang and Raven were trying to bring O’Dell to his senses with no success. Concerned for his friend’s health, Klang quickly checked his vitals and all seemed well. He just wasn’t right in the head (although most think that’s true of all paladins). Raven relayed O’Dell’s state to Valin down the hall. Klang suggested to Valin and Orik that they all get out of here to regroup and assess the situation.

Valin ducked back into the room and was blasted with fire from the two-dimensional Chimera. As he backed out of the room, the Chimera also got in a bite (twice bitten, once shy?) before he could close the door. It was about then that O’Dell came to his senses.

Making their way back into the courtyard, the Goblin Stompers decided to rest. Just a little too much weirdness for one day. Valin took first watch.

<metagame>
Dungeon Master discovered (or simply started to enforce) levels of exhaustion for sleeping in your armor. Bob not happy.
</metagame>

Valin detected someone coming in the darkness and quietly woke the party. He then tried communicating with them in various languages. He received a reply in Giant, “Die tasty elf!” as 3 trolls came lumbering in. Orik used his newly minted battle cry, “Pork Chop Sandwiches!” and, sure enough, the trolls ended up roasting on the fire.

The next day, Valin was still wondering if Orik understood giant and used a witty reply, or if it was sheer coincidence.

<metagame>
Experience: Next level (plus 3 trolls divided by 6).
Total Coin: 43850 gold, 3620 silver
</metagame>

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