Rise of Tiamat - Intro


Ashur turns at the arrival of the newcomer. 'Another one,' he thinks to himself.

"Well met, I am Ashur," he turns to look at Ana. "Well, this is looking less and less like a coincidence, don't you think?"

"I guess the construct didn't have a message for you after all."
he shrugs. "Well, are either of you bound in the direction of Waterdeep? I have business there and would welcome the company."

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Not your screen monkey (he/him)
As the holy man and the somewhat-less-holy spellsword approach within a mile or so of the city, they notice that the air smells worrisomely of ash and smoke. They are relived when they finally spy the walls, but somewhat less so when they see the closed iron gates on a settlement which usually has nonstop trading caravans passing through in both ways, with spear-carrying guards walking the battlements only 15 or 20 yards apart, and a distinct haze of pollution in the air overhead which the summer breezes have yet to dissipate. Clearly, something unpleasant has happened here, or perhaps it's still happening....

Robyn looks about, takes a deep sniff of the air and coughs as the excess smoke tickles his lungs. "It looks like we've come at an unopportune time, Dumos. I wonder what is amiss," he says, keeping the tone of his voice light so as not to raise the specter of excess fear and concern. "I had been hoping to obtain a comfortable bed at the end of our day with a good meal and beer. Now I worry that those comforts will need to be deferred. Let's hasten to the gates and learn what there is to learn."

Robyn picks up the pace on the road, striding straight for the town gate. As he does so, he scans about for any further sign of what the trouble could be or any other travelers who may have preceded him and Dumos and arrived at the town earlier.


OOC: Seems to be working today, at least for this thread, though I'm not sure about the Rogue's Gallery. That one's not a big deal anyway.

I'll wait for Mips to post before advancing the Westwater story.

Ashur, Analiese and Bannor, as they await the inevitable arrival of someone whose name starts with C, begin heading in the general direction of Waterdeep, which is going to be a fairly lengthy but not unachievable walk from this region. Emerging from the forest, you manage to find your way to a dirt pathway across the surrounding meadows; The Long Road which carries trade to Waterdeep from the far north is some distance ahead, and once you reach such a thoroughfare, you can likely hook up with a caravan and rent some horses or something, but for now you're still on a barely-paved wagon track that connects the local villages and towns...not purely rustic, but definitely pastoral.

You pass occasional sites of minor interest, which might have once gotten your attention - a tree with a face carved into it, a roadside shrine to Shaundakul, a surviving post from some otherwise-rotten farm fence, or a set of colorful ribbons tied around a large rock - but in all cases you are able to quickly assess what you're looking at, find that it has no particular pertinence, and move along. The pattern is broken, however, when you come upon a wooden sign nailed into position beside the road.




The blank in the above message once held a single word, carved into the plank with a larger and probably fancier typeface than the words around it, but has also been almost entirely obliterated, as if someone hacked into the sign with a flaming sword or the like. The blackened gashes form a crude shape, with the illegible remnants of the original word making it difficult to identify the shape which the vandal was trying to gouge into the wood. You think it's probably meant to be the head of a beast of some sort, something long and low and covered with spikes. Next to the rough graffiti, however, is a far clearer sign also burned onto the lumber's surface...a symbol of five wavy lines, like double-recuved "S"es, all coming together into a single central point with a circle drawn around it. It's crystal-clear, as if a specially-forged metal brand was used to create this sigil.

Everyone give me an Intelligence roll. Characters who have certain things on their character sheet automatically succeed on this roll, but I don't want to say what things those are, so post a roll regardless, and then I'll announce who knows the answer and what that answer is.


Ashur doesn't need to roll, by the way. Bannor does, and Annaliese did. Her roll is probably sufficient, but I'll wait until Low Key checks in before I give it away.


Annaliese has heard rumors of a group that has been engaging in vicious attacks on some of the larger towns throughout the region, and they're rumored to use a sign akin to this; they're supposed to mostly appear in black armor, though sometimes they're robed in black or purple like sorcerers, and "a five pointed wavy star", which fits this description, is often burned, either with fire or acid, into surfaces near where they've attacked.

Ashur, meanwhile, speaks Draconic, and he recognizes this asterisk-like symbol as the ghvarach, a mark of emphasis used in the language (loosely similar to an exclamation point IRL, with it placed both before and after the word as in Spanish, though not inverted in this case). A word flanked by ghvarachi is spoken with the first and last syllables stressed, whereas Draconic words tend to only emphasize the first syllable. Thus, you might say "wer MALsvir TURalisj DARastrix", meaning "the big evil dragon"; if you instead say "wer MALsvir TURaLISJ DARastrix", you're saying it's a REALLY BIG evil dragon, while "wer MALsVIR TURalisj DARastrix" means it's a REALLY EVIL big dragon.

Looking closer at the sign, it looks like the vandal tried to carve the ghvarachi both before and after the symbol they were carving, which you now realize is probably meant to be a dragon's head and a bit of the neck. The one beforehand was ruined in the process of trying to cut/burn the wood on that end of the sign, and the "artist" tried to work the damaged area into the dragon head in order to make it more head and less neck, but only succeeded in making the glyph as a whole less recognizable. Regardless, by cross-referencing the fact that this "new army in black" uses the symbol and that the symbol is a Draconic punctuation mark, you're left with little doubt that this group must be responsible for the vandalism. And, while the dirt road is pretty dry and windswept and doesn't hold tracks very well, looking about at the ground now, you do realize that there are some rather old but still barely-visible footprints, suggestive of either tough all-terrain boots or spiked metal sabatons, both of which these raiders are said to wear.


Ashur runs his fingers over the sign, tracing out the imprints.

" Dragon?" he whispers to the others. "servants of a dragon did this"


"Should be follow?" Ashur asks. "The tracks look older but there may still be something to learn and there may be survivors if this was an attack."


The smoky haze suits Dumos' atitude just fine. There's coin to be had and they've locked the doors. typical. Looking grimly at his traveling companion, "Ash and smoke are only rarely in the best interest of civilized people. Smells like money, to me. Let's see what's going on." Pulling his traveling cloak around and over his large form as much as possible, Dumos approaches the guards and, in a quiet, calm voice "Say there, private. My companion and I have business in this place. Why are the gates closed?"


@lowkey13: You get inspiration for that line; I can see your character is going to be leaning on the fourth wall a lot. (Turns out the Buddha wasn't kidding when he said "all is illusion", though I doubt he expected this kind of thing....)

IC to Bannor's group: You find the tracks along the road itself so faint that it's impossible to tell which direction they were traveling in; you didn't pass a group like this, but the traces have been here for long enough that this really doesn't mean anything, as they could have gone any number of other places that you've already passed without leaving any obvious signs. On the other hand, there's a depression a short distance past the sign (away from the road, but close enough to be in view) where the ground is low enough to have gathered a puddle of rainwater from a few days ago which has yet to fully evaporate. Ashur at least recognizes the potential of such a spot, and sure enough, closer inspection proves that the mud around the puddle holds tracks beautifully; at least one member of the group did head off across the field toward some nearby hills, where the Deadly Whatever is presumably shackled. The prints are shod rather than sabatoned, and close to the remaining water at the bottom of the low area, one bootprint has a circular hole next to it, more than a full inch deep, exactly as might be made if someone leaned on a thick cane or thin staff in order to pull their foot out of the wet earth.

"Say there, private. My companion and I have business in this place. Why are the gates closed?"

As Robyn and Dumos pull up to the gates, the two guards (one a typical-enough looking human with a red face and a thin mustache, the other a gray-skinned half-orc who you think is probably a woman, though the shapeless breastplates both are wearing make it difficult to be sure) eye them with a degree of suspicion, particularly lingering upon Dumos. While tieflings are far from unheard-of throughout the Realms, and most people understand that they are capable of good or ill just as most folk are, they haven't had a "Drizz't" for their culture to help break down old suspicions, so they face almost as much undue scrutiny as the rare surface Drow used to do, before tales of the famous ranger became ubiquitous bardic fare.

The guards keep their halberds pointed upright, but are distinctly less than relaxed as the two newcomers approach. Still, they seem satisfied enough to let you get within speaking distance. It might have been better to let Robyn speak first, but too late now. The half-orc remains as silent as a stone statue (and barely more mobile) at your address, but the human hesitates only a second or two as he considers your words. "The town's been under attack, to put it mildly. Things seem calm for the moment, but tensions are high, and we've become aware of some serious lapses in our security. You look average enough for travelers, but I think I'd better call the captain over before we think about letting you two in."

Fortunately you don't have to do any waiting, because the captain was apparently just walking by up atop the wall, and his ears are sharp enough to have caught the exchange. For all of the things Dumos and Robyn have seen in their travels to date, both are almost certainly a trifle flabbergasted when the half-elf jumps between two crenellations and plummets the twenty feet to the ground, his golden cloak billowing behind him as he proceeds to make a perfect superhero landing, with barely enough of an impact to be heard. He straightens back up with a self-satisfied grin. "That oracle was worth every penny we paid her," he says by way of introduction. "A tiefling and his compatriot, right on schedule. There's not a prayer we would let you through this gate yesterday, or if you were coming from the same direction where she entered the town. But unless you're both wizards who can teleport, I can safely assume you're not any confederates of hers, so if a holy prophet vouches for you sight-unseen, I'm willing to trust that. OPEN UP!" he finishes, yelling up to the men atop the wall (none of whom, by the way, showed the slightest surprise that their commander lacks the patience for stairs; apparently this is his usual practice).

The gates creak open slowly, and you begin to see the source of the guards' high alert. While the marketplace seems reasonably calm (if still borderline empty) at the moment, the two massive carcasses heaped at the far side of it make clear that the peaceful conditions are a recent development (within 50 hours, according to the commander's timeline). Both massive mounds of meat and bone are partially surrounded by hastily-constructed scaffolding, swarming with workmen who far outnumber the villagers going about their business normally (at least within the small window of your current view). The stench of burnt flesh and caustic fluids is at a bare minimum for the moment, reaching you only when the wind shifts in your direction, but you can't imagine how bad this place is going to smell in another day or two, if those laborers don't finish stripping the skeletons fast and then find somewhere to put all the meat.

(I don't mean to ignore Robyn's contribution to the scene; feel free to make either a Perception roll, as indicated by your earlier mention that you were looking around, for any details beyond what I've just laid out that might interest you...or else a Religion check to recall information about prophets and/or oracles, since apparently one of them is the only reason you're getting into town tonight.)


Not your screen monkey (he/him)

Robyn returns Dumos's look, "When we are heralded by the gods, who are we to argue? After you." And he gestures for the tiefling to lead the way.
As they clear the gate, Robyn tries to engage the captain, "We do appreciate your hospitality at what is clearly a time of trouble. Perhaps if you could tell us more about the nature of the attack upon the town, we would be able to render suitable assistance."

Epic Threats

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