Rise of Tiamat - Intro


(Incidentally I missed that Robyn was a half-elf when I put the guard captain in here; I'd have made him a full elf if I'd thought of that, just for clarity. I assume that Dumos's one-word question was aimed at Captain Elferica here.)

As you walk a short distance into the town square, the obvious extent of the disaster the city has suffered becomes obvious, and the two massive carcasses come more clearly into view; while they've been stripped of every scale where it was even vaguely intact, there's enough charred or corroded or otherwise ruined hide in view that they can now be clearly identified as two dragons, one black and one red, both long since beheaded and otherwise butchered by the miserable, masked and fully-suited and thoroughly blood-splattered work crews that are taking them apart and trying to get them cleared away. The black one appears considerably smaller (roughly thrice the size of a horse) and stinks significantly worst, so the laborers have gotten that one down to barely more than a skeleton; the red still has plenty of livid meat left on the massive bones, slowly dripping mostly-congealed blood, thus that even the partially-stripped corpse probably outmasses a live oliphaunt. Besides the workers on the scaffold, nearly every person you see is working on rebuilding the town's more important buildings; women, children, and others who lack the skills to wield a hammer (or the stomach to use a meat cleaver) are rushing back and forth with supplies for the construction crews and the corpse-removal detail. You take in this entire sight over quite a length walk into the town's atypically underpopulated market square, as the caped guardsman vociferously fills you in on recent happenings.

"This town has been through quite the wringer. It seems that for months, the Cult of the Dragon has been infiltrating Westwater's citizenry and government, particularly the militia's command structure. We never had a clue there was anything strange about the individuals who started to trickle in a year or so ago; they showed all sorts of civic pride, took on the least desirable duties, volunteered for extra shifts, and generally behaved like model citizens. Naturally, this meant a few of them were elevated to positions of some authority, whereupon they began quietly promoting others of the same contingent, who were not suspected of having any prearranged relationship with them, having arrived from different directions at different times. It was a more or less perfectly executed plan; they were probably only a few weeks or even days away from staging a complete takeover and lockdown of the entire city.

"And then, the morning before yesterday, some random red dragon, who we'd had no idea was sleeping in the mountains to the Northeast for something like a century, woke up and decided he was going to make our fair municipality his first conquest. Flew down right in the middle of the town square and started making the typical arch-villain speech...'you live only to amuse me, tremble before my glory, give me all your treasure, even the slightest defiance means death', the whole spiel. Well, I guess these cultists didn't worship that particular dragon - he naturally announced his name right off the bat, all twelve syllables of it, but none of us had ever heard of him, seemingly including the invaders. Rather than have their obviously-well-planned conquest snatched away by some wandering monster at the last moment, they apparently decided to launch their operation on the spot, before they were quite ready. Their soldiers, wearing armor that they'd clearly donned in a hurry, came streaming out of every barracks door and converged on the red, like so many mosquitos trying to bite a grown man to death. Meanwhile, some of their spellcasting buddies used up every scroll they could loot from our magic stores, and managed to call in one of the wyrms that the cult did have some kind of influence over; he came winging in from the northwest after just a few minutes of the firedrake slaughtering the cult's warriors by the dozen, while they did their best to harry him in a well-executed but clearly desperate delaying action.

"The new arrival was much younger and weaker than the red, and probably exhausted from the long flight, but the red never saw him coming and he made an absolutely devastating surprise attack on the old bastard, who was cut up pretty bad due to the cult's sheer numbers, even though about ten of them died for every one that managed to score a decent blow through his armored scales. The two dragons fought for most of an hour, drenching the whole market in blood and fire and acid; most of the property damage you see is the result of that struggle. In the end, the red managed to kill the black, but was barely standing by then; the cultists had been hiding and patching up their wounds the whole time, so they sortied back out and finished off the 'not-theirs' dragons, by which time the loyalists in our own militia (who were presumably a day or three away from getting a 'join us or die' speech as the cult army launched their intended takeover) had managed to get organized and converge on the site. Rather than surrender, the last couple dozen warriors barricaded themselves in a storehouse and set off some kind of alchemo-magical bomb, leaving us no prisoners to interrogate and barely any leftover gear we could salvage. The town did manage to arrest a few of the less combative cultists, but they were also the most fanatically loyal and obviously insane, so we haven't been able to get anything useful out of them."

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Ashur offers Bannor a tense smile. "Well the trail certainly looks easy enough. As if they have no fear of being found out or spotted."

OOC: Can Ashur determine how many people went this way? If it is forested he can automatically tell how many and if they are elves, humans or dragons he had advantage on tracking roll.

Tracking: 1D20+3 = [3]+3 = 6
1D20+3 = [12]+3 = 15

So 6 or 15 if I have advantage.

"They may be a large group, give me a few moments to look around and see what I can find out."


Though a few tracks are evident (and the stride length is consistent with humans, though there are other creatures that would walk little different if they wore human-style shoes), the only clear trace is the one through the mud, which was only a single individual. It's possible that the group dispersed, or else they continued on down the road, which turns into harder and dryer dirt that wouldn't retain footprints well. The only thing that's for sure is that someone (perhaps the leader with a ceremonial staff of office, or a spellcaster with a not-so ceremonial one, or even a standard-bearer) went at least briefly in the direction of those hills. Beyond that, you can only speculate.


Ashur looks towards the hills. "One clear trail that way. See the imprints here of some sort of staff or walking stick."

He hefts his glaive and looks at the others. "Shall we?" he asks before setting off at a jog towards to the hills.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Robyn shakes his head in astonishment at the captain's tale. "I would have thought you were telling a fanciful fiction or raving like a madman if I didn't see the aftermath before me. It does seem quite the odd coincidence, though, doesn't it? Imagine a dragon waking up at just the right time and coming to just the right town to interfere with the machinations of another evil dragon cult and be slain for it."

The priest looks about at the destruction. "I am neither a butcher nor a carpenter nor even a stonemason. I can offer little out here but the strength of my back. I am a healer and I figure that is where you can best make use of me. Is there a church or infirmary where people's injuries are being attended to? I would like to be of service."


Gods. What have the Gods done for their followers but fill their heads with hopeful dreams while the priests empty the pockets. Dumos stands, almost motionless, during the tale of the two dragons. Staring out across the burned and melted town, not to mention the two large carcasses, his face moves not at all. "Quite the interesting tale and I agree with bird, here," he motions at Robyn. "Seems somewhat convenient if, perhaps, more than a little ironic, for a dragon cult to fall to a dragon. No matter." Dumos quietly shows the letter to the Guard Captain "Would you happen to know the individual who sent this or where I can find someone who does?"


As the three wild-dwellers proceed across the fields behind the roadside sign, warning of a Deadly Something Shackled Ahead, they begin to notice a distinct absence of large wildlife in the area. There are still small birds aplenty, flitting twitchily about in search of edible seeds or the like, and you spot the occasional prairie vole popping its head up out of a burrow, giving a quick look around, and then frantically dashing toward another hole it can vanish into. But no deer, no goats, not even a jackrabbit.

The walk takes several minutes, and the trio is beginning to consider heading back to the road, when they crest a low rise and behold a shallow depression in the land, about a hundred feet across, bounded on one side by a thirty-foot cliff (just barely invisible from before topping the lower ridge opposite it, upon which you now stand), and on the other side by a twenty-foot-wide pond. About five feet away from the pond shore, you see a large boulder that was clearly quarried away from the rocky escarpment and dragged to its current position; the intermittent rays of the sun glint periodically off something metallic on or near the big rock. There's also a dark object, difficult to identify at this distance, lying right next to the boulder, and an odd shifting effect in the air around and above it, vaguely resembling heat haze - or a cloud of swarming insects.


The guard captain, who eventually gets around to mentioning that his name is Garwynn, considers Robyn's offer. "Yesterday I would have gladly taken you up on that; our healers have struggled mightily to get anyone with minor injuries up and about. At this point, however, almost everyone who can be patched up has been; unless you have the capacity to regrow missing limbs, I doubt you could do very much more than is already being done. And, given how we were infiltrated, folks are in a rather paranoid mood with regard to strangers right now; you saw how the guards reacted when you got here. I'm perceptive enough to be satisfied with the two of you for now, particularly thanks to the prophetess I mentioned, who vouched for you specifically (not by name, of course, but she said that a tiefling would arrive along with a 'helfer' like myself, and even implied that you might have a moon-symbol like that on your shield). But our healers are feeling especially protective, and any time that you saved them by helping out, you'd likely first have to waste by taking them away from their patient long enough to become certain that you're not assassins come to finish the job, or some similarly neurotic fantasy. Probably better just to stay out of their way for the moment, until the people start feeling safe again.

"Irony? I'll agree to that easily enough. From what little sense we've been able to get out of our handful of prisoners, this cult fancies itself the chosen of dragonkind; not all of the actual dragons seem to share this opinion, though. The timing is bizarre, but then, we have a Temple of Mystra here in town, which survived miraculously unscathed while half the buildings around it were demolished entirely; Fate is a real thing, or so we've had good reason to believe."
Finishing his little tirade (he does seem to enjoy the sound of his own voice, though you can hardly blame him for that, as it is a rather musical and resonant one), the Captain looks at Dumos's letter with what seems a calculatedly noncommittal expression, at least at first.

"Notice the lack of game?" Ana says. "That could me a large force came through here and depleted the area."

As they crest the hill, the group stops. Ana pauses a moment to try to make out what's on the bolder.

OOC: Again, what does Ana see with her 52.8X vision (1 mile = 100 feet)? If we can make out a 20 foot wide pond, the boulder would seem to be no more than 10 feet away to Ana's sharper vision.
Perception: 1D20+5 = [7]+5 = 12


OOC: (Sorry, I keep forgetting that you had those eyes that Horus misplaced in the movie "God of Egypt" - which I recommend by the way, it's very D&D-ish.)

Analiese can see that the gleaming objects on the rock are the links of a chain, very sturdily-forged from the look of it, with little occasional flecks of red here and there along the gleaming silvery metal, whose nature isn't apparent from any distance. The chain is fastened to the rock with spikes driven through the links, thus that anything short of a frost giant wouldn't be able to pull them apart. Ana can also tell that the cloud obscuring the dark object is a mass of flies swarming over some kind of carrion or offal, but someone would have to get pretty close and/or drive away most of the bugs before they could see what exactly it is.


After a few moments of reading, Captain Garwynn looks up at Dumos with an eyebrow raised. "A personal request from Grand Marshal Ravengard of Baldur's Gate? That is high praise indeed for any soldier, let alone one with such....controversial ancestry, if you'll forgive me being so gauche as to mention it. I'm intensely curious, though of course you don't owe me an answer; still, I can't help but wonder what exploits could have made the Flaming Fist himself esteem you so highly. You can't be just anybody, if he's asking you to meet him in Waterdeep 'with all reasonable haste', instead of simply having you await his return to his usual seat of power. Just what have you done to earn such honors?"

(Feel free to invent some exploit that your character might have undergone, which is vaguely feasible for a 6th-level fighter who dabbles in spellcasting, and would have been impressive enough that one of the highest-ranking fighters in Faerun would not only know who you are, but would give you a summons of this level of importance. If you describe something which I agree is really neat but in no way implausible, you'll get Inspiration out of it; if you yourself are not feeling inspired, your character won't be either, but I can come up with something appropriately impressive, if you don't mind me taking a few minor liberties with your backstory.)

"Look at those thick chains, embedded in the stone with thick spikes," Ana says as if they can see what she can. "Something big and strong, like the legendary giants of the great North, tore them apart like they were nothing."

"I wish I could make out what was in the darkness. Flies or other carrion are covering whatever is there."

"Those aren't shadows. Those are bugs." Ana says. "Sorry if I mischaracterized it before.

"It seems we three are all adept at stalking quietly through this terrain. We can all approach together. Probably circle along that line using the bolder for cover as we approach whatever is possibly being devoured by the insects."


"Those chains sound like they are designed for a pretty serious job," Ashur agrees. "However, it could also be bait for a trap for something large."

He ponders for a moment, "If you would indulge me, I will check the area to see if anything..... odd.. is nearby."

He sits on the ground with his glaive across his lap, closing his eyes he extends his senses out into the wild, searching, feeling for the presence of those creatures that are unnatural.


Primeval Awareness
Beginning at 3rd Level, you can use your action and expend one Ranger spell slot to focus your awareness on the region around you. For 1 minute per level of the spell slot you expend, you can sense whether the following types of creatures are present within 1 mile of you (or within up to 6 miles if you are in your favored terrain): Aberrations, Celestials, Dragons, Elementals, fey, Fiends, and Undead. This feature doesn't reveal the creatures' location or number.

To see if any of the above creatures are within a mile of them.


OOC: This is a case where a strict reading of the rules indicates that I should tell you nothing whatsoever, but I kinda want to give you a hint, without tipping my hat too far. I think I'll let the dice decide; rather than spending your spell slot, please make simultaneous Nature and Arcana checks to understand what your mystical senses are telling you. In the meantime, the sense in question is definitely active, so please proceed with your physical actions.

All three of you:
OOC: Everyone make your Stealth checks for your approach to the boulder; you won't be attacked immediately regardless of the result, so as soon as you all say you're approaching, I'm going to move forward with what you find in the short term, and then your Stealth check will govern what happens once initiative is rolled. Don't take these checks as proof that you're about to be ambushed; we have a 1-mile radius to deal with here, so you might be safe for the next minute or the next four hours, you don't know which, so by adventurer standards, you feel completely safe.

Epic Threats

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