Tidefall

020: Lost and Found

Rowan leaves the group, the group returns to Zenith and reports to Sildar that Gundren has been recovered, Gundren convinces Sildar he’s going with the party to help them at the cave, they go to the cave, one of Gundren’s brothers is dead, they go in the cave, they navigate the veritable labyrinth of mineshaft tunnels and old caverns, they find a back entrance, it seems, to an old dwarven cathedral — where a bunch of dark elves are conversing. The group leaves them alone and scuttles away, presuming this to be The Iron Baron and his guard. Tasi discovers a hidden, magicked nook in the side room they’re in and they recover Gundren’s other brother, still alive, barely. They escort him out of the cave, heal and arm him, and send him away. They return to the cave themselves and seek the room of the cave that nobody – not The Baron, Cragmaw, or anyone else – has been able to find: The Starhearth. The heart of the cave which anciently created powerful magical items, and was lost to time after the war between mortalkind and the natural spirits of the mountain. 

And then they find it. Hidden, tucked unnoticeably away and almost underwater – the party swims through the tiny tunnel and emerge out the other side, climbing up to see a huge, glittering cavern, and a set of massive stone doors, intricately carved with stars. 

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019: Dealing With Dragons

The party descends into Cragmaw’s lair, discover Khamul, Rowan, the dragon hunters, and an elderly dwarf (Gundren) corralled beneath the underground “overhang” of the keep, under the dragon’s gaze. Rowan has been disarmed, beaten, and is bound. One of the dragon hunters is badly wounded. Khamul tends to him as the party tries to parley with Cragmaw. 

It is a tense conversation – aided subtly by Gundren who casts a spell to allow everyone to understand all languages, so they can speak outside of the understanding of Cragmaw while they consider his offer, their counteroffer, and quickly strategize. 

In the end, both parties reach an arrangement. Cragmaw will release all his mortal prisoners, and in exchange, the party will go to the cave (the cave Gundren had been wanting to go to in the first place, the location of which he’d been abducted and tortured/interrogated for) and “deal with” Cragmaw’s partner there: One calling himself The Iron Baron. This partnership had outgrown its profitability for Cragmaw, and he sensed some turnabout in the other party. Our heroes are to go to the cave, root out what’s really going on there, and “deal with” The Baron. To ensure they do, Cragmaw sends Kirish, his priest whom they had earlier fought, to attend and watch them. 

And so, stunned and relieved they made it out of the lair alive, everyone leaves. (The earthy dragon hunters do parley with the dragon with seeming success, and then thank the party and leave.)

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018: The Approach

The plan is simple: three groups converge simultaneously on the keep and split the forces/attentions inside. One group, led by Rowan and including most of the earth-magic-wielding dragon hunters, will approach from the south and request to parley with the dragon. If they meet resistance, they will fight. But the goal is diplomacy so the hunters can treat with the dragon and get out AND to distract the forces and dragon while: 

The second group includes Kamina and Taelyn who will again sneak into the tower, but go farther this time, and verify Gundren’s location. They will then report back to the third group using the Bracers of Far Speech that Tasi made not long ago. 

The third group includes Khalil, Baat, and Tasi along with one of the stronger earthy magic users. They will go around from the north and wait for a signal to magically burrow through the stone and pluck Gundren out from under everyone’s noses. 

Things… almost go according to plan. 

Rowan and his group approach and the three groups lose sight of each other and the others can only hope they succeed.

Kamina and Taelyn go inside and overhead some sort of meeting or deal between two parties — and are discovered. A dark elf woman somehow detected them through Kamina’s stealthy magics, and with chilling poise, questions their intent. When their answers do not satisfy her, combat ensues. Kamina and Taelyn struggle to hold their own against the sword fighting dark elf woman and powerful kobold priest she’d been parleying with. Taelyn manages to send Sable out a window to show the north group their location, and calls for aid on the bracer. Baat picks up Tasi and they almost cartoonishly share an arrow slit to contribute to the fight. The tide of battle looks rough for our heroes, especially when the kobold priest casts a couple successive spells, and water begins pouring in quickly from below, filling the room, and the priest calmly walks away on top of the water. The dark elf woman acrobatically scales the wall of the room and escapes via some teleportation once she glances through the arrow slit; right past Tasi and Baat. Kamina and Taelyn try to break through the door they came in, but it’s too little too late: the water is rushing in too quickly and creating too much force holding the door shut. Just before the two wounded women begin to drown, Kamina transorms into a giant sea horse, and barrels through the door with a charge. The water rushes out of the room, carrying them with it. Rushing to regroup, Tasi briefly have chase to the dark elf woman and even learned her name. But, in the end, could not communicate with her and the two let each other go without violence. 

The group recovers in the soggy entrance of the tower and then hurriedly goes seeking Khamul, who Baat had seen hesitate and then rush another way. Baat discovers the kobold priest and threatens him until he apparently pays the birdman off with a diamond. Baat drops him off on top of a nearby tree. 

There is no sign of Khamul or the earthy caster when they return to the north side of the tower. They approach the hole that had been burrowed and water is dripping down as if the place had just been pulled from lake depths. They enter a small, roughed up room – the room they’d been expecting to find Gundren - and find the door was smashed inwards, and giant claw marks raked the ground. And no Gundren. 

Baat and Taelyn peek over the threshold of the room, to find a 200 foot drop. The rest of the tower in this section has simply been broken away, and burrowed deep and further into the ground. And at the bottom, a large green dragon who is looking directly at them. 

“Well, well, well,” its soft, lilting voice calls up to them in Draconic, “what a mess we’ve made.”

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017: Single-Minded

Kamina, Rowan, and Taelyn do recon of the "Cragmaw Castle" and kidnap a kobold and bring him back to Baat, Khamul, and Tasi who made some seeming allies of some oddly-dressed dragon hunters also hunkering down in the abandoned town of Thundertree. The party gets info, and hopeful confirmation that Gundren may still be alive and has been being kept in the fort. They then meet with their new allies to make a plan of attack to get into the keep and get Gundren out…

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016: Consequences

After licking their wounds, our heroes advance further into the cave — and are surprised by the triggering of an explosive kobold trap. It seems, while they were resting, the remaining kobolds had been hard at work preparing for them. The party fights through the narrow tunnel where they were briefly trapped, meeting the kobolds head on — but that is not the last of the surprises. Taelyn is beset by horrific rot grubs, and nearly killed but for the fast inspections and deductions by Khamul and Tasi. Kamina discovers a body in the back of the cavern, and the party recognizes it as the tortured remains of the messenger they'd hired in Nettleton to follow after Gundren. With guilt weighing on them, the party ties up the last, surrendering kobold, and determine he will lead them to where Gundren is. For, they learn, these green-painted, self-mutilated kobolds are in service of a dragon called Cragmaw, and it was Cragmaw who wanted Gundren in the first place.

The party travels straight to the ruins of Thundertree, a town destroyed thirty years ago by the eruption of the local mine. They approach cautiously, discovering it is overrun by "plant monsters" (which they discover to be the nonaggressive twig blights) and, apparently, zombies. They argue for some time about how to approach the tower keep on the hill, which the kobold tells them is Cragmaw's lair. In the end, they let the sniveling kobold go, ensuring he runs off into the forest and not to snitch on them. Then Tasi, Khamul, and Baat settle into one of the ruined homes to shore up and wait while Taelyn, Kamina, and Rowan sneak forward and into the keep to do some recon, and hopefully kidnap another kobold with greater intel. As they advance to the tower entrance, however, they notice the rotting corpses of giant spiders— rent and killed by massive claws. This Cragmaw, it seems, is no small threat…

 

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015: A Murder of ̶C̶r̶o̶w̶s̶ Kobolds

The party returns to the site of the previous cart ambush, and locates the kobolds' cave hideout. They sneak their way deep into the cave, and would have gone further, too, if not for a lucky lookout by a perceptive kobold guard. Battle ensues, and the kobolds don't pull their pack tactics punches one bit. Kamina is almost killed in the fight as she is surrounded by kobolds and made a pincushion — but the party rallies to save her, and are victorious, after all. They retreat into a back cavern room to rest before continuing on.

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014: Zenith

The party arrives in Zenith and runs several errands, including finally healing Rowan’s legs, shopping, getting a day job, scouting for info on kobolds, reporting about the missing Gundren, oh and going and having a chat with a cussing banshee.

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013: Flight and Fight

The party leaves Lord Blackmoor’s estate, saying their goodbyes after a hearty breakfast, some sparring, and a flying “lesson” for Willet, and travel northwest toward where the guard captain pointed out the recent migration of another group of kobolds. After a day’s ride, they encounter an overturned cart and dead horses in the road, and are ambushed by the scavenging kobolds. These kobolds are adorned very differently than the ones they previously fought – they’ve painted their scales green and ritualistically scarred their maws; adding piercings of animal teeth outside their own. The group nearly lose a horse in the fight, are beset by snakes and poisonous gas, and are assaulted by falling rocks, but they finally rout the small dragonoids. However, Khamul is not satisfied, and chases after one of the fleeing winged kobolds until it is killed. Baat and Tasi, who chased after him, are unnerved and suspicious, but they three rejoin the party, where they work together to tend their wounded horse, recover the remaining goods, and mend the overturned cart. After some discussion, the party decides to move on toward Zenith (and hopefully a cleric for Rowan) to drop off Gundren’s and these new goods first before pursuing the kobolds, and Gundren, further. This way, at least they’ve accomplished half of their original assignment from the King’s Own… if their escort-turned-rescue mission should come to worst.

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012: A Family Affair

The party fights and loses, and are forced to let Zoreene go with Willet in tow. They take time to heal back up, and decide to 1) Baat and Kamina rush to Lord Blackmoor to inform him and 2) everyone else rushes after Zoreene and resumes conflict. They manage to LITERALLY JUST BARELY save Willet from Zoreene’s killing blow, and rout her — however she escapes via magic. They return to Lord Blackmoor with Willet, receive their monetary reward, and settle down for some much MUCH needed rest.

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011: Priest of the Buried God

party continues assault on Rhorluk, the fanatical kobold leader, it’s rough but they win and get dat sweet loot, find Willet, escort him out, meet Zoreene on the road and do not trust her, and she springs her trap

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