The New Blood: Tyranny of Dragons

Along the Elber River
To Naga Hills in search of Jemna Gleamsilver

Traveling by dog sled and with guides from Freiberg, we head towards the Kithor Mountains pass, along the Elber River.

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1/3/2016 – “Critter”, Kor-Zara, Piik, Vall Stormbreeze and Ront venture across the frozen lands to the Naga Hills in pursuit of Jemna Gleamsilver.

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This Ice is from the Black Gods

The ice and cold of this place is becoming maddening, the constant swing between stinging and numbness has my fingers giving me fits and old wounds howling like the wolves that caused them. The shot at the dragon I believed my aim to be true, but again my fingers and muscles must have been in another fit of numbness, the loss of such an elegant arrow will be sorely missed. But, alas the great white dragon appears to be dead. Our newest of companions should prove to be an interesting lot, very strong with sword and horn. Our target has been reached for this step of the assignment, McCath, and with this step done we should return to much more agreeable climates with harder tasks at hand.

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Critter Restored

He stepped into the cavern, clad in heavy armor that now was too big and too heavy for him. Try as he might he could barely keep himself upright. It had led him this far, through hell and harsh winter, and now into the den of an arrogant white dragon. The urge to continue moving forward subsided and the arm relaxed long enough for him to bend the mechanical elbow and place the arm in a make-shift sling.

Once he loved the freedom to run, but now he was tired, aged, and weathered. Just six months ago his condition was fine, but something had changed and now the frail, greying minotaur had to track down the docent that had, long ago chosen to accompany his old friend. He knew what he was looking for, but had no idea where to find it. For the first time in months the urge to continue forward subsided, the pressing need for food, drink, and rest overwhelmed him and he collapsed.

He awoke to light slap across the face. He lie there, sprawled across the icy ground in a tent, almost surely someone lived here, furs and scrolls filled the inside, a small desk sat in the corner.

“Eat this.” The accented voice of a gruff woman was accompanied by a clawed, red hand that shoved a brown lump into Critter’s mouth.

He chewed through hard, dry, crumbly mass, choking it down.

“I know, just eat it.” She said again reading Critter’s face as he choked down the mass of what he figured had to be oats and maybe sand. “They’re terrible cooks, I don’t think they have taste buds.”

The noise of Kobolds screeching at each other from outside the tent made it apparent who the tiefling was talking about.

“What are you?” She said pointing to the slinged arm.

Critter choked the rest of the mass down. “I’m not really sure how to answer that… You know about Minotaurs right?” He was sarcastic, but friendly.

“Well it was either that, or you’re the most enterprising Warforged I’ve ever met.” She snapped back, helping the 600lb minotaur to his feet with surprisingly little effort and a smile. “So?” she motioned at the arm again.

“To tell you the truth I don’t know much about it, I’ve had it since I was young, woke up in a strange place and there it was.”

“I looks useless, and if your story is true then you’ve been carrying it around for quite some time, so it must not come off?” She said

“Believe me I’ve tried, seems to be as much a part of me as this one.” he shrugged the other shoulder. “Doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.”

The tiefling continued to stare and examine the arm, moving about to examine it at every angle. She was lost in looking it over.

“Sorry.” She stopped realizing she had been so deep in turning the thing over that she had forgotten the beast that carried it. “I’m McCrath.”

They spoke for a good while about themselves, and their setting until voices from outside the tent came calling for McCrath.

As the first voice sounded his arm tensed and began to whirr. Snapping and popping it started glow faintly, becoming hot enough to burn flesh, and it did. The smell of burnt hair filled the tent and sear painfully at Critter’s shoulder. He stepped out grasping his weapon in his good hand.

McCrath, already in conversation turned back toward the tent and re-entered.
The joints of the mechanical arm creaked and the hand popped open.
“Do you have the orb” Critter asked the sorcerer who spoke earlier.

“This?”He said, drawing a mass of vines and broken glass from his pouch as he looked up. “It belonged to a friend, she was very attached to it.”

“May I?” Critter said hoping he wouldn’t have to fight for it.

Seeing the opened mechanical hand beckon impatiently even as the minotaur asked politely Vall hesitantly placed the shattered orb into the palm of the now outstretched hand.

The palm separated at the center ripping the crystal away from the leaves and vines, the violent sound of shards of glass compressing against each other echoed in the mostly empty cavern. A glowing light filled the orb, but not the blue light that might have been familiar to Vall and Kor-Zara, this was an ultra-bright, pure white, it filled the cavern and then was dimmed by the palm collapsing back to its original state, the faint concealed light moved from the palm and came to rest at Critter’s forearm before settling down, dimming entirely.

The heat of the arm dissipated quickly and the arm shot to life, it was again fully under his control, life flowed again back into the minotaur, aches and pains eased and he stood upright. He may not have been as strong as he once was, but it was the best he’d felt since the day he was freed his chains; the first day in his life that he could recall. All of the pain washed away and strength returned gradually, his senses sharpened, he could smell, everything looked sharp, the cold sting lessened, and the sound of wardrums filled his head.

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Piik "And though she be but little, she is fierce"
Piik Rah'Kuma Blacklash

With little more to do but wait, Piik sat atop the foremast and took stock of the frozen landscape around them. The icy winds coating the main deck with ocean spray that seemed to leave the hammock nettings a hauntingly frozen sculpture and rendering them useless. The gun deck was scattered with holdings in preparation for the expected live cargo about to be received. This was proving to be a venture with little reward or importance, leaving Piik in a most disagreeable mood. For the sake of the crew, the sullen Piik kept a distance and the rest of the crew knew as much to leave her be.

Not the usual frigate stock, Piik arm wrestled the captain for passage and the promise of adventure, having also proved a curious distraction to the captain he made no argument to her company. That fond sentiment further reinforced after an open sea skirmish with a competing privateer ship, in which Piik took to the decks like wild banshee sweeping through the ranks and cutting down the vile corsairs with the ease of the eastern wind. It was clear to the captain that Piik would move on when the moment so struck her, but in the meantime, the crew was strangely comforted by her presence aboard.

Piik watched closely this new lot that bought passage on the Frostskimmr from Freiburg. This bunch didn’t speak to any of the crew much and seemed secretive of their destination. So Piik kept up the pretense that she was one of the crew, disinterested and arrogant. After weeks of travel, the shadows conjured up whispers about a white dragon named Arauthator and a vast frozen wasteland Oyaviggaton, occupied by Ice Hunters. Now that was a promise of adventure which peaked Piik’s interest.

Now finally at Oyaviggaton, something went sideways with the Ice Hunters and a nearby village of the frozen inhabitants. Still the captain set the crew to task in preparing the Frostskimmr for live cargo and a raiding party was sent to pillage any and all valuable goods. Bloodthirsty at the thought of dragon slaying for many weeks now, Piik looked down on this distasteful plundering and took the rigging, set to thought on where things went wrong on her quest for adventure.

With broadsword in hand and deep in thought, Piik saw from the corner of her eye the glimmer of blood soaked robes. Over the ice-covered horizon, Piik watched the haggard frames of two of the three aforementioned adventurers. Short the tiny one it seemed.

The captain convened with them on approach. A short while and they continued aboard the Frostskimmr. The tall gaunt one standing on the quarter deck addressed the crew, with an offer to join in an elite raiding effort further into Oyaviggaton and soliciting for a few courageous arms. Murmurs among the ranks, eventually a few crew called out the names of Piik and Ront.

As this point, Piik had already made up her mind to go along, but to see the quizzical looks of the sorcerer and cleric as they looked hard through the crowd to see what they had entreated amused her so. Ront stepped forward first with jovial cheers, along with a jest from a deckhand about how that face of Ront’s would scare off any ice trolls, being the best line of defense. The sorcerer and cleric seemed relieved by this volunteer’s apparent vigor.

Piik took this moment to make an entrance, swinging down from the fore top in a most acrobatic fashion and landing effortlessly next to the captain. His eyes smiled at her, the captain then turned to the sorcerer and said, “and though she be but little, she is fierce. You would be amiss to give her anything but your highest regard, for she is favored by the gods”.

Piik smiling sweetly says to the undecided cleric “bless me father, for I have killed quite a few men. And it seems I have yet to kill quite a few more”.

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12/27/2015 Adventuring Note – Piik joins Ront, Vall Stormbreeze, Kor-Zara and later “Critter” to search the ice caves for Arauthater, the white dragon and rescue Maccath, the tiefling sorcerer.

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Interlude 2: Tinker

A red beacon in the dark. From the shadowed corner of the workshop a small glow grew in luminosity until it cast its light in blinding brightness. The hunched figure at the workbench shifted his gaze to take in the small blazing orb and with a wave of his hand plus a muttering of arcana snuffed out the light. The crystal that shined so brightly mere moments before cracked and popped, never to shine again.

“That’s odd.” the figure muttered. His knees popped and his feet ached as he stood and shuffled over to the orb. One hand, all knuckles and yellowed fingernails tapped at the cracked globe which was split down the middle, ruined. The bushy eyebrows, black like soot from a chimney, furrowed in a motion that exaggerated the already wrinkled brow. “This one can’t be fixed. No good. No good at all.” he whispered to himself.

The figure hobbled towards another shelf in the cramped room and drew a dusty tome – bound in rough canvas and stained with ink spots. With a heave and a cough he unceremoniously dropped the book upon his workbench and began flipping through the stiff pages. He could hear the paper crack with each turn but cared not. The book would be useless soon anyway so what fuss was there in maintaining its condition? The man scanned the pages of schemata and tables until he found what he was looking for. A chart showing the relative globe layout and a legend fully explaining the message conveyed by their coloration and reaction.

“Hmm…here we go.” He traced his jaundiced fingernails across the page to a small subscript written in his own hand. ‘Soul Displacement in lieu of destruction. See pg 593 fig. b-3 Phylacteries and usage thereof.’ “Well that can’t be right. There were fail safe measures in place for this.” He began a flurry of movement; his hands moving with motivation with agility that belied his infirmity. When he was done he sat in front of a contraction perhaps 3 inches on each side and humming with barely contained energy. The device shuddered once and then began to glow a soft blue. A clipped voice – barely audible – issued forth from the device. The old man’s eyes narrowed and a haunted smile spread across his lips.

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Part 15: Skyreach

Had in really only taken 12 hours? In that short time upon Skyreach chaos had ensued and the death toll was extensive. The entirety of the Dracologist cult presence was now dead – killed either by the heroes or the forces of Blagothkus the cloud giant. A schism had been driven between the factions of the mercenary giants and the scheming Tiamat cultists. The spark of this conflict was a message of woe received by an augury from the stone giant Hilga. Blagothkus had been driven to work for the cult for the sake of his twin sons. The cult had murdered his wife, Escarlotta, and kidnapped the boys to press him into service and make use of his fortress. Hilga finally uncovered the truth that the boys were already dead, sacrificed on the alter of Tiamat to further grow the Dragon Queen’s power.

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The wizard Rath Modar was placed in command of Skyreach on behalf of the Wyrmspeakers and rather than see the flying fortress lost attempted to kill Blagothkus and sever the citadel’s flight magic. He was undone by the intervention of the spirit of Escarlotta who teleported the heroes to her grieving husbands side against the wizard.

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The dragon Glazhael had been driven from the castle but still remained a threat. After all the heroes very souls were bound to the Wyrm by the priestess Talis the white. That would remain a problem for a later date though and the treasure from the plundered towns of Darokin was finally recovered and able to be returned to long-suffering people.

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Rezmir had finally been challenged and overcome. And though her Wyrmspeakers Mask was lost her defeat still cost the dracologist cult dearly. Rather than risk corruption of the sword Hazirawn, the heroes chose to throw the accursed sword into the Sea of Dawn far below.

Blagothkus took the heroes to the outskirts of Freiburg in the bitterly cold Heldannic Territories. The treasure from the plundered cities was loaded into many chests and scheduled to sail south back to Darokin City. Vall purchased a small home in the coastal town of Althaven and sent many letters aboard the southbound ships to his various contacts. It is to be a long, cold winter and without direction there is no choice to be made but to wait patiently.

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Part 14: Head in the Clouds

Kor-Zara felt the biting cold immediately. Frost clung in the shadows but no early winter storms had blown in and blanketed this pine forest with snow. The eastbound trail of Dralmorrer Borngray was still easy to follow through the spongy moss undergrowth. The elf knew he was not alone though. A huge 4 armed troll led a pack of white dragon-bred drakes on a patrol of the forest.

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The beasts seemed based out of the imposing lodge near the old magic portal. The building – stone first floor and timber above – was in excellent shape. The window shutters were in good condition and it showed no real signs of deterioration. The fact that Borngray’s path led from the building and not towards it proved a mystery.

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Before the elf could travel far from the lodge he was waylaid by a young warrior. She dressed in an uncivilized manner but her muscles were corded and her movements clearly showed signs of combat training. She introduced herself as Ferd and explained she was here on behalf of her clan. The trolls had proven a threat to her people and she was devising a plan to solve that problem. She had seen others in the forest and the path ahead wasn’t safe.

Trusting her, Kor-Zara headed back towards the portal to find his companions having arrived through the magic gate. The group decided to explore the lodge and found it defended by magical wards and gargoyles. They were summoned shortly after entering to meet with the master of the lodge, a white dracologist by the name of Talis.

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Talis was enraged by a perceived slight from the cult of Tiamat. She felt she was due in line to be Wyrmspeaker for the White Dragons and instead that honor went to the dwarf Varram. She was not above backstabbing Varram and setting back the cult’s actions to better her own standing so she offered the heroes a deal. She would infuse them each with a meager amount of White Dragon soul and send them forth to destroy Varram’s works.

The group would by flown by wyvern to Skyreach Castle. The magical fortress was a cult headquarters and held aloft by powerful magics. The current hoard was held within its bowels to be an offering to Tiamat to summon her into the known world. Talis wanted the party to seize the fortress and bring shame upon Rezmir and Varram in the process. Then she would ascend to her rightful place as Wyrmspeaker.

The group accepted the mission with little objection and only upon mounting their wyverns realized the cavernous holes in the plan. How would a force this small take an entire castle? How does one pilot an flying mountain? What of the dragon guarding the horde within? Can Talis be trusted? and lastly, what repercussions will the infusion of dragon soul have upon them in the long term?

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Part 13: Such Sweet Sorrow

The heroes succeeded in locating the foul Bullywug Shaman, Pharblex Splattergoo, during a profane ritual. In the midst of a circle of his kin and kith the shaman drew upon dark energies for his nefarious plans. He was a challenging foe- empowered in his unholy sanctum – but in the end he was defeated and Suncaller was avenged. The rout of the frogmen was complete and the lizardfolk gave the party wide berth in their search for Rezmir and the other Dracologist leaders.

The heroes had been too slow though. During the infighting the Black Dragon priest Rezmir had used a teleportation circle to escape the castle into whereabouts unknown. Without knowing the activation command she was as good as gone. The heroes then returned to the castle to find a key to the magic circle and, hopefully, a clue as to the plans of the Dracologists. The answer was found scrawled on a note in Rezmir’s own chambers, overlooked in the hasty retreat by the dragonmage.

Armed with the key to the teleportation circle the group found themselves in the midst of a disagreement. Kor-Zara and Orrie wanted to hunt down Castellan Borngray and put him down for good. Vall was of the mindset to ignore him and focus on following Rezmir while they still had a warm trail to follow. A vote was put forth and Vall found himself begrudgingly assisting in the battle against Borngray.

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The castellan was not alone though, he was aided by the Ylari wizard Azbara and almost proved too much for the exhausted team. Azbara was defeated but Borngray managed to escape through the teleportation circle, and with him a warning of the heroes and their intentions.

With the mission compromised tempers flared and an unwise decision was made. Kor-Zara would follow Borngray, alone, through the magic circle and kill the man if possible. The others would wait and decide their options while their comrade faced a possible ambush alone.

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Part 12: Mud Slinging

After a short rest in the tower the group proceeded to investigate the interior of the castle. They were met by a group of Lizardfolk who were conspiring against the foul Bullywug faction they shared the keep with. The lizardfolk shaman, Suncaller, had been killed by the Bullywug shaman, Pharblex Splattergoo. Pharblex had shamed the lizardfolk and worked hard to break their spirit now that their ‘magic’ was defeated. Snapjaw – the de facto leader of the rebellious lizardfolk – agreed to ambush the Bullywugs in their mud hovels if the heroes would go below and kill Pharblex.

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In the tunnels beneath the castle the heroes encountered venomous centipedes, bullywug guards, and a knot of giant frogs. All were defeated but with a fair amount of resistance draining the resources of the heroes. If Pharblex is as dangerous a threat as Snapjaw warned; the situation may be dire indeed.

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Part 11: Secrets and Lies

From Ylaruam city the caravan picked up two new members. The gnome Jenma Gleamsilver kept her distance from the heroes before finally warning them of an assassination plot against them. The group accepted her warning and face value and later shared with her the details they had uncovered about the cultists’ plunder. Later, they regretted this decision as it was suspected that upon getting what she wanted from them the conniving gnome killed a cultist guard and framed Orrie.

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The other new passenger was a wizard out of Glantri who seemed very friendly with the cultists. Azbara Jos spoke as the voice of reason during the implications against Orrie and let it be known that the Immortals would punish whomever was responsible. The party made no effort to speak to the man.

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The caravan crossed into the Soderfjord Jarldoms and the biting cold of the north. Unable to rest outside safely they stopped at the Carnath Longhouse for a warm bed and hot meal. A duel of honor was fought on the Longhouse grounds to settle the matter of the murdered cultist guard. Karn proved victorious and the matter was laid to rest. Something about the longhouse didn’t sit right with Kor-Zara who kept an eye on the situation and it was found that the cultist goods were being smuggled from the safe house through an underground tunnel.

The trail was followed into the Great Marsh and an ancient castle was discovered. Bullywugs lived in crude mud dwellings while Lizardfolk built sturdy longhouses for their own. A small handful of human cultists also called the castle home and seemed to be in charge of the outpost. The heroes chose to sneak around the exterior and scale the walls of the castle: entering through a tower roof to the inside.

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