Fifth Frontier

Episode Fourteen: The Scene of the Crime
The Blood Patch talk, and a new friend is made

The party rests briefly at Moonstone Keep, Ehljayy recovering from his injuries watched over by Capriole, while the others eat and gather their wits in preparation for the interrogation to come. In the Lord Warden’s banquet hall they meet a Wood Elf named Maeben, a ranger who has recently returned from an investigation into missing trade caravans on the road to Chalice. She couldn’t find the culprits but believes the Blood Patch were involved, and after striking up a conversation asks to join the others in their questioning. They agree.

The prisoners are being kept in four cells: the River Rats together, the wizard on her own, the half-orc man and large human woman together, and the leader – the giant half-orc woman – alone. They start with the young wizard, taking her into a separate room, and talking tough to her. She readily gives them her name, Alessa, but doesn’t say where she’s from beyond “the south”. She seems frightened and anxious – hardly surprising since the party questioning her killed her companions at Dragon Manor. She remains hostile to their questions, giving little away, until Relentless flicks her with her tail and the touch brings her situation into sharp focus, causing her to break down into tears and give in.

Alessa – also known as “Thumbs” – was hired by the Blood Patch after they lost their previous wizard, and had worked with Longfang and their group on several jobs. Two of these were for the group behind the letter using Tiamat’s symbol, but she says they hadn’t stolen any dragon eggs – they hadn’t recovered the one in the Manor when they were killed. Reluctantly she tells them what she knows: the man who hired them is named Akelis, and revealed little about himself or his plans. He told them to leave no witnesses to the jobs carried out for him, which is why they attacked the party when they discovered the Blood Patch at the manor. They were to retrieve the egg and take it back to Akelis, using the talisman, but she used it early when it seemed they would all be killed. Akelis was not pleased and let her see little of his base, situated inside a cave at the foot of Mount Ovasha, a few days’ ride from Fallcrest. She heard noises inside that reminded her of the creature Akelis brought through the portal, and knows there are other creatures there too, though not much more than that. She also gives details of their other earlier job for Akelis: picking up a sealed box from the Dancing Monkey, a dockside inn in the capital, and taking it to the Strangled Elf, a bar in the lower levels of Chalice used as a handover point for shady deals. They left the box there with the mark of Tiamat on it to be collected, though she doesn’t know by who.

Semesh, the big half-orc, is next. She came here for vengeance upon learning of the death of her brother, Longfang, and still wishes to kill Capriole and the others. But understanding her predicament, she reveals more about the caravan job: they were asked to stop the long box from getting to its destination and told to keep anything they wanted. This was another job from Akelis, passed to Setesh from Longfang – her brother. They followed the caravan north from Chalice, riding day and night to catch it up as it only travelled during the day.

Talking to the other half-orc, Kaladak, reveals little more. The large human woman is still unconscious.

The group write a note to the Lord Warden, asking to speak with him first thing in the morning, and head off to sleep. Maeben decides to slip back and speak with Semesh again on her own, but Cileth, also not sleeping, goes with her, but keeps to the shadows and observes. Maeben accuses Semesh of hiding information about the second caravan which went missing, but Semesh seems to genuinely not know anything about it. When pressed, and offered the possibility of a more lenient sentence, Semesh reveals that they rode day and night to catch up to the caravan, and they did see a group riding on the road in the dark – all of them wearing green cloaks.

In the morning, the group speaks with the Lord Warden, asking for leniency rather than the death sentence for the Blood Patch members – especially Thumbs. Then, realising they may have left some loose ends, most of them head to the Lucky Gnome, while Capriole and Ehljayy prepare the Blood Patch carriage for what might be a long journey ahead of them.

While checking inside the Gnome, Cileth, Maeben, Ash and Relentless find signs of a struggle that have been covered up, and someone has been through Kelson’s office. Upstairs it’s clear the Blood Patch had stayed here, but they also find the brutally murdered body of Dirk, and signs that objects have been removed. Maeben outside keeping watch sees someone watching from the shadows of a nearby alley, and alerts the others. Relentless and Maeben confront the figure and it attempts to leave via the rooftops, Ash Cileth and Relentless chasing it across the tops of nearby buildings and Maeben following along the ground. After two arrows and two spells, the person is cornered in a flophouse for porters; the person is a sun elf! Rendered unconscious, he is taken back to the Gnome. While Ash revives him, Cileth finds that Kelson’s hidden compartments downstairs have been emptied by someone who knew how to operate them. Maeben watches through a small window looking for trouble, but sees nothing, as the elf wakes.

The sun elf introduces himself warily as Namoriel, and reveals that he’d been watching the Gnome as he suspected an item belonging to him – a sword – might be there. The party realise he is the one who ordered the sword from Nauruemar’s Imports; while he didn’t know the tiefling personally he was hoping to order it through him so no-one would find out he was the one buying it. This clearly didn’t work and someone – now known to be the Blood Patch – stole it from the caravan. Relentless conceals the sword so Namoriel doesn’t know they have it, just as he says he isn’t the only one who’s been watching the Gnome – and at that moment, the party hear a noise from downstairs…

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Episode Thirteen: A Patch of Blood
A barroom brawl showdown with the Blood Patch

The heroes head back to the Lucky Gnome, where the doors are locked and a small crowd shouts outside hoping for free beers. Ehljayy vanishes into the crowd to look through the windows while Ash, Relentless and Capriole keeping watch near the Blood Patch carriage. but the half-orc Relentless had mindread earlier spots Cileth and grabs her. Ash and Relentless notice and come to her aid, just as Ehljayy and Capriole, unable to see anything significant at the front, join them. Ash throws a knife hoping to warn him off, but misses; luckily Cileth is able to slip free of his grasp, but the half-orc runs inside the tavern.

The heroes follow after the Blood Patch member, Relentless chasing after him into the back of the bar, where they find two River Rats barring the doors and shouting at the crowd, and four Blood Patch members in the bar: the half-orc they chased, a large human woman with a huge axe, another, giant half-orc woman…and the wizard who escaped from the battle at Dragon Manor. She recognises Relentless, and the female half-orc roars…battle is on!

The Blood Patch members close the distance quickly. Relentless is caught at the front but protects herself from a magic missile with her shield spell, while Cileth manages to cast a sleep spell that incapacitates the wizard and the River Rats. The others are ferocious in battle; Ehljayy leaps up onto the bar to engage the human woman, while Ash battles the half-orc, Cileth shoots from the shadows, and Capriole fires his eldritch blasts from the rear while also asking Cileth to return his orb. The fight is fast and vicious, but the heroes eventually incapacitate all of the Blood Patch members, and Relentless recovers the fancy sword wielded by the half-orc – a sword that seems to match the description of the elven dragon slayer sword stolen from Naerumar’s Imports’ caravan.

The players tie up all the combatants – including the River Rats – and take them back to Moonstone Keep, where the Lord Warden grants them use of one of his cells. There will be a lot of questions when they wake up…

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Episode Twelve: Judgment
The heroes are reunited...but danger still looms

The creature, whatever it is, threatens the group, demanding they show themselves to be “worthy”. Ash steps forward but when it probes his mind he is filled with regret over those he’s not sure he should have killed; the creature tosses him aside. Capriole tries to offer himself but despite summoning his willpower, the creature rejects him. Relentless offers herself, and the creature probes her memories, finding something it senses may satisfy its definition of worthiness – and pulling everyone into a replay of a story from Relentless’ past.

Years ago, after Relentless first came to Fallcrest, the town crier Evendur was murdered late at night. It was thought there were no witnesses but a man, Darvin, came forward and named Akmenos, a young Tiefling architect, as the killer. The news took those who knew Akmenos by surprise, but he would not defend himself to give an alibi, and the Lord Warden, wishing to put a swift end to the matter, announced a hanging for the next day. But Relentless knew things weren’t right and spoke to other townsfolk who felt similarly, organising them into a group who appeared at the execution and made it clear they felt justice was not being done. The Lord Warden, impressed but still annoyed, gave her three days to look into the matter and find another culprit.

The heroes are jolted out of the vision, and the creature mocks Relentless for her choice of memory, but she is resolute. Meanwhile Ash, worried about Ehljayy – who was badly wounded in the fight with the River Rats – takes the halfling toward the entrance of the crypt – only to find skeletons emerging from the ground. Ash summons the light of Kord and wards off the undead, and manages to make an exit from the vault with Ehljayy, while Cileth and Capriole stay with Relentless as the rest of the vision plays out.

Back in the past, Relentless went to see Akmenos and persuaded him to tell her where he was when the crier was murdered. He revealed he was with Pavel Marsk, son of Lord Marsk, the noble whose new manor house Akmenos is in Fallcrest to build. They were romantically involved, but there is a prejudice against such unions between Tieflings and humans. Akmenos did not wish to make this knowledge public – not least because he despaired that Pavel seemed to believe him capable of such a crime.

Relentless did some more digging, and confronted Lord Marsk, accusing him of the crime – he had the crier killed by someone summoning hellfire and then made his servant, Darvin, testify against the tiefling. Marsk vehemently denied it but Relentless was able to find the warlock responsible, and presented him to the Lord Warden. The warlock was hanged; Lord Marsk was stripped of his title and lands and banished; and Akmenos, heartbroken, left town.

As the vision ends, the creature considers, then pronounces Relentless worthy, granting her and her companions leave. The skeletons outside crumble into dust and the party heads back into town – their first stop the Moonsong Temple, where High Priest Ressilmae heals the wounded. While that’s going on, Ash visits the House of the Sun, where news of the shrine of Kord’s eyes glowing had been seen by some as a miracle. Aurion discovers him putting out candles left by petitioners, but gives him leave to tend the shrine, since he is a cleric of the god and thus the rightful one to do it.

Ash rejoins the others at House Azaer, where they spend some money on healing potions and new equipment. Capriole tries to apologise for his rash actions, but the rest of the party are still angry with him; indeed Cileth only agrees to give him back his armour and shield, but not his orb, leaving him unable to use many of his spells. After they’ve equipped themselves, Relentless goes to meet Kael, the half-elf she met at the Blue Moon Alehouse who told her about the missing caravan. He shows her the shipping manifest, and they discover that as well as the two boxes they know about – the small one and the long thin one Cileth found empty in the Blood Patch’s carriage – a third special order for [[Naerumar’s Imports]] had been added at the last minute.

To find out more, they visit the import business just before closing and speak with the proprietor, a tiefling named Orest Naerumar. After some persuading, he looks up the orders and reveals that the small box was an order of powdered diamonds for the wizard Nimozaran; the long one a magical sword, named “dragon slayer” in elvish, for someone named Namoriel, who has since left town; and the third an assortment of herbs and other items, which Cileth recognises as alchemical reagents, ordered on behalf of “Lord” Armos Kamroth, a wealthy landowner to whom many of Fallcrest’s farmers pay rent.

The party decide to take what they know to the Lord Warden, using cover of darkness to approach Moonstone Keep without being seen. They are shown inside by guards, and get an audience, where Ash asks for approval for their actions looking into the strange goings on in and around Fallcrest. The Lord Warden gives it, saying the group have earned his trust, despite some misgivings – including that an escaped tigron had attacked someone before being caught. They ask Lady Markelhay about the alchemical reagents, and she is surprised that Kamroth has ordered them; she doesn’t know exactly what they’re for, but they are the kind used in the transmutation of living (or once-living) matter, though they have a wide range of uses.

The characters decide it’s time to confront the Blood Patch at the Lucky Gnome, as the Warden confirms that he got their message and sent some watchmen to check out the place – which they’d also told many of the townsfolk to attend, telling a tale about “free drinks”. Then there’s the fact that the Blood Patch have been sent a note telling them Capriole is in the Elbarress Vault… Whatever’s going on, it seems time to confront the gang and see what they know…

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Episode Eleven: Breaking into the Vault
In which Capriole is finally rescued...?

The party rests in the forest so Ash can recover from the owlbear’s attack, and Cileth uses the time to decipher the coded messages. The one just picked up by the carriage occupants says “we have the murderer” and directs them to stay at the Lucky Gnome, while the other – discovered in the tin at the River Rats safehouse – says that he has been moved to the “Elbarress Vault” and that word will be sent to them at the Gnome. Ehljayy recognises the name as one he’s seen many times around Fallcrest – Elbarress was a noble house, one of the founding families who established the town, and like many of them probably has an ancestral vault or tomb set into the cliff face in the centre of town. But he doesn’t know which one – and there are many.

The party make their way back to Fallcrest and decide to scope out the Lucky Gnome. Cileth investigates the carriage, hidden near the docks, and works out that it belongs to a large half-orc who wasn’t travelling alone. There are several hidden compartments, but only one has anything in it – a long, narrow metal box with a built-in lock, which when she picks it open is empty. She’s almost spotted when she exits the carriage, but Ash steps in to distract the River Rats guarding it before stepping back into an alleyway.

One of the visiting members of the Blood Patch exits the Gnome, and Relentless and Ehljayy step in, Relentless using her mind reading powers on him. Their questions reveal that he clearly isn’t deeply involved with the dragon plot, though he does know something about the dragon egg theft, and is angry they have come to find Capriole. He retrieves the now empty box from the carriage and goes back inside the Gnome.

A couple of the River Rats from the safehouse arrive – one carrying the box from which the adventurers removed the second coded note. Ash and Ehljayy realise this is not a good scenario and intercept the pair, Ash intimidating the one holding the box into handing it over. He takes it back to the group and Cileth, thinking fast, tears off the part of the second note saying where Capriole is and puts it back in the box, which Ash takes back to the courier. They let him deliver it and head to Moonsong Temple to see if they have records of where the Elbarress Vault might be.

Ressilmae does indeed have such records and makes a rubbing of the ELbarress crest, indicating on an old diagram which vault should belong to the family. The four climb up the bluff and make their way to the right door, which is locked; Cileth picks it open and within they find a Tigron, chained to the wall as a security measure. Ash, with some suggestions from Relentless, manage to approach the creature without alarming it, and Cileth uses her invisible mage hand to unlock the collar around its neck. Freed and not sensing hostility from the adventurers, the Tigron goes outside and basks in the sun, leaving the heroes to proceed deeper into the Vault.

Beyond the interior door, Ash snags a tripwire and gets a crossbow bolt to the shoulder, prompting a bit more caution from the others; they soon find Dirk and a couple of other River Rats, however, and fight fiercely. Ehljayy, eschewing his usual tactic of hanging back to catch arrows, takes a few brutal blows, but is saved as Capriole blasts through the doors behind the River Rats, distracting them at a crucial moment. The effort is too much for the exhausted young warlock, however, and he collapses in a heap.

No sooner has he been brought round again, than the doors of the vault all slam shut, an unnatural breeze snuffs out the torches, and mighty footsteps reverberate from the walls. A gaunt, ragged figure rounds the corner from the other end of the vault and points a finger at the heroes. “You have dared to spill blood in the vault of House Elbarress!” Seems the crypt here wasn’t empty after all…

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Episode Ten

Capriole manages to escape his stone cell – into another cell. He escapes that too, but is now lost in a maze of stone corridors, trying to figure out where he is.

Meanwhile the party – after questioning and reviving Pike and sending him on his way – discover that the River Rats didn’t just threaten Relentless. They visit Ehljayy’s family and the Lost Ones, and High Priest Ressilmae sends them to have a secret meeting with the Lord and Lady Warden. They decide to continue acting in secret, knowing that the watch contains a few men in Kelson’s employ, and follow various clues – via a forest encounter with an Owlbear – to the crossroads south of Fallcrest, where they find and copy another coded note from the River Rats’ dead drop – just before a mysterious carriage stops there and picks up the message, before continuing into town.

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Episode Nine

The free members of the company continue trying to find Capriole, discovering more clues – including a River Rats safe house in the woods just south of the city walls. Ehljayy checks it out alone while the others regroup, then comes back so they can all take a boat there together, on the advice of one of their captives. After a battle in which everyone shows off their growing skills and powers, they find Pike, nearly dead, and decide to rescue him so he can aid their investigation. They also find a coded message intended for the dead drop, but it’s too short to be easily deciphered – Cileth needs more of the code to work it out. They take Pike captive back to the Tower of Waiting.

Meanwhile Capriole languishes in his prison, unconscious. He has a vivid dream in which those dearest to him call him a disappointment. The dream ends as his fiendish patron speaks to him, insisting he take more souls for them; he tries to negotiate, saying he will take more but only the ones he wants. The demon laughs, but agrees, and he wakes in a stone cell, without his arms or armour – or magical orb. He needs something to try and open the door, and reflexively holds out his hand – to find a twisted demonic glaive appears in it. But he is unable to open the heavy steel doors.

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Episode Eight: Warlock Down
Cpariole's friends begin the search for him

At the Lower Quays, Ash, his chainmail in tatters, collapses, unconscious, in front of Relentless and Ehljayy. After a quick fruitless search for his axe, they decide it’s not safe to stay and begin the difficult task of carrying the large northman back to Relentless’ house.

Back at the House of the Sun, the statue of Kord’s eyes stop glowing. Grundelmar repeats his warnings about Ash to Cileth, and advises her not to pursue the worshippers of Tiamat; it’s too dangerous and he is sending for Paladins of Pelor to come and deal with it. Aurion escorts her out, lamenting that there are no Paladins of Bahamut left; when pressed, he reveals that the order was disbanded many years ago after a disaster, and their Knight Commander, an old human named Fyodor Dragocevic, has either died or gone into hiding. Cileth persuades him to help her, and he agrees, giving her a heart’s egg: a rare artefact from the former Dragonborn empire, which can be used to contact him. Cileth heads back to Relentless’ house and, finding it empty, decides the time has come to make use of her magical research, getting out her tomes and readying the tools of the Arcane Trickster. Her work does not go undisturbed, though; she hears a bang at the door, but when she goes to look there’s no sign of anyone – only a threatening note pinned to the door:

Stay out of our business. The boy is ours. If you go to the Lord Warden or the authorities, there will be consequences. – RR

When Relentless and Ehljayy return, Cileth shows them the note. Relentless feels a burning rage within her, and the sliver of dragon’s soul that mingles with her own burns hot. Her rage has awakened greater power within her, but now is not the time to use it. They all need rest, and she lays Ash down in her bed.

In the morning, Ash – his wounds having healed quickly – awakes and gazes out the window, where he sees Ehljayy practising his kata. Having grown in confidence over their previous adventures, Ehljayy perfects some more powerful uses of his ki, sending his crude practice dummy flying across the field. Relentless wakes and, while she prepares them all breakfast, Ash explains he spent the evening communing with Kord. Part of his ten-year journey, walking the lands and learning how to fight, treat with and heal other peoples, is determining how he will serve the god of battle. Last night it became clear he will follow the path of the warrior – though exactly what this means is still unclear to his friends. Cileth is shaken and angry; it seems there’s some truth in the things Grundelmar and Aurion told her about the Oleeae and their relationship with Kord.

Knowing that Capriole is in danger, they want to act, but Relentless can’t hide her fury and desire to hurt Kelson, the man who has taken him. Ash tries to caution her against doing anything violent, and he decides to return to town via the Tower of Waiting, collecting his gear and then apologising for the carnage he caused during his communion. Ehljayy decides to go with him. Meanwhile Relentless and Cileth head to the Lucky Gnome Taphouse to see if they can find leads on Capriole’s whereabouts.

The Lucky Gnome is still closed when they arrive, and they try to survey the place quietly, but there’s no outward signs of where Capriole may be. There are sounds of someone within, however, and Relentless decides she’s had enough sneaking about and kicks the door open – right into the face of one of the four River Rats inside. A couple of them are surprised, but two of them – armed with heavy crossbows – react quickly, one planting a bolt in Relentless’ shoulder before ducking behind the bar, and the other firing a carefully aimed warning shot into the wall near her head before telling the intruders to fuck off. Before things can escalate into a full-on brawl, Relentless summons her fiendish presence and makes the earth seem to shake, resulting in a tense stand-off…which is broken moments later by Ehljayy sliding into the room between her legs.

He and Ash, realising the Blue Moon will also be closed, decided en route that they should join the others in case they needed backup. Unfortunately Ehljayy’s surprise appearance is enough to break the fragile peace, and fighting breaks out. Cileth uses her new magical powers to blind one of the Rats, who drops the sack he was holding; Relentless grabs another, demanding he tell her where Kelson is; while Ehljayy and Ash rush across the room to the bar. The Rat who ducked behind the bar panics and runs out through the back entrance, but his friend who fired the warning shot isn’t so lucky: Ash, frothing at the mouth and seemingly possessed of unnatural strength, grabs him by the throat and drags him back to Relentless, shrugging off a blow from one of the other Rats. The man goes unconscious and nearly chokes to death until Relentless talks Ash down from his rage. Cileth meanwhile kills the River Rat threatening Relentless with an arrow through the throat, and Ehljayy batters the last – now recovered from his blindness – knocking him to the floor. They ask him where Kelson is and he gives them directions to a safe house on the very southern edge of Fallcrest, hidden in the small wood just inside the city walls.

Cileth empties the sack the last River Rat was holding, and finds it contains a mace, some hide armour, a lizard – which runs off when they fail to catch it – and, as it falls to the floor with a heavy thunk, an very familiar orb… Wherever Capriole is, he is without his equipment.

The four remaining members of the Five Thousand Dragons look at each other. They’ve just murdered a member of the gang who holds their friend captive, and another member of that gang has escaped, presumably running off to warn his master. They have two other members of that gang – one half-throttled to death – at their mercy. But it’s clear mercy is the last thing on some of their minds…

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Episode Seven: Down Among the Rats
Don't split the party

After the revelation that worshippers of Tiamat may be searching for dragon parts, the heroes – now calling themselves the “Five Thousand Dragons” – decided to split up to investigate.

Cileth wants to know more about their enemy and heads to the House of the Sun, hoping to learn more about Tiamat from a follower of Bahamut. She speaks with Aurion, a Dragonborn cleric, who tells her the origin story of Bahamut and Tiamat, and explains that the Dragon Queen has no organised religion – only fanatic cults. She also has limited influence since she was banished from the world to the Nine Hells for murdering her elder sibling and trying to blame the death on Bahamut. When Cileth explains she has evidence of such a cult operating in or near Fallcrest, Aurion takes her to speak with Grundelmar, the dwarven cleric of Pelor responsible for the restoration of the Temple; he tells her and her friends to leave this alone, and that they will send for paladins to investigate. When she mentions Ash and his connection to the Oleeae, however, both clerics get a bit nervous…

Ehljayy returned to the Septarch’s Tower, hoping that the wizard Nimozaran the Green could enchant his quarterstaff. After a frosty reception from the wizard’s apprentice, Tobolar, Nimozaran spoke with Ehljayy; he advised that such enchantment was very difficult, as the secrets of making magical weapons had largely been lost, and he has his own problems: he recently ordered a quantity of powdered diamond via [[Naerumar’s Imports]], to use in a spell of warding on the tower, but it never arrived. If Ehljayy could find it, then Nimozaran might be able to point Ehljayy in the right direction for a magical staff. Ehljayy decides to look for leads immediately, and heads off to the Blue Moon Alehouse.

…which is where Relentless is looking for leads on the Blood Patch. She doesn’t find any, though she does observe Ash drinking and fighting and eventually being escorted from the premises. Her best intelligence comes initially from a half-elf named Kael, who works for House Azaer, a Tiefling-run local merchant business. They’ve recently had a caravan go missing and not report in for a couple of weeks. When Ehljayy arrives, they continue questioning Kael and realise that a couple of unusual items ordered through Naerumar’s Imports were also being transported on the caravan – two locked boxes, one of which might contain Nimozaran’s powedered diamonds. Kael offers to meet them as House Azaer the next day, and Ehljayy and Relentless leave to look for Ash.

Meanwhile Capriole, after bidding farewell to the Lost Ones, heads to the Lower Quays and tries trailing a River Rat named Pike who meets with two other members of the gang in a dark spot near the boathouses. Capriole is not as stealthy as he hopes, and they spot him; he asks them about the Blood Patch and they refuse to answer, getting violent when he refuses to give up his questioning, but using his magic he quickly and easily overpowers them. One of them escapes, and he follows them to the back entrance of Fallcrest’s roughest tavern, the Lucky Gnome Taphouse

…which is where Ash has been drinking and fighting, but by the time Ehljayy and Relentless arrive, he has already moved on, leaving only bruised and injured folk as evidence of his passing. As they question the patrons of the bar, they come to realise something is up behind closed doors, and they bust through into the back room…

…where Capriole has discovered that Kelson, landlord of the Lucky Gnome, is the secret leader of the River Rats! He’s none too pleased about his intruders, and also seems to be preoccupied with finding out who killed Longfang, leader of the Blood Patch group discovered in Dragon Manor. He definitely knows more than he’s willing to let on, but when Capriole says he was the one who killed Longfang, Kelson has his men grab and detain the young warlock, eventually incapacitating him and absconding into the night. Ehljayy and Relentless try to follow them, but it’s too late.

They do manage to find Ash, bloody and bruised, near the docks; he’s been fighting as many as would take him one. There’s a crazed look in his eye; something has changed about him. In fact, his eyes turn a bloodshot red, and he foams a little at the mouth…

…as Cileth, Grundelmar and Aurion discuss Kord, and the eyes of his statue in the House of the Sun glow a dark blood red…

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Episode Six: Answers Lead to Questions
No wolves were harmed in the making of this adventure.

In the cave exit, Capriole, Relentless and Cileth used some of their minor spells to try and frighten the wolves without harming them, while Ehljayy tried to push one away from Cileth, and Ash first tried to distract the wolves with meat and then, when that didn't work, with mighty effort wrestled the dire wolf pack leader to the ground, establishing at least temporary dominance, while the smaller wolves cowered before all the magical commotion. The wolves were subdued, at least long enough to escape through to the cave's exit.

On the other side, our heroes found the woods at the back of the mansion, and within, three horses tethered to a tree. Relentless calmed the largest and most vicious of the horses, with a little help from Ehljayy's sugar cubes, and they searched the horses' saddle bags. They were mostly empty, save for a steel box with a built-in lock. Ash fetched the party's horses and all set up camp for the night; Ehljayy, on first watch, heard something large – or perhaps multiple somethings large – moving through the woods, but whatever it was was seemingly scared off by the ensuing loud conversation. Overnight Cileth picked the lock on the box, nimbly avoiding the trap set within it, and in the morning revealed its contents: shards of what appear to be a dragon egg.

Heading back to Fallcrest, the party gained audience with the Lord Warden and told him what they had found. The Lady Allende confirmed through her wizardry that the shards were dragon eggs, mostly like from a metallic dragon. Upon hearing the name "blood patch" – which the group who attacked you used to refer to themselves – the Lord Warden went through an old warrant book and confirmed that the Blood Patch are a large criminal gang, known to take odd jobs from anyone who pays – no matter their motivation. They are usually situated in the south of Casparia (the nation of which Fallcrest is a part), but the coin Relentless found in the old mansion is from Gamric, the nation to the south (and also accepted in Chalice, an independent city-state which straddles the border). Deciding that the kobolds stole the dragon egg from the hidden laboratory in the mansion, and that this means the hatchling's mother is likely far away, Ash reveals to the Lord Warden that the dragon did not escape, but died protecting them, and places its body into the Warden's care for burial.

Ehljayy heads to the Moonsong Temple, where the elf Maester Ressilmae Silverlight reveals that the symbol on the letter you found is that of Tiamat, Queen of Evil Dragons, a goddess with no organised religion whose power has waned in the last few centuries after she was imprisoned in one of the Nine Hells. Any cult who worships her, he says, must be evil.

With this new information, the party prepare for a greater battle ahead:

  • Relentless decides to hit the taverns, offering up the horses they liberated from the Blood Patch as bribes to any criminals who might have information on their whereabouts.
  • Ehljayy visits the Archdeacon of Fallcrest, the wizard in the tower whom you asked about dragons a couple of days ago, hoping for magical assistance.
  • Ash goes off alone to pray to Kord for guidance, as he seems uncertain if the quest ahead is what he is meant to be doing.
  • Capriole speaks with the Lost Ones, giving them money to keep them going, and explaining that he may have to leave for a while, before heading to the southern docks read to bust some heads among the River Rats, a criminal gang for whom he worked in the past, also looking for information on the Blood Patch.

As for Cileth? Well, we'd all love to know what Cileth might be doing…

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Episode Five: Peril in Dragon Manor
Is it murder if you think someone's trying to kill you?

Arriving at Moonstone Keep, Relentless, Capriole, Ehljayy, Ash and Cileth are shown into the audience chamber to meet with the Lord Warden, Faren Markelhay, in front of a crowd of concerned citizens. He calls on them to account for the spreading rumours of monsters living beneath Fallcrest, which have grown to include everything from kobolds to dragons, beholders and mind flayers – all because of Relentless’ request to some passing villagers to ask around for information. Relentless angrily defends her decision, accusing the Lord Warden of shirking his duties to the city. Capriole, angry that the authorities did nothing to find the Lost Ones, reveals his demonic powers. The Lord Warden is about to have Capriole taken to the dungeons when Relentless talks him down.

Once he is satisfied that the city should be safe from immediate threat, Markelhay clears the room save for the adventurers, a few guards and his wife, the Lady Allande. During extended questioning by the Lord Warden, the party tell their story more or less as it happened - though Ash claims that the Brass dragon left, alive, after they encountered it in the kobold tunnels, and the others, though confused, support his version of events. Lady Markelhay, a talented wizard, casts a divination spell and believes there is no sign of the dragon. The Lord Warden reveals that it was known kobolds lived under the city, but they’d never been any trouble before, hardly even venturing out of their tunnels. The more powerful ones they encountered were not typical of the kobolds known to the authorities, but when they mention the possible connection to a red dragon, it sparks a memory.

Checking the records, Lord and Lady Markelhay confirm the information given to the party by Nimozaran the Green – there was a red dragon who lived in these lands. It came from the mountains to the northwest, and for a time made its lair in an old manor house, abandoned a century ago, a few hours ride from the city. The Lord Warden agrees to lend the party horses so they can travel to the manor and investigate it, and though he disagrees that it is his job to care for orphans, he does make arrangements for the Lost Ones to be taken into the care of the priests of Moonsong Temple.

The party spend the day making preparations, then set out at first light. They investigate the manor, which they find has a huge hole smashed in the roof, and the interior walls on the first and ground floors destroyed – consistent with a dragon making it into a lair. There’s no sign, however, of the dragon’s presence, or of a dragon hoard – though Relentless does find a 500 coppers coin, of the sort used in Gamric (and Chalice). Descending into the intact basement of the manor, they find little of interest…until they reach the furthest room on the first basement level, where they are ambushed by four figures: a violent half-orc, a thuggish dwarf, and two humans.

Ehljayy rushes into the fray, but is surprised by a thunderwave spell cast by the human he had planned to attack, buying some time for the half-orc and dwarf to rush forward and attack, and for their other human companion to strike from his hiding place in the shadows. Relentless tries to halt the fighting, but in the heat of the battle no-one listens, and the dwarf is felled. The human archer shouts to the half-orc, whom he calls Longfang, that they cannot win this fight, and the wizard crushes something she was wearing around her neck. A portal opens in the corner of the room, and a figure in purple robes emerges, accompanied by a snarling, green scaled beast.

As the fight continues, Ehljayy is knocked out, and the half-orc and the human archer are killed, but the robed figure and the wizard escape through the portal before it closes. The creature is very tough, but is eventually killed when Capriole strikes it as it runs towards Relentless and Cileth, the last of its energies sapped by Capriole's dark curse.

While Ash tends to Ehljayy's wounds, the others search the level and loot the bodies of their opponents, finding some gold and taking some of their weapons. They also find a letter written in orcish, and an unusual key. Cileth is able to read orcish, and reveals the note is addressed to Longfang, asking his group to recover something lost in the "dragon manor", and signed with a strange symbol which seems familiar to Ehljayy, though he can't place it. 

Cileth locates a secret door in the room, which the key opens; inside is what clearly used to be an alchemical laboratory of some kind, though it has been mostly cleared out. At one end of the small secret room is a large wooden box filled with soil, and in the soil are depressions which could have been made by very large eggs – and also signs that small creatures have been here – perhaps kobolds!

The party decides to explore the rest of the underground part of the mansion; Capriole uses his eldritch blasts to clear away the rubble from a collapsed corridor, and they find stairs leading down to a lower level. It too is mostly empty, but they follow the tracks they found earlier through to a chamber filled with webs and a single, giant spider! They fight the spider off, also killing a couple of swarms of its young, hatched early thanks to the disturbance. In the spider's webs they find a dead kobold similar to the tough one they fought in the tunnels under Fallcrest; there's no longer any doubt that the kobolds had been here, and probably fairly recently.

On the far side of the spider's lair they find a natural cave exit; there are signs that some of kobolds passed through here. As the party reach a small underground stream, they are suddenly surprised by a pack of wolves leaping out of the darkness – including an enormous dire wolf!

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