Fifth Frontier

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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Episode Two: Blood of the Red
Dragons, dragons everywhere...

The heroes defeat the kobolds, but only with the help of the dragon – who it seems refused to eat the Lost Ones offered to it. The dragon dies defending the group from a particularly tough kobold with vestigial wings and scales, which seems to have been infused with the power of a red dragon. The group returns to town, battered and weary.

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Episode One: Dungeon & Dragon
Does what it says on the tin.

Capriole enlists the others help looking for the Lost Ones; they find a secret tunnel under Fallcrest, and fight their way past giant centipedes and kobolds until they confront some winged kobolds, a kobold sorcerer…and a dragon!

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