Adventurer's Beware

11 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) – The City of Splendor…and Intrigue

After a morning mist lifted along the coast, the group could see Mount Waterdeep in the distance. Reaching the outer gates shortly after noon, the party entered the Field Ward to witness the poor souls not able to afford the city proper. Passing several fires burning inside stone pits surrounded by hunkered humanoids wrapped in strips of clothing, the group made their way to the North Gate entering the city proper of the North Ward.

Valdis immediately noticed the slight change in temperature and recognized the presence of a mythal so common to him during his time in Myth Drannor. As the group approached the town guard, they were queried on their business in town and Tamnai was singled out to wait a moment. Within a few minutes, a city watch official in the common green and yellow livery approached and asked Tamnai to join him in travel to the Sea Ward office to meet with Magistrate Hem. When asked why, he simply replied that she was a person of interest and her cooperation would be considered polite. Tamnai agreed and the others seemed concerned before deciding to split and meet later at Tamnai’s shop in Dock Ward, the Ninth Life.

Aelith wanted to visit the dragon scholar, Chalauth Yarghorn, in the North Ward and Droom decided to join him. Hearing mention of a dragon scholar, Serpentor asked to join them and they headed east. Carden wanted to accompany Tamnai and Valdis wanted to visit the temple to the Seldarine once it was mentioned. This left them following the city watch member to the west into the Sea Ward.

As the group travelled west, a patrol of the city watch accompanied them until they reached the Sea Ward Watch station of Magistrate Hem. Valdis asked directions to the Seldarine temple and Tamnai gave him directions along with some to her shop far to the south. Tamnai and Carden entered behind the watch member that originally approached the at the gate. The next hour was spent in astonishment by the priestess of Sune. After agreeing to questioning within a zone of truth provided by the priest on call, Tamnai and Carden learned that Tamnai had been witnessed at the Temple of Beauty shortly before the High Priestess Annalah Brightstar was discovered slain in her personal quarters and also witnessed at her guild hall paying a year’s dues with a necklace belonging to the slain high priestess. Further facts that Vain Selarris and Sarita, Tamnai’s mentor and sponsor, were reported missing and last seen a few days before Tamnai’s last visit to Waterdeep. Mention of her travel with a drow and the necklace from the deceased high priestess were items of discussion. After Tamnai and Carden testified their last visit was 27 Hammer and that they were in town for that day alone before departing south ended with the magistrate informing Tamnai that she was not to leave Waterdeep without requesting permission from him and that further discussion may prove necessary once her testimony was submitted. She agreed and headed south to pay her dues at her guild though she seemed empty and lost in her thoughts. Carden accompanied her to the guild, then he exited for a personal errand before meeting later at her shop. Tamnai’s day seemed to get worse as she quickly found the guild guarded and angered by their involvement by accepting a stolen necklace from a slain high priestess. Angered, she snapped back at the guild master and he quickly informed her that business of faith had nothing to do with guild business. She paid her dues with ample gold bars to cover a few years and this seemed to lower the guild’s ire, though they informed her that they would check with the watch to ensure she had been there as she stated. The tiefling headed to her shop with much on her mind.

Meanwhile Aelith, Droom, and Serpentor made it to the residence of scholar Yarghorn. Serpentor quickly discovered that the scholar was not a dragon, but a human scholar on dragons. Disappointed, the dragonborn spent most of the visit avoiding physical touch from the scholar who made every effort to touch his scales while commenting on dragonborn and their affinity to dragons. Aelith was able to barter the gem embedded green dragonscale for information on Imyrith. It was discovered that Imyrith was truly an ancient blue dragon of legend known as the “Doom of the Desert” and the “Dragon of Statues”. She was rumored to lair near Ascore along the western banks of the Anauroch Desert. Her titles come from her ferocity of leaving few alive that ever witnessed her up close and some ability to animate statues for her defense. Eventually, Serpentor’s frustration along with Chalauth’s babbling off topic and his consistent yawning gave cause for the group to depart for Tamnai’s shop.

Valdis discovered the temple of the Seldarine and was pleased to discuss elven matters with a fellow elf. He discovered that the temple here did not keep any lore beyond the history of the Seldarine and edicts for the faithful. However, he did receive information on the Temple of Wonders, Mystra’s nearby temple and the possibility of personal collections in the city belonging to nobles and sages. He journeyed next to the Temple of Wonders to discover it was not only a temple, but an academy as well as a library. After he paid for research into the Dusk Caracal or any knowledge of Myth Drannor lore removed from that city, he flagged down a coach and paid for a ride to the ‘Ninth Life’.

Carden’s quick visit to the City of the Dead brought luck when he encountered an actual doomguide departing the ward just as he entered. Probing for information, the rogue revealed to the doomguide his strange pact with an entity in league with Kelemvor only to discover that the doomguide found his recollection confusing. The doomguide informed Carden that Meirson Berekland was not a paladin of Kelemvor. The lore surrounding Meirson was that he was once a paladin of another deity, but reverted to the worship of Kelemvor when the god of the dead ascended to power. Meirson became Kelemvor’s first high priest and this was nearly a century and a half ago. Carden was stunned and more confused than ever, but the doomguide assured the rogue that Kelemvor’s tenants were clear and it seemed that he had accepted them in this pact he spoke. Carden rushed through the streets toward the Dock Ward unsure of wht this recent discovery meant for him.

The group eventually regrouped in the ‘Ninth Life’ as Oresta, the shop manager, welcomed them. Her cautious demeanor lifted once Tamnai arrived and the group quickly learned some of Tamnai’s situation. Yet again, the tiefling withheld much of the information from the party and Carden did not add anything as he was lost in his own thoughts. Carden shared some of his discovery as well and then Aelith shared the information learned from the dragon scholar. It was then that Oresta recalled a delivery for Tamnai several days past at the beginning of Alturiak. She retrieved a smooth wooden box with an inset lock. After it was discovered not be ensorcelled by Valdis, Carden picked the lock and Tamnai opened it. Three items rested within; a golden red flower finely crafted from pewter and tinted appropriately, a tiny miniature whip, and a crest that no one recognized. Tamnai admitted that the flower represented the grace and beauty of Sune. Droom quickly added that the whip was certainly representative of Loviatar. The crest was a mystery to all. It was advised that the box along with the items be placed in the bag of holding. At this moment, a young runner entered the shop with a message for those gathered in the ‘Ninth Life’ to come to the ‘Yawning Portal’. Knowing that the portal was in the southern part of Castle Ward just north of Dock Ward, the group decided to travel there as dusk approached. They would need a place to stay the night and the Yawning Portal was renowned for catering to adventurers.

Walking the snow blown streets, the group arrived just after dusk and entered the lively ground floor of the tavern. Music was playing and the din of a score of conversations from the few dozen occupants filled the air as the group entered. The gaping hole in the center known as the Yawning Portal was ringed by a low stone wall and the two balcony levels above seemed to be full of patrons as well.

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9-10 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) – Coastal Travel

For two days, the group traveled south along the High Road toward Waterdeep. The ground still covered with several inches of snow mildly slowed the pace, but the weather was more of a nuisance than an obstacle. Aelith gave his winter clothing to Valdis since the ranger’s boots provided him magical protection from the cold. Droom offered the dragonborn his heavy winter cloak for protection. Serpentor welcomed the warmth and was consistently queried on how he ended up in the Storm Giant Court. Several stories from the dragonborn supported that he considered himself a sage looking for hidden or obscure knowledge. Further questioning of his abilities revealed that he was blessed with a celestial patron that offered its powers without recompense as long as the sage represented the tenets of Bahamut in his travels. Carden seemed somewhat irritated by the knowledge that such power could be given freely. Valdis asked the sage if he had heard of the Dusk Caracal, but the elven tomes were not something studied or uncovered in past research. The days were methodical and all were ready to reach Waterdeep.

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8 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) (cont.) – Courtly Conflict

A thorough discussion resulted in the group’s agreement to announce their presence and intent to aid the giants to the large ensemble in the hall above. Climbing the giant stairs once again, the party entered the enormous undersea chamber with Carden announcing their arrival. The giants were surprised at first, but the two female storm giants quickly engaged the small folk in banter. Hearing the visiting small folk’s reason and rationale for traveling to the Storm Giant Court, Mirran and Nym both agreed that the current ruler, their sister Serrisa, was far too overwhelmed with more urgent matters to provide an immediate audience. However, the group would be escorted to guest quarters below and called forth when Serissa could see them. So, the group descended the stairs with two storm giant escorts to wait for their audience.

Meanwhile, the dragonborn scholar stranded at the court since turmoil began with King Hekaton’s disappearance overheard Mirran and Nym detail a plan to mark the small folk as assassins and rid the court of their interference. As Nym departed to inform Serissa and Mirran departed to gather the visiting giant lords, Serpentor drank an elixir of flying and then another of invisibility to allow him the means necessary to reach the newcomers.

While the group discussed the way ahead with Serissa, the large door opened and then shut after Droom looked beyond to see the two storm giant sentries. Aelith lit the Lantern of Revealing to expose the flying golden dragonborn above them. The dragonborn quickly relayed the danger to the group and the plan the sister storm giants were enacting. Aware of the threat, but unsure of this new ‘ally’, the group was unable to discuss much. Mirran opened the door and announced that the group should follow her to see Serissa. Hesitantly and cautiously, the group followed at a distance. As they emerged in the larger outer chamber leading to the stairs, Droom and Aelith noticed the fire giantess pressed against the wall of an adjacent passage as if trying to hide. Aelith remarked such to the nearest storm giant sentry who seemed alarmed and then chaos erupted.

Carden called forth a darkness filled with slurping and slithering to block the corridor hiding the fire giant while Aelith and Droom consolidated deadly attacks against one of the storm giant sentries. Valdis’ speed surged as he positioned himself and Tamnai and Serpentor aided with spells. As the cloud giant lord descended the stairs, both the frost giant lord and fire giantess slowly inched their way from the damaging darkness. A flurry of attacks swarmed the storm giant sentries along with a fireball by Tamnai and bolts of force from the flying form of Serpentor. Droom magically absorbed attacks and the frost giant’s battleaxe sundered while trying to strike the dwarf. Valdis erupted a thunder strike between three of the giants and maneuvered to a flank. Still shaking from a direct lightning strike, Carden added his blade to the fray. As one storm giant retreated into the large pool bleeding and broken, the other sentry became the new target of the group. Hearing the Stone Giant Lord refusing to join against those sent by the Eye of the All-Father, the frost giant backed away with its net held defensively. Droom’s fury viciously wounded the fire giantess and she seemed staggered by such prowess at battle. Serpentor and Tamnai added additional destructive spells that caused the giants to question their motives. Another flurry from Aelith, followed by several strikes from Droom dropped the storm giant sentry. This influenced the other giants to withdraw waiting for their storm giant brethren to arrive. Still intending to show their goodwill, Tamnai dusted the dead Storm Giant sentry with diamond dust and called forth a prayer that returned the giant to life. Catching his breath, the giant remained prone under warning from Aelith. The group spread slightly in a standoff as a huge male storm giant addressed as Uthor arrived with Serissa just behind him.

Explanations were presented and the giants present were hesitant, but open with their words. This incriminated the sisters, Mirran and Nym, in a plan to frame the small folk as assassins. Serissa agreed that the group had earned an audience and that such would take place in the throne room. After the group was escorted back upstairs, down the wide hall flanked by two hill giants, and into the huge throne room, they viewed the Wyrmskull Throne for the first time. The obsidian throne floated upon four blue dragon skulls and Serissa took her seat upon it. Uthor moved to her right and another matronly looking storm giant entered and stood to her left. Serpentor whispered that the matron was Iymrith. This started several whispers between the group as they knew of another by this name, the ancient blue dragon that attacked them at the Eye of the All-Father. Serissa chastised her sisters for their ploy and banished them to their rooms until she could deal with them separately. Serissa then relayed the facts that her mother was discovered slain upon the shores of an island north of the Moonshaes and that her father King Hekaton was missing. She had assumed her father’s reign in his absence. As his heir, she has ordered many to search far and wide for her father to no avail. The group announced that they would aid if possible, but this caused several interruptions by Imyrith assuring Serissa that he small folk were to blame, not to be trusted. Uthor agreed to some extent and worried about the recent deceit from Mirran and Nym. Pressing the matter, the group attempted to bait Imyrith in hopes of her revealing if she was the same Imyrith they encountered before. Eventually, the group were able to persuade Serissa to accept their aid and this pushed Imyrith to lash out. She snatched a necklace from Serissa while the heir was on the throne. This stunned the storm giantess heir and then Imyrith cursed both giants and impotent humanoids as she teleported away.

Aiding Uthor in removing Serissa from the throne, the group awaited her recovery. Once recovered, she explained that the necklace held the Korolnor Scepter that allowed one to use the throne. Without it, she would not be able to sit upon the throne and this could also erode her influence over the other giants. Giving the party a human-sized wooden coin with a golden goose upon it as the only clue left at the site of her mother’s death, Serissa asked the party for their aid in discovering her mother’s murderers and her father’s captors. The group agreed and Serissa led them to a chamber where she teleported them to the coast. The group discovered that their location was north of Waterdeep and likely a few days travel to the City of Splendor. Tired and sore from injuries, the group travelled south learning what they could of Serpentor. Eventually they made camp within the secure bubble provided by Valdis.

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8 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) – The Storm Giant’s Court

After their rest the group returned to the inner chamber with the pool dedicated to Tamara. Carden drank first and straightened as he walked back from the small landing of the pool. When he did not say anything, Droom strode forward and dipped his mug in the waters and drank deeply. The dwarf explained that the waters seemed to refresh him and warm him as if lifting bodily fatigue and providing a clarity suggesting that fear was but a state of mind that is not needed. Aelith, Tamnai and finally Valdis drank from the waters to gain its beneficial properties.
Gathering in the portal room, Valdis guided all to step within the circle he scribed. With Skrite still bound and Shleek and Chackras within the circle as well, the runes flared under the arcane mastery of Valdis. A flash of light and the distortion of teleportation occurred and then the group were standing in several inches of snow within the stone circle they used before. Shleek immediately bolted away in the snow neither looking back or slowing his stride. The group watched as the kobold sprinted beyond sight before turning their attention to Chackras. Skrite was struggling to escape his bounds as the group explained to Chackras that they were free. The female kobold looked at Carden remorsefully repeating that she would serve, but the party were not willing to accept such service. Aelith gave Chackras his winter cloak as she was already starting to shiver and pointed toward the empty lodge. Carden gave her a dagger for defense and reiterated that she should find shelter. Upon mentioning the rope that bound Skrite, Chackras took the dagger and slid it slowly into the struggling kobold’s neck until Skrite stopped moving. She stated, “fanatic” and then smiled at Carden while saying, “you need rope.” The group watched as Chackras strolled toward the empty lodge with the heavy winter cloak dragging across the snow as if she was a queen striding toward her palace.

Tamnai produced the large conch and waited for everyone to agree before she blew into it. It released a low reverberating sound and then the group felt the disorienting effects of teleportation again. The party appeared atop a glowing glyph carved into the floor of an alcove in the corner of a rough-hewn chamber. The moist slick walls are covered with bioluminescent lichen, snails, starfish, and barnacles. Tiny, harmless crabs crawl across the floor, avoiding the sigil. The group paused and listened as they heard music: a powerful female voice accompanied by the deep, haunting tones of a masterfully played pipe organ. It issues from within a spiral staircase across from the arrival alcove. The area is obviously sized to giants as the stairs are nearly 4 feet in height and the hallways leading from the central room are 30ft in height. Next to the staircase was a 40-foot-wide circular pool with an obvious large submerged passageway at the bottom. Aelith called forth a spell to deepen the shadows about the group and prevent their footprints in the sandy floor as the group started to explore the nearby hallways.

The hallway to the left of the entrance alcove ended in a life-size stone statue of a female storm giant holding a harp and wearing a gown of purple coral. Two ironbound oak doors measuring 15ft tall by 7ft wide lay on the south wall of the corridor. Neither door had a lock and strangely contained furnishings sized for humans or elves consisting of five comfortable beds, a circular rug, a barrel of drinking water, an empty dresser, and an empty wardrobe.

A similar hall stretched to the right of the entrance alcove with a statue at the end depicting a male storm giant blowing a pink and blue conch shell. Giant-sized doors to either side of the statue lead to similar quarters, but sized for giants. A giant door in the far wall opened into a storage room holding various crates and barrels containing food and wine. None of the rooms were occupied.

A narrow hall also led from the central room with the entrance alcove. It led to a circular chamber with a small boiling pool at its center with steam rising from it. The ceiling here was almost 50ft high and the humid room’s walls were dripping heavily. Determining that the clouded pool held little interest, the group exited back into the central chamber. As the group approached the stairs, the narrow hallway sent out a loud hissing noise from the geyser erupting within. Everyone slowly and quietly ascended the giant stairs toward the music.

Creeping to the landing, the room beyond was enormous. Music filled the hall beyond which was split into two levels; a 15-foot-high raised ledge hugging the walls of the half of the room across from the group. Gently sloping ramps led up to the ledge. The acoustics within the hall were excellent as they reverberated off barnacle-covered pillars of hewn rock rising to meet the vaulted ceiling over 100 feet above. A huge crystal window allowed additional light to cast beautiful patterns on the walls from the ocean beyond. Under the crystal window was an enormous crab with colored nodules and hollow flutes of beautiful coral growing out of its shell. The creature was a living instrument. As one of the nodules on its shell was tapped, the motion caused the crab to exhale a burst of air through one of its coral pipes, producing a deep tone similar to that of a pipe organ. Performing next to the ledge were two elegantly dressed storm giant women. One was singing, while the other provided instrumental accompaniment by tapping on the crab’s shell with a pair of whalebone mallets. It appeared as if the pair were
entertaining several high-ranking visitors: a regally dressed cloud giant male, a female fire giant in red-hued armor, a dragon-scaled cloaked frost giant male, and a stone giant male with gemstones embedded into his flesh. The giant gather around mussel-shell tables and a giant coral fountain in the lower part of the room. The coral fountain spouts water, which the giants drink from their conch shells. Watching the visitors flanking the stairs you hide upon are two storm giants wearing helms. A 40-foot-wide dim hall led away to your far right while a 20-foot-wide arch was just to the left of stair exit. Another stairwell can be seen on the ledge to the left of the window as you face it.

The group slowly descended back down the stairs to discuss their way ahead.

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7 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) – The Fate of Rhogar and Dyan’ette

The group gathered the following morning and discussed the day’s tasks. It was requested that Tamnai commune to discover the fate of Rhogar and Dyan’ette and then magically assist Droom in sculpting the shaped Tiamat structure in the Temple to that of Tamara as it had originally been. The priestess of Sune started her prayers reaching into the ether to commune with Sune or one of Sune’s servants. A feeling of peace and ease washed through Tamnai as she felt a light presence of warmth awaiting her questions. Her first question echoed in the chamber of the pool room, “Is Rhogar still alive?” She smiled as she received the answer “Yes” from a tender feminine voice. Eagerly, she asked the same question concerning Dyan’ette and received a similar response. A heavy sigh from her and Carden were visible at the news as Droom, Aelith, and Valdis watched the communion at a distance. Her third question was worded carefully, “Is it within our group’s current abilities to retrieve Rhogar from his current location.” Tamnai waited anticipatingly and her shoulders slumoped when the voice simple stated “No”. The connection faded and a sadness crept across her face. Aelith added, “At least they are alive.” The group decided to focus on their next destination as Droom and Tamnai went to reshape the stone statue in the outer temple. Carden had to restrain Skrite as the fanatic erupting in a fury when he noticed that Droom and Tamnai intended to reshape the Tiamat structure. Later that day while sharing rations, the group decided to move forward with using the conch to visit the Storm Giant’s Court, but only after returning to the portal stones before the hunting lodge. Valdis was asked to use his ability to teleport the group as opposed to using the portal room’s blood requirement. This way, the kobolds could be released and spells prepared appropriately for the storm giant location supposedly in or upon the sea.

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6 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) (cont) – An Abandoned Temple

The group eventually discover through Carden’s ability to magically speak with the three kobolds that the chambers they discovered were previously used as a garrison or lair for the Cult of the Dragon. Several discussions between party members resulted in disagreement on the fate of the three kobolds left from the garrison of them left nearly a year ago according to assessments by the group. Further knowledge that the underground complex had suffered a seismic event that collapsed the western portal along with much of the chambers, especially the western chambers of the upper level and even more of the lower level. A close investigation of the complex started with Valdis using ritualistic detection for magic and others closely searching for anything of value. It was quickly revealed that nothing but stone and metal remained as the near 30 kobolds left to care for the complex had turned toward desperation once their food supply was consumed. Beyond eating some of their own, especially any that befell tragedy, the small creatures had consumed all cloth, leather, hide, and eventually wood throughout the chambers. Only slivers of wood remained and even the wooden doors were ingested eventually.

Valdis discovered magical wards about a crude statue of Tiamat in the temple residing in the SE of the complex. Tamnai agreed to attempt to dispel the evocation and abjuration magic found, but the group decided to explore the remainder of the complex before doing so. Chackras used a sleep spell to subdue Skrite and Shleek when they proved to be disruptive. The female kobold reiterated her value to the party when she suspected that the kobolds could be left to starve, overhearing some comments between Carden and Aelith.

A detailed inspection of the complex revealed kitchens, a pantry, a cold storage. Chackras warned that the cold storage was filled with a dangerous mold that froze any that opened the room. She further warned that fire should not be used near the door. The northeast contained barren rooms that had been kobold warrens and cult member quarters along with a privy over a deep acidic pit. The temple filled the southeast along with a large staircase that descended to the lower chambers. The southern ring held the remnants of a consumed library, a shattered laboratory, and larger living quarters that Chackras informed were used by wyrmspeakers of the cult before they left. Secret one way passages penetrated all the quarters from a two-way secret door in the largest chamber that belonged to a Red Speaker known as Severin. The southwest opened into a large room with a worn map upon the floor with half of the chamber filled with rubble from the cave-in. A search of the lower chambers found an armory with only rusted metal weapons and weapon parts in the southeast, a series of sunken prison pits with rusted iron bars covering them, and nearly thirteen individual crypts extending into the rubble from the seismic event. The crypts held solid stone biers with draconic carvings ranging from crude upon the older stone and detailed on the smoother stone. The group believed stone shaping magics were used to seal the crypts and Chackras eluded that they were spoken of as if they were cult ancestors.

After deciding to return to the temple, Tamnai used two separate spells to dispel the protective wards upon the statue. Some manipulation of the statue resulted in it shifting into the wall upon Droom and Aelith pushing it. This revealed a small lever that was pulled to cause the heavy stone statue to slide forward while the wall beyond lifted into the ceiling. Carden eagerly entered the room causing three green globes to brightly illuminate. Everyone slowed and Aelith pulled the lantern of revealing to bask the room in light.

A heavy table with five heavy chairs around it was centered in the forward chamber. Several leather-bound tomes rested upon the table along with a handful of scrolls wrapped tightly. A strange bag with a shoulder strap and a small bag that felt like it held sand were on the table with the books. Two extremely decomposed humanoid corpses lie near the table, the first with tattered robes appearing to be originally white and the second with decomposing bluish studded leather armor and a drying cloak of blue hide. Tamnai checked them to reveal that both had several puncture wounds in their back and lay upon a pool of crusted blood. Aelith pointed toward the walls where opposing bas reliefs representing three silver or platinum dragons were closely gathered. At this time, Carden’s curiosity drew him toward a glowing pool beyond the large entrance chamber. This triggered a summoning and the party were immediately attacked by fiends with draconic features.

The largest was covered in thick green scales and it pressed its will into the party attempting to suggest they place their magic on the table and sit to discuss their trespass. Carden complied as the others replied with counterattacks. Two black-scaled draconic fiends filled the room with a creeping darkness and waded into melee to tear flesh from the mortals before them. The battle raged as Tamnai used her prayers to Sune to remove the darkness and give the group better odds at defeating the fiends. Droom and Aelith waded into melee scouring scaled flesh while Valdis wreathed himself in flames and then used powerful spells to shred into all three fiends in a single movement. Carden took advantage of openings as all of the group continued to resist the green fiend’s intrusive mind numbing magic. As the black scaled fiends fell, two large wingless drakes appeared to join the fray. Aelith and Tamnai were snatched in their jaws and suffered several wounds with Tamnai receiving the worst of them. In mere moments, the group proved victorious and decided to refrain from any further disturbance of the room beyond until the contents of the table could be assessed and the writings there interpreted. While Tamnai performed a prayer of healing to aid everyone injured, Valdis performed a ritual to detect magic. Once the strange bag and the contents of the small bag were determined to be magical, the group decided to take a short rest so Valdis could identify them as well as use magic to discern the draconic writings in the books. Meanwhile, Aelith and Droom investigated the three platinum heads and the strange field just above them preventing them from being touched or damaged.

Comparing the field with that on the dragon scales carried by the group in addition to determining that the pool beyond radiated an aura similar to the celestial essence within the scales, the group was certain that he dragon scales originated in this chamber. After nearly an hour of reading and revealing the content of the tomes, the group discovered much.

This private sanctum was an original temple to Tamara, the dragon goddess of life, light, mercy, and forgiveness. This platinum dragon was said to be the mother of Bahamut and consort of Lendys. The Cult of the Dragon discovered the sanctuary under the leadership of Naergoth Bladelord, a death knight, when the cult followed the way of Sammaster and pursued the goal of creating dracoliches. Decades passed as Naergoth, the oldest member of the cult, entrusted only a few with the knowledge of the entombed vault of chambers since he used it as a refuge that none could find. As the Cult of the Dragon fell under the sway of Severin Silrajin, Naergoth continued serving loyally in the new direction even though he did not agree with it. Once Severin was brought to this sanctuary, he ordered the desecration and conversion to the worship of Tiamat. A statue was formed in her likeness in the portal chamber as well as shaping Tamara’s form to that of Tiamat in the Temple. Only the room beyond the Temple retained some semblance of Tamara’s presence as the glowing waters of the pool still radiate the original magic from her existence.

Severin then ordered Naergoth to scribe the origin and function of the Tears of Tamara. These dragon scales were from the brow of ancient chromatic dragons that had come to the Well of Dragons at the end of their natural lives. Each was approached by Tamara that offered a merciful end. In exchange, they gifted a scale to the lady and passed from the realm of the living. Tamara imbued them with her essence and thus each was linked to the final sanctuary of the Platinum Lady. Dozens of portals spread across Faerun in each cardinal direction, but as time passed many were destroyed. Both natural events and destruction by the races lessened the number. A list of locations or destinations was penned along with the requirements to activate the portals.

The locations were listed as:
N-beneath Yartar, N-menhirs/hunting lodge, N-High Moor/near Dragonspear
W-Myrloch Vale/fey danger, W-Nelanther/cove of sharks, W-Forest of Wyrms
S-Calim Desert/oasis, S-Lake of Steam/volcanic threat, S-Jungle/mindless drakes
E-Beneath Earthfast/underdark, E-Dragonjaw Mount/near Thay border, E-underwater/danger, E-Gulthador

The requirements were that an imbued scale placed within the appropriate draconic maw of the portal fountain along with a drop of chromatic dragon blood dripped upon the scale while the user placed their hand upon the top of the maw and chose the location from those that washed through their thoughts. Once chosen, the portal opened and remained for several minutes. The scale was removed and taken through the portal which activated again when the scale was returned to the location. If another bearer returned with the scale, either additional scales or the presence of dragonblood upon the stones were needed to reopen the portal. Additional passages described that one way portals could be opened in the vicinity, usually within a mile or two, of true dragons if their name was called when the blood was placed on the scale. Only the type of chromatic dragon affiliated with the scale could be used this way. Naergoth also erratically penned that Severin entrusted each Wyrmspeaker with a dragonscale matching the Wyrnspeaker’s mask. Further writings and scrolls, not in the same hand, discussed the staffing of kobolds as servants and chromatic dragonborn as overseers of the sanctuary. Several ledgers detailed logistics for gathering and maneuvering an army to be led by the cult when they called forth Tiamat from the hells.

After discussion about the tomes, the group decided to investigate the glowing pool beyond. The inner lip of the pool had draconic writing about it, and Valdis set about his ritual to comprehend the runes. The elf revealed that the inscription read:
Justice and Good above all.
Honor and Fealty to the King.
Honor and Respect to Righteous Innocence.
Honor and Duty to the Balancer, to Her Mercy, and to the Justice maker.
Honor and Protection to the Lesser Races.
Honor and Correction to the Enemies of Justice and Good.
Honor and Forbearance for oneself.
Tamnai confirmed that Rhogar had spoken that Bahamut was called the Justice maker and the group decided that Tamara must be ‘Her Mercy’ and her consort Lendys ‘the Balancer’. Unable to identify the pools true nature, a belief that some beneficial aura persisted in the crystal clear cool waters. It was assumed that the waters would likely lose any properties if removed from the hallowed room as well as their beneficial properties being limited to how often they could be granted. Agreement to test the waters when the group was prepared to leave was reached. Placing the tomes and ledgers in the bag of holding for further study at a later date, the group decided to speak on their discovery over some rations. The kobolds were given rations as well and they seemed content to hover just beyond the group with Chackras remaining closer than the other two now released.

Tamnai shared that the pool could likely be used to scry on Rhogar and Dyan’ette and the group agreed she should try. She focused on Rhogar since Dyan’ette wore magics to prevent divinations upon him. Unfortunately, the spell failed as if the magic could not find him. Tamnai voiced that this could be because some divination-blocking magic or that he was not currently upon the prime material plane. She offered that she could attempt to commune with a divine being the following day to discover whether the two remained among the living. All agreed and eventually settled for a night of rest in the large abandoned feast hall.

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6 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) – Destinations Unknown

Hesitation played across everyone’s face but Carden’s. He appeared like a child upon discovery of a new toy that had a secret yet revealed. As the group entered the standing stones, Carden produced his dragonscales. With scales in hand, he quickly touched the black to the closest stone and it along with its opposing stone flared to life. Without hesitation, he moved to an adjacent stone and touched it with the blue scale causing two more stones to ignite with an eerie radiance upon the runes there. He looked at Droom and Aelith eagerly. Droom just nodded in disagreement as Aelith sighed. The ranger produced his red dragonscale and walked to one of the remaining two unlit stones. With a look at the group to ensure they were ready, he touched the stone. It flared to life and a buzzing could be heard. With a shift in the air and a humming, the group found themselves in a thin mist with a chamber before them.

It became apparent that their arrival chamber was a large circular (30ft radius) room with four portals depicting draconic figures in the cardinal directions. A large statue of a multi-headed and multi-hued dragon was central above a shallow shifting metallic pool with a low wall (2ft) and small grooves to allow the flow of liquid. The grooves started within the maws of draconic heads carved from the dark stone that constructed the pool. As the group walked out of the portal beneath the arch of draconic figures, they noticed another across from them and one to the left of similar make though dark as if inert. The one to the right was damaged and collapsed along with two passages that originally led from the room between the portals. This left two other passages between the portals unobstructed. Muffled sounds were heard from one of the passages as two small kobolds shuffled forward.

Wrinkled and dry, both approach and speak in the draconic tongue. Carden quickly casts a spell to interpret what they are saying. He explains that the smallest, Skrite, just hailed them as Masters of the Scaled Tyrant and he knew they would return, not forsaking them. At this, the smallest kobold held up its hand with fingers outspread and stated “Praise her Glory!” in draconic. Carden lifted his hands similarly and repeated the words in common. The kobolds seemed to hear it in their tongue and the smallest became visibly excited. The second kobold wearing thick dry leathers and shield upon its back states it is known as Shleek. It tells Skrite to fetch Chackras and return before turning its attention back to the group. It then asks cautiously, “Are we to leave now? The sanctum has suffered greatly over the years.”

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5 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) – Into the Woods

Once Valdis’ hut dissipated, the cold returned and a heavy snow began. Knowing they did not want to be caught in the pass, the group hastily broke camp and started their trek east. It was well past noon before the group found themselves out of the mountains and the heavy hills. Checking his maps, Droom consulted with Aelith and both decided that they could start northeast to reach the northern edge of the Weathercote where the airship originally dropped them before or head southeast into Parnast. The group unanimously decided for the woods and started in that direction. Through the drifting snow, they reached the location just beyond the woods an hour before dusk. Knowing darkness to be closing, they travelled into the wood at a southeastern direction noted before by the airship’s helm. However, the wood proved difficult and Valdis had to combine his woodsmanship with Droom to reorient after the group found itself back on its own tracks. As darkness fell, two things were noticed. Valdis glimpsed a series of large standing stones to the left while Carden pointed ahead at what appeared to be an abandoned manor or lodge of sorts.

The standing stones were discovered to be a teleportation circle of sorts and Carden, Droom, and Aelith all felt a tingling when they entered. Carden quickly produced a dragonscale and touched a stone to watch glyphs illuminate up the stone. His enthusiasm was unbearable as he kept asking Aelith and Droom to do likewise. Neither agreed as they wanted more study. Carden produced a second dragonscale and touched another stone. This caused a reaction and four of the six stones illuminated with glyphs. Droom stepped out of the circle and Aelith suggested that the structure be searched first. Defeated, Carden followed Aelith and Droom toward the structure. Valdis asked Tamnai to stay with him while he magically identified the circle.

The structure was revealed as a hunting lodge of two stories and a basement. Careful search suggested that it had been abandoned over a year and signs of battle as well as looting were discovered. Time on the Cult of the Dragon airship also allowed for the recognition that this site was likely used by the Cult as a base or way station of sorts. The cellars contained caged cells and a separate dilapidated stable was behind the lodge. Nothing of value remained, so the trio returned to find Valdis and Tamnai walking to the lodge. Valdis revealed that the stones were indeed a teleportation circle and that he had studied enough to use it in the future if they needed to return. The group gathered inside the lodge, created a fire in the large hearth and set about for a meal of trail rations. It was determined that they would experiment with the dragonscales on the morrow to see what three would achieve.

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4 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) – Back to the Surface

Remembering that the dragonscales had indicated a close proximity in the Weathercote Woods before they departed for Parnast, the group decided to look into this beacon since they may not see the airship again to use its navigation. Valdis took the form of a giant bird and started ferrying the group into the Greypeak Mountains. Droom looked at his maps and decided that the group could travel south and hit the Black Road to use the pass back to the eastern side of the mountain range. The cold winds and shifting snows slowed the group, but the road was discovered and they ascended into the pass. Shortly after dusk, the group camped in the center of the windblown pass as Valdis provided his magical hut to keep both the freezing temperatures and stinging winds at bay.

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3 Alturiak (The Claw of Winter) – The Beast Beneath

The group gathered and started exploring the icy caverns below. Aelith and Carden took point with Tamnai and Valdis in tow. Droom, not ready to allow the elf to be alone in the back, brought up the rear. After winding about the dark caverns below, the group penetrated a larger cavern with multiple stalactites. Carden, clinging to the walls, started to circle the room as Aelith, invisible to all but Carden, skirted the other side. Tamnai watched at the edge of the entry cavern as something appeared above Aelith at lashed out grappling him in a long bluish tentacle. Combat ensued as the others rushed in, but it became apparent quickly that this strange beast was capable of vanishing as well as teleporting about the cavern with anything it held. The combat became more like a chase as it pummeled and bit its prey while the others rushed about. Carden’s eldritch blasts and Valdis’ flaming arrows allowed them to strike at distance while the frustrated Droom chased down the beast only to get near as it teleported out of his range again. Tamnai’s spells and Aelith’s whip lashed at the creature, but it responded with jagged sharp teeth and needle-covered tentacles. Within a minute, the battle was over and the bulging beast lay atop Tamnai’s still form as the group attempted to get to her and heal her. After healing and gathering, the group discovered a trove of coin, gems and several magical items in a central pit of the chamber. Valdis set about identifying the objects and once revealed, the group offered Valdis the magical stone in approved his efforts. Tension between him and the group seemed to lessen. Tamnai claimed the magical shield and the potions were distributed. Droom placed the magical spear in the portable hole, before noticing the concerned look on Aelith’s face.

Aelith sit with his hands on his head, then explained that he was evidently placed under a magical charm by Nyarra during the battle she emerged. This charm was strong, but she only asked that he protect her from harm and make friends with the newly arrived elf. His guess is that the friendship would be to sow any confusion in the group why he trusted the elf more than caution would normally dictate. Of course, this would take any suspicion from her. Since the charm was just released, he assumes that her power was used on another or she was out of range somehow. The group rushed back to the surface to see that the airship was no longer in the lower courtyard, nor in sight. Taking the sending stone, Aelith sent a quick message to Captain Delsephine. Not surprised, the response came from Nyarra and she thanked Aelith for such a wonderful transportation device and crew. Carden became adamant that Aelith ask about Charcoal, his dog. But the use of the stones was done for the day. Carden paced in sheer irritation asking that Aelith ask about Charcoal the next day.

Discussion turned to how to leave the cloud castle without the airship and a few options were considered. The group could use the conch to go directly to the Storm Giant’s lair, Valdis could transport the group back to Semberholm on the east side of the Anauroch, or he could polymorph much like Dyan’ette did to get the group here and ferry them to the ground below. He would have to wait to prepare that spell the next day however. This allowed the group multiple discussions among themselves or select members during the remainder of the day.

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