Terror at Gnollfang Pass
The party, in the company of a force from Elturgard (including Paladins), took the rode less traveled to Iriaebor, working their way through the crags to Gnollfang Pass and over the river Chionthar. However, as they arrived at the rickety bridge over the river, a purple-robed member of the Cult of the Dragon came riding black dragon into the pass, and before the party could react, it had already claimed two of the fighting men from Elturgard.
The dragon swooped down into the pass, stunning a few with its frightful presence, and unleashing the fury of its acid breath on the fighters in the rear, followed by the a fire burst from the mage riding it. These enemies could not effectively be fought off in the narrow pass, so getting across the rickety bridge of the raging river was the priority.
The soldiers accompanying the paladins died quickly at the hands of the dragon and the spellcaster, who also cast a cloud of darkness over the area, blinding all to their position. Noxital attempted to coax the rider off the dragon, but ended up deafening himself by accident1, Gurt was less than effective, as the shock of the dragon’s appearance threw him off his game2. The dragon flew overhead and hovered above the bridge.
Sanora put a few good shots deep into the dragon’s exposed underside, and Xirric was close enough to take a small chunk out of him as well. The paladin Cadmar ordered his troops across the bridge and used what power he could against the dragon.
Noxtial managed to run underneath the dragon to the other side of the bridge, holding a rope. He gave the other end to Sanora to tie down on the other side. The dragon breathed acid on its enemies assembled at the bridge, and the acid began to eat its way through the ropes.
All but Cadmar managed to get to the other side of the bridge, with Noxital and Gurt still halfway across. Cadmar yelled, “Run to Iriaebor! I will hold it off! Go!” He called upon divine powers to smite the dragon and get its full attention as the bridge finally gave way to the acid. Noxital and Gurt failed to hold onto the rope3, and plunged into the rushing river below.
The water cushioned their fall, and they were relieved. “Hey, we’ll just float downstream and meet you in Iriaebor!” they said. However, Sanora’s superior elf vision saw a place close down river where the water “ended”, and was most likely a waterfall. “Get out of the river! Get to the shore!” she yelled, but it was no use. The river was too strong. They attempted to push off as hard as they could to avoid the jagged rocks at the bottom of the immense waterfall (which they later named “Noxigurt Falls“). Gurt managed to climb into the strangely massive bag of holding that Splurg was being hidden in, and it cushioned the impact a little. Noxital took serious injuries from the fall, but managed to drag Gurt to shore.
Sanora, Xirric and Hallad, the one surviving Paladin from the group, caught up with Gurt and Noxital on shore, recovering from their wounds. Unfortunately, Splurg had climbed out of the bag to tend his own wounds (and pee). Seeing the goblin was a bit of a shock, though the party convinced him that the goblin was always there and that he must have somehow neglected to notice him4. They said he was their prisoner, and that they were going to claim a bounty on him. He would have pressed the issue about goblins being among the many creatures kept out of Elturgard, but he was tired and simply wanted to get back to Iriaebor as soon as possible. While the paladin lamented the loss of Cadmar by praying to Torm, Splurg hid in the bag and a heavy rock was thrown into the river. The party told Hallad that Splurg must have escaped. “He’s sneaky that way.”
Without their horses to speed their journey, they made it to Iriaebor by nightfall. The North city gates were reinforced and makeshift blockades had been setup, implying the city had been under siege. the party was brought directly to the center of town, where tents for a company of soldiers of Elturgard had been erected. Ghislain Faumach stepped out of a tent and saw his daughter Clara walking with the party. Overjoyed at their reunion, he offered his thanks to the party, and bid them inside his tent to discuss what happened.
The party explained that the cult of the Dragon had overrun Proskur and were ransacking his home. They had found the way to his dungeon unlocked and had to kill the Abomination imprisoned within to save their lives. Ghislain, obviously dismayed, sat down to consider this dire news.
“That was the necromancer Nathrazzar, a student of a very high-placed member of the Cult of the Dragon. We trapped him in his lair and made to end him once and for all. He attempted to escape into the Far Realms using a hastily improvised spell, but the magic needed to do so was too much for him, and chaotic energies spilled over into our world, which I’m sure you saw. As he tried to pass through the portal, a creature out of nightmare tried to pass into our world, and merged with him, trapping both in a mad abomination, which we barely managed to contain, and at the cost of good men. Now his spirit is free. I.. I must think on this. Tell me, where is Cadmar Decius?”
The party broke the news that Cadmar had sacrificed himself to keep safe Clara and the party. Jastra Faumach burst into the tent, furious over the loss of Cadmar. Ghislain took her outside and they began to argue over the best course of action. After some heated words, Jastra stormed off.
The party found a room for the night at a boarding house, where Splurg could get safely out of the bag and Sanora could shop for some provisions. The party was, unanimously, in no mood to assist the town in repelling a siege, and just wanted to get through and away from Elturgard as soon as possible.
There was a ruckus in the street. Paladins were rushing to the North gate. It was overheard that Cadmar was alive. After haggling with an alchemist for a few potions of healing and an elixir of Dragon’s Breath, she stepped out onto the street and saw Cadmar walking in her direction with a couple guards.
He had managed to kill the dragon rider and drive off the dragon. He armor showed signs of serious injury, but he appeared unharmed, likely due to divine intervention. He sent the guards to fetch hot food and wine for the party, and walked with Sanora back to the boarding house to thank the rest of the party.
On the walk back, he revealed the reason for Jastra’s fury. He is her brother, and Cadmar, Jastra and Ghislain used to be an adventuring company much like the Company With No Name. They were The Knights of the Dragon Coast, and were active in this region about ten years ago.
Cadmar and Sanora arrived at the door to their room, whereupon Cadmar opened the door quickly and shouted, “My friends, I am alive! I want to thank y-” and stopped mid-word. His gaze met Splurg’s. Gurt chimed in, “We can explain the goblin… He’s with us…” Cadmar cocked his head to one side.
Splurg held his beer to his lips and looked at the paladin. ”...Cadmar?”
Cadmar drew his sword. Gurt and Noxital stepped in the way. Splurg continued to drink his beer.
“I should kill you where you sit, goblin!” Cadmar fumed. “If Jastra were here she would cleave you in two!”
“Yeah, whatever,” replied Splurg. “It wasn’t my fault! It was all her.”
“You two know each other?” Sanora asked?
Cadmar sheathed his sword and sighed. “Yes. It is… it is a long story.” He looked up and down the hall and closed and barred the door.
He went on to explain that he was indeed grateful for the party’s assistance, but Splurg would have to leave Elturgard at once, lest others find him and make trouble for the party. There was little love lost between Cadmar and Splurg, and Splurg apparently owed him some money to boot. It was hinted that Splurg may have been a member of another adventuring company at one point, but both parties were reluctant to discuss the past at length here.
The party made their intention to leave the city at once very clear, and Cadmar assisted them by writing them a letter for the local shipwright that guaranteed him payment for a ship to carry them off. He left to make ready the gates for a night that would surely bring undead and dragon cultists to their doorstep.
The party pushed a bench up against the door and went to sleep. A commotion was heard near the city gates to the Southeast, but the party was not inclined to investigate.
At first light, they set off from the boarding house. The town showed evidence of a battle the previous night, with townsfolk tending soldiers’ wounds and buildings near the gates still smoking. Wanting no part of this, they made a beeline for the shipwright.
He offered them choice of two ships: a fine vessel adorned in silver with intricate carvings and the heraldry of Elturgard, and a smaller, unmarked vessel that he claimed was a “fixer-upper”. They chose the fixer-upper (after making him restock and repair it quickly, on Elturgard’s dime. It was christened the Noxigurt Express, and they set sail at once, down the Chionthar toward Berdusk, and the West.
DM notes: I ran a couple firsts last night. I never ran a dragon fight before, and I never threw my players off a waterfall. It was cathartic. And really, you never get the full idea of just how powerful dragons can be in battle until you have one breathe acid full force in the face of 5 or 6 players and npcs (natural 20 dragon’s breath, killed a couple NPCs and horses, even burned the bridge down and forever scarred the rock wall behind them).
I am actually surprised that the party managed to get out of town without getting involved in the siege of the undead happening a few blocks down the road. I think they’re content to leave the problem of the necromancer’s released spirit to wizard and his wife, and the leave the cultist and their undead to the paladins. Now if they can just get down the river and out of Elturgard without incident (which I find unlikely, but it really is up to them).
Also, Gurt’s player is the WORST ROLLER I’ve ever seen. He rolled so many 3’s I told him the next one I’d count as a 20. I think he rolled a 1 after that.
...Do any of the party members know how to sail a boat?