By the time the adventurers reach Boareskyr Bridge, Varram has reluctantly conceded that he is their prisoner, given that he has no chance of safely returning to Severin and the Cult of the Dragon. However, he’s still a hero in the eyes of the encampment’s residents and Moon is a bit worried that they might be blamed for the Dwarf’s various injuries and bruises. Taking a cloak and a mask that she stole from a Dragonclaw out of her backpack, she tries to disguise Varram so as not to draw attention to him. Even so, Raddak casts Pass Without Trace on them all so that they may become a little more inconspicuous as they walk the bustling streets that are filled with traders and merchants.
Having been told by Laeral Silverhand to await a portal in the morning, the friends make for Bolo’s Tentside Inn to see if they can get rooms for the night. The barkeep sets them a price of eight silver pieces each and Moon pays him, but when he sees Varram enter wearing the cult mask he immediately pulls out his shortbow and trains it on the dwarf.
“Who are you, and why have you brought the Cult of the Dragon into our establishment?”
The other patrons all stand and unsheathe their own weapons in backup of the barkeep, so Loli quickly pulls the mask from Varram’s face, revealing his true identity.
“Stop!” she cries. “We rescued the Dwarf from the Serpent ‘Ills, an’ we disguised ‘im because ‘e’s not feelin’ up to the attention at the moment. Those snake people gave ‘im a right good goin’ over!”
The barkeep puts away his weapon immediately, a look of relief on his face as Varram gives him a shaky thumbs-up gesture.
“You rescued him?” He slips out from behind the bar, smiling broadly. “In that case you are most welcome here, and your drinks will be on the house! Come, I’ll show you to your room.”
The room isn’t much to look at, being pretty much just a sectioned-off part of the main tent, but it has a bed and there is room enough for everyone else to sleep on bedrolls arranged on the floor. Varram, still recovering from his wounds, hops up onto the bed to rest. Loli, Raddak and Yaseino stay with him. But Moon isn’t going to pass up the offer of free ale, and Mirik joins her as the customers cheer and swamp them, pestering them for stories. The rogue immediately starts to tell them an entirely fabricated story about how Mirik saved the dwarf by befriending a giant goat, and about how they had to battle a dragon on the way back to Boareskyr Bridge.
“I’ve seen a dragon!” pipes up one chap. “I am Kirnak of Erebor, and I’ve seen a Blue Dragon called Lennithon. It attacked our village one night.”
“We know of Lennithon, we have fought this dragon ourselves. It is in league with the Cult of the Dragon, but we found it to be quite a coward.”
The man nods.
“I’d heard this, but it certainly wasn’t cowardly when it attacked us.”
As Moon offers her condolences, another man introducing himself as Jaalu of Easting also stands up to speak.
“The Cult came to our town too. A woman with black hair and wearing purple robes froze me when I joined the townsfolk in the fighting. What are they trying to do?”
As Moon tries to explain without many of the details so that she doesn’t panic the bar patrons, Mirik sees a couple of other men rolling barrels of ale into the establishment and placing them behind the bar. She narrows her copper-coloured eyes in suspicion and watches even more closely, catching one of the men smirking to himself as he leaves.
Back in the room, Raddak and Loli are trying to get more information out of Varram the White. The Dwarf is sitting on the bed and sucking down a beer that the barkeep has brought him, and he doesn’t seem too worried about divulging information given his new prisoner status. When Loli asks about the Well of Dragons, he tells her that it is the place where dragons go to die, and the most sacred place for the noble creatures in Faerûn.
“What better place for Tiamat to return?” he whispers, as if in awe of her name. “They have taken the white dragon mask there because that is where the summoning will take place. That is where Tiamat will enter our world and become its queen until the end of time. Praise Tiamat!”
Loli rolls her eyes.
“But you lost the mask to the Zhentarim?” she asks, incredulously. “Why would they want it?”
Varram snorts in response.
“It is a very powerful magical item of great value, and the Zhentarim are nothing but thieves. It’s obvious why they wanted it,” he says. “But no matter. It is safe at the Well of Dragons now.”
He gives the friends a sly, sideways look.
“You’re in the midst of hell and you don’t even know it. Tiamat will return. And when she does, I will be accepted back into the cult and rewarded with everything I ever dreamed of.”
Loli isn’t convinced.
“I think you’re livin’ in the clouds,” she answers quietly. “Dragons don’t care about humans, an’ you’re far more likely to be eaten than rewarded, love.”
“Don’t drink that ale!” yells Mirik at the barkeep, pointing to the new barrels that have just been installed behind the counter. Moon, who has learned to trust the instinct of her Lizardfolk friend, jumps off her chair and races outside to see if she can ascertain where the delivery men have gone, but she is instead confronted by a group of cult members who appear to be waiting for something to happen. Fearfully, she turns her eyes skyward and is horrified to see a young Red Dragon swooping above the inn. It draws a breath. She starts to run back towards the door, hoping to warn everyone, but before she can get there a gout of fire incinerates the thick canvas of the inn and ignites the barrels, not in fact filled with ale, but with explosives.
At the bar, Mirik, the barkeep and all the patrons close by are thrown backwards by the blast. The Druid picks herself up and heads to the adventurers’ room to check on her friends, finding them all shocked and injured but still on their feet. The canvas walls of the rooms are gone, and from here they can now see the cult members, along with the dragon circling high above them.
Acting fast, Yaseino throws a very singed Varram over his shoulder and dashes towards a privy in the corner of the property, dumping the Dwarf there and telling him to stay down and stay quiet, an instruction with which he is happy to comply. Loli fires three Eldritch Blasts at the dragon, hitting it with each one. The dragon shrieks and sends a gout of flame from its maw straight back at Loli and Raddak in retaliation, and although the Kobold tries to Polymorph the creature into something less threatening, the dragon isn’t having it. Inside the inn, as much as there is an inside now, Mirik creates water to douse the flames so that they don’t spread any further.
Outside in the courtyard, Moon finds herself staring at a Dragonclaw, a Dragonwing, a Dragonfang and a Half-Blue-Dragon Gladiator, all in their cult garb. She gulps and says hello. The Dragonwing steps forward and immediately strikes her with his weapon, while the Dragonfang aims an attack at Loli. The warlock isn’t having any of it, and her resulting Hellish Rebuke staggers the man with its ferocity. The Gladiator strides across to Moon, scowls and then breathes lightning at her, but the rogue doesn’t let it put her off her stride. She gives the Dragonclaw a fatal swipe across the neck with her dagger, smiling as green flames leap from her blade to the man, then to the advancing Dragonwing, causing him to miss Moon with his own attack.
From the far side of the courtyard, Yaseino flies out of the privy like a long-eared missile, landing a punch, a fist strike and two elbow hits on the gladiator before he even realises what is going on. The dragon isn’t fooled though. It lands beside Mirik and tries to bite and claw at her, but it misjudges the dexterity of the Druid and takes off again, circling above her. Raddak conjures his Spirit Guardians and tiny brass dragons burst into existence around him just as a Moonbeam blasts down from the sky at Mirik’s behest. However, the Dragonfang disregards the magic. He turns towards the druid and breathes an orb of fire at her, hitting her hard, and she crumples to the ground, unconscious. Bolstered by the sight of this partial victory by his colleague, the Half-Dragon Gladiator also resists the brass dragon whirlwind and attacks Loli twice. She blinks out of existence, reappearing with a shocked expression on her face about thirty feet away, in a much safer place.
Seeing that Mirik is down, Moon quickly finishes off the Dragonwing and dashes over to her to with a health potion at the ready, while Yaseino distracts the Gladiator with even more kicks and punches. Neither of them notices as the dragon descends, though, and it aims a breath of fire down towards them that envelops both Yaseino and Raddak. The monk manages to dodge out of the way, but the Kobold is not so lucky and drops to the ground.
Loli, needing to recover after escaping the last round of fighting, uses her Vampiric Touch against the Gladiator, drawing his life force from him to heal herself. Moon kills the Dragonfang with her daggers to reach the prone and unconscious Mirik, and the druid pops back to life once the potion is administered to her.
Meanwhile, Yaseino stabilises Raddak before taking the Kobold’s Potion of Greater Healing from his backpack and pouring it down his throat. However, the dragon is still on the attack. Swooping down over the battle, it sends a breath of fire straight towards Moon and Mirik and, although Moon manages to dodge out of the way, her familiar Gotham is destroyed and Mirik is once again knocked unconscious.
Loli is completely out of patience now. In one quick move, she casts Vampiric Touch at the Gladiator again and kills him, taking his lifeforce for herself, then shoots three Eldritch Blasts at the Red Dragon, hitting it with each of them. The ground shakes as if hit by an earthquake when the dragon thumps to the ground beside her and, unfortunately, it only takes one huge snap of its dangerous teeth for the warlock to be downed as well.
Now conscious again though, Raddak stands shakily in the middle of courtyard and casts Mass Cure Wounds, reviving Mirik and Loli once more. The druid and the rogue both fire arrows at the beast, damaging it greatly, while the monk pounds it with his fists and feet. The Red Dragon roars in frustration but cannot take off, and when Loli reaches her shadow-sheathed hand out towards it, it knows what’s coming. She siphons the remaining energy from it and it collapses into a heap, whereupon Moon casually pulls out a few of its fangs to add to her collection.
Groans come from the remains of the inn, interspersed with the sound of Loli rummaging through the pockets of the cult members. She finds a piece of parchment on the Dragonwing and is disheartened to read the words that are written on it.
Word from Kisac is that the Heroes of Waterdeep will be at Boareskyr Bridge. Destroy them.
Seeing that Yaseino is helping Varram out of the privy and bringing him over, she accosts him, grasping the note tightly in her hand.
“Who is Kisac?” she demands angrily, as the Dwarf’s expression becomes one of surprise.
“Where did you hear that name?”
“That’s for me to know,” Loli retorts. “Who is ‘e?”
“That’s for me to know. Perhaps you should be more polite.”
“Fair point,” the warlock answers, taking a deep breath and looking up at the sky. “I think we should know about this, though. Could you please tell me?”
“There are spies in the Council,” the Wyrmspeaker answers after considering her request for a second. “Kisac is one of them. As for the others, I cannot say.”
Inside the inn, Moon is trawling through the wreckage and searching for survivors. Many have died, but she’s somewhat relieved to discover that the owner, Bolo, is still alive. She administers her last healing potion to him so that he can help her to find anyone else who may have survived. Just outside, Raddak sends a message to Laeral Silverhand requesting an immediate portal as Bolo’s Tentside Inn has been destroyed by the cult and the companions are now very exposed. She replies with appropriate concern.
“Give me thirty minutes.”
Realising what Raddak is doing, Loli shows him the note so that he can relay the information to the Council. The Kobold requests to keep it and, when Loli agrees, he stashes it in his backpack.
The portal appears just as the friends are finishing up their tasks, and the graceful form of Laeral Silverhand steps through to meet them. Raddak recognises her as a famous wizard, one of seven sisters who formed a magical circle to fight against the Cult of the Dragon, and he knows that she is centuries old, despite being human. She gathers them around her to heal them, then speaks to them urgently.
“We can do nothing else to help these people, and there are more pressing issues that must be taken care of. Please, follow me and bring the Dwarf. I am very impressed that he is still alive.”
The portal takes them to the main square in front of the Palace of Waterdeep, and Laeral tells them that there will be a Council meeting tomorrow that she would like them to attend. As they walk, she bows to the cityfolk and they bow back to her.
“We need to tell you about this note we found,” Loli tells her quietly as they reach the gates of the palace. “There’s an aide called Kisac who seems to ‘ave blabbed information to the cult.”
Laeral nods but remains calm and collected.
“Kisac Forgemace was found hanged yesterday. The rumours are that he killed the aide from Mithral Hall, Orafeth Coldfeet, but we have not determined yet if Kisac killed himself or if he was killed by somebody else.”
“Perhaps, if you have their remains, we could speak with them to find out what happened?” asks Raddak, sidling into the conversation in front of Loli.
“That is a good idea, and we could try it tomorrow,” Laeral agrees. “For now, though, I must take this Dwarf to the palace’s prison so that we can question him further. Once again, thank you for your bravery, and I will see you at the meeting.”
She levitates Varram, who grumbles under his breath, then pulls him towards the gates of the palace like a gruff balloon, leaving the adventurers to head off to the Slaughtered Hand Inn for a good meal and a proper night’s rest, all on the Council’s tab.
The following morning, an hour or so after dawn, the friends head up the main street to the Palace. All have had a long rest except for Moon, who pulled at the bar the previous evening and then spent a very entertaining night with two rather handsome gentlemen, and all have enjoyed a very nice cooked breakfast to prepare them for their day. The rogue has managed to restore her familiar though, and Gotham is currently marching along the streets behind her calling everyone a git.
Waiting at the gates for them is Leosin Erlanthar, who greets them and escorts them to the Council chambers, once again taking his leave from them at the door. When they enter, however, it’s immediately obvious that there have been some changes since their last visit.
The Open Lord of Waterdeep’s chair is now taken by Laeral Silverhand, with Lord Dagult Neverember sitting to her right-hand side and not looking particularly happy about it. She smiles as they approach and sit at the table, then asks the adventurers to give an account of their experiences on the Sea of Moving Ice. Raddak, overcoming his cowardly side the majority of the time these days, stands and details the events of Oyaviggaton and the Miklos Glacier. He’s interrupted a couple of times by Dalaan Winterhound of the Emerald Enclave who wants to know if the dragons that the group encountered were killed, and Raddak tells him no, they both escaped.
Once the Kobold has finished talking, Laeral Silverhand tells the Council that the Giants are now allies in the fight against the Cult of the Dragon, and that Skyreach Castle stands ready off the Sword Coast to assist when needed. She also says that the Arcane Brotherhood have joined their cause and most of the council members cheer. Conspicuously though, Ontharr Frume does not; he merely looks down and shakes his head.
Loli then stands and details the events that led the group to Boareskyr Bridge, the Tomb of Diderius, and ultimately the capture of Varram, the White Wyrmspeaker.
“Not only that,” Laeral elaborates. “But they have brought the Dwarf here to Waterdeep, where we can hopefully persuade him to co-operate with any information he has regarding the inner circle of the cult.”
Again, the council members applaud, but this time it is Dalaan Winterhound who does not join in. He is grateful when Loli apologises for the death of the Red Dragon and likes that she shows compassion towards the creature, but he tells her that he thinks Varram’s capture will only complicate things and that it would have been easier if the Dwarf had just been dealt with.
Raddak stands confidently again.
“He must pay for his crimes, but we need the information he may have,” he says. “He has already told us that the cult intends to raise Tiamat at the Well of Dragons.”
“That may well be,” replies Laeral, thoughtfully. “But we have to amass our troops to face this threat, and we do not have the option of going to the well directly.” She stands. “There are other things we must also discuss.”
“Yes,” sighs Dalaan. “The Emerald Enclave has news that the Misty Forest is under attack.”
“Not this again!” the voice of King Melandrach is loud and frustrated as he thumps his fist on the table. “The dragon attacks have stopped since my elves increased their patrols and fortified their positions.”
Dalaan’s tone remains calm.
“Perhaps, but we have intelligence that the Green Dragon that has been attacking village after village within the forest has actually been targeting one village less than the others. We need to find out why.”
King Melandrach shakes his head but says no more, and instead Laeral Silverhand speaks.
“Heroes of Waterdeep, will you go to the Misty Forest?”
When they agree, Loli turns to the King and respectfully asks his permission for them to pass through his lands. He gives them his blessing, and Laeral tells them that she will open a portal to Daggerford where somebody will meet them with horses for their journey.
Lastly, Laeral Silverhand introduces the adventurers to a newcomer at the Council meeting.
“This is Elia Otaaryliakkarnos, Lady Silver Dragon from the Council of Metallic Dragons,” she says, as the beautiful black-haired woman stands and bows in greeting.
“We are ready to meet,” she says, softly, her eyes flashing with glints of silver each time she blinks. “First, travel to the Misty Forest. When you have concluded your business there, come to the Council of Wyrms so that we may discuss this opportunity with you.”
She turns to Raddak and addresses him directly. “The next time we meet, you will see me in my true form.”
Drawing the meeting to a close, the delegates all stand and reach out their hands to each other, making an unbroken circle.
“For all of us against the Cult of the Dragon,” says Lareal Silverhand. “May we prevail.”