Journal of Sora Goldflame, Servant of Lathander
When we first entered the old tunnel beneath Greenest's keep, our way was blocked by debris and old crates. We moved them aside, only to discover a large swarm of rats filling the tunnel in front of us. The swarmed over us, and thankfully we were able to quickly dispatch a great number of the filthy things and drive the remaining rodents off. After dealing with the rats, we waded our way through the murky water to the rusted grate a few hundred feet away at the end of the tunnel.
When we got to the grate, we found that it was so rusted shut that the key alone wouldn't open it. We were able to force it open without too much fuss, the tunnel exiting directly into the river that ran through the town. As we moved through the almost waist deep water, we saw torchlight dancing across the currents of the river coming from the west. Listening intently, we were able to make out voices coming from a bit further down the riverbank, where the steep, stone escarpments next to the river sloped down to riverside beaches.
Ura and Martigan scouted out ahead, as both were more comfortable in the shadows than either myself or Xanadu. They spotted a half dozen kobolds and two humans in those plain leather robes picking over the remains of horse and carriage driver they had slain. Ura signaled to us silently, and Xanadu and I moved up to setup an ambush. Using the reeds as concealment, we used bows and ranged spells to take out the human cultists right away, and then quickly finished off all the kobolds but one, who escaped. After the combat, Ura made a quick examination of the poor carriage driver and discovered a hand-carved symbol of Waukeen that clearly was unique and of great sentimental value to his family; many of the worshippers of Lathander that I minister to create their own holy symbols as well as a sign of their faith. She took it with her, saying that she wanted to try and return it to the man's family; I'll admit that I hadn't expected that from someone who was raised in the savagery of an orc tribe.
With the entrance to the tunnel secure, we headed east, wading through the river or walking along the banks when possible, making our way tot he temple of Chauntea. We knew that there were likely to be many villagers gathered there seeking shelter, and we needed to make sure they made it to the safety of the keep. While we traveled down the riverbanks we could occasionally hear the distant sounds of combat and screams of the wounded and dying, and the night sky was alight with the glow of orange flames consuming the houses and homes of the Greenest. The smell of smoke, burning wood and straw, filled our nostrils, and little bits of ash were raining over Greenest like some kind of macabre snowfall.
Once we could see the rooftop of the temple we climbed the riverbank and made our way stealthily through the trees and brush behind the large structure. The temple grounds were surrounded by a waist-high stone wall which we approached while keeping low to the ground. Looking over the wall, we could see another group of a half dozen kobolds being led by another pair of cultists trying to set fire to the large back doors of the building.
Martigan came up with an inventive, though very risky, plan: he, Xanadu and Sora would approach the kobolds and cultists with Xanadu speaking to them in draconic, trying to convince them they were part of the raider group. While we attempted this, Ura wisely slinked off into the shadows and vanished. Despite our gnome companions best efforts, the cultists immediately saw through it and ordered the kobolds to kill us.
Ura's foresight paid off, as one of the human cultists immediately was pulled into the shadows and didn't re-emerge, followed by an arrow coming out of nowhere to fell a charging kobold. Ura then darted out of nowhere to appear behind the remaining cultist and sliced him to bits. Martigan, Xanadu and myself quickly vanquished the remaining kobolds, but apparently not before one had managed to go alert another group of raiders that was patrolling around the church.
First came more kobolds, along with some kind of vicious looking, green-scaled, man-sized drake that latched its jaws onto Ura, causing some deep lacerations. More of the cultists and another drake arrived just as we engaged the first group of reinforcements. Suddenly, Xanadu shouted some words in draconic that were dripping with arcane power and fanned his hands out in front of him, causing a sheet of pure fire like Lathander's brilliant mantle to shoot forth from his fingertips and engulf the cultists, kobolds and drakes, felling a number of them. This turned the tide of the battle for us, and we finished off the few remaining foes swiftly.
We immediately got to work clearing the burning kindling and junk from the large double doors at the rear of the church. Someone shouted a challenge from the other side of the barred door, but we quickly convinced them that we were sent by Governor Nighthill to aid them and they let us in. There were at least three dozen people in there, huddling together for safety and panicking at the evening's turn of events. The front doors to the temple were barred as well, but they were shuddering and splintering as a Cult of the Dragon force tried to batter their way in.
In the middle of this chaos we saw a robed half-elf man talking to the townsfolk, calming them down. The symbol of Chauntea that he wore around his neck made it all the more clear that he was the priest of this parish. We spoke with priest, Eadyan Falconmoon, letting him know that we were here to take them to the keep, and he helped us calm the panicked townsfolk and start ushering them out of the rear door of the temple. Xanadu and I aided Eadyan in escorting the villagers while Martigan and Ura guarded the front door.
Almost as soon as the refugees started exiting the temple, one of the wooden doors barring the front entrance exploded in a shower of splinters. I could just make out a robed figure standing outside the shattered door, and then Ura and Martigan threw down a flask of oil in the doorway and set the resulting puddle, and the oil-soaked cultist in the doorway, aflame. Ura and Martigan managed to keep the cultists and their minions bottlenecked at the door, slaying them all one after the other until finally their fanatical leader stepped through the flaming remains of the entryway.
Their leader was more heavily armed than the other cultists we had seen, and his armored robes bore markings and decorations that made his membership and authority within the Cult of the Dragon clear; we would later learn that he held the rank of Dragonclaw within the cult, the first tier of their leadership ranks. His fanaticism and fervor caught Martigan off guard as the Dragonclaw lashed out devilishly fast with his gleaming scimitar and opened up deep bleeding gashes across Martigan's torso and limbs, causing him to collapse from the grievous wounds.
Luckily, after Tymora smiled on this vile cultist for a moment, her sister Beshaba then paid him a visit; the villain's cloak caught on the debris of the door and his hood pulled to the side, causing his helm to get dislodged and cover his eyes. Ura immediately took advantage of this and moved behind the Dragonclaw, bringing the pommel of her short sword down on the back of his skull with a loud crack, causing the cultist to fall unconscious to the floor. I rushed forward to tend to Martigan's wounds, and luckily Lathander's grace was with us since I was able to heal his injuries before they were fatal and get him on his feet again.
We've bound the Dragonclaw to bring back with us to the keep for questioning. It's clear from his black robes, elaborately embossed leather armor, and helm with a dragon-styled faceplate, that he would likely have more information than any of the Cult's minions we had encountered so far. While the others bound him for transport with us and the town's refugees, I have been updating this journal. The trek ahead of us is still fraught with danger, and if necessary I will give my life to protect these innocent people of Greenest. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that, and we will all live to see the dawn-lord's glory this coming morn.