The Tyranny of Dragons: Dawn of Heroes

Death in Blue Confronts Us Again
13 Flamerule 1489 DR

Journal of Sora Goldflame, Servant of Lathander

After the final attack, or attempt at an attack, by the dragon, I managed to catch an hour of sleep. Myself and my companions were roused by Governor Nighthill, at what must have been the first hour or two of the morning. He apologized, but said that the need was urgent. From the parapets they could see that the the cultists were trying to set the town mill ablaze. This mill was vital for the town, and if they lost it they would lose an entire seasons harvest with it.

We gathered our equipment, including Martigan who was walking again with only a slight limp, and headed down through the secret tunnel out to the river. There was no ambush waiting for us this time, so we started heading west down the river toward the mill. Unfortunately, unlike our trek to the temple of Chauntea earlier, we were spotted traveling through the shallows of the river. By this point we were well practiced dispatching raiders and kobolds, and we swiftly made sure they would no longer trouble anyone again.

When we got close enough to the mill to hear its creaky waterwheel we moved onto the land, sticking to the shadows and brush. As we approached, we could see a small group of cult raiders trying to set fire to the mill. Refreshed from our short rest earlier, this group proved no trouble for us, and we got to work extinguishing the flames. Xanadu remarked that they had done a terrible job setting fire to the mill, as if they were intentionally trying to be unsuccessful. If only we had known then what that portended.

We went around the side of the mill, where there was a main loading entrance as well as a door to what looked like a small attached office. Martigan pulled out some delicate tools and was able to quickly pick the lock, something that I had not expected from one so clearly a warrior. The inside of the office was dirty, with paperwork and extra sacks of old grain everywhere around the room. It appeared to have already been searched, as evidenced by a safe in one corner that had already been cracked open. There was another door that led into the mill proper from the office, and there was smoke coming through from beneath it.

We opened the door and saw before a large room, the size of a barn, with a loud mechanical mill in the east end that was being powered by the waterwheel outside, and a second story loft that was open in the middle. There were sacks of grain stacked everywhere against eh walls on both levels, and many of them were burning and smoldering. As we moved to smother the flames, servants of the Cult of the Dragon emerged from hiding all around us on both levels of the mill. It was an ambush!

Ura was wounded in the initial volley of thrown spears they let loose. Xanadu's reflexes proved fortuitously quick as he responded by letting loose a sheet of flames that fatally burned three of their number. We then moved to the loft to engage the remaining assailants, who fought fiercely, but were ultimately no match for our prowess and the righteousness of our cause. After securing the mill and putting out the fires (which seemed set more to draw us into the ambush than to actually cause damage), we waited for about ten minutes until some of Governor Nighthill's guards arrived to defend it; we then returned to the keep, once again using the river for travel, this time unharrassed.

When we returned, the governor and Escobert thanked us once again for aiding the people of Greenest. They informed us that it seemed some of the raiders had left, albeit loaded down with loot from the town, and that we should get some well-earned rest. We did just that, and I know I for one fell asleep from exhaustion as soon as I laid my head down. I wish I could say I slept soundly, but my dreams were filled with darkness and visions of the world ravaged by freezing cold, choking fumes, lighting storms, waves of acid, and horrible fire, and then just before I awoke, I saw ten evil-looking eyes glaring at me from the darkness, as if whatever was there could SEE me through my dream.

I woke up with a start, then realized that there was a commotion in the courtyard. My companions had awoken as well, and we all went to investigate. We went and met Governor Nighthill upon the parapets overlooking the entrance to the keep, and from that vantage we could see what the commotion was about. Standing just inside the light cast by the large braziers lining the keeps walls was a large group of kobolds, surrounding a massive, blue-scaled, purple robed half-dragon with a wicked looking greatsword.

To our collective horror the kobolds then brought forth from the darkness four prisoners, three children and one woman, their hands bound, and pushed them onto their knees in front of the dragon-man.

"Defenders of Greenest!", shouted the monstrous creature in a deep, bestial voice that boomed with rage and power, "This has been a successful night, and I am feeling generous. Do you see these four pitiful, useless prisoners? We have no need for them, so I will trade them back to you. Send out your best warrior to fight me, and you can have these four in exchange." As it was saying this, it circled the prisoners, casually holding a spear in one hand, occasionally using the gleaming tip to raise up one of the poor captives chin's.

There was an audible gasp from those within the keep. Then one of the guards, a Sergeant Markguth, started shouting and yelling, pushing his way through the crowd in the keep's courtyard. "That's my sister and her children in that monster's clutches! Let me through, I must save them!", he practically screamed. Some of his fellow guards restrained him, as they realized what most of us had at this point: fighting that half-dragon was all but certainly a death sentence.

Then Martigan stepped forward.

He told the sergeant that he would make sure his family was safe, then commanded the other guards to open the gate. He strode forth from the keep, his face grim and determined, while the draconic cultist sized him up with a smirk. The dragon-man gave a nod to his kobold minions and they released the the three children. But not the woman.

"She stays with me until the fight is over," said the beast. From behind its cohort emerged two of their savage drakes, whom the kobolds kept trained on the kneeling, sobbing woman. "She is my insurance, to keep you honest and make sure there is no outside interference. Regardless of who wins, she will be released afterwards. I'm sure that will soften the blow for your friends while they're retrieving your corpse," cackled the half-dragon.

A crowd from the keep had gathered behind Martigan, made up of our group as well as Governor Nighthill, Sergeant Markguth, and some of the keep's guards. The kobolds had spread out into a half circle, so that now Martigan and half-dragon cultist were surrounded by a rough circle. With nothing but an exchange of glowering stares, the two combatants engaged.

Right as they closed with each other, the dragonman opened his fanged maw as if to shout, but instead released a bolt of lightning from its mouth. The attack caught Martigan by surprise and he took the full brunt of the breath weapon, though that did buy just enough time for those in the crowd behind him to dodge out of the way. The half-dragon tried to press the advantage as Martigan was smoking and staggered, but our friend put up the fight of his life, fending off and evading the draconic cultist's devastating blows while landing many damaging strikes of his own, heavily wounding his opponent.

Then the tide turned; the half-dragon landed a deadly blow, nearly severing Martigan's shield hand with it's two-handed sword as the blade sliced through one of the bones in his wrist and sank into the other one. Despite this grievous blow, I thought that Martigan might still defeat the dragon-man as it was also badly injured. I thought wrong.

The beast once again opened its jaws, and electricity exploded out from it's mouth straight into Martigan's chest. He flew backwards through the air and tumbled roughly to the ground in smoking heap. The creature then walked over to our friend's smoking, convulsing body, and sank his blade into Martigan's stomach, making blood erupt from his mouth. The half-dragon then walked away, laughing with disturbing boisterousness as it waved to its minions, who then released the captive woman. The dragon-man, and his kobolds, walked off into the darkness and out of site.

I immediately rushed forward and tended to Martigan's wounds, desperately trying to stop his bleeding and apply salves to the burns all over his torso. Though my magics were expended, I am still a skilled healer and surgeon, and I was able to stabilize Martigan and even get him to regain consciousness. He would live, but he needed lots of rest and plenty of healing magics as soon as possible. Sergeant Markguth was overjoyed to be reunited with his sister and nieces and nephews, and our small crowd quickly retreated back into the keep, Ura and I carrying Martigan between our shoulders.

Once inside the keep again, it became apparent from the parapets that the raiders were pulling out of Greenest. We hoped this meant that this night of terror was finally coming to an end, and thankfully that would prove to be true. My companions and I all retired to our bedrolls, finally able to get a few consecutive hours of sleep during what remained of the night.

We slept well past daybreak, clearly needing the rest after the events of the previous night. After I had used magic to heal Martigan's more grievous wounds and we had eaten a meal of porridge and sausages prepared by some of the folk of Greenest sheltering in the keep with us, the governor came to speak with us again. He hated having to ask for our aid yet again, but we were the only ones he could turn to, and he needed to ensure that Greenest was safe. He wanted us to follow the trail of the cultist, find out where their camp is located, and scout it out for him. He was worried that they might be planning another attack, and if it was targeting Greenest he wanted to be prepared, and if it was another settlement then he wanted to give them warning. As a reward for this task and our efforts the night before he offered us 250 gold pieces each; we accepted of course, and would have regardless of any reward.

We decided to leave immediately, hoping that the cultists guard would be down so soon after their raid. As we were leaving, a young man walked up to Martigan, limping heavily on his bandaged left leg. "I hear that you intend to follow the raiders and see where they've gone. I'd like nothing better than to come with you, but in this condition, I'd slow you down. In the midst of all this tragedy, there's no reason you would have heard about the fate of my master, Leosin Erlanthar, but it's important you know. He is a monk from Berdusk. He disappeared last night, after we fouhgt a particularly savage battle against raiders. A few others and I fought our way to the keep, barely. Leosin didn't make it at all. We went back this morning to lok for him, but all we found was his broken staff and this choker, which he always wore."

Martigan's eyes went wide, and he quickly conversed with the young man, whose name we learned was Nesim Waladra. Apparently Martigan's mentor was a friend of this Erlanthar's, and had sent Martigan here in his place to aid the monk.

"Leosin has been investigating these raiders for months," the Nesim continued, "I fear that he might have tried to infiltrate their group when they retreated, or worse, was captured and carried away as a prisoner. No one understands these bandits better than he does, and his knowledge will be invaluable against them. When you find their camp, please look for any sign that Leosin is there. One of my brothers has already departed for Berdusk to bring back help, but it will be many days before help arrives. Anything you can do before then would be a godsend."

Martigan assured the young man that we would find his master. We examined the staff and broach; the staff was of no note, but the choker was a braided leather neckband with a silver dragon design chased into the leather. The ends of the choker were ragged, as if it was roughly torn off. This certainly was not a good sign for Leosin.

We headed south, following the trail that the raiders had left. After about 4 miles, we spotted smoke from a campfire a few miles away. We cautiously approached, using the terrain as cover whenever possible, until we could get a better look at the source of the smoke. There, in a low spot between the hills and sheltered by some boulders, was a group of four human raiders and eight kobolds. We quickly put together a plan to ambush the group.

Ura snuck up on the human group's flank to steal their weapons from where they laid against one of the boulders, while Xanadu and Martigan would disguise themselves as cultist raiders using some robes they had taken from defeated raiders the night before. The plan actually seemed to be working at first, the raiders speaking pleasantly with Xanadu while Ura successfully stole their arms. But then they got a good look at Martigan, and they recognized him right away from the duel he had fought with the half-dragon.

By that point it was too late for the Cult of the Dragon raiders, and we slew all but one of the group, leaving a human cultist alive for questioning. He proved easy to get talking, especially once Ura started discussing how she would eat him. We discovered that the name of the blue half-dragon was Langdedrosa Cyanwrath, and that he was the lieutenant to one of the more powerful leaders of the Cult of the Dragon. They had been raiding Greenest to gather loot for the queen of dragons, confirming what the other cultist prisoner had told us the night before.

Our prisoner informed us that his group was made up of stragglers from the main force, and that they hadn't expected anyone to actually follow them. Despite their doubts though, it seemed the cult's leaders were more cautious, for the cultist told us that there was a rearguard waiting in ambush for anyone as ambitious as us. He told us the camp was about another 5 miles away, and described a narrow pathway that wound through the space between two plateaus where this elite rearguard were waiting vigilantly.

That seemed to be all of use that the man knew, so we let him go after getting his word he would no longer engage in villainous acts. Still, we stripped him naked just to be sure, after all we didn't want him to be slain by some vengeful villager upon seeing his cultist robes. We continued to pursue the main raiding force, the gently rolling hills of the Greenfields giving way to a more rugged region dominated by steep-sided, rocky plateaus.

As we got closer, we could see that the plateaus rose anywhere from 50 to 250 feet above their surroundings, their side nearly sheer except for areas where rockfalls and subsidence created natural ramps. The land between the plateaus was largely flat, broken only by outcroppings and wandering streams in steep-sided gullies. The crumbling sides of the plateaus were dotted with caves and tumbled boulder fields. Thanks to our former cultist's information, we were able to spot the ambush point where the rearguard was hiding.

Unlike the mill the night before, this time we were going to turn the tables on our ambushers. We approached the eastern plateau about a hundred yards away from the rearguard, making sure to stay low and stick to cover. We then scaled the plateau wall, taking our time to find natural handholds in the steep walls and ascend to the top. We then stealthily approached the ambush site until we were close enough to look down upon them from our hidden vantage points.

There were nine of the cult's rearguard lying in wait, each decked out in elaborate black armor and robes that were stitched and embossed with the symbols of th draconic cult. They were hiding behind piles of boulders that they seemed ready to use to create an avalanche on anyone foolish enough to walk into their trap. We silently signaled to each other and then ambushed our ambushers.

The cultists fought fiercely, and despite our having the advantage of surprise we still barely managed to defeat them all. One in particular, no doubt their leader, was dual-wielding a long sword and short sword and raining blows down on both Ura and Martigan, handily fighting them both at once. Finally, we managed to overwhelm them, slaying their leader and all but one of the other cultists.

We climbed back to the top of the plateau and made camp for a short while so we could recover our stamina and tend to some of the wounds we had suffered. In addition, we bound our prisoner and tended to his wounds enough to make sure he wouldn't bleed out. While we're sitting here waiting for him to regain consciousness so we can question him, I've been updating my journal. I don't know if it's just my gut or insight from Lathander, but I'm sure that we're about to discover that whatever we've become involved in is bigger and more dangerous than we ever imagined.

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Where Hope Proves Stronger Than Castle Walls And A Raging Dragon
13 Flamerule 1489 DR

Journal of Sora Goldflame, Servant of Lathander

I am once again updating my journal while I have the chance so that if the worst should befall me, hopefully whoever finds it can get this information to the Harpers in Berdusk. The Cult of the Dragon must be stopped, because whatever they have planned for the Sword Coast bodes ill for all who reside there.

After evacuating the villagers from the temple of Chauntea, we led them down to the river. Martigan was still severely injured despite my ministrations as by this point my divinely granted healing spells and abilities had been all but depleted. Because of this we had him lead and protect the villagers while the rest of us moved ahead to secure the way to the secret tunnel. This proved to be a prudent move, for as we approached the entrance to the secret tunnel, Ura and Xanadu noticed an ambush party of kobolds and human cultists lying in wait.

Ura crept forward, seeming to meld with the shadows, and managed to silently slay three of the lizard-like kobolds with her blades and thrown daggers. The rest of the ambushers noticed her after that, and that when Xan and I leapt into action barraging the kobolds with ranged spells and sling bullets. Between the three of us we made short work of the cultists and kobolds. We went back to let lead the townsfolk to the tunnel and get them into the keep while the way forward was safe.

When we exited the tunnel into the keep, we were met by Escobert and one of the keeps guards. He was glad to see us, and so many of hsi fellow Greenest residents; all told there had been 58 people taking refuge in the church, far more than we initially thought, and we had gotten them all back safely. We handed our Dragonclaw prisoner to him whom Escobert was eager to interrogate. He told us that he would attend to the prisoner and that we should rest and resupply in the courtyard.

I saw to Martigan's wounds using the greater resources on hand at the keep and then told him to rest for a while. He had come very close to death and his body needed time to recover from the shock of it and for some of the herbs and analgesics I had applied to take affect. Afterwards, I grabbed a small meal of bread, cheese and some watered down ale and took to writing this update. 

Escobert has come out. It seems he has news . . .

The old dwarf was able to get the cultist to talk. It seems the Cult of the Dragon's aim is to collect loot for the Queen of Dragons, a title held by the evil goddess Tiamat. The cult has a clutch of dragon eggs that they are keeping under guard at their camp, though there is no dragon at the camp; apparently the one here tonight somehow had its aid enlisted by one of the cult's leaders. All of this information is alarming and shows that the Cult of the Dragon is up to something potentially devastating for the Realms.

Something's happening, Escobert is shouting . . .

.

.

.

By the gods, I have never witnessed anything like that!

Firstly, the shouting was because some of the raiders had managed to break through the keep's outer defenses and breach the courtyard. People were panicked and fleeing to the far corners of the keep and into any open door they could find. We started fighting our way through the cultists and kobolds and secured the sally port. The gate had been damaged by the invaders, so I began repairing it with my mending orison while Xanadu and Ura held off a counter-attack by the cultists. The battle was tough, but we sealed the gate and slew the remaining attackers.

As overwhelming as that was, we had no chance to catch our breath. Only moments after the last of the invaders fell, we heard a thundering roar as the huge blue scaled dragon wheeled around in the night sky and came swooping in toward the keep, it's belly glowing orange and red from the light of the flaming village below. The hairs on the back of my neck began to stand on end and I could feel a static charge in the air as the massive dragon opened it's toothy maw and began to gather eldritch energies of its lightning breath as it prepared to blast the keep and its defenders with electric death.

Then I heard the stretch of sinewy cords and the powerful twang of a bow releasing an arrow. Ura, maybe undaunted and unphased by any terror of impending death because of her orc upbringing, had pulled out her bow, taken deadly aim, and released a shot with a mighty draw in the blink of an eye. Her arrow sailed through the air too fast for the eye to follow, flying far and true as it sank deep into the dragons jaw, piercing the underside of its mouth. The monster roared in pain as blood gushed forth and it sharply changed it's course to fly away from the keep, and out of range of any orcish arrows.

Truly we were blessed by the gods, for I thought that was the end of us all; thankfully they had the foresight gift us Ura as a companion this evening. We watched the dragon fly off, eventually losing sight of it's silhouette against the starlit sky. The beast apparently felt that whatever obligation it was honoring did not include taking further injury from Ura or Greenest's other defenders, for it has not returned, and I pray that that doesn't change. We are taking some time to rest and tend to our wounds, for all of us took numerous injuries during the keeps defense. But at least for now, it seems we may be through the worst of this night. I can only hope I'm not proven wrong.

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Of Tunnels and Temples
12 Flamerule 1489 DR

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.

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It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn
12 Flamerule 1489 DR

Journal of Sora Goldflame, Servant of Lathander

My name is Sora Goldflame, and this is my record of events of the incident in Greenest. If you come across this journal, please get it to those at Twilight Hall in Berdusk, they will know what to do with this information, and hopefully will still have time to act.

I had been on the road a few days with a small merchant caravan, traveling with them while I made my way to Greenest to meet with an old friend, Leosin Erlanthar. He had contacted me about some odd raider activity which he thought may be connected ot the Cult of the Dragon. As I unfortunately discovered earlier tonight, he was right.

As we came over a rise into view of Greenest just before sunset, our caravan was shocked to see that the town was under attack by a large group of raiders and kobolds, with a sizeable blue dragon strafing the town with lighting at the same time. Even from as far away as we were, we could hear the screams as people fled through the streets from the dragon and the marauders. I quickly dashed toward the town, as did three of the other travelers from the caravan.

As we approached Greenest, we tried to remain unseen. Our efforts were successful, and we quickly dispatched some groups of kobolds and raiders that we came across. They seemed to be focused on looting the town, searching for hidden  caches and anything that could be of possible value; we also found a significant amount of coin on them. Some of the raiders seemed to be your typical bandits and unsavory mercenary types that you can find throughout the region, but others were markedly different. They wore leather and cloth armor designed like a hooded robe that seem to have been noticeably stripped of any identifying design or insignia. Whoever they were, they were trying to hide their affiliation.

While we approached, I also got an opportunity to better assess my companions. While we had been traveling for together for a brief time, I did not know much about them. One was a tall, muscular half-orc woman, Ura Shadowstalker, who appeared to be a fierce warrior but seemed to be unnaturally nimble and quiet. This was born out throughout the night as I saw her slay foe after foe, emerging from seemingly nowhere out of the shadows to quickly and efficiently claim their lives.

Another, a human man by the name of Martigan Ratcatcher, seemed like he could have just as easily fit in with the bandits we were fighting. Despite appearances though, he seems imbued with a noble hard and demonstrated an immense skill at arms that he put to use defending the people of Greenest tonight.

Finally, there is the companion I find the most intriguing, the svirfneblin gnome Xanadu Xan. I met him at Candlekeep, where he was researching famous gems and magical jewelry of the surface world. He is both a master jeweler and a talented mage, and he decided to travel with me to Greenest to investigate the recent raids. He had been hearing about them through his gem broker and jeweler contacts, the raids had gotten so bad that it was affecting the gem trade throughout the North. Despite the normally insular and solemn nature of his people, he seems to have embraced and taken a genuine joy in the freedom offered by the surface world.

We quickly made our way through the outskirts of Greenest toward the keep in the center of the town. It only followed that that would be where most of the townsfolk of Greenest would try to flee. As we were going through the streets near the center of town, we came across a family fleeing in terror from a band of kobolds. We had been hearing screams and coming across the bodies of villagers caught in the mayhem as we moved through town, and I'd be damned if we were going to let these monsters cut down more innocents in front of us. Thankfully the gods smiled on us, and we quickly dispatched the creatures before they could further harm the family they pursued.

We ended up finding more villagers, a mix of men, women and children, as we approached the keep. We had to dispatch a particularly large force of kobolds, led by a winged urd kobold, and human raiders in the town square, but after that we were able to escort the group of twenty or so villagers we had found into the keep. We were some of the last to make it in before they closed the gates. In the courtyard we could what looked like a couple hundred people, all families, huddled and trying to keep out of site of the strafing dragon.

We were quickly met by the castellan of the keep, a surly but kind hearted dwarf named Escobert the Red that I knew through past my travels through the area. He quickly thanked us for our help and ushered us to Governor Tarbaw Nighthill (whom I was also acquainted with). After some quick introductions, he begged our aid in helping protect the villagers.

While many residents of Greenest had made it into the keep, there were still others trapped outside with the raiders. Governor Nighthill asked us to open up the secret drainage tunnel that ran beneath the keep to the nearby river, and to then try and rescue what villagers we could and escort them back in through the tunnel. He told us that there were likely many people sheltering at the temple of Chauntea in the southeast of town.

We took a quarter hour to tend to some of our own wounds, and I also helped tend to as many of the wounded residents of Greenest as a I could. I stole a few moments to put pen to ink and record these events in case our rescue attempt is unsuccessful.

It is of paramount importance that this information make it to the proper hands, for you see before we made our way to the secret tunnel, Governor Nighthill hurriedly called us to the ramparts. As we followed him up the stairs of the stone wall of the keep, he asked that if possible we try to capture one of the raiders once we were in the town, preferably one of the leaders. As we made it to the top of the ramparts, he pointed in the distance to the town square we had passed through earlier, saying that he had spotted one of the raiders' commanders.

There was a large force of marauders there examining the carnage that we had left in our wake, and directing them was a figure decked in vibrant purple armored robes with gold trim. The woman wielded a wicked looking glaive, and even from a distance the draconic motif to her garments and weapon were apparent.

There can no longer be any doubt, the Cult of the Dragon has returned… and they are here in Greenest. May Lathander guide our way through this night so that the people of Greenest may yet see the dawn.

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