Mere of Dead Men
After several more days and nights of travel within the Mere of Dead Men, the group overcomes threats from further ogres, orcs, bandits, lizard folk, and bullywugs. A discord begins to form when differing perspectives on how to handle the bullywugs and lizardfolk arises, but the group later pledges to place the welfare of their group before the desires of the individual. At long last, they arrive at the Road House.
After an initial reconnaissance revealed two dragons and heavy defenses, a plan is formed to get Roderick and Jamna into the Roadhouse to steal the map of the Draakhorn’s location while the rest of the party provides a distraction for the two. Neither party is successful in their respective tasks: the outside force taking heavy damage and several party members dropping from the dragon attacks, while inside the roadhouse, Roderick is discovered and the cultist leader, Azbara Jos, escapes with the map. The group is separated and must locate one another.
During the separation, Ushen uses divination to call on the Raven Queen for advice. Instead, a vision of Tiamat consuming Helm, Majere, Bahamut, and the Raven Queen is relayed, Tiamat stating, “I’ve found you! You will burn!” All members of the party try to reason what the vision means beyond doom.
The party is able to successfully reunite, Roderick and Jamna having escaped through a secret entrance to the roadhouse. The party utilizes this secret entrance when an expected shipment of supplies is supposed to be taken into the structure. From there, a bold fight ensues to claim the treasures of the roadhouse if not the map of the Drakhorn. The battle is fierce, Jamna falling in the thick of it, however she is brought back when Ushen uses revivify on her, and Brogdah proceeds to exact revenge on the black dragon who struck her down in the first place.
When the battle is concluded, the green and black dragon are slain, and one cultist captain remains alive. Ushen and Sarissa are considering what to do with him before Brogdah banishes him to the plains of nature, unable to be one with Tiamat ever again. All agree this was a good decision with many satisfied smiles.
The Dragon’s Lair
The party rests, then receives word the map was taken deeper into the Mere of Dead Men to an ancient castle now taken by the cult. The Scarred venture deeper into the Mere, confronting increasing numbers of Lizardfolk along the way. At one point, Fryen is able to convince them that he is in command. The lizardfolk respect him as one of their own, and upon being asked, direct the party to their leader Voragamanther. The party then decides that since the dragon hasn’t attacked them already, he knows they are within his domain and wants to meet. They seek him out, guided by one of the lizardfolk.
Voragamanther reveals himself to the party outside his lair, inviting them in on a proposal that they may be of use to him. The party follows, discussing the ancient black dragon’s ambitions. Voragamanther gives them an ultimatum: succeed in acquiring that which will help him achieve lichdom, or he will destroy them, their homes, and all they’ve ever known and loved. The party is torn, but they agree. Voragamanther then reveals the cult possess the power to convert him into a dracolich, and directs them to the ancient castle of the Stargazers.
The party proceeds to the castle, taking time to survey the layout and enemies within. Before they attack the following morning, Amkissra reveals that she has long been privy to a sacred vision, detailing how the party cannot win in their struggle against Tiamat. After a long discussion, they resolve to press on, for what other choice do they have if their world will be consumed with the Dragon Queen’s return?
Before they rest for the night, a small group including Fryen sneak into the castle when they realize there are more lizardfolk within. After revealing themselves to the lizardfolk and their allegiance with Voragamanther, Fryen and Kinellori are able to convince the lizardfolk to fight for them. The folk agree, their hatred for the bullywugs driving their decision as well as Voragamanther’s will.
In the morning, the Scarred storm the castle, successfully dealing with all threats and cultists. Roderick is almost consumed by an Otyugh and Brogdah is almost possessed by a ghost, but with assistance from the party, are able to free themselves from such perils. Sarissa is able to defeat Azbara Jos but the map of the Drakhorn is not on his person. The party then ventures into caverns below the castle.
They are greeted by a projection of Rezmir, which is promptly dismissed. They venture into the main chamber, discovering the bullywug commander Spattergoo, a cultist captain, and Rezmir. Spattergoo is slain during the onset of combat, but Rezmir and the captain are able to retreat after summoning an ice devil. The fiend is powerful, but the party is able to overcome it and gain access to the portal. After some critical thinking on a puzzle involving keys of different composition, the portal is opened and the party steps through. They are deposited on the sides of the Greypeak mountains in front of a hunting lodge. Upon entering the lodge, they are greeted by cultists that claim they have been expecting the Scarred, and Reverend Mondath appears beside two bearded devils. However, so too does Talis the White, Brodgah’s long thought to be dead sister.
A truce is called between the Scarred and the Cult on request of Talis, who details her story of survival to Brogdah and the Scarred. The party then regale her with their adventures and dealings with the cult. What ensues is a diplomatic and psychological battle for Talis’ allegiance. After a tenday, the Scarred are able to convince her to release her faith in Tiamat and join their cause. Mondath flees for Parnast after her failure to keep Talis within the fold of the cult.
A pursuit is had ending in Mondath being shot from the sky. She crashes and Roderick finishes her by cutting her throat. When Ushen and Fryen arrive next, Roderick attempts to shoot the diamond from Ushen’s hand when he see’s Ushen moving to revive Mondath but instead hits Fryen when the dragonborn jumps in front of Ushen. Ushen convinces Roderick to walk away, claiming that Mondath’s life is not theirs to take. He then wrests control of Mondath’s soul from Tiamat and brings her back with Revivify. Talis is glad and takes Mondath aboard her wyvern, warning the party before leaving to be weary of the vampire that inhabits the floating fortress outside Parnast. Mondath later is seen committing suicide by leaping from Talis’ wyvern.
The party proceeds to Parnast, deciding to storm the town when its villagers are being gathered up for what they believe to be an execution. Upon doing so, an alarm is raised and a powerful captain of Tiamat imbued with supernatural resistance takes to the field. The party is unable to vanquish the threat, and several of its members go down. However, a strange intervention occurs after Kinellori receives a premonition. Suddenly, the Scarred are right back where they started before storming Parnast. It is decided that a divine intervention has occurred, though none are certain as to who has done such a miraculous deed for them. Kinellori is granted a strange trinket of unknown power from her vision which depicted her vanquishing the captain after reaching into his very soul. The party moves forward, this time with greater caution and preparation.
Another pitched battle ensues and the town is alerted to the Scarred’s presence. When the captain is blinded and a cleric of Tiamat is slain, a Red Wizard of Thay casts cloudkill on the the villagers of Parnast, killing all but one. Fryen storms after the red wizard, executing him in holy vengeance. The party then proceeds to the castle before it takes off from Parnast.
The Floating Citadel
On alert, the castle’s defenses are formidable. Bolstered by the high captain of Tiamat, a fierce battle ensues. Ogres, golems, the captain, and a vampire spawn engage the Scarred, but the party is able to prevail, defeating them to the last. Wounded and their resources depleted, the Scarred hope to rest only to be confronted by the Vampire Lord of the Castle. Before battle is resumed, Ushen offers to the Vampire Lord a glimpse of what her life could be like in the worlds beyond which she has not been allowed to pass into. Striking a bargain with her, he is able to grant a long rest for the party, guarded by her vampire spawn, however, he must go with her, alone, to the high tower to perform a consultation with the Raven Queen. During this time, Ushen is bitten and turned into a Vampire Lord himself. However, upon calling forth the vision of the Raven Queen, he calls the actual Goddess of Fate, who smites the vampire into oblivion for so infecting her vessel with blasphemous undeath. Her wrath remains unsatisfied, for she is also furious with Ushen for deigning to offer life beyond death in her stead, and for placing himself in such a position of hubris as to be turned into a vampire in the first place.
“You are my aspect, Ushen Valenier. You serve me well, but always by choice. Now, and for all eternity, your service is bound to me.”
Before leaving, the Raven Queen informs Ushen he must find his own cure for his Vampirism as punishment for his hubris. Ushen returns to the rested party, revealing his fate. The Scarred move to offer comfort to the priest, but are pressed for time with the rising sun, now a liability to the vampire in their party. They press forward deeper into the castle, confronting another set of defenses. They overcome the exterior lines, beating the rising sun into the caves that lead to the higher reaches of the castle. Within the caves, it is discovered to house Fire and Stone giants who believe their allegiance to Tiamat to be “Mast,” a giant term for unfounded or dishonorable. Even though the party tries to negotiate with them to fight together against the Dragon Queen, the giants decide to attack. The party gets into another pitched battle, overcoming the giants, five vampire spawn, and another Red Wizard within the caves. Roderick is also able to procure a map, supposedly to the castle’s destination far in the north. However, the Red Wizard is able to escape. The party rests, and presses on after they’ve healed their wounds.
One final defensive line remains outside the castle’s main chambers, and by summoning a wall of clouds with a control weather scroll, they set the stage for their battle. Overcoming the remaining defenses, the party reaches the sealed doors to the throne room and solves the riddle that grants them entry. Waiting for them within is Wurmspeaker Rezmir and the dying form of a cloud giant. A brief dialogue is had, Rezmir speaking to Ushen and delivering the following.
“Our gods are not so different, priest. But mine is far more forgiving than yours.”
A dracolich bursts through the windows and the fight is on in full. An extended and arduous fight is had, the party battered, and nearly outmaneuvered by defensive countermeasures from both Rezmir and the Dracolich, however they are able to prevail. Rezmir attempts to flee out of the castle when the cloud giant presently attuned to the fortress kills himself, sending the castle into free fall. She is pursued by Ushen, Brogdah, andHaefwin, who strikes a blow that reduces her to a black mist, her final words echoing throughout the sky.
“We will meet again.”
The castle continues to plummet out of the sky, the Scarred scrambling to save one another. In the end, all but Haefwin manage to escape the doomed structure, the castle collapsing down upon the dwarf as the rest of Scarred can only watch in horror. Amidst the frozen wastes of the far north, they remain uncertain as to the fate of their friend.