'The Rise of Tiamat' Campaign

or select
<--  a campaign  -->
in progress
 Episode 15: The Rise of Tiamat Campaign - 2016-10-31 
A Halloween Epilogue... (Member Submission!) 
Maccath repeated herself again as she nervously watched Kindra deftly throw another stack of books onto Maccath's desk to choose whether to transport it south or not. "... these volumes exist nowhere else in Faerun."

The heroes had agreed to help Maccath pack up her belongings to ensure they could leave Oyavigatton quickly, but Maccath's lack of apparent gratitude was still odd.

"I wonder if she's been here too long?" Zane whispered to Ioan as he collected a handful of scrolls from the makeshift library to bring back to Maccath in the comfort of her tent.

"Perhaps, but the devotion to one's study can sometimes come at the expense of social graces..." Ioan replied almost as if he had been thinking the same thing already.

The cold of the iceberg didn't seem quite so unbearable anymore, and even the cautious were able to relax a little bit after Maccath's repeated assurances that Arauthator would not return for weeks or longer; so sound was his defeat at the hands of the heroes who ambushed him in his own lair. That is what made Maccath's apparent distraction even more strange; her single-mindedness in protecting and removing the precious volumes from her little frozen library seemed to occupy her every thought. After watching Kindra duck out of the tent through one of the many tapestries, Finnius caught Maccath gazing off as if lost in thought.

"What is it, Maccath?" he asked. "You tryin' to move these things with your mind?" He walked over to another tall stack of books that Th'mugen had throw down with a grunt before he disappeared an hour ago, placed his hat on top of the stack, and holding the brim, dragged the hat downwards, swallowing the entire stack inside the depths of his top hat.

"I am only sorry Marfulb will not join us."

What the heroes had learned is that the ice frogs they had slain and scared off were, in fact, 'caretakers' of the iceberg, and had been here long before Maccath ever arrived. Their leader, Marfulb, was especially intelligent and had been keeping records and logs of The White Death, a biography of sorts, for the dragon for many years. Completely beholden to the dragon, they would not leave or allow their task to end prematurely until the Old White Death should leave forever, or be killed.

Denying Finnius the opportunity to respond in his 'unique' manner, Th'mugen appeared in an abrupt manner, clearly impatient with how longs things were taking. "How much longer?" he asked.

Looking around the tent area, Maccath took stock of what was left, lifting and double-checking what papers, scrolls and books remained on her desk to ensure they were of no value. With a glance at Finnius, and then to Th'mugen, she simply said, "It's time to leave."

The news of Aruathator's defeat was celebrated by the Ice Hunters with cheers, cries of disbelief and gifts of their finest fermented fish for the heroes. Barking Seal, Bonecarver, and even a somewhat recouperated Orcaheard all praised the heroes as messiahs who had freed them from their frozen imprisonment. Having a knowledge of The White Death themselves, they seemed certain that they had enough time to lose themselves in the vast expanse of the Sea of Moving Ice and find a new home where Arauthator couldn't track them. As the heroes escorted Maccath to the landing shore, she found herself next to Melissandre and said aloud, as much to herself as to Melissandre, "The dragon may have fled to save his own life, but his revenge will be terrible."

Signalling Lerustah as agreed, the captain of Frostkimmr arrived shortly after, leaning over the edge of the boat desperate to see whether the heroes had all returned.

"My, my! You are the right ones for the job as they say!" He laughed aloud, the apprehension, nervousness and careful concern about finding Oyavigatton seemed to have disappeared with the threat of the ghost dragon. Even Drugo seemed happy to see the heroes, and was the first to help carry some of the loot the heroes discovered back on board to be stowed away securely. With the crew acting as disciplined and expertly as they had travelling into the frozen north, they were soon underway, back to Waterdeep as planned.

The trip south was relatively uneventful, and the crew thought better of hauling the ship onto any iceflows as they had done on their way north. However, it was both Kindra and Melissandre who noticed on their first night at sea, the moon that shone brightly over them blinked dark more than once.

"I think I saw wings..." Kindra said to Melissandre as she scanned the sky for confirmation.

"The sun does not set for long here, but he has been following us in the dark." Kindra was reminded of Melissandre's sight could pierce any darkness.

"Will he attack?" Kindra asked, her concern obvious not for herself, but everyone on board.

"No..." Melissandre responded with certainly, not even concerned enough to turn her gaze at they sky again. "... he knows us now."
 Episode 13: The Rise of Tiamat Campaign
 2016-09-20 
 The Draakhorn 
Maccath looks at Finnius and smiles.

"Of course I can... you've told me so much of yourself, and I've been melancholy for so long. It's nice to receive guests in what comfort I'm afforded here. You all must have many questions..." The sound of her voice had a strange echo even in this small space, but she seemed oblivious to it.

I might too, if I had no one to talk to for years in these hollow caverns...

"You're not at all like the others who have stumbled into these caverns... you're quite an... eclectic band, aren't you?" She smiled at Finnius first, then across the faces of the rest of the party.

"Well, perhaps I should tell you what I know of you? You're no doubt in search of The Draakhorn, I'm guessing. Just like those before you. Well, I am sorry to say that it is no longer kept here; taken away weeks ago by others brave enough to enter here. If you know what The Draakhorn is, then you know that an evil plot is afoot, for the power of the horn is used only for evil. It's horrid cry is a call to action for all evil dragons, and they hear it from across Faerun. I even suspect that it's sound can be heard by more than just dragons, but no man can comprehend the messages it is used to communicate. I am certain, however, that it is of ancient origin, and perhaps even the Dragon Queen herself can hear the call from her lair in the pit."

Maccath stops a moment, scanning the faces of the adventurers.

"None of you seem surprised by this? I am pleased. Those before you had no idea what lay in store for them. If you've come to rescue me, then surely you're doing so on behalf of my Brotherhood? Who sent you? Davan? Taern? I have found what I sought years ago, but I am now the 'willing' ally to The White Death, and I cannot leave before my work here is done."

Maccath looks over her shoulder to the back of the tent, and then forward again. Sipping her tea slowly, her eyes lose their focus for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. Snapping back to the moment, she continues:

"Aurathator will never let me leave, and I even if I wished to, I could not without the treasures of the Arcane Brotherhood he stole all those years ago. Perhaps you understand better my plight? I am condemned to this iceberg until my work is finished, but I fear even that that will not be the end of my tenure in this frozen wasteland."

"From his cavern beneath us, Aurathator hears everything, and he knows now you are here. Escape is impossible; he treats the icy sea as his playground and it would be suicide to try. I fear that you may all have unwittingly imprisoned yourselves here with me... for it is not just The White Death who rules The Icy Sea, but Arveiaturace roams them as well."

Maccath's brow wrinkles slightly as the name leaves her lips. Clearing her throat, she continues:

"But perhaps you know of these things? Surely you have great influence to have in your possession such a rare artifcat yourselves..." her glance wanders again to the Black Dragon Mask. "Perhaps you're just polite enough to humour me and feign interest." She smiles. "No matter the reason you are here, I am glad to have you." I'm only sorry it is to meet you with these sad facts. Tell me, what is it that I can offer to comfort you? You look weary and I fear my tea may not ease your chill."

Maccath leans forward at the huge desk, leaning her clasped hands on a bundle of parchment there, anxious to hear from you.


 Episode 12: The Rise of Tiamat Campaign - 2016-09-17 
The Frozen Cavern: Part 5... (Member Submission!) 
Finnius looked AWESOME as he walked across the icy surface, never once slipping. Slow and steady, that’s the—FUCK.

--Uh, Finnius, could you please stop talking to yourself? Kindra's trying to stealthily look ahead so we don't--

And back to Finnius! That mysterious little gnome-cicle. What a story he'll have to invent for that at some point. How'd he get there? How did he still manage to make it look so good? 

Yes, despite their casual glances of concern. they took to him immediately. Naturally. Well, maybe not Brother Joan. Definitely not him, yet. Being honest, these friends should be more concerned for him than for Finnius. I mean that lifestyle is fine for some. The name needs a bit of work. Brother Joan. No subtlety there. But we're living in a different time, after all. He'd fit in the big cities like Waterdeep. I guess Finnius just hopes that Joan figures him or her self out soon, for its sake. Maybe this cold will help. We all have nipples, after all. And they all freeze equally. And isn't there something romantic and inspiring in--

---Maybe you can speak just a little quieter, then?  Does he even hear me?

AND NOW! Free from the icy clutches of the iced over cavern of… ice! He tramps along to the pace of his own story in the making, always in the making, friends at his side, purpose in every step! Left right left right! Finally able to feel his prick moving around down there once again. Funny how you don't miss something until it's not there anymore. 

Quiet now. Shut up, Finnius. Shut them all out, Finnius, before they come b—

It's so cold here. And dry. Why does the past always hit me in the head while I'm cold? The heat and humidity cushions your mind, so. 

Gods, he misses them. I miss them. Gruff and Sencha and big old Terrycloth. He remembers how the ground shook when she fell, that one. Poor Terrycloth. You could have mistaken her falling for the timbers of the mainstage. He misses them all. The flying… the juggling. I even miss the fucking jugglers. 

Why? Why target us? I mean—he means, why a circus? A thing that's tried to do nothing but good for so long? Now gone. And why fire? 

The animals. The poor animals. The smell of them... A roast hasn't tasted the same since...

No, Finnius! Don't become consumed! Not here! Smile again! Smile your little gnomish smile. The one mum told you lit up the crowds brighter than the sconces on the circus walls. Fire...

--There's an outcropping here. Another room. Should we go in here?

Ahem. Finnius slows his walking now, deliberately. Ah, what have they happened upon. A cave room! This place is bigger than he ever imagined. Watch as he steps in ahead of the rest, showing them he’s not afraid! Aha! He notices the smoke on the ground almost suddenly, as if someone had just described its existence. Rising from nowhere. This is exactly how it would happen in some bard’s tavern tale. "Tale of the Mysterious Mysts" or some such filth. No subtlety, that’s what’s missing with stories these days. You can’t have a mist without purpose, it needs to rise from your words and echo the fear of the... what... uh, well...

…Gruff and Sencha and Terrycloth. Guff. Sencha. Big old Terrycloth.

And her, most of all. Roslyn. Poor Roslyn. 

Say one thing about Finnius McGuffin, say that he never forgets.

He'll figure out why.

But what's this on the ground? It smells like a hairy ass after a run.
 Episode 11: The Rise of Tiamat Campaign - 2016-09-16 
The Frozen Cavern: Part 4... (Member Submission!) 
She's...she's like me.

Wow.

Melissandre could barely hear what Maccath was saying, so taken was she with the wizard's appearance. Truth to tell, the two women didn't have much in common, physically: different skin tones, different curvature in their horns, different tail-shapes, different facial features...but that didn't matter to Melissandre. She had never in her life seen another tiefling before, and was far too enamored with the idea to notice superficial differences.

All at once, Mel became aware of Zane's gaze, and bristled under it. 'So nice to see you again.' Yeah, sure. She had learned not too long ago how to conceal her true nature magically, the better to walk unhindered amongst the populace. She chose the image of a girl she had seen a lifetime ago when she was just an urchin on the streets of Amn; probably a minor noblewoman, getting asked to be in portraits, or used as a model for beautiful sculptures...so many nights, Mel had gone to sleep imagining what that life must be like...to be that beautiful. To have people smile and be nice to you, just to be near you...unfortunately she always woke up the next morning with the same devil-ish face staring back at her from the puddle she would use as a mirror.

That had changed. The more Melissandre wrote in her diary, the more magicks she learned. Some were outright spells (at least, insofar as she understood them), but others were like her ability to disguise herself, or see in absolute darkness. She no longer wrote in the battered old book she had had as an orphan before the fire; she had awoken one night to find a beautiful, black, leather-bound tome with red filligree right there beside her. She knew her friend must be responsible. She began using it as a journal herself. What's more, she could sometimes scribble out ideas, and eventually they would sort of piece together like some sort of formula...so far, she'd been able to write formula for creating a shelter (she had been frustrated after another long and dangerous night on the road) and another to summon an owl. She named it 'wizard' but she knew it was really her friend.

Mel always wore the 'pretty blonde face' since she had mastered its form. She'd try another form every now and then, but it was a good default face; people reacted well to it. But when she saw Maccath, saw someone who was just like her...she dropped the illusion before she even knew what she was doing. She removed the Dragonmask, and just sat in front of Maccath, listening to her sorcerous voice, listening to her words...finally, someone who was happy to see her as she really was.

Not faking it like Zane, Melissandre thought. She immediately regretted it, then felt anger at the guilt she was feeling, so doubled down on the original thought. Why does he have to even bring it up at all?! It's not like he ever showed any interest in me when I was walking around him with red skin and horns showing...it's not like he even considered me as someone to make a life with, no! No, just off on adventure, with me as a 'supporting cast' for the adventures of Zane Sevenstrings, Greatest Bard of the Realms. I could die and as long as my role was replaced and filled, he probably couldn't care less. Deep down, Melissandre knew that wasn't entirely true, but she normally dealt with those feelings by writing in her diary and it would be rude to do that now, in front of Maccath.

She thought more about what in the Hells they were doing here. She hated being told what to do by, from what she'd seen so far, a bunch of older men who were to lazy or scared to get their hands dirty themselves. They reminded her just a little too much of the men with fetishes who would come by when she lived on the streets...noble bearing but dark hearts. The Cult was evil and had to be stopped; that much Mel was sure of. As much as she hated being told what to do by people with pretentious titles, she was quite certain she'd hate the tyranny of the Dragon Queen more. Still, it was more than that...every time she thought about it, it seemed especially important for Tiamat to not escape her prison...but she couldn't quite put her finger on why. Stopping her tyranny was surely enough, wasn't it?

Making sure not to meet Zane's eyes, she looked around at her new traveling companions. She missed Thororgrim and Serevinn. Just as she was getting to really know the dragonborn, he was gone. And the dwarf...she kind of liked the smell of his cigars, and the way he'd say the same catchphrases over and over again....reliable, even in the middle of some of the crazy situations they'd been in. The new cleric wasn't very much like Thorogrim; there was something hidden about him, like he served more than just his god. The half--orc was an exercise in contradictions, something she was familiar with herself. Whatever else he was, she liked his cooking, something the street thief in her really appreciated. The gnome was...well, truth be told, kind of annoying. Like Zane, but without the charm she thought. She'd give him a chance, for sure; he probably has really good reasons for being the way he is, she considered. Still, the mouth and the attitude...hopefully that would change or she'd gain the patience to deal with it better.

That seemed unlikely. She was getting more impatient, if anything. Impatient with being told what to do all the time with no information given (Would it have killed anyone to let us know Maccath was a tiefling?!), impatient with how slow all the progress was; impatient with her friends (but not her Friend); angry over all the injustice she'd seen; angry over people just bullying others and taking what they want...she was getting angry, and despite all of the above, she wasn't quite sure if it was just about that.

Truth of the matter was, she was angry about not knowing her place in the world, still, even after all she and her friends had accomplished. She was very angry about that indeed...
 Episode 9: The Rise of Tiamat Campaign - 2016-09-16 
The Frozen Cavern: Part 2... (Member Submission!) 
For a moment, Zane was distracted by Mel.  How long has it been since she wore her own face?, he wondered to himself.  Ever since the tiefling had acquired the Dragon Mask, it seemed she'd been under one guise or another.  Though, he couldn't remember if that was true or not.  He really should pay more attention to his companions.  The bard had noticed she'd been more and more moody lately.  Was it fair to say "moody"?  No.  Angry.  Yes it's definitely anger.

Odd, he thought to himself, she used to be so enamored by me.  It's not like Mel was the first woman to grow angry with him, oh no, not the first indeed.  There had been several.  But the anger usually followed after a certain amount of attention had been invested by Zane.  The half elf chuckled to himself.  And by "attention" I mean the beautiful physical ballet that only two people in love can master. Zane smiled now, but the smile died fast.  Really, the problem is that I grow bored so fast when them.  And then they get angry.

But, with Mel that wasn't the case.  There was nothing physical between them, so Zane felt certain it wasn't the sort of anger that followed when he stopped calling on his fans in the past.  He'd not spurned her... Had he?  With all the heroics and getting caught up in the sweep of fighting the dragon cult, Zane certainly hadn't had time to even think of making advances on the young tiefling.  She is rather young, the bard thought to himself.  People who take advantage of young innocent youth are really just the worst sort of people.  Zane's brow furrowed.  Terrible memories threatening to leap from the dark shadows of his mind.  None of that. I am Zane Sevenstrings, the greatest bard that the Sword Coast has ever seen! 

At first, the group was a means to make a name for himself, that's for sure.  It was working so well, so there would be no point of risking ruining it.  But now he felt something different about them.  They'd come so far together.  He cared about them.  Yes.  That's it.  I do care.  I do...  That's why it bothered him to see Mel hide herself away.  She shouldn't be trying to be what people want, she should just be herself!

"You're one to talk!" laughed a voice in his head.  Zane recognized it, of course.  Alysia.  Beautiful Alysia... Just thinking of her made him tremble slightly.

"Really Zanifyre, be yourself?" the elf's voice bubbled with laughter in his mind, "You're one to talk."

That's not my name! Zane could feel himself flushing in anger, No one calls me that!  I am Zane Sevenstrings!

"You're a fraud, is what you are, and when you're friends find out, they'll mock you and cast you out!"

I am not a fraud!  I am a hero!  I am the greatest bard this land has ever known!  The bard shook his head, his awareness back to the cold reality of the ice caves and the iceberg.  Zane sighed, his break coming out in a visible cloud.  Looking around, he spied Themugen who seemed to also be lost in thought.

I wish we were done with this place, Zane thought to himself,  I wish we were back aboard the vessel that brought us here, amongst the busy singing sailors and the warmth their ship provided.  If only we could be surrounded by warm seamen again.
 Episode 8: The Rise of Tiamat Campaign - 2016-09-16 
The Frozen Cavern: Part 1... (Member Submission!) 
Temugen looked around, shivering slightly in his plate armor. It chafed him and he surely had a blister from a tight strap on his shoulder. He really hated wearing the lump of metal. But based on the beatings he had already taken, he would need to continue so. Plus, it was warm, he hated being cold. How in the Hells had he ended up here? He missed his warm kitchen, his oven, his favorite apron. The thought of his burnt out restaurant still filled him with pain and sorrow. But alas, maybe a half-orc was not mean to be happy. Dwyer implied as such as one of his many teachings.

"Happiness is relative boy! And it's also bullshit! Now move!! Pull ups and sit ups, 50 each. while reciting to me the 5 stances of advantage when your opponent has lost his footing. And no the Tourini Application is not one for crying out loud, that is for pressing advantage on a parrying foe who has partially lost vision. Do you remember nothing?! Go!"

This brief reverie almost brought a smile to the half-orc's lips. Which always looked unusual so he fought it down. He joined this group because it afforded him the opportunity to exact brutal vengeance on the bastards that burnt out his inn. As he looked around he considered...maybe I was hasty. We are soon to face a nasty dragon in its own lair in a frozen wasteland of ice.

At least his companions seemed to be of a good sort. Old Ioann, his oldest friend of the bunch. Head in books and with that ridiculous accent, Tem was rather fond of him. He thinks Ioann felt the same way, if he didn't express it as such anyway. If he wasn't lost in research or the bidding of whatever force gave him power. Then there was Melissandre. Tem was truly a little scared of the tiefling woman. She had been kinda to him, and was a formidable source of magic against their enemies. But she had a brooding anger to her, and he feared anyone who crossed her. Zane was the best speaker of the bunch, and it was hard not to like the man. Tem was sure that wherever he went there was a trail of broken hearted men left behind. He was pretty good with a bow too. Kindra was an enigma. So small but so fast and with such hidden power. Temugen needed regular heavy exercise and a good diet to keep his fighting skills up to par. But Kindra was fearless and unstoppable almost without effort. The little gnome was the latest addition to the group. Tem already like the little man. Unconventional, quick, intelligent. And a good sense of humor. How he survived half buried in ice all the time. Tem suspected he was probably a little crazy, but that was ok with him. He wondered if he had any gnomish recipes in his head! That would be awesome indeed, if they ever got out of here...

Tem pretended he didn't hear the comments or see the glances his comrades gave him after their latest confrontations with the ice trolls. Yes, he had good training (the best). Yes, he has a beautiful magic halberd. Yes he exercises almost obsessively to keep the strength to swing the massive weapon. But there were other parts of the equation too. When Dwyer formulated Temugen's fighting style, it was a unique one. Dwyer would often chuckle as Temugen grew and displayed his prowess. "Wait till the world gets a look at this boy", he would say under his breath. Temugen never understood, but he was starting to now.

And now, they have found this Makath person. His eyes scanned the exits of the room as the discussion continued...
 Episode 2: The Rise of Tiamat Campaign - 2016-07-26 
Among the Clouds... (Member Submission!) 
The huge metal door closes with a loud thud, and the quiet sets in. Everyone shares a glance with one another, all of you trying to process everything that's just happened in this amazing place. From a massive window carved too high for you to reach, you can see the clouds silently passing by; close enough almost to touch, you think. Who would have thought when this all started, that you'd find yourselves with this unlikely band, sailing aloft in a flying castle!

Unable to resist, Kindra springs up on to one of the massive ice beds and curls up with one of the massive furs laying there. Content that her companions are safe, filled with an inner peace that only one who is sure of themselves and their goals can be, she drifts off into a peaceful slumber, high among the clouds...

Watching the unshakable Kindra spring on to one of the beds and fall immediately asleep, Zane's glance turns finally to Melissandre.

What did she mean earlier when she seemed uncertain about our next steps? Why do I get the feeling I'm missing something?

Zane's eyes drift out the window and his mind fills with thoughts of the stories he will tell of this day and all the days before... what wonderment! Who would even believe such a tale! A nervous excitement begins to build that all that he once wished for, and has proclaimed repeatedly is actually coming to pass...

Could his dreams of being viewed a hero actually be coming true?

With a snort, Serevinn lays his massive weapon against the corner of the room, and surveys the accommodations. Adequate, but this is no time for rest! Can an alliance with the giants really be trusted? Many stories exist of how the feud between giant and dragon has raged for millennia; could the Dragon Cult be a foe worthy of the two ancient enemies finally allying?

Is this truly the group of companions that will best serve my purpose and my oath to Kelemvor?

Serevinn casts his gaze downward in uncertainty.

With a long, heavy sigh, Thorogrim slumped down against the wall in a corner, his gaze fixed on the surface beneath and behind him. With a practiced snap of his fingers, he lit the end of his last cigar and took a big pull off of it, watching the smoke sail upwards to the high window above.

"This is quite the predicament we've got ourselves into... " he said with obvious sarcasm. "We're floating in a castle controlled by giants heading Moradin knows where, to do something that might take us miles off the hunt. Even these giants didn't know where the Cult was heading. What are we gonna do, ya think?" Thorogrim tapped his temple twice and stared at Zane.

"Blagothkus seems to want to help us... I'm as surprised as you are, my hairy friend." Zane replied with a smirk.

"Hmmmph!" Thorogrim grunted in displeasure.

"But without knowing where they're heading, we have only to follow the trail of carnage they've seem to leave in their wake.

Melissandre's face was impenetrable to Thorogrim. "So you think we should continue North?" She looked at Zane. "What about all the treasure the Cult has stored here in this castle? Who will return it to them?"

"Aye, and that hoard couldn't be carried by fifty wagons!" Thorogrim chimed in.

"You're right, Mel..." Zane started, his brows furrowed in frustration. "We can't just abandon all that the people of the Sword Coast have lost... they'll never recover...."

"Maybe the Giants can help?" Melissandre offered with a hopeful tone.

"Aye, perhaps... but Blagothkus seemed intent on travelling back to rally more Giant support... and I can't say it sounds like a bad idea..."

"Well wherever we're goin', we ain't gonna figure it out tonight." Thorogrim grabbed one of the huge furs from the beds of ice and pulled it tight around his shoulders. "I need ta get my beauty sleep so I can be as pretty as this one tomorrow." Thorogrim jerked his head in Zane's direction.

"Perhaps..." Zane's eyes were cast down, a dozen thoughts no doubt running through his head.

Melissandre, her mood somewhat subdued curled up on one of the other huge beds, almost lost in the many huge furs that provided warmth to those who were easily chilled.


Even in this place... she thought to herself. Laying a tentative hand on the wall of ice towering over her, she felt no chill. With one more glance at her companions, Melissandre closed her eyes. Even in this place...

Serevinn turned to Zane. "I will stand the watch." Without waiting for a reply, he turned to move closer to the huge icy door from which they entered.

"You're awfully quiet on the subject of what comes next..." Zane prodded the half-dragon, hoping for some insight into the quiet paladin.

Serevinn stopped. After a moment's pause, he turned his head to look back and Zane and said, "My god has been quiet for some time. I have displeased Kelemvor."

"How?" Zane asked.

"No longer am I on the same path I once was. His will is all that matters."

"But you've saved so many lives... how can that not be a good thing?" Zane regretting saying it as soon as he said it.

"Saving lives is not my purpose."

"... and ours?" Zane asked pointedly. "Are we not stronger together than alone?"

"Perhaps..." Serevinn turned back to take his position by the door, and with a placid look on his face he finished, "Sleep now."

With an understanding nod, Zane walked over to the last bed and pulling the furs around him closed his eyes, trying to block out the sound of the already snoring dwarf.


The heroes all jumped at the same sound; a huge slam against the icy door. Serevinn, his massive maul already in-hand stood at the ready. Kindra too had apparently waked earlier and seemed to have perched herself on the ledge of the massive window, 12 feet off the ground.

How the hell did she get up there? Zane thought, his eyes fixed on the door.

"Who goes there?!" Snarled Thorogrim, grumbling as he got to his feet.

A loud, monotone voice echoed back from behind the massive slab of ice, "You come... eat food...."

Rolling her eyes, Melissandre said, "Ogres..."

"I'm surprised there are any left..." Kindra piped in. "I wonder if the big giant is upset about that?" Kindra sprang from the window ledge into the middle of the room. "You know, it's not even very slippery if you're careful..." and in a flash she was at the door and leapt up to grab the huge handle.

Ah hah... Zane thought.

Serevinn moved to the door and extending his long arms, he was able to pull the door open, Kindra an incidental weight still pulling on the doorknob while pushing on the door below with her feet, almost oblivious that the door was moving, her eyes squinted closed with the strain.

"Oh, thanks big guy!" she chirped, releasing the handle and dropping back to the floor.

Before the party stood one of the ogres of the castle, gesturing to one of the tall staircases leading to the upper level.

"Up der." it said in the same almost unintelligible voice as it walked away, heading across the huge icy courtyard.

With little choice and the promise of a meal that didn't consist of traveler's rations, the heroes gathered their things and headed in the direction the ogre suggested. In the light of the morning, the ice reflected the sun's rays and even felt warm despite the altitude. Looking through the still open gate, the heroes could see naught but clouds passing by; the castle was certainly still moving... or maybe it was the clouds?

Arriving at the top of the huge stairs, Thorogrim panting heavily already, the heroes came upon another massive room carved from the same ice as the floors and walls. In the middle was a massive wooden table, so tall none could see the top, and chairs to match. The funishings were quite welcoming, and considering all that had happened, the heroes could not help but wonder what had changed... they were enemies of the Cult the night before, and now apparently were allies of the Cloud Giants!

The room was empty, but without a moment's pause, Kindra was already up on one of the chairs, and pulled herself up to the table level. Her eyes grew wide with the sumptuous feast before her: grapes as big as watermelons, loaves of bread large enough to crawl into, meat still steaming from the fire. Goblets and utensils comically large were set out and Kindra motioned back to her companions, "Look at this!"


The heroes made their way to the table. No one greeted them, no one seemed to be around. Even Thorogrim's keen ears could not hear any commotion or movement on this level.

Unsure whether to avail themselves of all that lay before them, the heroes looked at each other, shrugging their shoulders. "Well, they wouldn't have served it if it wasn't meant to be eaten, would they?" Thorogrim offered.

As if in answer to the question asked, Arunir entered the room. In the morning light and rested from her incarceration, the heroes could see that she was indeed, beautiful. Dressed in white and her long white hair braided intricately, her arms, neck, ankles and hands all adored with magnificent jewellery and gems that were surely priceless.

With a warm smile she greeted the heroes, "Good morning to you, little ones." It was clear she meant no offense, perhaps a term used by all giant-kind to refer to the smaller races. "Please help yourselves to this modest offering; you have given us back so much already, we cannot repay you properly, I fear."

With that, Thorogrim grabbed with two hands one of the massive bones from the leg of some beast and tore into it ravenously. Pausing for a moment and looking up at the shocked eyes of his companions, he corrected his posture, and through a moutful said, "Thank you, m'lady."

Another bigger grin spread across Arunir's face. "Please eat and drink your fill, and then my father beckons you join him afterwards." She closed her eyes and performed a tiny, ever-so-slight bow. "Just through there." Arunir pointed back from where she had come, and then turned to leave.

The heroes finished quickly, curious to speak again with Blagothkus, ruler of the Flying Castle.

Leaving the dining room, they turned into the hallway Arunir indicated. The sun shone through windows carved from the icy walls and lit up the hallway; a welcoming effect.

At the end of the hallway, the heroes saw a massive archway, adorned with sigils and glyphs that could only have been carved by giant-kind. As they approached, the room before them stretched out, and a thick blue carpet ran the length of the room, rising to meet a massive throne of ice upon which sat Blagothkus. Ogres could be seen on the sides of the room, backs turned to Blagothkus and facing the heroes. Arunir sat beside Blagothkus in a smaller chair, a high back reaching above even her.


"Come!" The booming voice of Blagothkus echoed down the room to the heroes who still stood in the archway.

Sharing glances with each other, the heroes seemed paralyzed to move forward.

"Fine then..." Zane whispered, frustrated as he started forward, his chin high with regal bearing.

"Here we go..." mumbled Thorogrim under his breath. "Keep your fingers crossed, lass" he finished in Kindra's direction.

The heroes approached the massive throne, and Zane stopped to address their host and with a bow, called out: "Thank you, Blagothkus for your hospitality."

Blagothkus removed his massive morning star from his lap and leaned it against his throne. Standing, he stepped down the three stairs from his throne to be at an even level with the heroes.

"No... " Blagothkus paused and looked back at Arunir. "... it is I who should again thank you. You have given me back my daughter safely." The words came slowly for the lord of the castle.

This isn't easy for him... Melissandre thought to herself. He's not used to being helped, and certainly not from 'little folk'.

Blagothkus continued, "With my daughter I have communed with the spirit that lives throughout this castle. I have not..." he paused again, and looked back and Arunir.

Zane could see on his face a hesitation, almost reluctance, but he refused to interrupt the Cloud Giant.

"I have not thought much of the struggles of the small races. We do not see your kind often, and you have proved yourselves worthy of our consideration."

He paused again; his words echoing through the almost-empty throne room.

"I was wrong." Blagothkus paused there... and Zane knew he needed to say something.

"Lord Blagothkus, your words are kind, and my companions and I are all pleased that Lady Arunir is now safe. It is we who are thankful to you for your kindness in these trying times."

Holding his head high again, Blagothkus nodded several times. "Yes, you speak truthfully, for the Cult has proven themselves a worthy adversary that all giant-kind should rally against. I will return to the mountains of my people and we will amass a force no one can stand against. You have recovered some of the wealth the Sword Coast has lost, and it is to glorious battle we can now set our sights."

Blagothkus' eyes gleamed for a moment... a glossy, dreamy look that betrayed his desire to do battle once again.

Arunir, seated still with her hands folded in her lap cleared her throat gently.

"Yes... and so as my daughter's rescuers, I will grant you this boon. Seldom before have those not of giant-kind entered our lands, but as ambassadors of the smaller races, I grant you the option of returning with us."

Arunir looked now at the faces of the heroes... scanning them for a reaction.

Thorogrim's bushy eyebrows raised as high as they could. A dwarf?! Being invited to the fortresses of giants?! Kindra eyes widened but she quickly composed herself. Looking at Melissandre, Zane found again her wearing the stoic mask that would not offer any insight to what she was thinking. Surprisingly, it was Serevinn who's look made clear his thoughts, and Zane remembered immediately their conversation from the night before.

He struggles with every decision...

"You honour us with your welcome, Lord Blagothkus. My companions cannot express their gratitude, so it falls to me. We find ourselves now in your esteemed company, but it is only after trial, loss and hardship that we have arrived here. Many others have suffered and will continue to suffer at the hands of The Dragon Cult, and it is those who have lost everything already that haunt our dreams."

"So you wish to return south, then?" Blagothkus asked in surprise. Arunir's eyebrows rose.

"We must not forget those who everyone else has..." Zane continued. "To set our gaze upon your magnificent homeland would please us all greatly, but I fear that many more will die unless we return what has been taken from the people."

Standing now, Arunir stepped down the huge stairs as well to join her father's side. "You are wise, Zane Sevenstrings. And you may be right. Perhaps you should return that which has been taken." Arunir's eyes gleamed much as her father's did, but not at prospect of battle. "However, you cannot hope to carry such a treasure with you." Turning to look up at her father, "Father, let us return with my saviors to their homeland and return the stolen treasure to their people, shall we?"

Blagothkus turned to look down at his daughter. For a brief moment, you could swear it was the look of one who often indulges another.

"The trip would take many days, daughter." Blagothkus replied. "And the return to our home should not be delayed."

Just then, a large black raven swooped in and perched itself on the icy window ledge behind Arunir. Squaking loudly, the raven flew into the throne room and settled at Kindra's feet then boldly hops closer, a flat parcel wrapped in oilskin strapped to its belly. It eyes Kindra enigmatically for a few moments, then speaks in a familiar voice. "Leosin Erlanthar sends his heartiest congratulations! Please use the gift this bird brings to meet me in Waterdeep as soon as possible. The Fate of the Sword Coast is about to be decided!"

Thorogrim's eyes widened in alarm. "Leosin! How did he manage this!"

Kindra bent down and gently unwrapped the parchment from the raven. Immediately, the raven took to the air and flew out through the window. Unravelling the parcel, Kindra's eyes narrow as she scans the parchment.

"What is it?" Zane asked.

"I actually don't know..." Kindra replied, turning the parchment around to face everyone else.


"Those are destination sigils." Melissandre quickly offered.

"To where?" Kindra asked.

"May I?" Arunir asked politely with one of her large hands outstretched. Kindra placed the parchment in Arunir's palm and the princess stood upright and looked at the tiny piece of parchment with keen understanding.

"To Waterdeep, of course." She smiled. "You have powerful friends, it seems."

"Indeed." Blagothkus mumbled. "Perhaps you have another means of returning than I can offer."

Zane thought from a moment and said, "But we have not the means to use such a scroll, do we?" Zane looked at Melissandre first.

"I... I've never tried..." Melissandre replied. "And I've heard of mistakes being very bad..."

Zane looked at Thorogrim second, "I'd trust the lass before I gave it a try!" Thorogrim replied quickly.

Arunir bent low again and rested her large hands on Thorogrim and Melissandre's shoulders. "Be at peace, my friends, for I am practiced at the arcane." Her smile was reassuring and confident, and Thorogrim couldn't help but smile back.

Blagothkus spoke again, "Then it is settled. You shall return to your friend and when the time is right, we will return the wealth we protect to you."

Zane looked straight up at Blagothkus and met his gaze, "You honor us with your offer, Lord Blagothkus. We accept with many thanks."

Nodding with satisfaction, Blagothkus inhaled deeply and ascended the stairs again to sit on his throne of ice.

"And when the time is right, use that I gave you last evening to contact us. It's magic is connected to this Castle; they are one and the same. The magic of my gift is the same as the magic of this castle; they are endless."

Grabbing again his morning star, Blagothkus waved his other hand towards the heroes. "I bid you farewell, little ones. Be safe until we meet again."

With that, Arunir gestured for the heroes to follow her.

Making their way down familiar stairs, the heroes quickly realized where ARunir was leading them.

"The room with the runes and the disappearing floor..." Kindra whispered to Melissandre.

"Yes." Arunir replied. Her hearing was not hindered by her height, apparently. "If you must leave us, then I wish you to be close to the spirit of she who you carry with you...."

Arunir stopped on the stairs and turned to face the heroes, much closer to their height since she was several steps ahead.

"My mother."

As the party reached the bottom of the stairs, the runes again lit up to welcome Arunir and the heroes.

"If you have your things, I will send you on your way." Arunir waited for the heroes to reply.

"It is with a heavy heart that we leave you." Zane said.

Smiling, Arunir gestured for the heroes to stand behind her. As soon as the heroes entered the chamber, the floor disappeared just as before and below them, the clouds sailed by. "I'll miss this." Kindra said aloud.

Holding the tiny parchment aloft, Arunir began speaking in the tongue of magic. Waving her hand in front of her, a bluish gate began to take shape in front of her. Through the portal could be seen a dark room lit by torches, but it was faint and indistinct.

Lowering her arms and turning now to the heroes behind her, Arunir finished, "Go. Be safe, and know that you have allies here." Meeting the gaze of each of the heroes in turn, Arunir said nothing and watched as the heroes reluctantly moved forward.

Thorogrim went first, and with an outstretched arm, lifted one of his feet quite high so not to break the edge of the portal, ringed with blue and white. To his surprise, he felt nothing and so continued to move forward, letting his entire arm disappear through the plane formed by the ring of magic. "Moradin protect me...." he muttered to himself as he stepped through completely and disappeared.

Kindra, without another moment of hesitation leapt through like a bullet; completely off the ground as she disappeared behind the portal.

Serevinn, Melissandre and Zane followed, and left behind them Arunir, Blagothkus and the Castle in the Sky.

... to be continued.
 Episode 1: The Rise of Tiamat Campaign - Placeholder 
The History of Temugen... (Member Submission!) 
July 12:
Th’mugen scans the table before him. All is ready! The herbs have been gathered and crushed or diced when appropriate. The meat, tenderized slowly and steadily by his own hands. The blade of his knife gleams, sharp as a vorpal weapon. Goat’s milk? Check. Red wine? Check. The vegetables are slightly over ripe but they will do. His armor and weapons lie in a pile in the corner of the kitchen. With a sigh and a smile he starts to hum an old tune he learned from his mother. Finally, it is time to make the perfect meal. This is what he was born to do!

This party needs a cook I assume?

“Brother Ioann always ate like a bird, picking at my delicious repasts like he was some sort of cursed rabbit. Gods love the man, always reading books and conversing to himself or whatever otherworldly patron that cursed him. He could never focus long enough to realize the quality of the food in front of him!

My name is Th’mugen.

Temugen pronounced Temm’U’Jinn (removed the ')

From the lands of Chessenta.

Born half-orc with orc mother. Mom protected him since they lived in orc village. He was relentlessly abused and teased as a child since he was half breed and smaller than orcs. She was reviled for mating with a human (the story of that is still a mystery to Th’m) but she felt some small amount of attachment to him. Eventually he was orphaned off to a half orc community when it became too dangerous, he was 6 at the time. There he was also not accepted since his mother was an orc and usually it is the other way around. He was also kind of short for H-O. He stands around 5’10” and weighs about 190. He is more lean and wiry although his appearance belies his great strength. Many others have unfortunately experienced this when push came to shove.
A natural fighter (had to learn from an early age), he didn’t enjoy it and avoided fights and confrontation. Still tho he has the H-O brooding temper and rage in him. He does not like to lose control and get angry though.

He loves to cook, he was in the kitchens from an early age since he was considered too small to be a warrior. He scraped by an existence there until a human knight was passing through the area on a personal mission. Sir Dwyer. He was oddly sarcastically kind to Th’m and liked his food. The next morning he found the boy (now 11) with his bags packed sitting by his horse, ready to go. He accepted him as his squire. Noone really missed the boy although they were short a cook, they only realized after he left how good their food had been during that time. By then it was too late, he never returned to the village.

With Sir Dwyer he spent the next 10 years as his squire, alter as his (secret) protégé. Dwyer was an older middle aged knight who had a lowly position amongst the nobility as he was from a smaller house with little wealth. He was drunk a lot of the time. His main job was as a sort of private investigator for the upper classes in Chessanta. Chasing down runaway teens, gathering gambling debts, infidelity etc. As such Th’m has learned much in the ways of that world (urban bounty hunter background).

He also learned how to really fight. A warrior (champion), he wields a polearm preferably. They would enter tournaments and sometimes (more and more later on as he grew) Th’mugen would wear a face covering helm to pretend he was nobility and spank the other human squires. This ruse only lasted so long…one day he was discovered. Although there was no law or rule forbidding low born squires or half orc heritage, Dwyer was chased out of the circuit and even challenged to a duel one night outside a tavern. He was drunk and was killed trying to defend Th’mugen’s honor. In a rage, Th’m killed the murderous knight who killed his liege. He had to flee the lands in a hurry.
He ended up getting a job for a trading caravan as a guard and also as a cook. The caravan was heading for Neverwinter (a long ass trip from Chessanta).

===========================

(two score years ago, somewhere in Chessanta)

Dwyer eyed the boy, mangy and fierce, standing before him. He was small for his race, half of the orc and half of the human. Wiry muscles enveloped a strong bone structure. He was so strong and many an orc had made the mistake of underestimating the little shit and suffered as a result.

He puffed furiously on his pipe. When he found the boy he had just finished thrashing a group of older orc children who were teasing him (by trying to break his arm). That did not go so well for them. At any rate that was then and now it is time for a drink.

"Did you clean the camp?" A nod.

"Sharpen my sword?" Another.

"Have you started dinner?". At this the boy propped up and looked excited. He nodded and Dwyer supposed that he had made something special, again. The little whelp was turning out to be a great cook, Dwyer though to himself, and he seems to enjoy it the strange beast!

Dwyer sighed, he really wanted a drink. But he could see the boy would not give up.

"Ok then, I suppose it is time for me to teach you how to fight?"

The boy looked at him for a long time. Then he spoke, his voice was clear and steady,the first thing he had taught him was the common tongue and how to speak it properly. It was hard with the little tusks that peeked outside of his mouth, one on either side.

"I want to fight like you do, Sir"

Dwyer puffed furiously, thinking. Then he made a decision.

"Very well then. We start now."

===========================

Brother Ioan Starkhaven