‘The Melting’, Mirtul 13, 1493
After their near escape from a horde of cultists and kobolds, the party quickly met with the leader of Greenest, Governor Tarbaw Nighthill who asked for their aid. He informed them of a group of villagers trapped in the nearby Temple of Chauntea, as well as a report from one of his scouts that several cultists with torches were seen heading for the town’s mill. Faced with a choice, the group decided to rescue the villagers in the temple first.
At Nighthill and Escobert’s suggestion, the group used a secret tunnel to exit the keep, encountering a particularly vicious swarm of sewer rats along the way. They might have been overrun, if not for Kilran cleverly dousing the rodents with a healthy amount of his favorite Waterdhavian cologne, Midnight Allure , made from the glands of the rare displacer beast. Unaware of the cologne’s highly flammable properties, Athanius soon after summoned a sacred flame, engulfing the swarm (and singing the entangled Zephyrian and Hogar). The smell proved too overpowering for Zephyrian, and he immediately lost what little dinner he had consumed…
Leaving that horrid stench behind, the group crept to the end of the tunnel, and through the rusted heavy gate could see that their ruckus had attracted the attention of a small scouting party consisting of a cultist and several kobolds. Never one for subtlety, Zephyrian charged out of the secret exit as soon as Athanius had opened the door, skewering the cultist through the back, but failing to notice the drake hidden in the reeds nearby, which immediately clamped its jaws around Zephyrian’s back leg. A battle ensued, during which one of the two surviving kobolds offered his surrender, killing his fellow kobold to prove his worth. He introduced himself as Phlegm, and promised to do whatever it took to stay alive. Realizing his potential usefulness, the party agreed to let him live, even promising him great treasures if he helped them save the villagers from the temple. Strangely enough, when offered gold, he asked instead for the “nicest candlestick in the castle”.
The party found the temple besieged by a large group composed of kobolds, cultists, mercenaries, and a few more of the vicious hunting drakes. Using Phlegm to create a distraction, the party successfully snuck into the temple without any cultists seeing them. Once inside, the Ragetalon brothers were pleasantly surprised to find their mentor and father figure, Xannan Furros, inside with the rest of the townsfolk. He and the temple’s priest, a half-elf named Eaden, worked together with the party to calm the villagers enough to make their escape to the riverside, with the cultists close behind. Kilran used his cologne once more, the scent being so strong that the hunting drakes found their senses overwhelmed, proving useless to the cultists in pursuit.
After crossing the river to further mask their scent, the party led the villagers back to the secret entrance, where they found two cultists leaning over the body of the cultist killed by Zephyrian in the earlier battle. Before they could raise the alarm, Kilran cast a spell of sleep upon them, instantly rendering them both unconscious. As Zephyrian and Athanius moved in to finish them off, Varrick intervened, refusing to allow the cold-blooded murder of two unconscious people. Although the group seemed hesitant to allow them to live, Varrick reminded them that Nighthill had asked them to bring back a prisoner. With little time to spare, and more cultists heading their way, the party picked up the two unconscious men and brought them into the sewer tunnel.
Nighthill and Escobert graciously thanked the party for their assistance, but said there was little time to waste, and called for the immediate interrogation of the prisoners. He assured them that though he would allow for physical force to be used, the prisoners needed to be kept alive so that they could be potentially used as bargaining chips, or at the very least, “properly executed”. Escobert handled the interrogation of one, while Athanius, Zephyrian, and Kilran handled the other. Varrick would have no part in either. Athanius and the others found their prisoner was covered in tattoos, as well as what appeared to be self-inflicted scars, and even pieces of actual metal lodged in his skin. As they attempted to ask him for what purpose he and his people had come to Greenest, he shouted defiantly his undying loyalty to “the Dragon Queen”, going so far as to spit at Zephyrian, promising him a life of slavery under the reign of “the one true queen”. Realizing that they would learn nothing useful through brute force, Athanius fooled the cultist into believing that he was actual an undercover agent, calling for Kilran to place his blade against Zephyrian’s throat. The cultist replied:
Then it is true?! We truly did get someone into the keep! Then you must be the one sent to kill that fool leader of theirs, Nighthill. And what of the ambush at the mill? Do you know if our brothers there were successful?
Unfortunately, in his excitement and fervor for what he thought was his impending escape, he began spouting off once again about the glory of the Dragon Queen, referring to her by name, as none other than Tiamat herself. He spit once more at Zephyrian, who promptly knocked him out, breaking his jaw, with a single punch.
With their newfound knowledge in hand, the group informed the Governor that his life was in danger, and then hatched a plan for how to foil the cultists’ ambush at the mill…but not before Phlegm reminded the group that he had been promised the nicest candlestick in the castle…