Chasing the Hoard

Cavern to Manor to Castle

Tense Negotiations

After a brief return to the castle to rest, where Dame Alkwin received more training from Sir Garrick in a dream and Pierre attuned to a Dagger of Venom they had previously acquired, the group cautiously resumed exploring the caverns below. Roaming around the caverns, they found evidence that the Bullywugs had taken up residence in the foul-smelling, muddy environment, but had left hurriedly, probably as the Lizardmen routed them. Galoshti, Dame Alkwin, and Talon even slipped in a muddy bullywug pit while they were searching for the portal below the castle. After passing through a large cavern with an underground lake, they found the portal in a mist-filled niche, and experimented with the magic word a few times to ensure that it was safe to travel. Despite these tests being inconclusive, the team entered the circle of the portal and, holding their breaths, Ionut said the magic word and they traveled to the meeting place of the Cult!
As their eyes adjusted to the light, and the smell of pine trees and crisp air filled their lungs, they realized that they had not perished – they were in the mountains, far away from the swamp where the castle was located. There were four sets of stone markers around them, possibly indicating arrival points from other portals as well. There was a large manor house nearby, and a path leading to the front door, which was slightly ajar, as if they were expected. Cautiously, they approached the manor, with Galoshti transformed into a snake and hiding in Pierre’s pocket just in case subterfuge was required. Knocking on the door, an older woman answered, and inquired if they were there to see the mistress of the manor, who was expecting them. Answering affirmatively, they were led into the house, past many great treasures, and some possible traps, into a guest room to await the mistress’s beckoning. Searching the room, they could find no way out of the meeting without resorting to naked aggression, and so they waited and rested, preparing for possible combat. Dame Alkwin blessed Galoshti and Talon just in case a combat ensued. The servant woman returned for them shortly and led them to a great hall to meet her mistress.
Entering the room, there was a table for 12 set with a half-elven woman seated at the far end, wearing purple robes over white scale mail armor, and holding a wand with a blue gemstone. Beside her stood a woman in full armor carrying an unsheathed dragon-hilted sword and glaring at the group. Behind the two women were two larger men similarly brandishing naked steel and ready for a fight. The Wearer of Purple introduced herself as Talis the White, mistress of the manor house, and bade the group to sit and hear her request. They stood, ready for battle in case the request was beyond their desire to fulfill.
Talis informed them of the location of the treasure they had been seeking, and that she would “look the other way” if they intercepted it, since another cultist, a dwarf named Varram, was in charge of acquiring the treasure, and had been promoted to Wyrmspeaker over her recently. If the party could derail his plans, then Talis stood to be elevated in the Cult of the Dragon. If, however, they decided to attempt to defeat her, she inferred that they would die or at the least, miss out on stopping the treasure from reaching it’s destination. The group conferred, and decided that stopping the greater evil that was attempting to summon Tiamat to the Realms was more important than defeating one Wearer of Purple, and they accepted Talis’s deal.
Talis told them of the plan to bring treasure to a nearby town named Parnast, that was controlled by the Cult, and load it onto a flying castle that was docked there. The castle was owned by a cloud giant that the cult had paid-off for use of the castle. The town leaders were all Cult members, and would surely stop the group unless they presented a Cult banner and the proper passwords to enter the castle. Providing them with both, Talis bid them good luck, and they left for the 5 mile hike to the town with no blood shed.
Entering the small town, they stopped at an inn to attempt finding a kindred spirit, or perhaps another Harper, to deliver a message to their fellow Harpers about their situation. They had no luck, for all in the inn were suspicious of them, even after ordering drinks and stew to seem more casual. With nothing to do but head to the castle, they crossed the gangway onto the huge ice-crafted castle. Hurrying past two cloud giant statues and into the lower courtyard, they rushed to a rear staircase up to the upper courtyard where many ogres were practicing their spear-throwing skills. The ogres spotted them and immediately surrounded them and took them to their master’s quarters, where a storm giant was being groomed by a pair of ogres, his huge morning star within easy reach of his massive arms…
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