The Valley

The End (Season 1)

 With Cronny having completed his contemplation of the Ballad of the Green Wyrm and Dougoon perfecting his disguise, the party heads north to track down the Cult of the Dragon and enact their plans to have them fight against Kriegar's forces by enacting a deception.

The journey goes well until the party reaches the mountain where Fernourgiira informed them that they could find the cultists. They begin scouting for their quarry, finding the going tough with the footing loose and crumbly. Efforts to boost the party's spirits are loud and cacophonous and efforts to challenge them result only in snickering amongst the party. Cronny's efforts to take command and lead the group end up with them being surrounded by the very ones they were trying to surprise.

A conversation ensues in which the party tries to convince the cultists that Fernourgiira is in danger of plots enacted by Kriegar. While the story is believed, in an effort to confirm, the leader of the cultists Dominates Dougoon and forces him to reveal the deception. This leads to a battle in which Dougoon is forced to attack his comrades.

The battle is a desperate affair, with lightning flashing around, magic resisted through legendary resistances, kobolds gang-tackling Dougoon, Cop fading in and out of the shadows, Artur and Pants tag-teaming enemies, Cronny using his wits and magic to keep himself alive and the rest of the party alive and Artur's sister coming in and lending some much needed support. The battle finally turns when the cult's leader is paralyzed, allowing Dougoon the chance to turn her into a pincushion with kobolds on top. 

After the battle, the party finds a mix of treasures from the cultists and are visited by Fernourgiira who praises them for their success. She is so impressed by them that she says that with Misty's corroboration, believes that the Clockwork Army bears investigation and orders them to do so…

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The Dragon Patron

Fenourgiira reveals herself to the party and immediately confronts Cop regarding his past. She asks about the book that he acquired from his former master, Delfen. Cop reveals that he has read it and found it interesting as it revealed a vast conspiracy operating in the North. Fenourgiira tells him that he knows too much about her network of agents and tells him that he must become her servant or be eaten. Cop agrees and the dragon imprints her with her magic, creating a bond between them that gives him power, but also giver her power over him.

The party then speaks to Fernourgiira about gaining her assistance in dealing with the threat posed by Kriegar. She tells them that she has no interest as she is happy to eat well from the herds that Kriegar's master is raising and that she has no true understanding of the squabbles of the lesser folk. She does tell them that she will not interfere as long as her food supply in not affected.

When the matter of the clockwork creatures is raised, Fenourgiira is somewhat convinced that steps need to be taken to preserve her interests. She bargains with the party and will provide use of the Fork of Discordant Harmonies in return for the party eliminating a nuisance. She tells them that the Cult of the Dragon has agents in the area that are trying for find her and turn her into a dracolich. If the party will eliminate them, as they are searching on the slopes of the mountain to the west, they can come to an agreement. 

The party agrees and heads out of Fernourgiira's lair, descending the icy steps and back into the grasslands along the east of the Delimbyr River, searching for a barn that they could burn and blame the Cult of the Dragon in a plot to try and get Kriegar and the cultists into conflict. Their search reveals only a single structure as they take pains not to be spotted – a walled fortress and manor that they presume is Djorakholt, Vilhim Djorak's seat of power. Not willing to lay siege, the party regroups and proceeds back towards Greyholme, hoping to ambush a cart instead. The party finds a cart, but finds that unlike the last time they encountered a cart coming from Djorakholt, this one was guarded by a squad of Kriegar's men, perhaps as a response to their own actions in harassing the last cart that traveled to Greyholme. The party decided not to attack and proceed back to Greyholme.

In Greyholme, Dougoon conceals himself as he is too well-known while Cop and Artur head to Nendor's, with Cop using a magical disguise. They try and eavesdrop and plant some seeds of conversation but are frustrated by the guards who keep them back. Nendor tells them that magical disguises are not welcome in her shop if the intent is to deceive her, but if it is for other business she certainly understands. Cop purchases some ammunition and moves on back to the Braids.

At the inn, the two of them sit at a table next to the carters and the guards, trying to stir interest in their tale of being attacked on the road by strange cultists, but between the guards showing little interest and Cop and Artur bumbling their tale a bit, they are dismissed as tellers of tall tales and a little drunk.

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The Dragon's Lair

Artur is able to wrap up some interesting business with Janessa Flameheart, transferring the magic of Nor's lost collar into a new one for Pants. The two of them travel quickly to catch up with the rest of the party as they regroup after running from Kriegar's soldiers.

The group continues their plan to meet with Fernourgiira and follow the Delimbyr River north. The journey becomes difficult due to the worsening weather conditions with unseasonable cold and sleet striking the nearer they get to the waterfall, behind which is the dragon's lair, according to Misty Meadows. In fact, the sound of the waterfall and the river are their only real guides as they approach. An icy river crossing and the worsening conditions take their toll on the party, particularly Pants who is used to warmer climes, but they manage to reach the bottom of a hidden, but icy stairway that leads to the entrance of the lair. Khinoe's Braids is revealed to them as a spectacular waterfall that falls as a split torrent around a huge spur of rock, continually freezing and thawing as the Delimbyr courses over the split in the land. Cronny flies to the top and waits while Dougoon uses his considerable strength and spikiness to assist the others in the climb and soon they reach a narrow ledge which leads behind the waterfall. 

The party finds themselves in a cave overlooked by the form of a large white dragon. As they prostrate themselves, they hear tinkling, evil laughter and are soon surrounded by ice mephits that form from the icy mists that wreathe the cave. The creatures are quickly dispatched, allowing the party to investigate the motionless dragon. It appears that the white dragon is completely encased in ice and not alive. They do discover a tunnel that leads further into the lair.

Following the ups and downs and twists and turns and the warming air, the party finds an incongruous jungle-like cavern with its own sunlight. The cavern walls run with condensation and water trickling through gaps in the stone and the resultant mud and fecundity have led to an almost impenetrable plant mass. As the rest of the group settles in to have a rest amidst in the tunnel mouth, Cronny transforms into a wren and flys forward to investigate. Flying into the steamy mists, he is attacked and falls in his normal form through the branches and into the clinging mud. Steam and mud mephits swoop to attack. While the party fights to reach him, Cronny uses his considerable magic and flies out of reach of the attackers. The battle quickly ends with the party nursing their wounds and rubbing mud off of their clothes but before they have a chance to truly catch their breath, Fernourgiira emerges from the forest saying, "Welcome to my home."

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The Road North

The party is reunited in Greyholme, but Artur soon vanishes with Pants, mumbling something about seeing the blacksmith about some business. The others catch each other up on the events and encounters of the last few days.

Cop crafts a plan to get word to Kriegar, delivering Brego's letter and warning him from attacking the halflings further. He finds a pair of carters coming into town from Djorakholt and insinuates himself in with them and decides to confront them back at the Braids. The party pressures them using all their various skills that night and the next morning, forcing them to lead the way to Djorakholt.

Balok Callimar buys the party a flask of spiderblood and presents Dougoon's history to him that reveals much that wasn't clear before. While Dougoon was raised by a clan of battleragers, it was not exactly that his family of traders had ventured too far, but rather it was a family coup in which his father's side of the family was slain by his aunt Veltha and her side of the family. Balok tells Dougoon that he spirited him away from the attackers but was unable to get him completely clear before having to turn and fight to win the young Dougoon's escape. Balok lost track of Dougoon at that point, but recognised the description of the hero of the caravan raids and offers to help Dougoon reclaim his heritage in exchange for considerations for the trading concern that he represents. 

The next morning the party follows the carters back toward Djorakholt. Two days into their journey they spot a patrol stop the carters and question them, before splitting into two teams, one goes off to, they suspect report, while the other shadows the party. The next day the party becomes nervous as they spot a large war party heading their way, seemingly led by Kriegar himself. They consider running, but decide instead to try and talk things out.

Kriegar approaches them and things do not go well. He does not seem to care about the message that Brego sent and orders his men to kill the party. Using their wits and magic, the party avoids being turned into arrow cushions and flee. 

Deciding that they need allies to deal with Kriegar and the clockwork threat, they decide to go see Fernougiira. What could go wrong?

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Death on the Road

Keenfang and his poison-tailed steed come sweeping in towards the party as they manage to kill the last of the death dogs. Coming to the party's rescue is Gorse who was somehow hiding in Artur's sister's fur. A desperate battle ensues, with their foes aerial advantage taken away by the wolf knocking the wyvern from the sky. Against the substantial odds and amidst falling bodies, the party manages to prevail against the two. Gorse and the wolf return back to Hearthguardholt while the party has a rest to recover from their wounds, but not before finding a magical saddle and suit of armour. 

The rest of the journey to Greyholme is uneventful and the party settle back in at Khinoe's Braids. Abdul greets them in his usual taciturn manner. The party do note two patrons of particular interest. Urjjet, the white dragonborn is there, as well as a drow male. As they are arranging accommodation, the drow invites the group over for a chat.

Introducing himself as Balok Callimar, the drow asks after their companion, Dougoon, saying that they share a history and are friends. After some friendly conversation, Balok reveals that he works for a concern that is seeking to resstablish the Dawn Pass Trail across the Anauroch desert to the Eastern Heartlands as the Underdark passages are too dangerous. He offers the party rewards for information and is particularly interested when they tell him about the menace posed by contructs in the area, as well as the missing Phraan, father to Artur and his sister.

Finishing their conversation with Balok, they are approached by Urjjet who seems desperate to locate Dougoon. She warns that Balok is not to be trusted and if he is not careful, Dougoon will be caught up with the affairs of his family again.

The next day, Artur and Cop report to Jhord Cragsmere and Khyrael Redshield. Jhord seems quite stressed and unable to cope with some of the tidings and goes away while Khyrael takes their report. They catch her up on the goings on in the Valley and promise to tell her of their plans once they have a chance to get everyone together for a chat.

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Debts To Be Settled

Artur and Cop lead the surviving goblin army towards Hearthguardholt, stopping by Aldarbar on the way to speak with Finethir. The archmage will not allow the goblins to enter, but invites the party to dinner – again. Finethir provides them with 3 potions to bolster the defenses of the halfing village:

FINETHIR’S POTION OF POLYMORPH
Potion, very rare
When you drink this potion, you are subject to the effects of a polymorph spell for up to 1 hour, needing no concentration. You are limited to beasts of up to CR 2 or your level if you have levels, whichever is higher. 

He also informs them that Phraan, Artur's father left a tome of his work and gives it to Artur:

TOME OF CLOCKWORK COMPANION
Wondrous item, very rare
This tome contains the information and incantations necessary to make a Clockwork Companion. It takes 10 days and 5,000 gp of materials to create (less if parts are salvaged from existing clockwork creatures).

Finally, he informs the party that he has heard of an item that might allow spells to overcome the immunity that these clockwork creatures have to certain magical effects. Unfortunately, the Fork of Discordant Harmonies likely lies in the hoard of the green dragon Fenourgiira.

Leaving the next morning, the adventurers arrive at Hearthguardholt https://db4sgowjqfwig.cloudfront.net/campaigns/163411/assets/847139/Hearthguardholt.png?1522991162 to find Cronny assuming the role of mayor in lieu of the grieving Brego. Gorse has been helping to smooth things over, while champing at the bit to exact revenge. Zittag, the hobgoblin leader is shown around the town to survey defensive possibilities and eventually a camp is established just north of the town.

Everyone spends a few days getting settled and scouting and defenses are established according to "General" Cronny's whims. With no indication of further violence coming from Kriegar, the party decides to report their adventures to Greyholme with a further journey to visit Fernougiira. 

On the road to Greyholme, however, they come across a horrific scene of a pack of two-headed dogs feasting on the remains of the people and draft animals of a cart. A pitched battle between the huntsman who was leading the pack and the hounds ensue. Just as the party manages to prevail, they spot the familiar figure of Drayven Keenfang, priest of Malar descending towards them on the back of a wyvern, calling out "Why won't you die!"
 

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Here Kitty Kitty

Artur and Cop manage to scramble up the slope from the hobgoblin valley, avoiding the pursuing clockwork creatures. Using their wilderness skills, they make their way in the general direction of the clockwork base they had previously entered, hoping to find the hobgoblins who were seemingly displaced from their home. Traveling through the night proves difficult, but Artur soon realises that they are being at first shadowed, then led by a mysterious figure who turns out to be his sister, the dire wolf. 

Led by her expert skills, save for the one cheeky detour through a briar patch, the two make it to the encampment they had used earlier. Upon arrival, the wolf spits out a shape toward Artur which turns out to be a large black panther. There is mutual recognition and Artur realises that somehow his sister has brought Nor's spirit back and into a new form. After some reintroductions, everyone rests to recover from their wounds.

The next day they are provided with a meal through magical means by the wolf and then hidden from discovery as they make their way back to the clockwork base. The party notes that the hobgoblins have been through here, but were followed at some point by a clockwork force. 

Hurrying into the tunnels, they engage a series of clockwork watchers, spiders, and finally a climactic battle with a clockwork beetle swarm. 

After defeating the last of the enemies, they encounter the current leader of the hobgoblins, Zittag who thanks the party for their rescue. They had been trapped in the clockwork section of the base, barely managing to fend off the constructs. As a reward, they are given a Maul of Smiting which enchanted itself in the magical dust fountain. The party relays the offer to provide the hobgoblins a safer home in alliance with the halflings on Hearthguardholt. Zittag agrees as the hobgoblins begin packing up their belongings to begin the journey.

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"The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives" or Don't Split the Party

Dougoon, Artur and Nor rejoin the party from their scouting expedition realising that any incursion toward Djorakholt or Kriegar's patrolled lands would be difficult at best, due to the discipline of the troops and their number. Cop and Cronny catch the others up on goings on in town, gather the mayor and soon begin interrogations of the prisoners from the Battle of the Green Dragon Inn. Under duress and application of force, they soon reveal that they are working for Kriegar Haelt who sent them to try some intimidation tactics on the people of the halfling village to convince them to give up their lives in the Valley. The Malarites were hired out by Haelt as well in order to scare the farmers and that they were hired as Haelt's first choice for the task, someone named the Butcher was not available.

Sharing their discoveries with Misty, the mayor and the innkeeper, they are told that the dragon has no real interest in driving the ranchers away as she is quite pleased at the easy source of food nearby. Any efforts to sway her would have to involve something of greater value to Fernourgiira. They also learn that Kriegar Haelt's legion is the strongest in the area. Even if Khyrael Redshield mustered her entire force to battle them, they would likely lose. 

The party then discusses a multitude of plans, many involving a fictional barn of some kind. At the end, it is decided, quite against Dougoon's wishes that they try and secure the aid of the hobgoblins, bringing them to Hearthguardholt. The party splits, with Dougoon and Cronny preparing the village for an anticipated attack. Artur and Cop head towards the hobgoblin village.

On the way, they stop by Aldarbar where they reacquaint themselves with Finethir Shinebright. While reluctant to help at first, upon remembering the kindness shown to him by the slain Stedman, agrees to help – albeit without leaving his home. He promises them some sort of transmutational magic, perhaps involving bears. 

The two continue their journey to the hobgoblin encampment which they find strangely quiet. The reason for this is revealed in deadly fashion as clockwork creatures spring to motion and pursue them. They wisely try to flee as they see all manner of familiar deadly creatures as well as a clockwork centaur that is new to them. However, their efforts to outrun the tireless constructs leads them to the base of a cliff with a clockwork myrmidon on their heels.

A pitched battle ensues, with Cop and Artur managing to escape by the narrowest of margins, but at the cost of Nor's life. As the two of them scramble away from the cliff that they just managed to climb, they spot a swarm of clockwork creatures below and realise that their threat is hardly ended. 

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The Inevitable Genre Bar Fight

While Dougoon and Artur (and Nor) head off to the northwest to scout out the activities of Kriegar Haelt and his soldiers, the rest of the party, and Gorse, head back towards Hearthguardholt on their newly acquired steeds. Taking the scenic route, they are startled by a scene of a high-flying dragon headed toward Khinoe's Braids or Shining Falls. It is far enough away that they are safe, and suffer from a range of emotions such as greed, fear and curiosity. 

They make it back to town without further incident, with Gorse heading off to stable the horses and check in with his family. Cop and Cronny head back to the Green Dragon Inn to discover that their rooms are still ready for them and that Misty Meadows has departed them. As the two settle down for some tale-telling and a repast, the aforementioned lady enters the room arm in arm with an impeccably dressed incredibly stout older halfling gentleman.

Joining the two in conversation, the party disovers that the man is Brego Hearthguard, founder and mayor of the town and former burrow warden who once famously fended off an attack against a halfling community near Goldenfields by Brain Moles. It turns out that after the party left to investigate the Malarite attacks, Misty found some company who took her in and cared for her – perhaps in exchange for companionship. The conversation wraps up and the mayor heads back to his own home, while Misty remains with the group. A night of drinking Moonshae Moonshine ensues with Cronny's amorous aims going awry as he wakes up the next morning with Cop. 

Over breakfast, some magic-aided confessions are made and they discover that Misty is far more than she let on. Originally from Baldur's Gate, her family was impoverished and was sent to debtor's prison. Not liking her prospects, she left the city and made her way through guile to the North. Her wanderings eventually brought her to the valley and she established a relationship with Fernourgiira, the green dragon who lairs near Khinoe's Braids. She seems quite in awe of the dragon and Cronny suspects some sort of ensorcelment. Misty reveals that she has been living in the area for close to a century, acting as a spy for the dragon. She also reveals that the dragon is quite pleased with the new source of food that has been established on her doorstep by the ranchers, but was curious as to the strange machinations to the south by the clockwork beings, and also wanted her to gauge the potency of the recently arrived band of adventurers. 

As the party digests the revelations, Gorse runs in, shouting that his father has been killed. As the party tries to discover the circumstances, a group of soldiers enters. Most of them are kitted out in a similar fashion to the ones they discovered in the former Zhentarim hold which was the hidden lair of the Malarites. Their leader appears to be a rough dwarf who threatens the party's lives if they don't hand Gorse over. Any attempts at negotiation fail spectacularly as Gorse, seeking vengeance, attacks. Bolts, blades and spells are slung all over the bar, but the party quickly prevails with Misty lending a venomous hand. 

As the party ties up their three surviving prisoners, loot a pair of magical axes, ponder where the escaped soldier rode off to, they discover that Harved Stedman is indeed slain. 

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Catch a tiger by the tail

After a hearty breakfast or two provided by the halfling farmers, with Cop taking some time to skin some sabertooth tigers, Artur and Nor lead the party in pursuit of the trail of the Malarite. Picking up faint clues that they impossibly follow, they head north by northwest from the farm into the grassy highlands. Pushing on through the night, they are still able to track and eventually find what appears to be his lair in a tor around the edges of the northern mountain. 

After a rest to recover from their pursuit, the party sneaks up to what is revealed to be a hidden outpost in the upthrust rock. Encountering a guard, Cronny convinces him to rethink the choices in his life and after warning the party of vicious soldiers and a strange statue, as well as shouting loud enough to be heard inside the lair, the guard takes a horse and rides off. 

Finding the doors to the lair barred, Dougoon employs his talents to opening it, revealing a massive statue of metal and wood come to life which moves to attack with silent menace. The party, however, used to dealing with constructs, engages and has the upper hand when doors into the room open revealing the entire garrison of the lair as well as the Malarite they have been pursuing. A pitched battle ensues with marks of death, hypnotic patterns, spikey growth and all manner of crossbows firing into the melee. 

The party gains the upper hand but are unable to keep the Malarite leader from escaping as Cop falls victim to a boulder trap. Artur's investigations reveal that the escape was via the sky upon the back of a wyvern, making tracking problematic. A quick looting and investigation of the lair follows, revealing a strange mixture of the personnel stationed here. The leader and his cultists seem to have occupied one area of this outpost, while the rest of the soldiers were decidedly not Malarites. 

The mystery deepens as the party rests before heading back to Hearthguardholt. 

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