In the aftermath of the battle with Yngukulub, the party returned to the surface with the now freed slaves of the beast. They co-ordinated their payment with Ander, and took on a side-contract to clear a haunted manor of it’s ghostly denizens. This side-venture proved to be valuable to Katariah, as it shed light as to the origins of the mysterious ‘Jackie’, a woman tied to her past. Having settled their business in Ruggleton, the party returned to Vigil to rest and recoup.
The party experienced a spot of trouble teleporting to the city, however, for while Bob Ogden had acquired and used a Scroll of Teleportation Circle to get them there, her understanding of the Teleportation Circle Network of Verenia was lacking. Being chastised by the conjuration master at Vigil for teleporting without sending word, Bob Ogden realized it might be wise to register herself as a teleportation-capable mage. She unintentionally insulted the wizard’s intelligence however, for when she went to register it was revealed that she didn’t know how to cast the spell herself afterall. Resolving to learn it, she left to join her party at the academy.
Here the party took care of a multitude of things. Stephon and Candy were healed of diseases they’d taken on from the Aboleth, Daryl, Kat and Bob Ogden were healed of mental scars they had sustained, and the whole group confronted C.B.H., who had agreed to meet with them upon the completion of the Ruggleton contract. While it seemed he was going to try and force them into more cryptic puzzles at first, the party’s extreme reluctance to put up with his games forced his hand, and he told them to meet him at the Aurellian Archive in Magnus, revealing his true identity as Cornelius Hedd, the Archivist of Elandria.
Before leaving to meet the being who had strung Bob Ogden along and had been trying to manipulate them from the shadows, they met with Haskill Bronzebeard, the scribe of the Verenian Watchers and thought to pick up a new contract. Of the options to kill a coven of hags in Eastmarsh, extract poison from a Purple Worm in the Sandspine Mountains, or kill a dragon, the group mostly agreed that the latter of the three was most appealing. They met with Haldir and learned that said contract was a very high profile one, and that it was for the Queen of Silverwood herself. He urged them to take the contract, and they agreed to it, negotiating a day to travel to Magnus and meet with Cornelius first.
They arrived in the Jewel of Elandria, and made their way to the Archive, a massive complex of golden and silver buildings filled with an almost unimaginable collection of books. Led by the Knowledge Keepers through the archive, the party eventually met with Cornelius.
Cornelius explained to them the truth of their situation then. He explained that the multiverse was destined for a cataclysmic event known as The Great Confluence soon, and that with the instability of the barrier between planes, a militaristic group of aberrations calling themselves The Infinite Empire have set their eyes on Verenia and its plane of existence, with the intention of conquering it. Cornelius asked the Stellar Alliance if they would be willing to be placed on retainer as his personal company of Verenian Watchers. The party agreed to, provided he met a few conditions:
- Arrangements and missions for them would be drawn up as formal contracts with the Verenian Watchers.
- He revealed his identity to Haldir and the rest of the Watchers, and explain to them the reality of the situation.
- They were fairly compensated for all contracts they took with him.
As a signing bonus, Cornelius also gave them an enchanted tome from his hoard, a Manual of Bodily Health, which the party felt should be read by Daryl.
With the arrangement settled, the party headed to an inn for the night before they returned to Vigil to take on their contract the next day. Candy led them to one of his favorite places, The Sleeping Scholar, where they all relaxed, some more than others. Many of the party members partook of Ogden’s Finest, a particularly potent brand of fire whiskey that was brewed by none other than Bob Ogden’s own family. Celebrating their victories and relaxing, the party met with a man by the name of Rufus. Distrusting the stranger, Katariah and Stephon both retired early, while Bob Ogden, Daryl and Candy went to Cassandra’s, at Rufus’ insistence that she was a ‘great lady’. When they arrived, they found her to be a fortune teller, and the three of them received somewhat cryptic prophecies of their futures. Time will tell if they were true.
Rested and ready to take on their new contract the next morning, the party headed off to return to Vigil and get a full briefing on Veredestraz.
Upon arriving in Vigil, the party set about taking care of various business that they all had pending. Bob Ogden decided to patch up her relationship with Malak and getting registered with the teleportation network, Katariah decided to look into getting her shortsword enchanted and inscribed, and Stephon decided to try his hand at flirting. Candy, seemingly oblivious to his companion’s goals, joined him and a woman who neither of them caught the name of. Daryl read her book. And then, at roughly one in the afternoon, Bob Ogden ran into Cornelius, who had apparently come to the academy. At his behest, she gathered the crew and went to have a serious chat with Haldir about the Infinite Empire.
This chat did not go particularly well. Haldir immediately grew suspicious as Cornelius asked to be invited into the Abbey, revealing that he was not a simple humanoid being as one would believe, but actually a dragon. It took some time and some levelheaded pleading from Stephon, but Haldir finally agreed to hear the dragon out, but not in the private audience that he had hoped for, and an entire crowd of onlookers listened as he explained about the Confluence and the Infinite Empire. It was clear that Commander Greyhart didn’t approve of the Stellar Alliance’s new employer, but he gave his begrudging acceptance, stating that “a company of Verenian Watchers has full autonomy of the contracts that they take, but you can never trust a dragon.” Having fulfilled the terms of their arrangement, Cornelius left, and the Stellar Alliance received their briefing on the situation with Veredestraz.
The Stellar Alliance was informed that Veredestraz was an adult green dragon, doing his best to force the nation of Silverwood to submit to him as their new ruler, and that the Queen herself had negotiated this contract in a series of gruelling discussions that had taken all of Haldir’s time as of late. With that information, the Watchers stocked up on potions of poison resistance, and headed to Del’Anarei to start their hunt.
Upon arriving in Del’Anarei, the party discovered that the Senate was meeting, and sat in to listen, preparing to say their part about the dragon problem that was being hotly debated, and then to meet with the Queen herself. They learned that the siege of Silverwood was not a cut and dry issue; with a not-insignificant faction of the nation wanting to give in to his demands. Unfortunately, before the Watchers could really chime in, the senate chambers were attacked by a group of half-dragons attacked. With the help of the city’s guards and a peculiar dwarf, they managed to stop the attack before too many lives were lost.
The Queen thanked them for their aid, and had Berrian Galanodel, the commander of the Vedaren Rangers take them to her estate while she did what she could to provide leadership after the attack. The party learned that the attacks from Veredestraz’s brood had been happening for two months now, and that the panic in the city has been rising ever since. He suggested places in the city to investigate might be Cafe De La Mortre, where many nobles who support Veredestraz’ bid for power spend their time, and that the towns of Elvaris and Fenwin had both been hit recently by draconic attacks. The Queen then arrived, thanking the party for their service, and offering to add a share of gold for Galohgorn to the contract if they wanted to hire his help. Then, the party split off to do some investigation/supply gathering.
Gal, Candy and Daryl went to the cafe, looking to see if they could pick up any rumors. While Candy and Gal tried charming some of the other patrons, Daryl sat at a seperate table, reading her book. Bob Ogden and Stephon went to Markov’s Magnificent Merchandise to shop for some other supplies. While there, the shopkeeper, Markov Flametongue seemed incredibly interested in the shield that Stephon carried. He tried his best to convince him to part with it, but he refused due to it’s sentimental value. Bob Ogden read Markov’s mind and realized that the man saw the shield as a powerful magic item, which was news to its owner. While all that was happening, Katariah had a private chat with Berrian, who recognized her resemblance to her father. He interrogated her, demanding to know what happened to her family and her village , who’s tragic past he’d been trying to discover for years.
As the party started to reassemble at the cafe, Katariah recognized the musician who was playing the harp, and immediately she did what she could to evacuate the Watchers from the place. She levelled with them, explaining who he was and why he was significant to her story, and Gal confirmed her suspicions, saying that one of Therovel’s groupies felt like a zombie hidden under an illusion (he had found this out trying to bump into the creature to see if it was a half dragon in disguise). Together, the Watchers decided that it wasn’t worth their time to confront the bard at this moment. They informed Berrian, and then decided to head out for Elvaris, borrowing steeds from the Queen.
They rode off towards the village, hoping to find a lead at the village that had recently fallen to a dragon attack. Along the way, they saw some interesting wildlife, and met a druid on the road, who called herself Ellie. Their conversation was awkward, as the party was more than a little suspicious of a lone traveller in dragon-infested woods. Candy could confirm that she at least knew a great deal of the Circle of the Dancing Stones, but something rubbed them all the wrong way about her.
That night, they were attacked by a young green dragon. With a lot of support from Leomund’s Tiny Hut, they managed to survive the surprise attack and slay the creature, surviving without too much difficulty. In fact, the fight was easy enough that they wondered if they really should have used some of their limited potion supply for it…
Investigating the body, they discovered that the dragon was a female, a few centuries old, and one who had not appeared to have reared any children yet. They harvested what they could and continued on.
Closer to their destination, they found themselves in very stormy conditions. The weather got increasingly bad until one day it went from an overcast storm to a full-on squall of death, complete with air elementals, acid rain, and lightning. Candy, seeing the storm’s effects play out and nearly kill him and his companions, recognized the storm as the result of a very powerful druidic spell, and mustered his own magic to dispel it. Gritting their teeth, they carried on to Elvaris, making it not long after.
Investigating the site of the destruction, they found a peculiar scene. With some investigative work they discovered that one of Veredestraz’s children fell here, apparently to the claws of his own brother. Additionally, Candy discovered from a journal that belonged to a fallen Vedaren captain the “The Circle of the Dancing Stones was not to be trusted”.
As they finished scouring the camp, and harvesting whatever materials they could from the dead dragon’s body, they were taken aback by the sound of wood creaking behind them. As they looked to the line of trees at the edge of the woods, two of them had come to life as treants, and in between the two appeared an elven man, wearing only the lower part of a robe and covered in tribal tatoos. The man greeted them, saying “I am the one you seek. I am Veredestraz, and I have come to parlay.”
The parlay was short. Veredestraz conveyed to the party that he was trying to take Silverwood to avenge the death of his mate, Karnessa, who was ordered dead by the silverite people. He told them that his goal was to make them pay, and that if they were to avoid further bloodshed, he would require the head of Queen Janella Eldersong as a peace offering. The party considered this idea, with Candy and Stephon standing strongest against the idea. After denying the offer, the party watched as the green dragon stormed off in a huff, and dismantled his treants. Immediately, they decided it best to return to Del’Anarei and warn the queen of his intent, as well as try to verify the truth of his statements.
Upon their arrival to the city, they headed out through the noble district and found Berrian Galanodel’s home marked with the signs of mourning; the man was dead. Asking about his death, the guards assigned to his home informed Katariah that his body was found mutilated and without any of his personal effects, next to the message: “We know you’re coming, K”. Immediately fearing that the Cult of the High Dragon had learned of her and killed Berrian for his Methu’Ni Katariah sought it out in his estate, but it wasn’t there.
The party decided it was most important to do what they had come to the city for, and informed the Queen of the plot to take her life. They also informed her that the Circle of the Dancing Stones was not to be trusted, and tried and failed to succeed casting a scrying spell to spy on the circle’s archdruid. Using a zone of truth spell, Stephon interrogated Queen Eldersong, finding that she had no idea who ordered the death of Karnessa. Left without many other options, the Stellar Alliance decided to head out for the Circle of the Dancing Stones the next day. They ended their meeting with the queen by informing her that Berrian was likely killed by Therovel Moonbrook, the musician, and Katariah accused him of the slaughter of Esolan.
That evening, the party investigated Therovel Moonbrook’s home at the Cafe De La Mortre. They found the cafe unlocked, but relatively untouched. The place seemed as though it had been closed one night and just hadn’t been re-opened. They attempted to head into Therovel’s private quarters and found that the doors in the building were set with magical wards, with Candy taking on a blast of fire magic and Daryl nearly having her entire life force drained by necromantic energy.
Therovel’s home was completely empty, save for a ley-scar in one of his bedrooms, and a gruesome mural painted in blood on one wall. The mural depicted the night of Esolan’s slaughter, with a heavy focus on the death of Katariah’s parents. However, the only one who could see that detail was Katariah, to everyone else, it simply appeared as a blood-stained wall.
When they were leaving the city the next day, they witnessed wanted posters of Therovel’s face being posted around the city.
With fresh steeds on the road to Del’Anarei, the party ran into a company of Verenian Watchers escorting a noble family from Magnus. The company called themselves The Knights Vigilant, and when the Stellar Alliance took one look at the family being escorted, they recognized a striking resemblance to Rymon Aldric, the Captain of the Black Hand who freed them from prison in Northaven. Stephon, seeing an opportunity to gain assistance against a green dragon who may be more than a match for him and his fellows, tried to enlist the assistance of the company, promising them a share of Veredestraz’s hoard. Dollar signs lighting up in Theberos’ eyes, he agreed to try talking his company into it, and offered to meet with the Stellar Alliance at the Dancing Stones.
Excited at the prospect of assistance, the Stellar Alliance carried on, only to be attacked by two of Veredestraz’s children a few nights later. In a sheer display of power, they brought one of his children down to the ground, nearly killing her before she leaped into the air and called out for her father’s assistance. A green surge of energy filled the clouds above, while below, the other of the dragons was also brought down and slain outright. The remaining dragon’s self-preservation instincts kicked in, and fled, just as the clouds reshaped themselves to form words urging her to do the same.
The party harvested what they could from the downed dragon, and carried onwards towards the Circle. Along the way, the party suffered terrible weather conditions, and narrowly avoided detection from a group of druids in wildshape, one of whom Candy recognized as Elanore, Garrell’s right-hand woman.
One night on their travels, Stephon’s dreams were plagued with images of Katariah and the other members of the Stellar Alliance trying to eat him alive. As everything went black, he heard a menacing voice scream “DO NOT HARASS THE FOLLOWERS OF THE HIGH DRAGON”. Disrupting his sleep fully, he needed to sleep in the next morning, and so while that was happening, the others occupied themselves: Daryl went fishing, Katariah crafted a shortbow, Gal tried his hand at some brewing, and Bob watched over Stephon to make sure he got a good sleep. While the others were going about that business, Candy thought to try and gain any insight he could from the local wildlife about the presence of the dragons in the region. He quickly found, however, that his presence caused many of the local beasts to flee. When he questioned them about it, they told him that they were being commanded to by the Dancing Stones.
The party carried on, nearly making it to the Circle, and Candy decided it might aid them greatly to seek out allies from his days with the druids. When they were close enough to see the sight of the stones in flight, he was disheartened to not see the familliar shapes weaving in and out of each other. Approaching the homes of his old friends, he found the region to be full of the thick brambles and thistles that are indicative of a green dragon’s lair. His friends’ homes were empty, as though they had moved out. As he went back to his own home, merely a mile away from the dancing stones, the brush got thicker, and more labyrinthine, and as they decided to head back, not pushing forward during night time, they heard the sound of growls piercing the air and saw a flock of flying creatures launch into the air from the direction of the stones, one larger than the others.
Katariah tried to hide them as best she could, and the adventurers all huddled under what cover they could as a young green dragon and five wyrmlings flew overhead. While they hid well, and the beasts missed them on the first pass, they quickly doubled back and descended upon the Watchers. The battle was over fairly quickly, despite proving to be almost fatal to Kat and Bob Ogden, but they slew each and every one of the beasts. The young dragon proved to be the one that had escaped just a few nights before. After harvesting scales, teeth and claws from the sentient creatures, they rested for the evening.
That night they were approached by the Knights Vigilant, who had caught up to them, ready to team up and kill Veredestraz. They introduced themselves as Theberos, the human rogue; Deimos, the ‘human’ wizard; Allison, the halfling monk; and Locke, the wood elf cleric. The party got to know them a little bit, and together, the band of ten able-bodied heroes headed to the Dancing Stones. Upon arrival, they were confronted by Garrell, and a battle ensued in which both the villainous druid and Locke were slain.
The Watchers were torn. If they delayed, to rest and recuperate before entering the Sacred Sanctum of the Dancing Stones, where it appeared Veredestraz had made his lair, the potions they had taken to defend against his poison would wear off and they would be doomed to face a very difficult challenge without their main source of protection. In addition, their attempts to create shelter with leomund’s tiny hut were being actively thwarted by the dragon, who seemed to have a command over druidic magic. Steeling themselves, they went in.
They fought through a room of half-dragon warriors of Veredestraz, where they afterwards saw the beautiful resting place of The Heart of the Dancing Stones. They pressed on, and found themselves ambushed by two of Veredestraz’s children. Recognizing the scars on one of their eyes, and knowing that it had slain its brother before, Stephon and Deimos tried to pit the creatures against each other. In exchange for his life, the blind dragon agreed to help them kill his brother, and he fled. The only business left was to kill Veredestraz himself.
“CENTURIES OF PLANNING HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO RUIN! YOU WILL DIE FOR YOUR MEDDLING!” the dragon screamed as they entered his chambers. The fight was vicious, and it took the life of Allison. While she died, so too did the beast. During the battle, Candy found his old mentor, Alarick Preston trapped in a crystal cage, and freed him.
In the death throws of the dragon, the Heart of the Dancing Stones fell to the ground. Greed overtook many of the Stellar Alliance. Bob Ogden won the race to pick up the artifact, but as a bear, she was unable to pick it up delicately enough, and the item began vibrating so terribly it shattered her bear form’s skull, almost killing Bob herself. Alarick stepped in, calming the artifact down, and took it himself, and the struggle was finally over.
The party looted the dragon’s hoard, finding many magical items, potions, and coins, one of the most notable of which was a Bag of Holding. What was left of the Knights Vigilant said their parting words, and set off to find someone to resurrect their companions, with Stephon recommending they seek out his father at Vigil.
The Stellar Alliance took their new wealth to Del’Anarei, and told the queen of their victory. She insisted on a grand celebration, honoring them before the people of Silverwood as heroes. They were all awarded with medals, and were proclaimed Heroes of Silverwood. During their well-deserved downtime, they contacted Cornelius, who let them know that there were four contracts that he had drafted for them. They took a few days to rest and attend their ceremony, said their parting words to Gal, and then headed home to Vigil for their next adventures.