The Clutch of Verthandi

Dragonhelm's Postern

"Splash the water, move the air..."

The adventurers descend into Ardyn’s dungeons to talk with Julian about Dragonhelm. They hope Julian will be able to tell them how he was able to enter—and leave— the cursed city but, at the very mention of the place, Julian begins muttering incoherently to himself. The group shows him the lens to stop his raving, and Eoleo charms him. Julian tells them that there is a second entrance to Dragonhelm, a postern gate, but his motives are questionable, so Eoleo uses dominate person to put Julian in his complete control.

With a dominated Julian in tow, the group heads to the Feywood, having opted to take that path to Dragonhelm as opposed to the path that would bring them too close to the Aughisky the Kelpie Queen. They have barely made it far into the Feywood before they wander across a gnome-looking creature who identifies himself as Roenn. He claims to have been looking for the Scarlet Crusade, explaining that their presence is requested at a meeting of the Dukes and Duchesses of the forest to elect a new leader of the forest in Alymaneann’s absence. The group is immediately suspicious and they needle the gnome with questions about his motives, the motives of the Dukes and Duchesses, and the potential election outcomes. As allies of Alymaneann, they sense a coup of sorts, and when they voice this concern, Roenn suddenly disappears. Celsie rushes by the Scarlet Crusade; she has been shot in the side with an arrow, and she tells the adventurers to start running because there is a giant mob of dark fey coming right toward them.

The group decides to magically construct a chariot so that Owen can pull them, and they head down the mountain path toward Dragonhelm’s postern gate. Eoleo charms Julian to drive the chariot in order to free the members of the Scarlet Crusade to fight their pursuers. Ornagar, a woodwose and a Duke of the Forest, is close behind them. He throws up a wall of thorns in their path around which Julian is able to swerve. Eoleo sets the wall on fire. The Scarlet Crusade is then beset by an insect plague, and only Owen and Rognar escape their poison. Niamh fires off a few arrows at Ornagar but misses. Eoleo uses command to force Ornagar to flee, and Ornagar teleports, allowing the heroes to escape through a foggy miasma.

The Crusaders press on, and no sooner do they find themselves at a crossroads then they are attacked by tendriculos and a few grimstalkers. The plant creatures attack Owen, and Niamh is hit, but both horse and half-elf manage to shake the poison. Niamh responds with a well-placed arrow. Eoleo casts black tentacles and constricts both plant creatures. Raleria ravages them with a fireball, and Rognar hacks at one grimstalker with his cold iron axe. As the grimstalker runs, Owen clobbers it with his front hooves. One grimstalker succeeds in poisoning Julian and Niamh, as one tendriculos takes damage from Eoleo’s black tentacles. The other tendriculos attacks Rognar who uses his shield to block the blow, and Raleria unleashes another fireball, finishing off one tendriculos and one grimstalker. Niamh takes out another grimstalker, and Rognar attacks the third, sending it fleeing. Eoleo tends to Niamh and Julian while Raleria and Rognar kill the last tendriculos with a combination of a scorching ray and a well placed vial of alchemist’s fire. Niamh is healed in time to embed a lethal arrow in the fleeing grimstalker.

No sooner are they free of the plant creatures then the Scarlet Crusade is once again assailed by Roenn— this time in his true form: Roennaxlant, the green dragon. Eoleo is able to calm the Crusaders’ initial fears. As Roennaxlant attempts to sever Owen from the chariot, Raleria attempts to shoot the giant dragon with a bolt of electricity and Niamh fires off several arrows. One arrow hits, but Raleria’s electricity is deflected. Eoleo falls back in preparation for casting charm monster, but Roennaxlant turns and flies away, roaring behind his back that “It’s not over.”

As night falls the mountains surrounding Dragonhelm become a bleak wasteland blighted of life. The Scarlet Crusade continues down the mountain path, anxiously waiting for the next attack they are certain is coming. Sure enough, tree roots shoot from the ground and ensnare Owen, biting him and draining his blood. Niamh wastes two arrows on the vampiric tree, Rognar attacks it with his axe, and Raleria changes into a fire elemental, leaps into the hole of the tree, and sets the whole thing on fire. Owen is able to break free of his grapple, but the Crusaders have an even bigger problem: they have arrived at the postern gate of Dragonhelm.

Disturbingly, Julian begins muttering over and over, “Splash the water, move the air, then the Doom will know you’re there.” The Crusaders know they do not have much time- Ornagar and his mob of evil fey are close behind. They urge Julian to show them the way to cross the moat without “splashing the water” or “moving the air,” and when Julian begins walking what appears to be an invisible path across the moat, they follow him one behind the other. They are almost across when the mob of fey catch up, led by Roennaxlant, Ornagar, and Aughisky. To the Crusaders’ horror, the mob is either unaware of the warning and the moat’s special path, or simply does not care. Kelpies jump into the water in pursuit of the Scarlet Crusade, but their disturbance of the water alerts the Doom. Shadows descend from the heights of Dragonhelm’s walls to lay waste to the army, and a dark mass rises from the moat to consume the kelpies. The Crusaders, fearing for their own lives, take out the mysterious lens and use it as a weapon to defeat the remaining shadow creatures. Julian leads them inside the gates of Dragonhelm where they find themselves at the edge of a seemingly bottomless pit. Julian points out a path hidden in the depths of the chasm, and the Crusaders, with no other option, follow the crazed witch into the cursed city.

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