This is part of the ongoing narrative of our D&D campaign, which is graciously being run by Proud Lion, a fantastic comic shop in Cheltenham. Their RPG Encounters nights are a lot of fun, and give me some entertaining material to work with.
Tales of the Yawning Portal:
As his brother lay unconscious over by the throne, Kalashnikov Rowntree chortled and climbed over the ruin of the table to inspect the bugbear’s body. In this mess he couldn’t see anything worthwhile, but did check to make sure that the beast was dead. Drenk joined him in observation, and grabbed the morning star that it had been using, slinging it across his back for those times that his maul may not be entirely suitable.
Burian surfaced for a moment, let out a low moan and passed into unconsciousness once again. Jester noticed his comrade’s plight and attempted to resuscitate him, but had no luck, and called to Drenk to help instead, while he retrieved his weapons. Kalashnikov turned his inspection to the throne, then slouched down in the seat, only to feel utterly uncomfortable in the too-large chair. Drenk moved over to the downed dwarf druid, and used some makeshift bandages to staunch Burian’s bleeding, but he still didn’t come round. In fact, he could feel Burian slipping away.
But then, Enna reappeared from the connecting tunnels, the commotion having finished and her prayers complete, and ran straight over to Burian’s limp body. Placing her hands upon his body, she chanted and channelled the energies of her god into Burian, re-knitting flesh and healing his head. Burian came round to the feel of Francois’ tongue lapping at his nose, gave him a good scratch and thanked the cleric.
Whilst Burian recovered, Jester took the opportunity to pick the locks for both cages, freeing the prisoners from Millivant’s farm. The farmhands and family trotted out slowly, clearly terrified by their experiences and the mayhem of this fight. Burian picked himself up and looked through the crowd filing out, and noticed that one of these humans was not like the others.
None of the rest of the party seemed to have noticed the stranger in their midst, as this individual was keeping to the back of the cave, dressed in dark clothing and shrouding himself in the shadows. Burian ventured over and as he neared the man he saw that he seemed to be dressed in a black undergarments for armour, but his armour was nowhere to be seen. After introducing himself and manoeuvring through the human’s attempts to lie, Burian was able to discuss the man’s presence in this cave, with the farmers.
“My name is Chaab, and I’m a member of the Zhentarim, and I’ve been investigating the rumours of a black dragon’s presence in this valley. I have confirmed that this cave system was previously inhabited by said dragon, who was said to have met regularly with humans, for some reason as yet unclear.”
Burian knew of the Zhentarim, as an organisation that used questionable tactics to achieve goals which may never be truly understood by the common folk. He did know that the Zhentarim had done some good, generally whenever a major evil plot was likely to have sever ramifications, but the organisation commonly consisted of rogues, assassins, and even some torturers.
“So, what happened to that black dragon then? Why ain’t he here to protect his home?”
“I’ve found that a previous group of adventurers came through here some time ago and slew the dragon, likely looking to gain from its hoard. They have since been killed though, as the death of a dragon generally sees an influx of monsters looking to grab some gold. As you can see, this place has been overrun by goblins, I estimate over one hundred still remain down those tunnels.” Chaab gestured towards the largest tunnel.
” When we arrived,” said Burian, “we overheard a goblin talking about some kind’a ‘Serpent Society’, is that related to any of what’s going on here? The goblins were looking for members.”
“Ah, they must be referring to the Cult of Tiamat, who were probably seeking to converse with the dragon. Listen, I must be going, but I appreciate your assistance in freeing me,” he talks much more quietly as he palms a bag of gems and a potion to Burian without showing anyone else. “There is some compensation for your troubles, along with a Potion of Climbing. I’ve found it very…handy at times. Additionally, if you show this to one of our organisation, they should recognise you as of use.”
Burian looked at the larger coin in his palm while tucking what seemed like 100 gold coins worth of gems into his clothes. This coin was emblazoned with the Zhentarim crest, more of use as an identifier than currency.
“Well, I must be off, if I want to purge these tunnels and recover my armour soon. Tell the factions back home that the black dragon has been dealt with. Before I go, I think this may be of use in preventing similar situations.” Chaab wryly said, as he crossed to the throne and pulled a panel off, revealing a hidden shield, somehow missed by every other member of the party.
“This is no ordinary shield, but a kite shield made from the very scales of the prior inhabitant of this cave. It has no enchantments upon it, but should serve you well in defensive situations.” and with that Chaab passed this ornate but mundane shield over to Burian, produced two dangerous looking knives from his boots, and stalked off into the darkness of the largest cave.
“Uh. Should we be following him?” Drenk asked, before they heard faintly over the wind, “No, I work best…unencumbered…”
With that, the party got to helping the farmers out from the cave, with Kalashnikov trying and failing to find a healer in the peasant group, before he realised that the cleric had rejoined them. Jester surreptitiously scouted the group for any who may be attractive to him, but sadly the only girl who didn’t look rather masculine was unavailable.
The companions safely escorted the farmers back to town, then caught a ride with the incredibly grateful, but non-rewarding Millivant back to town itself. Drenk cashed in his chit, gaining 50 gold pieces from the town guard, before they all reached the tavern for the night. Jester returned to the three halfling sisters he had been previously chatting up at the bar, but found only a note saying “You are too late” for his troubles.
Before bed, Burian recast his spell of Animal Friendship on Francois, treated him to some jerky for being good, and was relieved that none had questioned his reappearance with a massive wolf at his side. The crew, satisfied with reuniting a family and slaying goblins, went to their rest.
The following day was one of simple tasks for most of the crew. Burian informed them over breakfast of the extra 100 coins he had received, and pooling the money gave them 150 gold pieces to spread. It was decided that Jester should carry a Potion of Healing for use in any similar situations that may pop up, since he could reach areas that maybe the others couldn’t. This left each of them with 20 gold for each of the 5, and the crew separated for the day.
Having recognised the need for medical supplies and feeling inspired by his efforts in helping Burian, Drenk headed to the market to buy a healer’s kit that he was familiar with from his days in the town watch. Jester joined him on the excursion, but only to purchase some additional new throwing knives as having to receive the 2 he already had was beginning to get a little troublesome. Enna disappeared for the day, to pray and reinforce her will before the next quest.
Kalashnikov returned to the cave system with a few farmhands in an attempt to recover that beautiful potential headstone, found it mercifully empty, but got stuck after manoeuvring it to the edge of the swampland, at which point he released the farmhands from their service, fumed for a long while until he returned to the tavern. His brother was having similarly poor luck, as he was trying to train Francois to have even a modicum of respect for him. The wolf was still not happy with his new situation, and would require the nightly spell to ensure his loyalty, but was getting fond of the plentiful treats that Burian was showering him with.
The day passed without any real incident, as the companions recovered from their previous exploits, but deep in the dead of night, a light knocking was heard on their door…
Thanks for reading the first adventure of our motley crew, I certainly enjoyed the adventure, but these write-ups are a little lengthy to scribe. I’m debating as to whether to continue this “chronicler” role I chose to do, so any input would be appreciated!