After recovering the gold from the giant anthill, there was a brief interlude wherein the part of intrepid adventurers from Turlough’s Steel regained their rest. During this time, Aprilane showed some attentions to Alfred Sweetvine. She brought some healing salve out and ministered to Alfred’s wounds and in general gave Alfred the sort of attention that caught the eyes of the other party members. Allyson Sweetvine kept a close watch on her brother, but did not manage to pick up Afred’s embarrassment at these attentions. Neither did Ugrun, who sat glowering at Alfred. Lyra tried to offer some consolation and advice to Ugrun, who declared he didn’t know what she was talking about.
When the wagons prepared to roll, there was a bit of a scramble to see who would sit next to whom, but Aprilane ended up in the lead wagon, to take advantage of her sharp eyes. This was Alfred’s idea. Ugrun ended up next to her in the front wagon, with Alfred further back, and Gnf busily studying the ritual book that they had recovered from the gold thieves.
The road led them along the edge of the Evermoors to their right, with the Lost Peaks slowly emerging from the forests on their left. It being springtime, thunderstorms were visible frequently, and wetted down the travellers sometimes. After a few days travel, Ugrun called out and pointed. Looking, the party saw what appeared to be a dragon at some great distance, flying in and out of a thunderstorm.
The dragon, it was determined, was a great distance away as yet, which meant two things. First, it was not an immediate threat. Second, it was HUGE! The caravan pressed on with renewed vigilance. Alfred recalled that there was a town in these parts known as Dragonwatch, which was known for collecting tolls on the road.
Aprilane scouted in advance, belly crawling up to each new ridge before the caravan crossed it. After another few days, she noted smoke in the distance. The smoke turned out to be from chimneys in the town, though there also seemed to be a camp on the far side of town.
As they approached the town they noted the heraldic device of the town, which was a blue dragon rampant on a dark blue field. This apparently was Dragonwatch.
The toll collector met them at the city gate. She asked what the caravan was carrying. “Iron ore for Waterdeep,” said Alfred. “Let’s take a look,” she said, lifting the canvas on the back of one of the wagons.
She then looked around and remarked, casually, “you’ve got a lot of guards for an iron ore shipment.” Alfred, who was toying with a purse, replied, “Well, you can’t be too careful these days.” and there was a glint and a clink.
“That will be 100gp for the iron shipment,” was the prompt reply. And the caravan drove into the city. Alfred noted that the toll collector appeared to note down even the bribe, and placed it in the strongbox along with the normal fee.
It developed that there was an army of kobolds, perhaps a thousand or more, camped outside the south gate. Two days earlier, the blue dragon who rules these parts, Lord K’Lenth, had flown over the city and demanded that the city pay him the 10,000 gold that they had cheated him of, or suffer the consequences.
The party fanned out and investigated. At the inn several reported how the town guard were blasted by lighting, though there was dispute as to whether the lightning came from the dragon, a machine, or a wizard of some sort. The dragon had overflown the town, and then the kobolds had presented his demands, after bloodying the town guard outside.
Alfred, Allyson and Gnf went to see Mayor Grundi. The mayor confirmed that he had been to see Lord K’Lenth recently, who had no complaint about the accounts at that time. It also seemed unusual that the kobolds would present Lord K’Lenth’s demands, rather than Lord K’Lenth speaking for himself.
Grundi agreed that it looked a lot like a scam. But the town guard couldn’t handle whatever it was that was throwing around that lightning, and he couldn’t risk more men or overt opposition, just in case it WAS Lord K’Lenth. And he absolutely, positively FORBADE the party to act on their own! On no account were they to sneak out and take out that machine that was causing him so much trouble, he wouldn’t hear of it! Would he?
“No, no, you won’t hear a thing”, replied Alfred, taking his meaning. They headed back to the caravansarai. Meanwhile, Lyra had climbed a rooftop and managed, with the help of the spirits, to spot the contraption. It had two long metal spikes on it, and a capstan around a large metal dome.
In the meantime, Max stayed with the wagons, studying his scripture. His studies were interupped by a half-elf with a walking stick and wild gray hair. “He wants you to remember that green looks like blue,” he said, nodding to the space over his left shoulder. He asked Max what he was reading; Max replied that he was reading about the prophets. Glancing over the text and conferring with the air over his left shoulder, the gray-haired man pointed to one and said, “He says that one’s his favorite.”
Max noted that the prophet indicated was a prophet who liked to travel a lot, spreading the good word about Selune, and unusually, he also preached and performed service on behalf a few other deities, such as Amaunator, Silvanus, Torm, and Sune, to name a few.
Meanwhile, Lyra decided to make the rounds of the guards, and find out more about the fight they had with the kobolds. Some of the guards had been struck by lighting, and their wounds were consistent with that. They reported the lightning coming from the machine. Others had been the victims of dragon breath. To Lyra’s eyes, however, the injuries from the breath were not lightning at all, but seemed to indicate a more poisonous sort of injury, as would come from a green dragon.
The party rejoined one another and slipped out the north gate for a reconaissance, leaving Allyson to guard the wagons and the drivers. Gnf sent out his Shadow Serpent, and was able to get a good look at the lightning machine. Gnf was of the opinion that the kobolds must have stolen the design from gnomes, since no kobold could ever think up something like that on their own.
The Shadow Serpent attracted notice however, and led the kobolds on a merry chase while they tried to dispose of it. This was convenient for Max and Aprilane, who were conducting their own survey. They found four main camps, each seemingly led by a Kobold Wyrmpriest, and as best they could tell, the highest command was located in a copse of trees beyond the ridgeline, out of sight from the town.
The approached it, and saw dimly a large winged shape speaking to the kobolds. “So, they have attempted to spy on us, have they?” said the voice. “We will need to arrange a demonstration.” However, Max and Aprilane also noticed that the shape was about the size of a single wagon, which was much smaller than the blue dragon they had seen earlier, which was about the size of the entire wagon train. And they overheard what sounded to them like the chanting of a ritual, in the dragon’s voice.
About the time they returned to Gnf and Alfred, a patrol of Kobold Skirmishers found them and attacked. They were dispatched with only a little difficulty, and any attention that the battle might have attracted was directed to the city’s south gate, where the “demonstration” was developing.
The party slipped back into the city, with someone at the gate clearing their way with the guards. The kobolds were kicking up a fuss at the gate, the dragon had overflown the city, and there were citizens demonstrating in front of the Mayor’s house, demanding that the mayor hire mercenaries or adventurers to get rid of the menace of Lord K’Lenth.
The party realized that with most of the kobold army at the front gate, it would be an ideal time to assault the lightning device and destroy it. So they bribed a guard to watch their wagons and slipped back out of the gate.
The assault on the device went well, except that the Kobold Dragonshield running it managed to get one shot off at a group of party members, singing them pretty thoroughly. The minions who were supposed to recharge the machine by turning the capstan were wiped out by a very effective Color Spray, and the Dragonshield was dispatched after he fell asleep under the influence of a Sleep spell.
After the battle, some of the party rested while Alfred set to work sabotaging the machine. He was successful, but about the time he decided to rest to regain his healing abilities, the party heard a voice coming from the trees below the ridge. “You want the blue dragon to remain at large, would you?” they heard. “I would have rid the world of a scourge, and it would have worked if not for you meddling adventurers! Now come and face me, Jareth, or I shall visit my wrath on the town and the innocents within.” The dragon within the woods continued his monologue, spurred on by the jeers and taunts of the party. This gained Alfred enough time to recover his healing abilities, and the hunt was on.
Approaching the woods, the party thought they saw a dim shape far through the trees. However, Alfred discerned that this was no living thing, merely a shape made of canvas and lumber. The green dragon was spotted by Lyra, but it ignored her spirit, and loosed its breath on Allyson and Alfred, inflicting them both with a gnawing poison. The party charged, and Ugrun knocked it off it’s feet, invoking the power of Earthstrength to pin it to the ground for a time. This limited the havoc it could wreak for a time, though it managed to instill some fear in some party members. Just as it was filling its lungs for another breath, Aprilane drilled it with a magnificent shot, and then Lyra’s spirit downed it with a Stalker’s Strike.
Whump. Whump! Whump!! WHUMP! WHUMP!!! Just as the party was catching its breath, they heard heavy wingbeats and a gigantic form landed nearby, shaking the trees with tremors. It was a gigantic blue dragon, Lord K’Lenth. “Not bad at all,” he said, turning the green’s corpse over with one giant claw. “A green, it figures.” K’Lenth rolled his eyes. “They always have some angle they are working.”
“Well, you have done me a service, and I won’t let it be said that I don’t repay favors. Please come to my keep for a feast.” And with that the dragon flew off. From the sounds of battle nearby, the party presumed that Lord K’Lenth was dealing with the remainder of the kobolds.
The party settled accounts with the mayor the following day, and set out to Lord K’Lenth’s keep. The keep was enormous and on the top of a small mountain, visible for miles. They stabled their horses and were treated to a feast before a roaring fire in gigantic hall of unusual design. It had an entrance door that was most impressive, but still on human scale. But once they entered the hall they could see that there was a very large portal in the far wall, from which the dragon could fly in and out. Gigantic wooden shutters were in place to shut out undesirable weather, though Allyson wasn’t quite sure what kind of weather a blue dragon that liked to fly in thunderstorms would find undesirable. There was a roaring fire, an enormous blue cushion before it on a raised platform, and Lord K’Lenth on the cushion.
Unseen servants served up plenty of roasted venison and pork. Orc-eye Swill, a very fine dark beer brewed by orcs in the Kindom of Many Arrows, was served, much to Ugrun’s delight. He described how he had the castle built by a group of mostly dwarves, and the portal arrangement was thought up by a clever gnome by the name of Fenster Wockle. Alfred realized that meant that castle had to be on the order of 670 years old, since the buildings he’d heard of designed by Fenster Wockle were typically the oldest building in the city the sat in.
After dinner, K’Lenth admitted that there was something he wanted the party to do for him. He brought out his account book, all 600 plus pages of it. He flipped to recent pages and when trying to read it, held it out, craned his neck, squinted and otherwise demonstrated his oncoming presbyopia. “I have heard that humans have things called spectacles, which assist one in reading. I would like some,” stated K’Lenth. So the party proceeded to measure him and try out some lenses. Alfred made a carved model of K’Lenth’s head, Gnf conjured up an assortment of glass lenses as basic magnifiers, and the others assisted in general measurement.
With that business concluded, K’Lenth told them of the time a red dragon invaded his territory, and how he learned to cooperate with humans as a result. Then it was time for sleep; the party retired to rooms shown to them. In the morning, they left, with no sign of K’Lenth anywhere, returning to Dragonwatch.