After the harrowing ordeals of the Lime Path through Undermountain, the party eventually reached Skullport, that den of thieves, slavers and worse so strangely tolerated by the Lords of Waterdeep a mere mile beneath their feet. The city reeked of sewerage, noxious achemical concoctions and the sweat of thousands of slaves and indentured servants. Making their way from The Threads towards the Venter section, the Ring were accosted by cutpurses and street urchins. After losing a sizeable amount of gold and equipment, the enraged Dorn skewered an urchin in the leg as warning to the others and eventually the party made their way to the first decent-looking inn on the main street…that of The Old Knave run by the disfigured halfling Korriben.
A night of merriment, strong alcohol and dalliances ensued, paid for by jewels Pug had acquired in the tunnels, and that ignorant generosity may have spared the Ring a fatiguing fight in the middle of the night when a press gang arrived looking for easy prey and were warned off by Korriben, who had taken a liking to the open-pursed half-orc of the group.
Rested and with their supplies refreshed, the Ring proceeded to decisive action: a stealthy assault on the Shadow’d Lodge, who they had been told was the well-known base of operations for the Cult of the Dragon in Skullport and most probable location of the kidnapped Masked Lord the party was intent on rescuing. The druid’s magic wrapped the group in camouflage and shadows, allowing them to bypass mercenaries and another press gang from The Mandible (a notorious group of slavers and a power in the Port of Shadows).
The Shadow’d Lodge was a half-stone, half-wood manor house surrounded by a high wall whose only entrance was an iron wrought gate barred by hefty locks, which the Ring dissolved using acid from their Alchemy Jug. Once inside, they scouted the perimeter and quickly confronted_ Trepsin the Troll_ and his pack of nightdrakes, nasty draconic dogs that could conceal themselves in the Plane of Shadow itself and pop up behind their opponents to make surprise attacks. Unprepared with any fire and now out of acid the Ring had to resort to cutting off the troll’s head and tossing it over the wall to defeat their regenerating foe.
A group of kobolds noticed the battle at the back entrance to the lodge and sounded the alarm, so Dorn lead the Ring to the main entrance, quaffed a potion of growth and began a full frontal assault on the doors. Smashing into the foyer, the party all miraculously avoided the freezing statue traps and entered the grand hall, confronting a pair of animated suits of armor that were resistant to most of their spells. Within seconds a potent blue half-dragon Myrmidon of Tiamat named Vennothy entered the fray and battled the group with lightning and swords. Captain Pug was mortally wounded several times but revived by Varis and had a bedside conversion to the worship of a more Good nautical deity, namely Valkur the Exarch. Together with Dorn’s greatsword and Soveliss’s eldritch bolts, Pug’s mightiest blow finally slew Vennothy and in that a moment a bolt of lightning crashed from the heavens and reforged Vennothy’s sword into the Storm Blade of Valkur, which Pug quickly claimed as his prize.
Inside the Lodge was all shadows and whispers, each room obscured by magical shadows and ready to swallow any intruders. Exploring slowly and cautiously the Ring came upon a strange Cult banner, empty rooms, a still-simmering kitchen, baths and hallways leading to more rooms. One room was much larger than most and stumbling in the darkness the party came upon the fetid breath of a Dragon! Despite being a mere Wyrmling, this black shadow dragon named Poluxxian was half the size of the room, and flew in and out of Shadow to spring attack upon attack on the disoriented group of adventurers. After a terrible battle ROAM finally slew the young beast and came upon that which they had been seeking so long: a dragon _hoard!
Barely having time to recover from the fight of their lives, and trying to collect some of the most valuable parts of the dragon hoard that they could carry, the Ring found was attacked by Poluxxian’s twin sibling, the dragon wyrmling Rinnimathian, who savaged them even more before being killed and half-crashing through the front facade of the lodge. Realizing that resting in the Shadow’d Lodge seemed to bring more and more enemies upon their heads, the party scouted the top floor and stealthily ambushed a group of cultists who had been patiently waiting to ambush them. Captain Othelstan, Talis the White and their dragonwings were destroyed, with only Talis surrendering and offering up information. Talis relinquished her powerful Mail of Frost and Wand of Winter and provided some details about the cult’s structure and plans.
Deciding to recuperate in the basement the Ring finally located the Masked Lord, who was drugged and imprisoned in a donjon, not too far away from a magical elf-gate (or teleportation circle). Varis and Soveliss, the two scholars of the groups, examined the arcane tendrils of geographic energy and guessed that the elf-gate lead to 3 destinations: one near a huge desert, one in an ancient forest and one near the Spine of the World mountains.
It was that moment that The Mandible decided to make it’s move. Their spies had ascertained that the Cult had lost the Shadow’d Lodge to an enemy force, and under the leadership of Inkarlos the gang entered the premises to claim them as their own. Inkarlos’s thieves quickly located the Ring’s basement resting area and offered them an ultimatum, but the Ring of Adventurous Men never surrenders, and they answered in the only method of parlaying they excel at: spike growth and a fireball!
With half the thieves dead, the Shadow’d Lodge engulfed in flames and in poor shape themselves, the party decided to gamble on a destination, one that seemed most-used according to the magical calculations of Varis the Cleric: towards the Spine of the World they hurled their atoms through the elf-gate, only to arrive in mid-air, 2000’ above the ground, 200’ away from a massive cloud formation upon which somehow a giant’s castle rested. They plunged to their doom but with a few dextrous adjustments and some fancy arm-flapping (and perhaps an assist from a golden canary along the way) they landed on the enchanted cloud island of Skyreach.
What in the Seven Heavens was this place, and why did the cultists come here? The party set out to explore.