Episode 1: The Swole Patrol & The Missing Children
It started as just another night in the Yawning Portal. Adventurers and locals passing through and coming to the famous bar, to peer into the Yawning Portal’s well into the Undermountain, a place few have returned from, actually, only the bar owner Durnan in fact had ever ventured in and returned. However tonight there were a special few guests that had been drawn here.
In fact, the day’s bartender couldn’t recall the last time he’d seen 3 dragonborns at the same time. Usually they would rarely come through the Yawning Portal, and always alone. But he couldn’t spend too much time wondering about their purpose as a human ranger kept him busy pouring drink after drink. He did however notice the tiefling female come in, as she caused a bit of a stir with some of the rowdier guests who were enticed by her alluring figure. He muttered to himself that he didn’t care as long as they didn’t cause any trouble, especially since some mysterious man had already come in before and paid for their tabs, and had given him a nice tip for his troubles. And besides, seeing the red dragonborn fly through the bar was quite a sight to see, and the made the bar patrons happy, which always means more drinks in the end.
Later that day, as the group seemed to begin to gather together and get to know each other, the stranger from before returned and made his way to them.
“Hello good sirs and lady, I’m looking for a red dragonborn named Daar Caevroth” the stranger said to the group. They replied that there was a red dragonborn staying here, and at the behest of the stranger, a couple of the members went to retrieve him.
As he returned, he confirmed “Hello, I am Dear Caevroth, they told me you were looking for me?”
“Yes, in fact, I’m looking for all 5 of you. My name is Tamorel Mabara. I am the one who paid your tabs here at the Yawning Portal, all I ask is for a few minutes of your time.” The group slowly gathered around and gave their thanks for the amenities paid for, but not without a bit of distrust to someone asking who knew they’d be here.
“I come on the behalf of Kerowyn Hucrele, the matriarch of an important merchant family in the nearby village of Oakhurst. She sends me here to the Yawning Portal to find a special group of adventures to help locate her missing son and daughter. Sharwyn Hucrele and Talgen Hucrele were adventurers and took part in a group that delved into the Sunless Citadel. Unfortunately that was over a month ago and none of the party has returned. Kerowyn offers salvage rights to any of you who are able to go to the Sunless Citadel and returns the lost members of her family, or at least the gold signet rings worn by the brother and sister. She offers a reward of 125 GP per ring, per person. If you can bring them back in good shape (of sound mind and body), the reward is doubled.” The group perked up at the mention of such a nice reward for bringing back this lady’s young whelps that have gone off and gotten themselves in over their heads. However something about Tamorel made them feel like he held something back. After a bit of intimidation, he did admit that this was a dangerous journey, as none have returned from the Sunless Citadel in hundreds of years, but that it would bring great glory to any who did, which was enough to entice the dragonborn fighter of the group. Tamorel continued and explained how he knew the group would be here and to look for them.
“I had foreseen your groups arrival in a vision last night, I was visited by a strange god I’ve never heard tale of. It spoke to me in a tongue-less language which I understood telepathically. It said ‘Behold, I am Ohen, I have sent my servant, a golden dragon born, to the Yawning Portal. He will be joined by 4 other strangers who will ally themselves. There will be a human orphan that has grown into a skilled hunter. There will be 2 other dragon kin, one seeks the glory of combat, the other is as a servant of another god from a parallel plane of existence to my own. Lastly there will be a tiefling that uses his infernal heritage to cast powerful spells. Seek ye these men, and they shall help your matron’s desire to find her kin.’ And when I awoke, I found a strange bottle of this glistening oil, I know not what it is for, but I felt as if it was meant for your group. I spoke of my vision to Kerowyn and she sent me here to find your group.” He handed the bottle of oil to Daar, who examined it carefully before putting it carefully into his pouch.
The group agreed that they would come to Oakhurst to meet with Kerowyn. Tamorel seemed pleased and excused himself and left quickly. This unusual band of adventures looked at each other as they mentally prepared to ally themselves together for this quest they’d been given. The green dragonborn paladin however, who went by the name Kormac, was not too happy that the tiefling, AzReal, was part of their party. Daar, the red dragonborn paladin, seemed as if he knew this quest would come, and felt it his holy duty in service of his god, Ohen. The green dragonborn fighter, known as Gregorious, but “Glad Greg” to those who knew him, was excited for the chance to battle and gain the sweet glory of victory of his foes. Leylin, the ranger, accepted this all as just another day, but took special advantage of the open bar tab, and was sure to keep the drinks flowing the rest of the night, or at least, until the world faded away to darkness.
The next morning the group awoke, barely remembering how a hole had been burned into the floor next to one of the beds. They made the short travel to the nearby village of Oakhurst. Their first stop was the general store, which was run by Kerowyn Hucrele, the matriarch of the Hucrele family that had commissioned the group, who jokingly called themselves the Swole Patrol as they drank and laughed together the previous night, to help find her missing children, Sharwyn & Talgen. Kerowyn informed the group that they had left with two other party members, a paladin Sir Braford and Karakas, a ranger. Kerowyn knew her children wanted to live the adventurous life, and couldn’t keep them from leaving. Talgen, her son, was a simpler boy who enjoyed the thrill of combat, but was innocent nature. His sister Sharwyn, was entranced by the world of magic and was cunning, often causing the most mischief, but not a bad person. She implored the group to bring them back alive and well, but understands that despite her hope, they may have met an adventurer’s fate.
Next the group split, as some went to the blacksmith to look for weapons and armor. There they met Rurik Lutgehr, the dwarf who ran the shop. Leylin tries to make friendly, but learns that a dwarf’s handshake is not to be taken lightly, and feels a bit lucky to walk away without any crushed bones, which gave great delight to Rurik. After buying a shield and trading for a weapon, the group left the blacksmith, however Leylin made a request to return and possibly learn the trade, which Rurik took into consideration, however he wasn’t too sure he’d ever seen the ranger again, as they planned to go into the Sunless Citadel, which was a suicide mission for sure.
Kormac however had chosen to visit the local authorities at the town jail. Oakhurst’s constable is Felosial, a female half-elf veteran. She commands a force of sixteen guards and four scouts who keep the village safe. However as a female in charge of a small town, one that sees many adventurers come through seeking glory and fame, and often ridiculed this half-elf female, a disrespect she no longer abided. Unfortunately for Kormac, his encounter with Felosial did not go well, as he felt her responses were disrespectful to his kind, and led him to use his acid breath to melt away part of her desk, causing it to fall over and spill the items across the floor. Felosial instantly drew her sword and whistled, summoning 4 of her guards to appear in a just a moment, as they saw the scene, with a dragonborn standing across from their captain with her sword drawn, they prepared for the worst and drew their swords, preparing for battle. Kormac, after taking a moment to assess the situation, tried to diffuse the tension, talking down Felosial and coming to an understanding of their misunderstanding, noting he and his partners were here to help find the Hucrele children, and did not want to fight or cause trouble. Felosial looked judgtngly at the dragonborn, but ultimately discerned him to be truthful, if not just another chauvinistic man who acted before thinking, and lowered her sword and ordered her men to stand down. Kormac left, although he felt the eyes of her guards following him down the street as he rejoined the rest of the group.
The party decided their last stop in town before heading to the Sunless Citadel should be with the town mayor to see if there was any other needs the town might have, and be willing to pay for. They soon met up with Mayor Vurnor Leng, who invited them in, hoping they could help recover the Hucrele children, which would be good news for the town, and if he could align himself as helping, would surely help his popularity with the town in the next elections. They requested what information they could about the Sunless Citadel, and he knew only of the goblins that came from there, bring their sale of a single apple, of which the villager’s save up to purchase.
“The fruit, apparently an apple of perfect hue, heals those who suffer from any disease or other ailment. They sometimes plant the seeds at the center of each fruit, hoping to engender an enchanted apple tree. When the seeds germinate in their proper season, they produce a twiggy mass of twisted sapling stems. Not too long after the saplings reach 2 feet in height, they are stolen—every time. The townsfolk assume the goblins send out thieves to ensure their monopoly of enchanted fruit.” Vurner would rather not have the goblins come at all, despite their mostly peaceful trade with the apple, he despises their kind, and having them come around is a bad look for his managing of the town.
As they conversed, Vurnor also informed them about the issue with the cattle herders:
“Cattle herders don’t graze their stock too far afield these days. They’re frightened by stories of new monsters that maraud by night. From time to time, cattle and people who have gone out alone at night have been found dead the next day, bearing dozens of needle-like wounds. No one has seen the creatures that cause this mayhem, nor do they leave a discernible trail.”
After gathering as much information as they could, the group decided they better get going down the Old Road before night fell, they thanked the Vurnor for his help and left. The travel down the Old Road went quickly and without incident. The Old Road passes to the east of a narrow ravine. At the road’s closest approach to the cleft, several broken pillars jut from the earth where the ravine widens. Two of the pillars stand straight, but most lean atop sloped earth. Others are broken, and several have apparently fallen into the dark depths. A few similar pillars are visible on the opposite side of the ravine.
A sturdy, knotted rope is tied to one of the leaning pillars on this side of the ravine. After a very brief discussion if they should oil themselves up before climbing down, Greg charged over the side, quickly rappelling down the side of ravine to the ledge below. The rest of the group followed down soon after. At the bottom of the rope is a sandy ledge overlooking a subterranean gulf of darkness to the west. The ledge is wide but rough. Sand, rocky debris, and the bones of small animals cover it. The far wall of the chasm is 250 feet to the west, and the bottom of the subterranean vault is 80 feet below where they now stand. A rough-hewn stairwell zigs and zags down the side of the ledge, descending into darkness. Unfortunately Greg’s bold descent disturbed three giant rats that happened to be amongst the rubble there. They attacked the group, but were no match for them as the Swole Patrol quickly dispatched them.
As they descended down the stairs, they come across Siennat, a teenage girl commoner. When she saw them coming, having no place to hide and seeing the mighty group descending, yelled out for mercy and help, hoping that they were not of ill intent. Fortunately for her, they bared no ill-will and asked what she was doing there. She informed them that some boy from the town and tricked her to climb down the rope, daring her to do it if she wanted to be accepted into their group, which she desperately had wanted. However, once she had made it down the ledge, to her horror they pulled the rope up, laughing at her and left her there as they ran off back to town. The group was upset by these dangerous prank and vowed to find these boys when they returned and teach them a lesson. Greg volunteered to help Siennat up the rope and before she ran off, she offered him a health potion she’d found in her thanks before she ran up the Old Road, hurrying to make it home before dark.
The group descended the rest of the way down, and soon stood before the Sunless Citadel. A fortress emerges from the darkness. The subterranean citadel, though impressive, seems long forgotten, if the lightless windows, cracked crenellations, and leaning towers are any indication. All is quiet, though a cold breeze blows up from below, bringing with it the scent of dust and a faint trace of rot. The narrow stairs empty into a small courtyard, apparently the top of what was once a crenellated battlement. The buried citadel has sunk so far into the earth that the battlement is now level with the surrounding floor. That floor stretches away to the north and south, composed of a layer of treacherous, crumbled masonry, which reaches to an unknown depth. To the west looms the surviving structure of what must be the Sunless Citadel. A tower stands on the west side of the courtyard.
As the group makes their way across the courtyard, Dear and Leylin stepped on a hidden pit trap, which opened suddenly, but they were able to quickly jump to the side and avoid falling into the trap. The rest of the group helped them to their feet, and they carefully walked around the open pit as they entered into the Citadel. The first room they entered was the tower shell. This circular area is cobbled with cracked granite, upon which sprawl the bodies of four goblins, apparently slain in combat. One corpse stands with its back against the western wall, the spear that killed it still skewering it and holding it upright. Three wooden doors lead from this area. A hollow tower of loose masonry reaches thirty feet into the air, but the intervening floors and stairs are gone, except for a couple of crumbled ledges.
After some investigation of the area, and freeing the skewered goblin of his spear, they choose to head to the northern door. They enter a long narrow hallway, near the opposite end are 3 doors. One to the north, one to the west, and one door to the south. The souther door is a stone relief-carved door sealing the chamber behind, portrays a dragon-like fish swimming. The door is locked, and Leylin offers to try and pick the lock, but Kormac decides to take the room by storm, insisting on using his portable ram to bash down the door. With one big swing, he smashes the door open, causing the stone door to slam open, bits of it flying everywhere. Behind the door Kormac is a bit disappointed that he find no enemies to take by surprise. Instead he finds a ten-foot-square chamber hewn from stone. It contains an upright keg fashioned of rusted iron. Rusted pipes lead from the keg into the floor. After some investigation of the keg, Kormac decides to pull open the top of the keg. As he does so, there is a whoosh of air as bursting out come an Ice Mephit & a Steam Mephit.
Kormac, taken by surprise, is nearly slain by the two mephits, but is pulled out to safety by Daar, who uses his Lay On Hands to help Kormac regain his health. Once to his feet, Kormac tries to seek vengeance and glory for his god Tempus, throwing his trident into the room, but in his rage and weakened state, misses both the mephits, burying his trident into the wall. Greg, Leylin, AzReal, & Dear however have a bit more luck and soon they mephits are dispatched as they evaporate into nothingness.
Azrael investigated the room and the keg, finding 5 tiny sapphires that were used to bring about the magic that bound the mephits. She offers one of each to the rest of the group, but her offer is rebuffed by Kormac, who does not want to take anything from the tiefling. AzReal shrugs it off and is fine keeping the extra sapphire to herself, thinking they could possibly be made into some fine jewelry when she returns to town, or maybe they hold some lingering magic she could use.
The group has encountered it’s first test, and despite some missteps and misunderstandings, have come through so far. They gather their breath, as they look towards the next two doors, wondering what lies in wait for them beyond.