19 Month of Gifts 4228 AE, Evening
Our adventurers started in Orhall, at the Goblin and Duck tavern & inn for their evening meal. Ianos was performing on stage, Zari was sitting at a table by herself towards the back of the room, and Durian was seated somewhat closer to the stage. When Ianos finished his set and took a break, he was approached by Stax, who asked Ianos if he would teach him the bone pipes.
During the bard’s break, Kerowyn Hucrele got up on stage (with the permission of the barkeep) and repeated a plea to the audience she had been making almost daily for a couple of months. Her children were still missing and she needed help. Durian approached her afterward and offered to help, and she told him that her son and daughter had gone adventuring south of town. Kerowyn had to clarify to Durian that her missing children were adults and had been members of a larger party.
Ianos also made a heartfelt plea to the crowd on her behalf, and while no townsfolk volunteered to join the rescue party, one old gnome in bright purple and orange clothing said he had some information. After another song, the group (all but Stax, who had gone back to the stable behind the tavern) sat down with Kerowyn and the gnome. The gnome filled everyone in on some details about the Sunless Citadel, and informed them there were friendly kobolds living within. (Kobolds, as he put it, were his life’s work.) Kerowyn offered the group 250 gp each for the safe return of her children, and 125 gp each for the return of their family signet rings (if the children can’t be returned alive).
The gnome also told them not to go down the Old Road next to the ravine at night because of weird twig monsters, since the “tricky little bastards” would attack on sight.
20 Month of Gifts 4228 AE
Stax followed the group at dawn the next day, on their way south towards Croprot. He rolled a 1 on his Stealth check, so the group saw him. He claimed to be following the bard so he could learn the bone pipes. He hid his ability to fight but was allowed to tag along.
They arrived at Croprot around 9:30 AM. Once there, the group split up: Durian went to the local temple while everyone else went to the tavern. At the tavern, a few locals were eating breakfast, and the barkeep was delighted to see new faces. He was forthcoming with information about the Sunless Citadel and the village of Croprot. He told the group about the goblins that sell a magic apple in town every year at midsummer, how the saplings planted from the apple’s seeds get stolen, and how the town got its name (it used to be a farming town, then the desert overtook the area and all the crops died).
At the local temple, Durian met the temple’s keeper, but it was otherwise empty. He learned the temple used to be to the pleasure god Karril, and since the village’s misfortune, was now just a place people came to pray, with no specific affiliation. He also told Durian about the goblins and the apple. Durian then went to join the group at the tavern.
When it came time to order food, Stax claimed he didn’t have any money, so Ianos offered to pay for him. Stax proceeded to order one of everything. He saved some food for his pet rat, Stacy.
Before heading out, Ianos cast Fae Sight to see if there was anything unusual happening in the area that could have killed the crops. He saw that the earth fae was moving more quickly than it should have been, and it was being pulled north. He filed that information away for later.
The group headed out on the Old Road along Claw Rend Chasm. Once they reached the pillars, they lowered themselves down the rope to the ledge 80 feet below. They fought three giant rats on the first ledge in the ravine. Down the stairs at the entrance, Zari triggered the pit trap but was able to avoid falling in. They killed the rat from above and looted the goblin corpse it had been feasting on.
Once inside, the group noticed the word “Ashardalon” behind the body of the goblin pinned to the wall. Stax remembered with a successful history check that Ashardalon was a well-known ancient dragon. The group then agonized over which door to go through, and ultimately chose the door on the right because there were human footprints leading in and out of the door on the left, but only into the door on the right. At this point, they were very cautious and checking everywhere for traps.
They went right to the room with the dragon’s empty cage, where they heard Meepo whimpering in his bedroll. Meepo told them what happened, and when they offered to help, Meepo brought them to the kobold leader, Yusdrayl. (Meepo relayed the safe word, Ticklecorn, in Draconic along the way to alert the guards the group was friendly. Ianos started using it as a greeting.) Yusdrayl offered them rewards, including the key to another area in the citadel, if they retrieved Calcryx, the dragon wyrmling, from the goblins. After successful persuasion from Ianos, she let them take one dose of her Elixir of Health with them.
Meepo brought the group to the “back way” into the goblin area, where the group fought three goblin bandits. They won the fight, though Ianos fell unconscious during the battle. The group retreated back to the kobold safe area for a long rest, and they decided to take the front way in instead. Meepo led them there. The group activated the first dragon fountain and collected the Potion of Fire Breath. They triggered the trap at the dragon door opposite the fountain, and were able to push it open with brute force since three of them were doing it together. Inside the sanctuary, Stax picked up the whistle on the altar, which awoke the skeletons in the five sarcophagi. The fight nearly killed the party, ending with Zari and Ianos both unconscious. (Stax blew the whistle during the fight, but nothing happened as a result.)