The Hellbenders spend some time getting to know their new companion, the Tabaxi Warlock Pestilence, better while taking a break in the Tavern Between Worlds.
But time was precious and they were all eager to continue to the Adamantine Flow, the mine where the trolls seems to be gathering.
However, before they left they spend some time looking through the books in the large bookshelf in the tavern.
Thorga, the Dwarven Paladin, found “Foundation of Mountain Hold – How it all began”, describing how the dragon Vacitrix, The Terror, had tried to make the mountain its lair back when the mountain community was just a loose group of settlements. As the Dwarves were losing, a farm boy found an alien artifact, that was designed to combat dragons and with the relic, the tides were turned and the dragon fled wounded never to be seen again. The ancient relic now resides in the Hall of Grudges at the top of Mountainhold.
Kaari, the Human Ranger, found “Dragonlance Chronicles” hidden behind the other books. A book from another realm that told the story of a great war between evil and good dragons, where something called Dragonlance were forged to combat the army of the evil dragons.
Pestilence, eager to help, looked for a book on Trolls, but all he found was “On Giants – Their differences and customs“.
Leaving the Tavern Between Worlds
The heroes said goodbye to the Pumpkinseed Badger, the Halfling owner of the tavern and stepped out of the door right into a bone crunching cold storm!
The hail, the rain and the howling storm reduced visibility severely so the heroes tied themselves together and started the road down to the mine.
To make matters worse, they heard multiple indistinguishable voices coming from the tunnel they had left before coming upon the tavern.
The fork in the road
Soon the party came to a fork in the road, both branches leading down.
Not wanting to make the wrong choice in the storm, the heroes allowed themselves time to investigate the roads while Pestilence scaled the wall to get a better view of the people coming from behind them… and yes they a larger group of Trolls!
Thorga investigated the right road finding signs of footprints from lighter creatures, while Kaari investigated the left road seeing blue lights flickering for a brief second. Reaching out, she could feel an undead presence.
Quickly, the part decided on the right path and Kaari skilfully made it look like they had headed down the left path to throw the Trolls off course.
Sneaky voices in the fog
Carefully edging forward down the right path, the weather was worsening. In the storm ahead of them, they heard voices.
Sneaking forward, Kaari bumped into a goblin coming sneaking the other way.
After some quick whispers, it became clear the Goblins was using the bad weather to escape their “employment” with Trolls down at the mine.
With a mutual interest in not calling the attention of Trolls, whether by the mine or coming from behind, the two groups formed a quick understanding and silently bypassed each other without any ruckus.
As the Hellbender descended down to the mine, they heard the Trolls behind them taking the wrong road and a fight commenced in the distance. Wonder what foe the Trolls had come upon?
The Adamantine Flow
The storm was clearing and the party had finally reached the mine entrance, but they heard indistinguishable voices around the corner.
Pestilence climbed up the wall to get a better view, but misjudged how slippery the rocks were from the storm causing several pebbles to fall down with loud noises interrupting a speech by a green female Troll standing on a box in front of a group of Trolls.
It was the leader of the Trolls: Vicki Venom Voice!
“Soon the mountain will again belong to the forrest, belong yet again to me…what is this? We have a visitor. Catch that kitten!”
She immediately commanded the four burly armoured Trolls to capture Pestilence.
However, Kaari was quick to react and magically called forth thorns and thick branches with her Spike Growth spell to slow down the Trolls.
While the Trolls painfully made their way through the spiky thicket, the Hellbenders fell into defensive positions ready for action.
Then something impossible happened. Vicki standing safely on her box in the middle of the Spike Growth, laughed as wings emerged from her back, huge green wings, while her body grew and morphed into a serpentine shape.
And within seconds, a huge Green Dragon stood where the green troll had been.
DM note, I had not planned to reveal Vicki’s true nature yet, but the Spike Growth forced her to use her wings to avoid the stinging thorns.
Thinking Pestilence had cast the prickly spell, Vicki took to the air and flew over to where the Tabaxi Warlock stood next to Kaari and swung her tail in a deadly sting towards Pestilence narrowly missing him! Clearly Belial, the Warlock’s infernal patron was keeping a watch over him.
Thorga, who had been out of sight behind some boxes, now took his chance and with a mighty leap jumped on the back of the Dragon and started hacking away with his deadly axes.
Vicki Venom Voice, the Green Dragon, howled in pain and rage and with a mighty blast took off into the air, almost knocking Pestilence and Kaari off their feet.
Thorga unfortunately did not have a good hold on the dragon and fell off her back back down on the ground.
Vicki, now free in the air, started getting ready to cover Kaari and Pestilence in her foul breath.
Kaari ran for cover, while Pestilence cast a Cloud of Daggers in front of the Dragon hurting her and more importantly forcing her to abandon her breath attack plans and retreat.
Unfortunately, that forced the Dragon right into the path of Thorga who she started attacking with her vicious claws.
but with the first Trolls falling in battle and with no real opportunity to maximise her breath weapon, Vicki angrily decided to leave the battle to the remaining Trolls and fly off to lick her wounds and her nurture her hurt pride.
The Trolls seeing their leader flee soon lost their nerves and tried to flee, but only one made it out.
With the revelation of the true nature of Vicki Venom Voice, the Hellbenders now had to consider their choices carefully.
It was clear Vicki was heading to The Hall of Grudges at the top of the mountain.
But it was also clear that the experienced heroes had wounded her badly and to get to the Hall of Grudges, she would have to pass the biggest city in Mountainhold: Anvilheim.
Given her cunning self-preserving ways, chances were she would have to land and nurture her wounds before continuing up the mountains, giving the party time to act.
But what would they do with that time?