The Adventure Begins

Rise of Tiamat campaign - Session 1

I arrived on the outskirts of Dragonsbane sometime after Highsun. It was a cloudy day, though the sun peaked out just as I arrived, a good omen that I would find the adventure I was looking for here.

The settlement, which had formerly been known as Greenest, looked nothing like it had been described to me, being many orders of magnitude larger and surrounded by a massive wall, with many houses, tents, and other buildings extending several hundred feet beyond it.

The largest building I could see beyond the wall, which appeared to be an inn, was surrounded by dwellings on one side and several large enclosed pits on the other, from which the sounds of battle could be heard.

I eagerly approached the nearest pit, hoping to wade into the conflict myself. Two guards blocked my path to the fighting, each giving me a stern look. Above, attached to the inn, I could see raised platforms where spectators were watching the action. Ah. Not a battle, but some kind of tournament.

Disappointed that a battle was not close at hand, I turned to the guards. “Hello! My name is Garlon. What is going on down there?”

“A tournament. You can find details inside.”

“At the inn?” I asked.

“Uh, around here we just call it a tavern. If you’re looking for a place to sleep, I recommend down by the pond, with the rest of your kind.”

I glanced behind me to the freshwater pond I had past as I approached, where I could see two tortles playing in the water. Odd. I wonder what brought them so far from home?

“Thank you, I appreciate it.” Nodding to them, I left and headed for the tavern.

The tavern consisted of one large main hall, filled with tables and chairs, most of which were full, and a bar at the very back of the room manned by a very well fed dwarf. He must be the one in charge. I attempted to make my way through the crowded room to the bar, but I take up a lot of space and have never been very graceful in my movements, and I inadvertently knocked over one of the patrons.

“Sorry about that. Are you alright?”

The man gave me a bewildered look, muttered something about giant talking turtles and having had too much to drink, and wandered off. I made it the rest of the way to the back without incident.

I introduced myself to the barkeep and inquired about the tournament. He explained that the heroes of Dragonsbane had been missing for several months, and the city had decided to send out a group to find them. To find the best of the best, the tournament was organized. Five man teams would take turns facing other teams and other threats over the next several days, earning gold and renown along the way, culminating in a final showdown at the end to decide the winner. Entering the contest was free, but a team of at least four was required.

I hadn’t heard of the heroes of Dragonsbane, so I asked about them. They were a tough and experienced group of adventures that had rescued and revitalized the town. One of them could even turn into a bear. Impressive, as I had not yet mastered the same feat. Anything that could take down or capture such a group must be very dangerous indeed.

Very dangerous? I was definitely in. But I would need a team to enter, and I knew no one. It was time to start making some new friends.

I looked around and spotted a Genasi woman with flaming hair nursing a beer at an otherwise unoccupied table. I joined her and introduced myself, asking if she had heard about the tournament. I learned that her name is Azara, and that she had indeed thought about it, though she didn’t know anyone to enter with.

As we were talking, the room suddenly became deathly quiet. I turned and looked, and standing just inside the tavern was a very tall male elf with black skin. He wore dark clothing, a cloak with its hood down, no armor, with two scimitars at his sides. Though he seemed formidable enough, I could see no reason for the growing tension in the room, unless he was known to them, and infamous, at that.

The elf expertly made his way through the crowd to the bar and ordered a drink. The dwarf there gave him some fine wine from some place called Menzoberranzan, which he paid for. And still, the entire room was silent.

As he was making his way back to the front of the tavern, a group of dwarves rose from their table and accosted the elf. They surrounded him, some choice words were shared, then the leader of the group hit him with his weapon, knocking his drink to the floor and injuring him.

The only other elf in the room, a Ranger from the looks of it, got up from his seat at this point and inserted himself between the dwarves and their quarry. Brave, I thought. Even with the addition, it was still two against five. Noble, too. From the look the injured elf gave him, they clearly did not know each other. Perhaps the third member of my team?

I’m not sure what happened next. One of the dwarves said something that clearly angered the dark skinned elf, he drew his sword, and the next thing I knew he was on the floor, with blood flowing from his head.

I rose and made my way to the commotion, Azara following. “What is the problem here? This elf has done nothing to you.”

“Nothing? You mean, besides the murder, rape, raiding, and pillaging that his kind commits against our kind and the rest of the surface world all of the time? Why would anyone defend such a creature?”

I gave them a baffled look. Racist much? “I suggest you go back to your business. I have a patient to attend to.” Then I ignored them and turned to the matter at hand.

He was clearly injured, though not fatally. Still, he would not be moving anytime soon without help. The other elf grabbed his drink and poured some of it down the victim’s throat, which he choked on. While it might ease the pain, it wasn’t going to do anything about his injuries. So I called upon the power the lands had bestowed upon me the previous midnight, spoke a word of power, and sent healing energy into his body, closing the wounds and restoring his vigor.

The dwarves went back to their table. The four of us went outside. I broke the silence that followed. “Have any of you heard about this tournament? I’m setting up a group to enter.”

~*~

The next couple of hours were spent preparing for the melee ahead. Our first and only fight of the day would be against the same group of dwarves we had encountered earlier. The arenas had magical protections on them, allowing injury and harm, but preventing death. A necessary precaution, I suppose, but not a welcome one. Where was the danger when there was no risk of death?

We registered as the Outcasts. My first choice, the Puddle Jumpers, had already been taken, probably by the tortles enjoying themselves along the pond. I never did find the time to introduce myself to them. Nor was I able to find another member to round out our group. It would be just the four of us against the five dwarves. We would still be well matched.

Azara, the Genasi woman, in addition to her innate fire magic, had picked up some other magic along the way, and prefered to stay far from the action and pick off her foes at a distance. In a pinch, she relied on the scales of her Draconic heritage and her magic to protect her, wearing no armor. She would be our group’s mage.

The dark skinned elf’s name was Saiya. He sharpened his blades and donned his armor, as well as spent some time recovering from his wounds, eager to repay the dwarves in kind, as well as to collect the gold that would be his reward when he proved victorious. He would be our group’s striker.

The other elf, an Eladrin from the Feywild, went by the name of Rain, like the same word in Common, but not named after it. He preferred to use the bow and would be our group’s archer.

Then there was me, Garlon, squire of the Knights of the Unicorn. I donned my shield and my mace, and welcomed the battle ahead. My tough shell would protect me from harm, and my druidic magic would ensure we survived. I would be our group’s protector.

When we were all ready, we headed to the arena, lining up on one side, the dwarves on the other. A horn sounded, and the battle was on!

I engaged the leader. Two dwarves took on Saiya, and the remaining two split themselves between Rain and Azara, who easily outpaced and outmaneuvered them, felling them quickly and turning to the leader, who was proving quite resilient to my blows. I had wondered if Saiya had any talents at all, but he proved himself useful, taking on both opponents with ease, dropping one, and nearly dropping the second before falling to a lucky hit himself. Rain loosed an arrow, dropping that dwarf (knocking him out instead of fatally wounding him), and I sent another word of healing to Saiya, then finished off the leader in front of me. And with that, the battle was over.

We were paid our gold and retired for the evening. A productive first day in Dragonsbane. I had faced danger, found a quest potentially worthy of my initiation into the order, and met new friends to experience it with. I withdrew into my shell for some rest with a smile on my face.

~*~

The sounds of commotion woke me the next morning. Someone was attacking the villagers, a castle was floating in the sky, and a dragon was soaring around it. I stood immediately, adrenaline flowing through my veins. The beginning of a great adventure, indeed.