Second Hand Smoke

Chronicles of Freedom Force Five

In the Beginning

These are the accounts; word and deed, of Five friends.
Brought together by happenstance or fate we have traveled the Road of Evil garnering a glimpse of our destiny.
I Sera Phia, of the Iron Mountain Spire First Student of Elvira the Late Mistress of the Sorcerers Spire, attest to the truth of these writings.
It is important to begin with my last day at the Sorcerers Spire, hidden high in the Iron Mountains. I had just borrowed a tome from the library one that I could not read. Curious about the runes and penmanship of the Leather bound hard back book I slipped passed the Librarian. Talis was in the library. She, being elf, knew the library well and took much interest in the knowledge held in the large study that was our Library. I took The Tome to the cellars, down in the catacombs where I could study it uninterrupted. Reflecting back it might have been on a shelf forbidden to apprentice magi, but that rarely kept me from sating my curiosity. Hours had passed before noises from above pulled me out of the book. I was still making no sense of any rune or word. The door from the cellar went into the basement. When i opened it I heard and smelled Death. A cook was laying in a pool of blood on the floor, and there were words of magic being shouted from above. My curiosity outweighed my fear so i crept past the body and up the stairs to the next door, opening to a pantry where a peep hole was hidden. There I could see out into a large meeting area. There, standing, bloody sword drawn, a Black Half Dragon looked down at the body of my teacher, my mentor. The one who brought me out of poverty from an orphanage in Waterdeep to learn the mysteries of her craft…Now Lady Elvira was dead! This Half Dragon had a large sack in its hands i could see that there were books in the bag among other things that i couldn’t make out. He was looking around moving pews overturning tables cursing in draconic. For once in my life I was truly scared so I quietly shrank back into the Catacombs to hide, for what seemed to be an eternity. When I emerged I searched for clues. The tower had been ransacked by many invaders. Before long I was back in the Library. Books books why did the Half Black want those books. Many of the shelves in the study were unmolested, but the shelf that was restricted was gone! Immediately I knew… The Tome! I ran back to the Catacombs and found where I dropped it. The Book seemed heavy in my hands as I carefully slid it into a spell book pouch. Safe in my Pack. I then made haste packing light. All the pack animals were dead or stolen so I made my way down a secret passage and fled. I went as far south as I could, using what money I had to put many miles between me and my old home. during this time I thought on what had happened, it was obviously a planned attack, they were looking for information. The half dragon was looking for something else, and was incensed that it eluded him. I was certain it was the Tome I Carried. What did it say?!
Before long My money ran low as did my fear of being followed. I took on work as a Guard Magi escort. Protecting a small caravan of people and a lot of goods owned by The Repulsive Tea Baggart a fat merchant whose only redeeming quality was that he paid well and had a chuck wagon the workers could eat from. That was nice considering I had ran short on funds.
Its Funny that the Merchents caravan is where it all started. Our fates all collided along a road to Greenrest, a southern farming town. As we Traveled I began to get to know four men that I would soon call my brothers.
Worm was the first to warm up to me. A Half-ling who carried a Bow way to large looking for a man of his stature. I always found it amazing how the Half-ling race kept a child like look to their face. Worm had one of those faces, but the youth in his look betrayed the wealth of knowledge this young ranger had. About nature, survival, and his favorite topic Hating Dragons! It took me a week to get up the courage to tell him of my own draconic heritage and how I found out about it when Elvira had used the Testing Gem to see if I had the gift of magic. I half expected that to end our short friendship, but he Laughed and said I was the Best looking Bronze Dragon he had ever seen.
“So the stories of sorcerers having dragons blood are true?” he asked me
“Yes but not all sorcerers have it some have wild talents.”
This puzzled him “How do you know that you have the blood?”
I rolled back my sleeve and showed him my skin and how it seemed rough if you rubbed it a certain way. “My skin is tough, this part of what was told to me by my master she said its harder to cut me.” And that was that we were fast friends even though my heritage was tied to his sworn enemy.
It became obvious to me that Worm had few scruples, permanently borrowing a knife, or eyeing Tea Baggerd"s purse told me he was looking for adventure and wealth. He spoke of a checkered past where he ran into trouble from time to time. some of the people he spoke of were in prison others sounded like they needed to be. all the while the innocent look of a child masked this little miscreants true identity. I liked and admired the little shit.
During this time we both got to know a Dwarven cleric named I.B. which was short for Iron Beard. He was a servant of Moradin the god of the dwarves. It became apparent that he wasn’t your normal father of a flock. Often misquoting scripture or offending fellow travelers with his well meaning sermons. It was almost comical to watch and listen to him. I have no doubt that he was devout to his deity. He prayed often and showed the power to heal when he healed some horses of small injuries with the power of his prayers. I.B. was not a good talker but in time Worm and I began to understand where he was coming from and that his heart was good and true to his beliefs. Even though his mouth betrayed him almost every time he spoke. The dwarf also seemed to be the best cook and made up for his abrasiveness by cooking for every one then blessing the food for the nourishment of all dwarves before sharing it with all of us non dwarves. what he lacked in social skills he made up with his insight and the ability to listen. I.B. was a very good judge of character sizing up every one in the caravan and slowly warming up to me and Worm
I.B. was friends with a rough looking Human fighter Named Habu Stromforge. Where Iron Beard didnt strike one as dangerous in a fight his friend Habu looked like he could kill with an opened handed slap from his heavly armored gauntlet. The ax he wielded was a giant two handed death tool that had the markings of recent use. His armor looked well taken care of but old. He finally shared that it had belonged to his father. That was almost all we got from him about his past. He diverted all questions about him by asking questions of others. I decided real quick that i wasn’t the only one in this group that had something to hide. Strong as a orc he was friendly and even a little charming in his own way. What ever was in his past I was sure he wasn’t the miscreant that my dear friend Worm was. all four of us began to share meals together and starting a budding friendship.
All the while lurking in the shadows, behind a wagon, up a tree was a Hooded Monk. An Elf of Woodland descent. one morning he came and sat down with us and began eating his meal with us. It was akward at first but I.B. liked him and Hibald really hit it off with the cleric.
“I’ve been checking out this little wagon run we have been traveling in.” He said very seriously then smiled “and we five might be the only ones in the wagon train that aren’t eating our own boogers!” We all laughed! Our first laugh together not knowing that our paths had converged. That more laughter and many tears would follow. For we were on the precipice of a great adventure.
Ten more days went by and we were on the final stretch of our trek to Greenrest When from behind the final hills we smelled smoke. Followed by a deafening rawer from the skies.
As we came out of the valley leading to Greenrest we saw the smoke, not normal smoke by any means and a smell like electric brimstone followed. As we rounded the last bend we saw it… a large dragon! I would guess a young adult, laying waste to the town. Our employer called a halt and we hid in some trees near a rock face of the hill . My curiosity almost got the best of me but I finally hid with the rest after getting a good long look at the beast. It was magnificent BLUE and fierce I felt a ping of remorse for the people of Greenrest there will not be many left after this attack. What would make a dragon come out and openly attack this town like this? First a Dragon kin slays my master now another dragon destroying this innocent town! That Fat Bastard Tea Bagger wanted us to take him else where, but as a group we convinced him to wait it out and see what happened next. I pointed out that there might be profit in a rescue if we can find the right person needing saving. That convinced him we meant to stay and check on the town once the coast was clear. My curiosity called again and I made my way out to see if it was still flying and killing. It banked south west towards my position at first I thought I had been made out, but it was only taking another angle to ensure that his destruction of the town (and the death of hundreds!) was complete…

There were shadows in the twilight, humanoids running around in Greenrest. We managed to convince our Employer that sending a detachment from the guards he had hired would be wise. Of course I volunteered to go with three others. Highbald the shadowy monk, Hab the fighter, that I’ve had my eye on, and a Dwarf Named Ironbeard , A Priest of Moradin. Tea Baggerd the Merchant Employer mentioned he might send another detachment if things looked right. Hab Divulged to the party on the way that there might be people hunting him down, from where he was from He had an altercation with some one important and it ended with that persons death. I admire his courage! I have yet to Divulge that I too am on the run from one so terrible, and that I carry a Tome valuable to him. As we approached the edge of town the smoke cleared for an instant we saw a struggle going on. we all carefully slid in hiding along walls of buildings as we went to investigate. A terrible sight was before us! Several Kobalds were eviscerating some wounded man! His apparent wife and two small children were attempting to escape with their father when he was taken down by these small monsters. Three of the five were going after the mother (who was armed with a hay fork) and her children. So we jumped into action. Iron Beard Shouted for the Favor of Moradin while our monk and fighter slid up front to get between them and their intended victims. Something happened as I was summoning my inner power to cast a spell and the next thing I knew the monk was down and bleeding. He was hurt bad! ESerikkahh the bolts shot from my fingertips hitting all three that were advancing on us. This got the attention of the two tearing the father into eatable pieces, as well as two others who rounded the corner of another building. now there were seven and one of ours was down. Though their armor was crude it was much better than my robes. So I drew back some feet to put space between me and there blades. Hab was next charging over his new comrade to defend his prone body. The blood surrounding the monk insisted that he would need help soon! As he began to position himself for a strike he slipped and his swing sang in the air. He came crashing down on the body he meant to protect. The Dwarf flew into action and laid his hand on Highbald the monk, a few words of worship later I could see the monk’s breathing become more steady and his hand go for his Rapier. All seven were still up but the three I had hit looked bad one more shot like that and they would be dead. Despite Hab being on top of the monk he still seemed to be drawing the Ire of the monsters that were accosting us. In two crude spear strikes he was unconscious and bleeding badly, in much worse shape than Highbald. ESerikkahh three more bolts shot forth and struck true killing the three that were threatening the mom and children. The others advanced as they did one of the fiends that had been feeding on the man was facing off with the Mother. She had injured him a little, but he was more focused on the two fighters on the ground. Almost looking to loot them in the middle of the melee! When The Mother/Wife impaled him and stabbed him to the ground with her pitch fork. " That was for my Tom you freakish Bastard!!" she turned to her children to protect them while we dealt with the last of the threat. Highbald attacked from under the body of Hab stabbing his rapier through the groin of the Kobald standing closest to him. The blade was true to its mark and the kobald saw the blade spring from his chest before it died. Then the monk smooth as a shadow sprung from the body and kicked another knocking him off his guard. two strikes and a fire bolt later the fight was over. Moradin grant my hand the grace to bind these wounds to stabilize our new friend Hab. The Dwarf went to bind wounds reserving the last of his power in case we needed it. my spells were gone from my memory there wouldn’t be any more bolts until I could rest and meditate. so we needed to get moving before some more of these beasts rounded another corner. The Mother was Prostrated over her fallen husband sobbing loudly. the little boy was also crying his sister was obviously in shock. They would know where to go to be safe. After some reasoning with the mother, Linian Swift, and calming down of her young boy,Timmy, His sister Lucy was scared, but maintaining. We headed for a keep on the outskirts of town. As we went we crossed all sorts of looting then strait into a large wagon with some twenty thugs carrying off the riches of the town. We were made they saw us, but the mission they were on was more important than we were.
First a Blue Dragon, then Kobalds a Dragonoid creature. It is odd that the Dragon does not destroy the entire city in one fell swoop!This city really doesn’t have adequate defenses to repel the ferocious onslaught of such a beast. The Big Blue is helping the city invaders to loot the city!
We made our way around the wagon and between two buildings. That is when Big Blue flew over. We were all terrified frozen in place. The kids the mom all of us! I was as if some force had taken controll of our emothins causing us to cower in terror. We heard a noise to the south around a building it was more Kobalds entering the building right next to us! If we were found in the condition we were in all hope would be lost, and my grand adventure would be over. Linian managed to point to the south east when I looked I saw the keep. We had to act but the Dragon fear was still on all of us. When the dragon ascended higher into the skies and made to strafe another area of the town we saw our chance. First Iron Beard called out to Moradin for courage, then helped the kids to their feet. I might have Prayed a little to Kelimvor; only to say, Not Today Kelimvor Not Today. Then we gathered up our wounded brave fighter and made for the Keep. The dragon flew over the keep and a volley of arrows flew out at him. The Giant Drake returned fire with a flash of electric death. From where we were at I could see that he had the better of the attack. Still we advanced to the keep. There were too many looters and cutthroats in the immediate area to look for other refuge. As we closed we saw another groop of what looked to be townsfolk Entreating with the guards at the gate to let them in. When they saw us they gave up and went further into the city to find refuge somewhere else. Linian had better know the secret pass word or have a friend inside or we are dead!

“Escobar….Escobar let us in its me Linian with my kids!” there was a long pause
“Escobar Please these men helped us!” We all looked around for trouble I guess that God of Ironbeards was listening.
The Portcullis raised and the large iron bound doors opened. In a Flash we were in. The scene inside the keep was grisly The dead and dying were being tended to. Others had their arrows trained on us as a rough battle worn Dwarf with red braided hair and beard approached us.
Linain stepped forward. “Thank you Escobar we are in your debt.” he raised his hand to quiet her. “Tom?” Linian replied “My husband is dead these four appeared out of nowhere to aid us it was too late for Tom but they saved us from many Kobalds. slaying them with spells and sword!” She motioned to us and to her children the sister had finally broken down and was crying for her father.
“We are wounded and in need of help!” Ironbeard exclaimed.
“And you will have it.” and older man spoke up as he stepped forward. Escobar looked at him and said " Governor Nighthill I think we have our answer to the temple dilemma."
Nighthill and Escobar tell us it’s possible that some of the towns people sought refuge at The Church of His Holy Light. they show us a secret passage, a dried up aquifer fed from the river that ran through the town. Now the Aquifer took on the appearance of a cave that opened at the river some 100 feet away. The four of us rested for a shot bit regained our wits and went through the secret passage. Halfway through the tunnel we were accosted by rats. Hab took a key given to him by the Governor, and ran through a whole mob of rats getting the gate open just in time for us to all rush through and close the gate behind us. Outside there were three Kobalds and some Lizard lion looking creature feeding on the corpse of what looked to be a little kid! “Hail Tiamat.” one of them said in Draconic I had to think quick.“Hail Tiamat!” I spoke perfect Draconic"Why are you here shouldn’t you be looting?" They gave me and each other a confused look…“Get Back To Work! NOW!” I tried to muster up my harshest Draconic tone. They Bought my Ruse scrambling to their feet and hurrying off back towards the city.
We could hear the church bells around a thick grove of trees. We all crept around the other side and as we neared some other houses we encountered some Cultists and kobalds. It must be some kind of Dragon cult we are facing, but they wear no sigils that would reveal their affiliation. “Hail Tiamat .” the bluff didn’t work this time but we did glean another possible clue we have to see if “The Faces of the Five.” has more meaning. The fight was scary but we managed to give them their much deserved deaths. Then went through the thicket of trees to the north east where the bells now rang louder and the smell of smoke was thick in the night air. As we came to the other side if the grove of trees we saw the flames… The church was burning! too many cultists to count standing all around the church. Fortunately they had not seen us yet, and the back of the church was open to us. There were several cultists starting the back of the building on fire.We could also hear a thud from the other side of the church obviously a battering ram, that would soon make a path for these monsters to rape and kill. Right at that moment a woman child in arm jumped from the roof landing on the west side of the house the kobalds immediately went to work tearing woman and child apart. We had to act fast. Ironbeard suggested that we take them out from the bushes. We fired form total cover quickly killing three. By the time they found out where we were firing from, all but two were dead, and those two died soon after. We hurried to the fire and drug it away from the building. I went to the window and spoke in the Holy tounge to the people on the other side
" We are here to help! Open up now there is little time left." I hadn’t finished my sentence before a door unbolted and fourteen men women and children came barreling out.
An older human came up to me and spoke celestial “Praise Pelor! Thank you my child.” We exchanged pleasantries as we moved back through the thicket of wood heading back to the river and then the keep. His Name was Father Falconmoon. He Highbald and I kept the group tight and close behind our mussel Hab and Ironbeard. After a long revisit with the Rats I managed to get them through the secret tunnel and to safety. We all drop from exhaustion Hab again had to be helped back into the keep we are healed immediately.

At this point as a group we were totally exhausted. The Keep was under another attack from the dragon we tried to help but the Big Blue was keeping his distance making fighting him near impossible. The Governor was not phased by this ordering his men to keep fighting. I told him that it was fruitless to keep dying fighting him.This infuriated him, “If you wont stand and fight then go find me some one to interrogate!” So we Rested for a short while,then went back out to find more to fight and someone to give us some answers. We headed back towards the church where we knew there were more cultists. When we came across a group of them and the fight went on for what seemed forever, but actually was over in a few short minuets. When it was done there were dead cultists everywhere, and we had our prisoner. There was also a Broach of Tiamat along with about 60 gp worth of loot that we took for ourselves. We made our way back to the Keep taking the Female cultist with us. She had a smug look on her face like she knew something we didn’t. When we got back to the keep Escobar wasted no time putting the prisoner to the Question. “You will not live through the night! If you want a clean death you will answer our questions completely and fully!” She tried to play dumb at first, but after Escobar stripped her down and removed one of her nipples she started talking. The smug look on her face was gone and the words came pouring out as she dealt with the pain. She and many others were hired to loot the town and create havoc and death. Her employer was one of the five that that the Kobalds spoke of when the said “The Faces of the five.” A Dragonoid Named Rezmir who was probably a Dragonborn of Black Dragon decent. another one of their raiders was a Purple robed one named Frolam Mondath. The response for “The Faces of The Five is The Leaders of the Many.”
Fight with door breachers hibald kicks ass Father FM fixes the wall with spells we rest until awoken under attack again at 2 am
Surprise attack by big boy Lang0gesh CyanWrath Hab fights good but drops saving the gov’s kids. he is saved by Father FM who mends the main gate after. the Gov likes us for sure now!
we Talk to a monk Nesim Waladra about where they are gathering and that his master Leosin Erlanthar is captured and probably alive, time to plan a rescue… we rest, collapse on feet 6 hr later its noon night hill approaches. time to track 250 gp each tell camp raiders who leaders and who they are striking next please return valuables young man the monk want to come but is monk from burdusk disappeared last night looked for him found choker and broken staff has been watching them for months his knowledge is valuable bother sent to burdosk. our caravan arrives he is ruined

We followed the trail of humans, koblds, and reptiles. They were carrying all the loot from their raid so their trail wasn’t hard to follow. We caught up six hours later as evening was settling upon us. Highbald spotted campfire smoke ahead it appeared that we had caught up with the stragglers from the raiders only one campfire was glowing as we approached. The area was wooded and rocky with large rock formations jutting out of the ground. Worm and Hibald scouted ahead Two kobalds were out gathering wood griping about having to eat chicken one was angry that they hadn’t carried one of the corpses from greenrest “Even a young ling human would have been better than those fowl birds the Innate was forcing them to eat.” We plan our attack Hibald made for the weapons that were on a rock near the fire. We Planned to come from the south and ambush them after we called them away from their weapons in Draconic hoping they would think we were raiders too. Our ruse failed and the fight was on! Hibald jumped on the rock making them have to fight to retrieve their weapons. Because of his heroic solo stand we made short work of the camp. Some of them tried to flee a human cultist was the only one to survive my magic the rest died before they could alert anyone of our assault. We interrogated the Man and gained useful knowledge , He was an Innate other ranks in the Cult of the dragon were Dragon Claw, Dragon Fang,Dragon Soul, and Wyrm Speakers, the latter consisted of the highest ranking members. There were roughly two hundred in the raiding group, not including the slaves they had captured. Mercenaries Kobalds and cultists, all following A Cult Priestess names Frulam Mandath. Rezomer is her master he is one of the five “leaders of the many,” and is a half Black dragon. The four others each represent the other chromatic heads of Tiamat. The Blue Dragon Cyan that attacked the city was hired as a diversion to help the cult raid the city. He was reluctant to help, but was persuaded by Frulam and Rezomer, it is likely he will not be a threat to the city of Greenrest anymore. The Cultist have a camp set up in a valley six more miles north. An enormous crater in the valley has a cave that is used by the cultists Our Prisoner wasn’t sure what was done in the cave. Also there was an ambush sight set up two more miles north. The cultists had set up a rear Guard to cover them from attack or being followed. /// 10 gp in shit go back give prisoner ride horses back then attack the ambush splooted the ambushes took cloths tunics flared black mantles and are wearing them as dinguses. just getting dark we ride to the base another hour its dark slight glow in the distance over a ridge there is a bluff we look over the bluff highbald and worm horse platau 150 feet above we see the camp no one coming from the cave is guarded every one eating about 200 raiders we make plans ranger on hill with rope I get advice from worm Rezomear black dragon black breath air water acid breath great winged fighters i turn dragon borne as we go in tents to north kobalds south have human mix we infiltrate get to the monk and drop a name then knock out drunk and hang him in the monks place heal him and make for our escape.climbing the rope iron beard has trouble. horses run we have to foot it. cleric coins our catch phrase Freedom Force Five we make it back at 4 in the morning. we get 250 from gov public accolades all around monk tried to get caught he came to get info they were brutal to him Frulam had noticed him cult alot weren’t full fledged members hunters bring in food they eat and feed hatch lings small raids for treasurer surprised that he was kept alive that the plunder was stored in the cave almost lost tome from Elvira he is traveling noth to elturel to convey what he has learned to ontharr frume paladin of torm who shares his interst we need to re infiltrate get in the cave wants to know any movement we return to a deserted camp. time to go cave we aks where they went rezomer ordereds every one out morning after we stole monk the appaer to have broken into groups. horses ran from dragon smell now are nervous about cave ranger takls to horses

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