The Zhentarim Vault

Session 28 January & 4 February 2024

In the midst of the swirling chaos, my heart races with a mix of fear and determination. Grond’s sudden flight triggers the alarm, and I’m thrust into a whirlwind of action. The archers pivot their attention towards his fleeing form, their shouts blending with the shrill wail of the alarm.

My mind is racing to assess the situation. Gargoyles swoop down from their perches, their stone forms animated with malicious intent. Grond, vulnerable and alone, becomes their prey.

With adrenaline coursing through my veins, I draw my bow, eyes fixed on the nearest gargoyle. In a heartbeat, my arrow finds its mark, shattering the creature and sending it plummeting into the darkness below. Only one gargoyle is threatening Grond still.

With tension coiled tight like a spring, I move swiftly through the shadows, every sense alert to the dangers that surround me. Grond’s valiant but futile attempt to fend off the gargoyle leaves me momentarily crestfallen, but there’s no time to dwell on disappointment.

As Grond disappears around a corner, I follow close behind, my bow at the ready. With precision honed by years of practice, I dispatch the remaining gargoyle with a single well-aimed shot, and then shoot an archer on top of the tower. Yet, my triumph is short-lived as the sound of the archer’s alarm shatters the night air.

Curses spill from my lips as I realize my oversight, but there’s no room for regret in the heat of the moment. With the guards alerted to our presence, every second becomes precious. I swiftly numb the alarm, and dispatch the archer with grim determination, ensuring he poses no further threat.

As the chaos unfolds below, I move quickly to cover my tracks, retrieving my arrows with practiced efficiency. With the commotion growing louder, I melt into the shadows. I have NO idea where the rest of the party is…

With bated breath, I observe the frenzied activity below, each movement scrutinized for any sign of my companions. The base teems with life, guards scurrying like ants in their efforts to unravel the mystery of the alarm, and investigating the body of the dead archer.

As I keep watch, my eyes catch a glimpse of Farryn and Patience near the cliffside, their figures stark against the backdrop of the night. Stripped down and vulnerable, they seem oblivious to the chaos erupting around them.

With a sense of urgency coursing through me, I move swiftly along the wall, my footsteps silent as a whisper. Drawing closer, I ripple the water in a desperate bid to catch their attention. Yet, they remain unaware of my presence, lost in their own world of vulnerability and uncertainty. Eventually, I make myself known to them. 

“My items are gone!” squeaks a tiny Farryn, his voice tinged with frustration. “FUCKING ZHENTARIM!”

“I understand, Farryn,” I reply, sympathy coloring my tone. “But we can’t dwell on that now. We need to focus on getting out of here.”

With Patience already in motion, carrying Farryn to safety, I nod resolutely, my mind racing with plans. “I’ll create a diversion,” I declare, my voice firm with determination.

As I conjure the woodland beings, flying snakes materialize, their serpentine forms poised for action. I send them darting towards the entrance and the bonfire, watching as chaos erupts in their wake. Guards are bitten, screams pierce the air, but they’re dispatched with ruthless efficiency.

My frustration simmers beneath the surface as I witness the futile struggle of the creatures I summoned. They’re slain quickly, their sacrifice merely a distraction in the grand scheme of things. But I press on, directing them to sabotage the brazier, hoping to sow more confusion among the guards.

With a determined resolve, I take aim and let loose an arrow, felling one of the guards in my sights. The other, spurred into action, makes a dash for the bell, sounding the alarm that echoes through the night air.

I don’t linger to witness the aftermath, knowing I must retreat swiftly to rejoin the party. My movements are swift and silent as I navigate the shadows, but a niggling sense of unease gnaws at me. Did someone catch a glimpse of me in the chaos?

As I soar above the base, my keen eyes catch sight of figures moving between towers.

As I return to the rendezvous point, I find the whole party assembled, awaiting my report. Farryn’s proud grin and high five acknowledge the success of what he’s dubbed the “Braveheart plan” – wreak havoc from a distance and strike fear into our enemies. It’s a moniker I’ll accept with a chuckle, though I’m far from seeking fame or glory.

With the chaos of our diversion behind us, we’re faced with a critical decision: confront the dragon or wait for the promised return of our belongings on a boat. I’m torn, unsure of the best course of action. Before we can deliberate further, a kuo-toa arrives, dragging a lifeless body with it. The stench of death fills the air as the creature presents its macabre gift.

Curiosity piqued, I examine the body, noting the telltale signs of a broken neck. Farryn, ever pragmatic, wastes no time in searching the corpse for any valuables, his thoroughness both impressive and unsettling. As he methodically dissects the body, I can’t help but feel a twinge of revulsion, tempered by a begrudging respect for his resourcefulness.

Our time here grows short, the urgency of our mission pressing upon us. We weigh our options – retrieving our items from the boat or facing the dragon – but there’s no clear consensus. Morph raises doubts about the feasibility of the boat plan, citing the formidable leader of the Zhentarim.

With our minds still undecided, we retreat to the safety of the rope trick, seeking refuge and a moment of respite amidst the chaos. Meanwhile, the dark mage scrutinizes the mysterious cloak salvaged from the corpse, its magical properties yet to be fully revealed.

Morph, now visible and taking on the appearance of the intimidated arbiter, proposes a return to the initial plan involving the boat, though Farryn and I share a healthy skepticism about its safety. The prospect of walking into a potential trap weighs heavily on our minds, prompting us to consider alternative strategies.

Patience raises a valid point – the heightened vigilance of the Zhentarim within the base suggests that any attempt to escape may result in a confrontation with more than just the dragon. Even if we manage to defeat the beast, the risks of losing our items or facing additional adversaries remain.

Morph’s suggestion to dispel the dragon’s presence garners attention, but the practicalities of such a feat are uncertain. Meanwhile, the dark mage identifies the mysterious cloak as the cloak of the manta ray, shedding light on its properties.

As we delve deeper into our options, the discussion turns to teleportation. The dark mage’s insight into the dragon’s guard duty offers a glimmer of hope, suggesting that a well-executed teleportation plan could bypass the need for direct confrontation. However, Farryn remains cautious, recognizing the potential pitfalls of teleporting without our belongings.

Morph advocates for a return to the Braveheart plan, emphasizing the importance of securing our items before engaging in battle. Despite the allure of a direct assault, he acknowledges the practicality of ensuring our resources are intact. The last plan sticks: teleport to the vault, do an arcane lock on the door to the  arbiter and the base, and defeat the dragon. Get our stuff, and teleport out again.

As we weigh our options, the question of retrieving our belongings from the vault looms large. Farryn’s suggestion to avoid the shoot to evade detection raises the crucial issue of how we’ll access the vault and extract our items without alerting the Zhentarim.

The idea of Morph infiltrating as the commander to steal his clothing intrigues us. Morph’s expertise in disguise offers a tantalizing possibility, though the risks are not to be underestimated. Still, the prospect of reclaiming our gear without direct confrontation is appealing.

We agree to stick together, recognizing the dangers of splitting up in enemy territory. Farryn’s input on our next move is invaluable, particularly concerning the retrieval of our weapons from the vault. The rod of rulership may prove instrumental in our efforts to assert control over the situation, but its efficacy hinges on our ability to secure our belongings.

A flicker of light interrupts our deliberations as a small boat approaches, casting shadows across the water. We decide to take a short rest before proceeding to confront the dragon, bracing ourselves for the imminent battle. 

As we prepare to face the red dragon, I share some insights about these awe-inspiring creatures. Red dragons, in my opinion, are incredibly fascinating. They embody the essence of mythical creatures, commanding both fear and admiration.

When a red dragon resides in its lair, it gains a unique connection with the earth, capable of causing earthquakes and unleashing earth gasses. While they may not possess exceptional speed, their strength is unmatched, making them formidable adversaries in battle.

One of the most iconic traits of red dragons is their fiery nature. With their intimidating presence and powerful fire breath, they strike fear into the hearts of all who encounter them. Despite their imposing stature, red dragons possess blindsight, allowing them to perceive their surroundings without relying on sight alone.

As I relay this information to the party, I can’t help but marvel at the sheer magnificence of these legendary creatures. Facing a red dragon is undoubtedly a daunting challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to test our mettle and prove our worth as adventurers.

As the dark mage’s incantation takes effect, transporting us directly into the presence of the imposing red dragon, a surge of adrenaline courses through my veins.

“VERMIN, HOW YOU DARE TO DISTURB ME?!” the dragon bellows, his voice echoing through the chamber with a thunderous fury.

In the chaos of battle, Morph calls upon his enchanted sword, Corvax, unleashing crackling purple energy as Farryn channels the power of lightning through his staff. Despite the danger, I find myself mesmerized by the dragon’s presence, my awe mingled with a primal fear that only heightens my focus.

As I unleash a barrage of arrows, each shot guided by instinct and determination, the dragon retaliates with a mighty flap of his wings, sending my companions crashing to the ground below. Yet, I remain aloft, a lone target in the sky as the dragon’s wrath turns toward me.

Undeterred, I continue to rain arrows upon the dragon, even as his attacks grow more ferocious. But as the battle intensifies, I watch in dismay as Morph falls, his form disappearing amidst the chaos.

With a quick incantation, the dark mage erects an invisible barrier, shielding us from the dragon’s direct assault. As the dragon struggles against the magical barrier, I seize the opportunity to slip through its defenses, seeking a vantage point from which to continue the fight.

With determination fueling my every movement, I prepare to strike again…

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