After slaying the aboleth-infested Dumath, the party set out after the final dragon coin. Vesryn, the high librarian of Silverymoon, cast a scrying spell on the tenth coin, using Thorik’s shield to project it to the party. The spell revealed that the coin was in the possession of Sanja Banner, archaeologist and daughter of guildmaster Teya Banner of Yartar. The librarian recognized the location as Triboar, a small cattle town to the west of Yartar. Triboar was noteworthy for three reasons: first, it was the epicenter of a high desert environment in an otherwise temperate region; second, its residents were rather xenophobic, with its Peacekeeper refusing entry to almost any outsider; and third, the village was one of the territories of old Athalantar that remained loyal to the blue dragon Soros.
Vesryn also detailed the story of the defeat of Soros the Indigo. Per the legend, Soros was not killed, but sealed away by three heroes, who each kept a token of the defeated dragon to help ensure his seal was permanent. The three adventurers were:
- Ilaria of Sunreach – A lesser Archfey of the Summer Court who fell in love with a mortal advisor in the Kingdom of Athalantar. Her love for the advisor (and, by proxy, his kingdom) led her to rebel against the power-hungry Soros. She used the last of her magic to seal Soros away in his shadow-prison, and she was abruptly snapped back into the Feywild immediately thereafter, never to be seen again. Her legacy survives in the “Peacekeepers” of Triboar, a family of sheriffs who promise to guard the town against “The Storm from the Endless Night,” though the meaning of this has since been lost. No one knows whether the Peacekeepers are directly descended from Ilaria or have simply received spells from her, but they do all wear the Blue Bracers, a set of arm guards made from the hide of Soros himself. Ilaria herself was known for being remarkably gentle despite her power — unless, that is, someone offended her delicate sensibilities.
- The Maelstrom – A great giant of a tempest cleric who lived in the frozen far north, somewhere between Luskan and Fireshear. He owned a huge fleet of merchant vessels and dozens of warships to protect them. Once the militaristic Soros decided he needed a navy to complete his empire, he attempted to seize the Maelstrom’s fleet, and sank many ships in the attempt. The Maelstrom was known for being ruthless and merciless with his enemies, and he personally declared war against Soros, making his way inland to fell the beast and returning to his arctic homeland afterwards. Besting the dragon wasn’t enough — he wanted to give the dragon a permanent reminder of what it means to sail into his territory uninvited. The Maelstrom tore an eye out of the dragon with his bare hands, which Sorizulac crafted into a macabre pendant that the giant-kin solemnly wore around his neck. Afterwards, “Maelstrom” went from a nickname to a title, which his descendants use to this day. Currently, it’s Orem the Maelstrom, and though he runs the same operation that his precursor did, he focuses especially intensely on sinking as many pirate ships as he can. Pirates know him for his cold, almost unemotional nature — fortunately he doesn’t travel too far south.
- Sorizulac – Entertainer extraordinaire! This young halfling bard specialized in magic item crafting illusion magic (or, as the Maelstrom first called them, “worthless trinkets ad cheap parlor tricks”). He met the Maelstrom in a tavern along the Long Road, and instantly decided he’d write an epic detailing the mariner’s revenge against the storm dragon. The Maelstrom found the bard incredibly irritating and naive, but could not seem to be rid of him, so Sorizulac ended up participating in the fight against the dragon himself — and it turned out that his “parlor tricks” were actually immense feats of magic. He was known for passionately despising ignorance, believing it to be the most efficient way for dictators like Soros to gain power; conversely, storytelling was the best way to spread knowledge to the layman, thereby combating the pervasive ignorance. Sorizulac thought himself the best man for the job when it came to teaching the next generation of storytellers, and set up a prestigious bard college deep in the Lurkwood in the town of Verdigris. His descendant runs it to this day, and wears a Soros-horn necklace that his precursor crafted.
Welcome to Triboar
Through some careful persuasion, the party managed to gain entry to Triboar, with the one stipulation that Francine “Snake Eyes” Galloway — the “Peacekeeper” of the village — would be allowed to magically brand all of their dozens of weapons. (The brand would alert Snake Eyes if the party used the weapons to spill the blood of a sentient being — they were free to hunt whatever wildlife they chose.) The meeting was not an entirely unproductive one — the party had been looking for the bearer of one of the Indigo Relics (fragments of the dragon fashioned into magical items, helping keep him bound within his prison), and Francine is one of them. She is only the newest in a long line of Peacekeepers descended from Ilaria; though she wears the blue bracers of her predecessors, she mentioned to the party that she thinks her ancestor’s decision to imprison the dragon wasn’t the best one. She did not clarify this statement any further.
Francine reminded the party that Triboar has been the safest town in the region for centuries, thanks to the dragon’s deeds in the past and the reputation that still follows him — no orc invasions, no evil creature invasions, no corrupt politicians from the bigger cities. Everything is good and safe and comfortable here.
Due to Triboar’s unique status as a “safe” place in the Sword Coast, the villagers were remarkably trusting, leaving doors unlocked and hearts open. Tasks performed in the village included:
- Helping out Walter’s Woolen Goods by harvesting four shells from a herd of Flail Snails in the Glass Canyon, in exchange for a custom robe of displacement
- Mixing some spiced cider (spiked with Anvrik’s myconoid spores, though this was unknown to the party) for old Mrs. Brandywood
- Rolling some dice at the small shrine to “Lady Luck” — unfortunately it was to Beshaba, the goddess of bad luck, and most of the party rolled poorly
- Healing cattle infected with naturally-occurring rustrot, which transforms docile herd animals into gorgons
Assassins in the Night
The encounter with Reverend Nora Thornheart, priestess of Beshaba, did not go well. The grotesquely saccharine woman was full of contempt for the party, and had no desire to provide them with any information on Sanja’s whereabouts. Meowser managed to jump up to her home’s second story window, and saw that Sanja was indeed staying in the spare bedroom.
Nora’s behavior left such a sour taste in the party’s mouth that Kalesis slipped off during the night to wreak havoc on the woman’s home, involving a flail snail’s flail, plenty of Horn Stomper’s manure, a darkness spell, and an illusion-assassin. Needless to say, Nora was not amused, but could not definitively blame the tiefling. The villagers’ emotions ranged from terrified to grateful for the horrible woman’s distress — though they’d never tell her that.
Kalesis’s other goals included getting her name entered into the lottery — some sort of sacrificial ritual performed in the village — and finding out more about Sanja. She ended up finding Sanja herself, and the distressed young woman promised to help when the need arose.
The next morning, the lottery took place. Each time the lottery came around, a villager was “rewarded” at random to serve Soros — it turns out that he’s alive after all. After a toast with the myconoid-spiked punch was shared, the “winners” were chosen: the four young daughters of Walter, the wool-weaver. At that point, the spores took affect, and the entire town became simultaneously telepathic. Chaos erupted. The true intent of the reverend was discovered: she was no immensely powerful cleric, but rather a horrible person with an even worse goddess. And the “gifts” to Soros doubled as a sacrifice to the dark goddess, furthering her own goals instead of protecting the town. Other secrets popped up, ranging from infidelity to theft to unrequited love, and the town-turned-mob turned on Nora as the party decided to sneak off with Sanja to enter the dragon’s lair.
Sanja had warned the party repeatedly about her recent gaps in memory (starting after her excavation of the lizardfolk burial ground and subsequent discovery of the dragon coin), but she did remember where she hid the coin: her own room, but mirrored in the dragon’s prison.
The prison’s entrance was in a section of the ruins, and the party immediately recognized that the doorway to the prison had been violently destroyed from the inside out. Murals in the room depicted the three heroes’ imprisoning of the dragon, and the text above the door proclaimed: “So long as he has a kingdom to preside over and subjects to rule, the dragon will be appeased.”
This began to make more sense as the party passed through the ruined doorway. They had reentered the same room, but in a different plane: the Shadowfell. Triboar’s dark duplicate extended before them, surrounded by some sort of mythal that simultaneously kept the inhabitants from exiting and other shadow-creatures from entering. Before Sanja could lead the party to the coin, she remembered what happened during her memory lapses.
Where once was a human archaeologist with an aspiring career now stood a great blue one-eyed dragon. Due to the effects of the myconoid spores, the party was able to glimpse a bit of what had transpired: the real Soros had escaped some time ago, and had somehow managed to curse Sanja with a sort of possession spell that allowed him to transmute her body into a smaller copy of his own. The duplicate possessed the same knowledge and personality of Soros, which tried to reason with the party.
The world, he explained, is corrupt; all Soros wanted to do was provide a single, strong governing voice, which would be a godsend in the current cacophony of corrupt small-town officials. This wasn’t persuasive enough, so battle ensued. The party bested the dragon, coming within inches of their lives to do so — Thorik and Kalesis were nearly crushed in the rubble of the collapsing homes, and all but Anvrik were nearly electrocuted to death from a single breath attack.
Now the dragonling is dead, and the final coin awaits them in the rubble. Unfortunately, the Shadowfell’s darkness worked its way into everyone’s mind but Meowser’s, leaving a sense of dread, hopelessness, and even madness in its wake.