The party, now fully inside the Raid’s compound, attempted to move around and gain the necessary intel in secret. They made a small camp and stayed scattered for the most part to avoid detection. The raiders made their base inside a nearly hollowed out plateau far away from any civilized township. Together the group was able to count several hundred members of the raid, some of who identified as members of the Cult of the Dragon. They quickly noticed small segregated areas for; Kobolds, Holding Cells, Common Raiders broken into merc groups, and a special elevated slope for officers and Cult Leadership. Among some of the rank and file members of the party noted at least one Red Wizard of Thay, a Blue and Black Half-Dragon, and purple robed cultists who command respect from nearly all Raiders.
After noticing the blue Half-dragon Cyanwrath, Patrick quickly donned a stolen half-helm to hide his tale-tell scar from the villain. Patrick managed to, using a secret cultist salute, bluff his way past honor guards and make way to the tent-folds of the leaders encampment. He learned of the Cult’s next few targets, given expected response and reinforcements from the Sword Coast forces. In addition he overheard discussion of a ‘special package’ being kept in the cave with the treasure horde that had to wait to be shipped North.
Patrick was tapped on the shoulder from behind and when he turned around he received a powerful uppercut from Cyanwrath that sent his helmet flying across the compound. Cyanwrath and his Kobold retinue knocked his out and made a display of throwing him down the hill to the center of the compound. Additional guards were dispatched to the Plateaus exit and cave mouth as the whole of the plateau went into lockdown.
The characters all went down fighting in the midst of a thorough shakedown, with the exception of Garrett Rhyker who was able to blend in amongst a long line of wall-leaning lone-wolf types. All downed heroes were drag-scorted through a guarded wooden gate leading to the holding cells. There they were slowly revived, each tied up to a tall wooden pilings, shackled above their heads. The prisoners are guarded by a cadre of kobolds and an inattentive gate guard. Also in attendance was a severely beaten half-elf monk and a human dressed in Cultist regalia. The Half-elf was revealed to be Leosin Erlanthar the missing monk from Candlekeep and supposed holder of a tome about Dragons Thiea was searching for. The other mystery human identified himself as a member of the Zhentarim, a young assassin sent to infiltrate the cult at any cost.
Garrett was able to skulk up to a watchtower overlooking the Holding cell area, there he managed to dispatch two Dragonclaw cultists and prevent them from raising the alarm. From there he ran a rope down to the gate and descended on the resting guard. A few spells and some quick combat later the kobolds were dispatched and the party agreed to free Leosin, but leave the supposed Zhentarim member tied and gagged. They recovered their gear and made a hasty escape out of the area and found the camp in a state of near evacuation.
“I’m totally with the Vile Warlock on this” The consensuses was decided that an escape and full rest was preferable to fighting deeper into the cavernous unknown.
Garrett and Aeon convinced a group of Kobolds to give them a prepared wagon being filled with foodstuffs in barrels and tent makings. They loaded up their wounded into the wagon and were able to pass through the guarded exit and quickly diverted pathways back to Greenest.
The heroes pulled into Greenest bearing a wagon full of camp rations and temporary tents for housing, they were hailed heroes to the ravaged ruin of the city. Leosin was reunited with his disciples and the party took some downtime after conveying all they had learned with Leosin and the governor. Additional down time activities included stimulating the crippled market of Greenest by investing in some new gear and a rousing bout of feral-cat-racing; in which Commodore Fluffums edged in victory over Chetara and Cottonball.
After sharing insights gained from the adventure, Leosin urgently took his followers back to Candlekeep and planned to head north from there to share the gathered info with a trusted Paladin friend of his named, Ontharr Frume. It was recommended the group seek him out should any new information come up. The Governor tasked the group with returning to the plateau and seeing what if any clues they left behind. The three day trip from the Plateau, and a possible three day trip back would have the Cult nearly a week ahead of the would-be adventurers, and at the rate they were breaking camp they could have easily been gone by then.
The heroes packed up their new henchling, horse and their stolen wagon and headed off to search the plateau once more.
After a few gentle days of travelling the well worn back road the party noticed a small group of hunters they had previously encountered within the enemy compound. The hunters were approached and give some basic info about how they honestly hunt forest and vale game animals for the residents of the plateau. They pay a gold every few days for a deer or two, and apparently despite the lack of guards at the entrance to the plateau, someone is still paying them per beast. The party agreed to spare the hunters and rather pay them 10g pieces to change their buyers to the good people of Greenest, providing fresh meat to the hungry populace.
They party looked upon the foreboding cracked mesa and dared to wonder what horrors could be awaiting them, not only within but below…