Tales from the Yawning Portal

I Need a Hero

And now, dear friend, we will move the clock forwards, one hundred and fifty years, to a time where the names of our stout heroes have faded into myth and legend, and their legacies have passed on to their ancestors….

But we return again to the city of Waterdeep, where five relative strangers sat in in a bar. The bar, of course is one that we know well! The Yawning Portal, of course! There was an awkward silence at the table even as the tumult around them soared: sounds of clinking plates and glasses of frothy ale, drunken laughter, raucous tales of adventure and off-key song.

Conrad Silverclaw, a shifter ranger, sat, his hands folded neatly in his lap, his green eyes moving from person to person as he keenly observed their behaviors. To his left, a tiefling with long copper horns and a dark robe grimaced at the uncouth scene around him.

The warlock Damakos had no intention of being party to this rabble-rousing show of misspent youth, and drummed his fingers on the table.

To his left sat a grinning half-elf bard, Galunir Gwaeren, whose eyes trailed around the room, looking for inspiration for his next song.

A dark grimace filled the countenance of the odd-colored dragonborn who sat to the half-elf’s immediate left. The mystic known as Kallos’s scales were a deep purple, and he carried no blade. He sniffed the air and winced at what he smelled.

Finally, although diminutive and darker skinned than other elves, Aouna was of average build. Her face was sunk deeply in thought into the pages of a large book, which she rested half in her lap, half on the table.

A woman of middle age, though pleasant in complexion, approached the table. This was Kelsie the wife of Durnan. Durnan, who for all intents and purposes, looked eerily as he did 150 years prior.

With a broad grin, she spoke loudly over the din. “Hello dearies, can I take your order?”

“I’ll have water,” Aouna said, not lifting her eyes from her book.
“Water,” Conrad spoke tersely.
“I’ll take an ale,” the bard said with a smirk.
“Water for me,” said the tiefling.
The dragonborn growled, “I want a potato. Raw. And make it snappy.”

“A… potato? Raw?” The barmaid looked shocked.

“Did I stutter? Yes. A POH-TAY-TO!” The other four, a little taken aback by the dragonborn’s lack of manners, edged uneasily in their seats.

“Y-y-yes, certainly. Half a moment!” The barmaid wandered away from the table, presumably with their orders.

As if to lighten the mood, Galunir produced his lute, and began to play a song. A voluptuous young maiden with dark hair approached and smiled seductively at the young half-elf as he sung. The woman, pulling a lute of her own, joined Galunir in playing, and the tables erupted in applause at their conclusion.

“Well, that was lovely,” She purred. “My name’s Pencheska; please – join me for a drink.” At that, she took Galunir by the hand and brought him to the bar. “See you all later,” he said laughingly.

As it was over a hundred years prior, the deep well stood at the center of the Yawning Portal’s tap room. A raucous cheer went up as two humanoids were slowly lowered into the well via a rope. As the two went down, a grim old man nearby dressed in gray began to take note in a large book. Aouna noted that a white haired elven woman was speaking, almost to herself. Aouna, finding little in common with her new found comrades who for all intents and purposes had convened within the taproom to determine their common goal of adventuring together, went to speak with her.

Kelsie finished her round and sauntered near to the table. With a snarl, Kallos reached out grabbed Kelsie’s apron with a clawed hand.

“Potato! Where is it?”

With a somewhat worried look on her face, the woman replied, “Oh yes, of course, sir, won’t be too long!” She then trotted into the kitchen, half-drunk mugs of frothing ale still on her tray. Several minutes after, she exited with a slightly charred root vegetable resembling a potato and planted it on a plate in front of the incensed dragonborn.

With a growl, Kallos grabbed the steaming vegetable and threw the starchy edible in her face. With a shriek, the taproom grew silent.

SIghing, Conrad said gently, “You could have just asked nicely.”
Kallos leaned across the table and retorted, “I can’t tolerate stupidity!”

At that, Durnan dropped his dish towel and stalked over to the table. WIthout a word, he grabbed Kallos from behind and with almost inhuman strength, lifted the massive dragonborn out of his chair by his collar. The room gasped.

“Apologize,” Durnan murmured, not even showing a single sign of strain. The dragonborn said nothing. “Apologize,” Durnan repeated. Again, the dragonborn refused.

Conrad spoke out at last. “Just apologize!”

Instead, Durnan began to slowly walk over to the huge 40-foot wide pit. The dark hole loomed as the crowd began to mutter to themselves over what would happen if the purple dragonborn were to be dropped down…

BOOM! Explosions, screams, and shouts of panic erupted from outside! Immediately, Waterdhavian soldiers entered and approached a grizzled man sitting, his face deep in contemplation to lead their forces, that Waterdeep was being invaded! Bar patrons ran in all directions. Momentarily distracted, Durnan loosed his grip on Kallos, and ran to gather his wife and valuables. Kallos bounded off the wall of the pit and landed solidly on his clawed feet. Conrad and Galunir ran to look out the front window.

As they watched, scarlet-ringed portals appeared at various points in the nearby street, and from their depths stepped figures with pale, tattooed flesh and deep red robes: Red Wizards of Thay! With arcane words, they launched vicious magical attacks at the nearby buildings, causing some to shatter with intense explosive force.

Seeing that the city was under an intense attack, the five stepped outside to a scene out of a war. Buildings were aflame and citizens were running in all directions, screaming for their lives. In a nearby alleyway, they saw a Waterdhavian soldier cornered by what looked like small plant-like creatures herded by a figure with dark skin – only the figure’s skin seemed harder, more like… wood. Galunir then cast_ Vicious Mockery_ on the barkskinned warrior, taunting it. As the party approached to assist the soldier, the bark-skinned figure turned and pulled out two wicked-looking knives and stared at them with a vicious gaze. In quick succession, Galnunir cast sleep and three of the five plant creatures fell to the ground. Aouna, not used to being in a combat situation, got flustered and cast fog cloud. A vast bank of fog encircled the group. “Great,” Kallos muttered. “Now, no one can see! Way to go.” Aouna’s face flushed red in embarrassment. Knowledgeable as she was, she did not know how to handle herself in a fight, yet. Conrad, however, did. Drawing an arrow, he shot at one of the plant creatures and split it in half. Kallos unsheathed his soul knives and approached where the soldier was. As he approached, he heard a gasp and a gurgling choking sound. Then the sound of a body hitting the ground. Kallos searched through the fog, ready for an attack. A shrill cry pierced the fog and the plant creature lunged at Kallos. He swiftly side-stepped and sliced the blight in twain. He searched through the alleyway — the soldier was dead and the barkskinned thing was gone!

Suddenly a foul-smelling wind rose from the east, blowing over the alleyway and dispersing the fog cloud – and the unmistakable sound of huge wings could be heard. A voice rang out nearby: “Dragon! Run for your lives!” The dragon landed with a great thud on the streets of Waterdeep as soldiers ran from all sides to attempt to put it down. The massive beast was jet black and had gnarled horns and vile yellowed eyes. It lifted its massive snout and opened its jaws, letting forth a gout of greenish fluid which sizzled through the air as it flew. As it landed, with a great hiss, it belched forth acid and dissolved an entire side of a nearby building, causing it to cave in. With a growl, it stalked through the streets, screaming citizen running for their lives. Screams could be heard from inside the house. Damakos ran over, and lifted a worn and acid-eaten beam. Underneath, protected by the will of some lucky deity, were a father and daughter, and although the man was barely scratched, the girl had a long acid burn along her forearm. Damakos helped them to escape as Galunir uttered a word in truespeech and healing energy flowed into the girl, healing her.

Kallos looked up spied very odd sight — an undead centaur atop the roof of the Yawning Portal. Kallos, seeing an opportunity to deploy his rage on a worthy target, leaped up, but unfortunately found that the shingles on the roof were loose. He scrambled and then lost his footing as he clambered for a foot hold. The mummified centaur looked down at him with a mixture of interest and disdain and then reached a single withered arm towards Kallos’s face. He could see pus-laded sores and fungus all over the creature’s arm and knew that this thing would attempt to communicate that disease to him….

“Hey ugly, down here!” Galunir called down in a vicious mocking tone. The centaur-thing, briefly distracted, allowed Kallos to slide gently down to the street. Galunir muttered, “You’re welcome.” Seeing his quarry had escaped, the centaur bounded away to the nearest rooftop. Sneering, the dragonborn followed the dragon, and the others followed him. As they walked, Galunir pulled out his lute, and in a lovely gentle voice, sang:

Kallos the callous was a fool of a mortal.
With a tale worth nary a chortle.
His powerful mind was never too kind,
And so he got thrown down the portal.

Kallos turned slowly back to the half-elf and growled. Galunir winked. Ahead, there were sounds of a battle. Swords clanged together in rapid succession. As they turned the corner, they saw many dead soldiers, all with single stab or slash wounds to their body. And then they saw the single assailant: a wight with a black sword. Slowly the undead creature turned to face the group. It had black, fire pitted armor with jagged spikes and wild matted white hair. It lifted its weapon and charged. Galunir screamed a taunt and quickly cast Vicious Mockery, which momentarily distracted the wight. Damakos hurled a fire bolt, but missed. Conrad shot his longbow, and the arrow streaked through the alleyway lancing the undead creature through the arm. It continued to charge, and with a single blow, sliced Conrad across his chest and knocked him to the ground, bleeding heavily. “NO!” Aouna screamed and began to apply pressure to the wound. Damakos noticed that there were several barrels of elemental fire in a nearby storefront. Kallos slam kicked the wight towards the barrel but he quickly righted himself. Damakos then hurled his firebolt at the barrel and…. BOOM! A cloud of orange flame erupted from the shop, blasting everything in sight and knocking everyone to the ground. As they sat up, they saw that there was nothing left to the entire store front – only flames. Kallos immediately began to search for the sword – but couldn’t see anything left, alive or dead, in the fire. Aouna pleaded with the group to help Conrad – but no one had any more healing spells. Damakos did his best to apply his magical knowledge to more banal matters and attempted to bandage him up. Kallos, meanwhile, had enough, and decided to simply walk away.

Suddenly, there was silence. No more screams, or sounds of war or siege. It was as if the sounds of the outside world had been muffled by an unknown force. At that, a red wizard with withering flesh and black eye sockets floated into the courtyard alongside two other wizards and noticed the group. He was clearly one of the people in charge of this assault, calmly issuing orders to his sub-ordinates. Nearby, an old woman was holding the symbol of her god, praying for aid. The mage looked down at her, gave a skeletal grin, and then spoke to the other red wizards in a commanding tone, with a voice like grinding stone. “Tell the giants to attack.” At that, a FIre giant erupted from underground near Kallos. Kallos stood in awe, yet nimbly dodged as the giant’s flaming hand attempted to grab him. He then ran and hid in a nearby building.

Damakos threw his fire bolt but the mage easily counterspelled then paralyzed him, using a detect thoughts spell to see inside his mind… Damakos screamed in pain….

Suddenly, a shaft of light appeared, and from it stepped a deva, seemingly answering the woman’s prayer. Unsheathing her glowing golden sword, the deva started kicking ass and urged the group to help take some shots at the red wizards. Gladly, Damakos thought, as he was released from the magic of the undead wizard. Damakos cast ray of frost and Galunir threw several daggers. But the giant allies were already in the city. A massive boulder the size of a cart sailed in from above and hit a building that collapsed, kicking up dust everywhere and striking down the deva – BOOM! Lumalia was immediately knocked unconscious. The other two red wizards picked her up and started to float away with her. Seeing a potential ally, the group tried to intervene, shooting at the wizards in their escape.

Before the group could do anything else, a heroic figure appeared out of the ether – a magnificent figure dressed in maroon wizard robes and with a large floppy hat and sturdy staff. Speaking with a majesty rarely seen, he told the red wizards to unhand the deva. A look of horror and fear crossed the visage of the undead mage. Whoever this was, if he was enough to make this evil wizard crap his pants, he must be powerful indeed! The group stood with the good aligned wizard, prepping for the fight ahead….

And then, a flash of light appeared behind the group. They turned. A floating skull with gems for eyes hovered before them…. and a feeling of dread came over them like nothing they had ever experienced before….

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