Having secured an entrance into the Well of Dragons with the help of their Zhentarim allies, the companions pondered their next move. The lava corridor they stood in, at least according to Cylanestriel, had been used to funnel prisoners into the extinct volcano, and it was soon agreed that they would try to find and rescue those prisoners if possible, and prevent them from being sacrificed in Severin’s ritual. The group bade the Zhentarim assassins to loop around the volcano and find another entrance, so that they might distract the enemy, and possibly even locate the Shard of Azharul, the Dragonstaff of Aghairon, or some high-ranking cultists to assassinate.
Surveying the corridor for signs of tracks, the companions quickly ascertained that the prisoners had been moved up the northern of the two pathways in front of them, and so set off in search of them, Lucky scouting ahead. It didn’t take long before they found themselves in front of a large chamber filled with human refuse, more than a dozen corpses scattered amongst it. Searching carefully, the group discovered a fifteen year old boy hiding amongst the corpses. His name was Stirleng Bowman, and he claimed to be a prisoner taken from Hill’s Edge months ago by the Cult of the Dragon, and had been kept in this room since, along with about three hundred others. Only a few hours ago, cultists ferried the other prisoners out of the room, although Stirleng managed to fool them into thinking he was dead, and evaded them – though his entire family was taken away, but to what he did not know. Bidding the boy stay and hide where he was, the group advanced further down the corridors.
In a different section of the lava corridors, Lucky came across a couple of luxuriously furnished rooms, which he guessed belonged to members of the Red Wizards. A magically trapped chest was dispelled by Princess Fluffypants, revealing within the diary of one Vengal Nahumon, the leader of the rebel Red Wizards. The diary revealed Nahumon to be a powerful conjurer, until recently still loyal to Thay, having risen through the ranks in the favour of Szass Tam himself after he personally handled a number of slave uprisings in the province of Lapendrar, by a number of tactics including poisoning the water. The time period correlated with the time that Glinda’s father, a tiefling Thayan slave, had been killed in such an uprising. The diary also detailed the approach to Nahumon by Rath Modar and Galvan Modar, later known as Galvan the Blue, for the tomes on summoning infernal gods known as Beyond the Iron Gates, which he had inherited from the former zulkir of conjuration. Nahumon then allied with the Modars, agreeing to assist them from within Thay until the time of Tiamat’s arrival.
However, that plan was thrown into disarray with the death of Rath, leading Nahumon to abandon his post as the Tharchion of Lapendrar and travel to the Well of Dragons, where he engaged in a large dispute with another Red Wizard who also wished to take over. After two months of infighting, Nahumon eventually succeeded, and took over as the leader of the rebels Rath had assembled. He altered Modar’s plans significantly to fit in more with his own specialty in conjuration magic, further linking their ties with Zariel, and deepening direct contact with Tiamat herself, even going so far as to obtain a Shard of Azharul from her, enabling him to create an infernal ward around the Well of Dragons. The diary describes a man more capable and perhaps even intelligent than Rath had been, if perhaps less visionary and ambitious. Along with the diary, the companions also found a potion of supreme healing, a potion of longevity, and the second and final volume of Beyond the Iron Gates. Both volumes of Beyond the Iron Gates now attained, it became clear that the books detailed how to summon a god from the Nine Hells, using a ritual sacrifice of over a thousand people.
Moving on from the Red Wizards’ chambers, the companions came to a twisting crossroads where multiple shuffling tracks, presumed to be that of prisoners, had been left. Soon enough, five cultists dressed in full ceremonial regalia approached, leading ten prisoners, looking weak ands starved. The companions ambushed them with ease, and sent the prisoners back to the room Stirleng had been hiding in. As they pondered their next move however, they were ambushed by a wight in black plate armour, who revealed itself to be Naergoth Bladelord, who claimed the Well of Dragons to be his domain. He put up a fierce battle whilst calling for reinforcements, coming in the form of five more cultists and a couple of guard drakes, but the heroes won the battle with relative ease. The two chambers ahead of them turned out to hold a total of over 400 prisoners. Glinda appealed to Eldath to teleport them out, but the goddess did not intervene. The heroes bid the prisoners again to hide where they had left Stirleng, and after a short rest decided to proceed forward, towards the volcano’s caldera.
As the companions headed up the passage towards’ the centre of the Cult’s volcano lair, suddenly each is wracked by a terrifying vision. In it, ten piercing draconic eyes glare at them out of a hellish, swirling darkness, where each is totally and utterly alone. The eyes slowly move towards them, and as they come into the light you see that they belong to five dragon heads, coming off the body of a gigantic red dragon like they would on a hydra. The gaze of Tiamat herself is directly upon each individual, staring into their soul, turning their blood to ice. The fear is heartstopping.
When Tiamat speaks, each word is uttered with such power that each companion feels their body shake with the weight of hearing it. Each of her five dragon heads speaks to each individual in turn. “Puny mortal. You are too late to stop me. In mere moments I will enter the world and destroy all that you know and love. Yet your efforts have amused me, and I will allow you a chance to live on. Throw down your weapons and denounce the fight against me, and I will grant you wealth beyond knowing – and your life. Defy me and dare to enter my domain, and I will destroy you.” The Dragon Queen’s threatening physique and terrifying presence towers in the vision, radiating with sheer godlike power, awaiting a response.
However, the responses are not what she expects. As the companions level all sorts of profanities and rebukes at her, all her five heads roar in anger, loud enough, each feels, to shatter existence itself. Then the vision simply fades away.
Suddenly a pulse of energy surges through each of the companions, emanating from the centre of the Temple, and a kaleidoscope of colours bursts down the tunnel. The very ground begins to shake, and each knows that the working of magic on a scale each have never seen before has well and truly begun inside the Temple. Racing onwards, the five companions soon find themselves entering the Temple of Tiamat itself, brought across planes from the hellish realm of Avernus.
The Temple of Tiamat
Once your eyes adjust to the stunning chaos of the place, you see that the interior is a single, cathedral-like space that towers far overhead, with five distinct vaults branching off the central gallery. It looks all the part of being a Temple risen from Hell itself, blackened and infernal looking. Each of the side vaults however shimmers dimly blue, green, red, white, or black – the hues of the evil dragons and their world consuming queen. You note that the colour of the blue vault is less vibrant than the others.
Red Wizards stand in each of the five vaults, one on the ground and one 50 feet in the air above, both channeling magical force into the central apse. There, a kaleidoscopic whorl of arcane energy rises above the blackened floor, stretching up into the twisting recesses of the temple’s central spire – the beginnings of a portal to the Hells, occasionally wavering slightly in bursts of blue lightning. You hear the voice of a Calishite man booming over the roar of energy within this place, far above even the portal itself, his intonations in the infernal tongue filling the entire cathedral. “Dark Lady, the time of your arrival is nigh. Bless us with the power to destroy these interlopers.”
In the distance, about 100 metres away in the blue chapel, you can make out a bald man dressed in blue robes draped around the outfit of a Wearer in Purple, whom you assume to be the Blue Wyrmspeaker and the brains behind most of the Cult’s operations, Galvan the Blue. A similar distance away in the white chapel you can just make out the face of a beautiful woman dressed in white dragonscale armour, the robe of a Wearer of Purple draped behind her. The breath catches in Lucky and Fluffypants’s breath as they realize they have finally caught up with their old friend Talis. Her breath catches in her throat as well, but she assumes a battle stance, spear by her side and icy wand outstretched. From all you have heard, she has thrown herself ever deeper into the Cult of the Dragon since your meeting at her hunting lodge, and the dark, glowering expression on her face shows that she harbours you no good will.
However, you have more immediate concerns. Directly in front of you in the black chapel, standing by the Red Wizards and in-between you and the rest of this infernal cathedral, is none other than the half-black dragon you trailed across the Sword Coast for months, whom you thought you killed in Skyreach Castle, the instigator of the Virgin Square Massacre, the torturer of Leosin, and the killer of Princess Fluffypants – Rezmir herself, dressed in the full regalia of a Wearer in Purple. Just as you witnessed back in Waterdeep, the appearance of the killer of Fluffypants and the instigator of the Virgin Square Massacre has changed. Her scales have grown into jagged spikes and her draconic eyes glow with an iridescent red. She grins cruelly as she assumes a battle stance, and beckons to you, silently daring you to take her on, the blood-red hatred of her eyes focusing directly on Bensvelkeargix.
Time is not wasted, and the companions leap into battle with the hellish Rezmir, who turns herself invisible before focusing her attacks on Bensvelkeargix. However, she is only able to delay the group, for finally they are able to bring down the half-dragon, once and for all. This time, when Bensvelkeargix brings her down with his scorching rays, she does not dissipate into a cloud of ash, but falls to the ground, entirely and irrevokably dead.
While the companions variously focus on the Red Wizards throughout the Temple and Severin himself, whom floats overhead in the chapel’s centre, Lucky and Fluffypants try to engage Talis in conversation, trying to convince her to change sides and see the folly of bringing Tiamat into the world. However, Talis is worked up into a rage at their betrayal of her, and through tears she lets go a torrent of spell after spell in their direction.
The battle rages on for what seems like forever, and in time, all the Red Wizards, including Vengal Nahumon, lie dead. Galvan the Blue and Rezmir the Black also lie dead. Talis, finally having been convinced of the folly of bringing the draconic god of evil and greed into the world, has changed sides to stand with the heroes. Severin remains, having survived Lucky’s explosion of two kegs of smokepowder right in front of him due to magic protecting him. However, the explosion and death of the casters has made the growing portal dramatically unstable. It is not long before Lucky knocks the Crown of the Dragon Queen allowing Severin to stay levitated in the air from his head, sending him tumbling to the ground, where Glinda ensures he meets his end.
However, even with all opposition defeated, Tiamat was not about to let her one opportunity to enter the world go. The magical maelstrom filling the central apse of the temple suddenly splits open with a crack of thunder. The gargantuan heads of five dragons begin to tear and gnash their way out of the runed-lined pit of fire that forms there. Tiamat the Dragon Queen is about to burst bodily from her confinement in the Nine Hells and enter the world.
The five companions known as the Heroes of Skyreach, with Talis by their side, launch volley after volley of attacks at the Queen of Evil Dragons, trying to push her back through the portal. However, she keeps on pushing through, and dragon head after dragon head erupts through the maelstrom of energy to unleash its own attacks on the heroes. However, just as the fifth and final dragon head is about to burst through, Bensvelkeargix unleashes a devastatingly powerful attack that lances a massive blow through the Dragon Queen’s heart.
The wound leaves a deep scar in the goddess’s hide, exploding with divine light. The Queen of Evil Dragons cries out in tremendous agony, her screech all but deafening. As all five of her dragon heads scream and lash about in pain and rage, her body begins to disintegrate, bit by bit. In a last desperate rage, she claws towards Bensvelkeargix, but it is too late. Her claws carry no weight as they disintegrate in front of everyone’s eyes, and the portal begins to shudder and collapse. In a great burst of arcane energy, the portal gives in on itself, and what is left of Tiamat is dragged through it, screaming and raging. You hear her emit one last howling roar, filling your ears with hatred, as you watch the mighty Dragon Queen being hurled back to her domain in Avernus. And then, the dread goddess of Tiamat is gone from the world.
Now the five companions stand alone with Talis in the battlescarred Temple of Tiamat, their quest finally complete. They will be known as the heroes who defeated a god, who led the peoples of the Sword Coast to victory against their enemies, who united leaders thought to be un-unitable. Their stories will become legend, and for generations folk will look to their exploits and sacrifices for inspiration, as they rebuild and set their sights on better days.
After the dust has settled, there is still much to do. Leosin informs the companions that their forces at the battle witnessed an opening of the sky above the Well of Dragons, and suddenly the Cult’s forces broke in front of them, fleeing to all corners of the earth. The armies the companions assembled, bruised and battered from the fight, now march on the Well, where somewhere there is an enormous hoard of wealth – and no doubt still a whole lot of cultists and other con-artists looking to get their hands on it before it can be divided fairly, as decided at the Council of Greenest. Very suddenly, the Well of Dragons just became the richest dungeon of Faerun. Furious at their Queen’s destruction, the chromatic dragons have already fled and are on their way here to claim what they can, the metallics hot on their hells.
Although the people of the Sword Coast paid a steep cost in the fight against Tiamat, the situation is far from bleak. The coming together of all the peoples of the region has inspired stirring instances of generosity and cooperation, and trade between nations peaks and brings in a new time of prosperity. A new age begins – where no legend will be greater than that of the heroes that defeated Tiamat herself at the Well of Dragons.
Bensvelkeargix, his destiny in the mortal world finally complete, is allowed to return to Bahamut’s side in Mount Celestia, and reclaim his ancient role as one of the dragon god’s protectors.
Glinda prepares her Peacewalkers for a new era of going out across the world to spread peace and the New Word of Eldath. She herself journeys with them, not content with the life of a head priestess, which she leaves to Lorelei.
Groβ requests of the ancient copper dragon Tazmikella that he journey with her for a time, so that he may learn more of metallic dragons, and continue to hunt the hated chromatics. The dragon consents, and the two depart for the Spine of the World.
Lucky founds a new Adventurer’s School in Waterdeep, and ensures the Cereal Killers are able to safely operate without any more fear of the Shadow Thieves.
Princess Fluffypants returns to the road as a travelling entertainer, her fame all the greater. She takes on Talis as a new member of her band, though heavily disguised to prevent her ever being recognized as a former cultist. She decides to side with Hyrsam over Rellevar, and prevents the dracorage mythal from being reforged – earning Hyrsam’s protection, but the ire of Rellevar and the Court of Stars.