Infiltrating the Dragon Cult – An Assault on Skyreach Castle Prequel
Nemmonis hung on for dear life. He had never liked flying much, and even less so from the feet of such a large and seemingly uncaring silver dragon. His muscles ached from the fight that he had been a part of in Xantharl’s Keep. He was surprised to have found Luze again, less surprised to find that Chupacabra still wanted to kill him. He had fought to survive for his whole initial life and that seemed to be continuing for his second life.
Hours passed, and the sun started to rise in the distance and Nemmonis shielded his eyes from the harsh rays.
“Where are we heading, my big friend,” Nemmonis shouted over the whistling winds, the word friend sticking in his throat like something very sour.
“A castle, in the Mere of Dead Men, I’m not sure what it is called.” The giant silver dragon admitted, “but it belongs to a leader in the cult and they are moving large amounts of treasure through it.”
“Interesting…” mused the Dragonborn.
“Indeed,” responded the large silver dragon. “I would like to know what they are trying to do with it. You should be able to talk your way into the castle and continue your work for the cult.”
Time passed and the days blurred together. Nemmonis and Rinn flew together for three days, resting each night until they reached the swamp known as the Mere of Dead Men, an area north of Waterdeep that had flooded following the Spellplague.
When the town of Neverwinter had fallen to the spellplague, efforts to hold back the sea had failed and the trade road was washed away. Now that Neverwinter was growing in influence once again, the swampland was being cleared to make way for a new trade road between Waterdeep and Neverwinter.
Rinn explained during the days travelling, that she had received word from her contacts that great amounts of treasure were being moved along the trade road, but wasn’t making it past the roadhouse in the middle of the works to clear the road. Some of her agents had followed the treasure as far as the castle, but it never seemed to leave again. Either it was being stockpiled there, or it was leaving the castle via a hidden method that couldn’t be monitored from the outside.
Rinn landed a distance from the battlements and Nemmonis picked his way through the difficult terrain of the swamp to the castle. As Rinn had assured him, his armour matched that of the local guards and it seemed that he was something of a celebrity within the cult. The leader of the castle was eager to see him and grateful for a competent guard to join her ranks.
Nemmonis waited. He was good at blending in and waiting. Or at least, he had been, when he was first alive. Now as he waited, he could almost feel his second chance eroding before him. Something was cursing him, and anyone else who had managed to return from beyond the doors of death. Death was getting impatient, it seemed, and wanted people to return to her clutches.
Each day, he could feel himself weaken. He knew that he needed to act before he was completely useless. He needed to make good on his second chance. For Luze.
On the third night that he had been assigned watch duty, he had memorised the other guard’s patrol routes and knew that he had a window to sneak away from his post and find out what was happening with the treasure. He had already seen where it was being stored in the castle. He knew that lizardfolk were carrying it into a mysterious room where they shouted a command word and then vanished.
He needed to find out what was in the boxes that they were taking away, and so, in the middle of the night, when the guards were at their most stretched, and the people guarding were the only ones awake in the castle, he crept into the storeroom, and started prying open the boxes with his clawed hands.
Inside each and every box that he opened, he found the same things, gold, jewels, jewellery and valuables. Enough in each box to buy a small village. The cult clearly had big plans that needed a lot of funding.
Replacing the lids on the boxes, he crept back to his post before his absence was noticed and he continued to watch through the rest of the night, feeling more drained when morning rolled round. He slunk back to his quarters and slept, annoyed that aches and pains were starting to build up within his joints.
Luck seemed to be on Nemmonis’ side, as a few nights later he was placed on guard duty outside the room where the treasure disappeared. In the middle of the night, he knew he needed to take this opportunity to find out where the treasures went and crept inside the chamber.
Having been stationed outside when the lizardfolk slaves took the treasure inside, he had heard the command word they spoke, and so alone in the room he spoke the word out loud. Arcane energy built up quickly in the stone circle in the centre of the chamber. With a sudden lurching shift, Nemmonis found himself on the side of a snowy mountain.
Shivering slightly, Nemmonis took in his surroundings. Up a well-kept track, stood an old stone home, a two storey house which looked like a hunting lodge. He stood in a set of standing stones, and another pair stood in the same clearing, clearly, this was the nexus of a teleportation hub being used by the cult.
Nemmonis stood in the middle of the stone circle that he had arrived through and said the words again. Then he saw quietly as he was still on the mountain. Apparently, the magic words to return to the Castle were different. Someone was probably going to notice that he was missing now.
He looked around, and seeing no other option, made his way up to the hunting lodge. He crept up to the front door, and pushed it open, drawing one of his warhammers as he went. On the other side of the front door, Nemmonis found the main hallway of the lodge, with a pair of stairs leading to the upper levels.
As the door creaked open, a pair of gargoyles stood at the bottom of the stairs caught Nemmonis’ attention. As he entered the room with his weapon drawn, they slowly started to move towards him, so quickly he replaced the warhammer into the holder on his back. Within an instant, the gargoyles returned to their original pose.
Quietly, Nemmonis shifted from room to room, checking every room in the downstairs of the hunting lodge. Nothing caught his attention, except for the kitchen, which he very quickly avoided due to the quartet of cooks who seemed rather eager to cook anything that came into the kitchen.
Eventually, having cleared the lower floor of the lodge, Nemmonis made his way up the large staircase in the middle of the lodge and started scouting around the bedrooms. All of which appeared to be empty of people. One of the rooms appeared to be used by the cooks in the kitchen. Another one looked military in style, probably used by bodyguards for the important guests. A few of the beds in that room appeared to be in use, but not occupied at the moment.
Finally, Nemmonis made his way to the door of the last room in the lodge. He pushed the door open and slipped inside the master bedroom. This room was opulent… and also occupied. A woman was sat on the edge of the bed, apparently expecting the company. Three of the bulky guards stood behind her, weapons at the ready. Nemmonis glanced around the room, as his hand twitched towards his warhammer. He could take some of them out with him, but they had the advantage in numbers, they would wear him down eventually. He needed to play this smart.
“I’ve been expecting you” Cooed the woman from the bed. “We’ve been watching your progress since your appearance in the standing stones”
“Ah, well” Nemmonis started “You appear to have me at a disadvantage. You’ve been watching me, but I don’t know who you are”
“Nemmonis,” The lady started “You’ve made something of a name for yourself within the cult… “
“And you still have me at a disadvantage. I don’t know who you are.” Nemmonis interrupted. “You say you have been expecting me, and you don’t seem to be killing me at the moment. That suggests to me… you want something”
“Observant little one. My name is Talis the White, and I want to see my… rivals… within the cult removed from their seats.” Talis checked her nails, dismissively “I want to take their position and rise in power.”
“Interesting, and you think I can help with this?”
“Yes, Nemmonis. You’re following the treasure from Castle Naerytar. The person in charge of this crackpot plan blocked my attempts to become the White Dragonspeaker. The position that is rightfully mine.” She stood and stalked away angrily. “If this plan fails, she will be humiliated and I can take her position.” She turned to face Nemmonis again, “It would greatly help you to have someone so high in the cult looking out for you”
“… and maybe owing me a favour?” Nemmonis mulled this new information over.
“Hmm… I suppose I would.” Talis mused. “Yes, and owe you for this rise in power.”
“What would you have me do to… foil this plot?”
“The treasure is being moved to a castle nearby, Skyreach Castle. I have some articles that are due to be delivered to Skyreach, and you can be the one to do it. I have a passphrase that will get you inside. Once there, well, you have proven yourself quite adept at infiltrating places and… hopefully… causing chaos.”
“I think you’ll find that I am quite adept at that” Nemmonis grinned, which Talis the White returned.
“Excellent, you should rest in this lodge tonight, and then take the banners to Skyreach in the morning”
The following morning, after spending the rest of the night in the relative comfort of the slave’s quarters, Nemmonis was handed a bundle of banners and told a secret codeword that would apparently allow him access to Skyreach Castle. With a slight hint of wariness, Nemmonis set off on the next level of his journey, wondering what he had managed to get himself into this time…
John is one of the founding members of Final Boss Fight and was the original Tech Ninja. He now oversees a lot of the production of videos and podcasts for the site and is a constant voice in both of them.
SKARR is co-creator and animator of the YouTube channel “Geek Worlds”. Scriptwriter, film director, editor and actor, SKARR evolves mainly in the fields of cinema, storytelling and gaming.