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Dragonrider’s Hold Free Multi-Level Battlemap & Adventure

Dragonrider's Hold Free Multi-Level Battlemap & Adventure
Dragonrider's Hold Free Multi-Level Battlemap & Adventure
Download this Dragonrider’s Hold free multi-level map & adventure, featuring a hidden tribe with cockatrice familiars. VTT ready!

Dragonrider’s Hold Free Multi-Level Battlemap & Adventure

The House of Cockatrice

When stopping by the mead hall in the town of Eagle’s Rest, you see an old herbalist with a hooked nose and a raven familiar sitting on his shoulder talking to the barkeep, who has a swallow sitting on the rafters above him. The herbalist is wearing many strange charms around his neck and ears, and leaning heavily on a worn walking cane. You overhear him complaining to his friend that his knee is out again, so he can’t make his usual trip to the burial mounds in search of the highly potent death blossoms which many of his potions, poultices, and salves rely on. And, unfortunately, due to superstitions that the place is evil, none of the young ones are willing to go pick them for him–not even the supposedly brave warriors from the House of the Eagle!

Should you step in and offer to collect the death blossoms on the old herbalist’s behalf, he is incredibly thankful and says that as a reward he’ll let you choose from his collection of remedies. He introduces himself as Malak, and he tells you where to find the burial mounds outside of the village, as well as gives you a description of the red bellflowers which grow on them. If you ask about them, Malak explains that they only grow on the mounds and he hasn’t seen them anywhere else, so he named them death blossoms.

If you ask after the superstitions keeping the young ones away from the mounds, Malak waves a hand and tells you it’s just an old rumor that a cockatrice roams the area, turning any who go there without the village elders to stone. He’s been there plenty of times without the elders however, and never encountered any such monster, so he’s not sure where the rumor began but believes it to be sheer nonsense.

When you arrive at the burial mound, you see lots of odd boulders worn down and weathered by the ages. The shapes are suggestive of people, and it sends a shiver down your spine. Just when you think there is no cockatrice, however, you hear a strange noise. Like the loud flapping of a large bird’s wings, coming from one of the burial mounds, along with a small cascade of rocks. Then a raven flies from the mound’s entrance with a caw, and a young, thin man steps out behind it–startled to see you.

The young man is nervous initially, but when he realizes you’re not a local of Eagle’s Rest he breathes a sigh of relief and introduces himself as Alex. He explains that he’s been coming out here ever since his beloved mother died, visiting her helped him through the darkest hours of his mourning.

If you ask about why he’s not afraid of the cockatrice, Alex laughs and says it’s funny you should mention that. There’s not one here, but he thinks it’s a metaphor. You see, one day he stumbled upon ancient writings carved into the walls of the burial mounds! They discuss a secret extra house, called the House of the Cockatrice. He’d never heard of it prior, but always felt like he didn’t quite fit into the House of the Raven, which is where the village elders assigned him when he came of age. He thinks it’s sign from his mother, something he was meant to discover, and believes he was meant to be in the House of the Cockatrice and not the House of the Raven. Your being here is just more proof and he could really use your help bonding with a cockatrice to make his familiar.

Should you ask what he means by the House of the Raven and the House of the Cockatrice, he apologises for assuming you knew, saying he’s not used to outsiders. Alex explains that all villagers are put in a house by the elders when one comes of age. The major ones are the House of the Eagle, House of the Swallow, House of the Raven, and House of the Owl. They also are bonded to a familiar bird from the house they represent. Once put into a House, they must live there, and it determines what their roles are within the village. For example, as a member of the House of the Raven, he’s expected to put his mind to good use, be it through alchemy, herbalism, or magic, those kinds of things.

Alex then explains that he wants to rekindle the House of the Cockatrice when he returns to the village with his new familiar, so others like him won’t be denied their true house. He’s sure the village elders will listen to him when they see it’s possible, and he’s not mad! Plus, he knows where he can possibly find a real cockatrice. That is, if you’ll help him. As a reward, he’ll give you some of the inheritance from his mother, as he believes she’d want you to have it for helping guide him.

Should you agree, Alex leads you through the forest to a location he explains was mentioned by the carvings on the wall as being prime habitat for cockatrice. When you arrive, you see more of those strange, humanoid stones dotting the forest–some of which clearly look like petrified people, while others are worn to the point of only being vaguely suggestive of people. After exploring the area, you find tracks from a cockatrice, and when you follow them to its source you find the creature eating the carcass of a dead animal. It has shimmering blue-black plumage, and when it sees you, the cockatrice squawks and runs away.

If you chase it, eventually the cockatrice is trapped between some rocks, and should you approach it, the creature lets out an inhuman scream. Suddenly you are surrounded by about 20 middle aged people with bows and arrows trained on you, and several more cockatrice. They seemingly came out of nowhere, but when the cockatrice jumps and disappears into a hole in the ground, you realize they must have emerged from the cavern system below your feet.

The group tells you to come with them, before guiding you down into some kind of secret underground building that’s clearly been here for a long time. They guide you over a stone bridge, below which you can see several more cockatrice of different colors lounging about in beds of straw, before stopping in front of a cell and insisting you get inside. Once locked in, they say they need to talk to their leader, before leaving you alone with a guard and his cockatrice.

A few minutes after the group leaves, the face of a 17-year-old, red-haired girl pops around a corner, staring at you with curious green eyes. Following her is a magnificent cockatrice with shimmering green plumage. She approaches the cell, and the guard ignores her when she asks where you came from and what the outside world is like. She is particularly curious about Alex, who is close to her age.

If you talk to her, she introduces herself as Mayvara and explains that she was born here. The House of the Cockatrice has lived in these tunnels, ever since the slaughter several hundred years ago. Should you ask what she means, she gives you an odd look and explains that The House of the Cockatrice was massacred by The House of the Owl. The owls thought they would do terrible things, you see, because their house values power, money, and pleasure above all. The owls were scared because they’re so different from them, and their bond with the cockatrice makes each member stronger, faster, and their familiars can turn foes into stone.

So, they had the warriors of the Eagle house slaughter the House of the Cockatrice when they hadn’t broken any laws, or done anything wrong! They burned their house to the ground, and erased all mention of it from the histories. Her great, great, great, great, great… great grandfather managed to escape the massacre however. He came out here, and made sure the house continued, even if it meant they had to live in secret just to survive.

At this point, an old man with a stern face emerges, followed by a red cockatrice–evidently the House’s leader. He crossly tells Mayvara to leave, and the girl gives you an apologetic look before scurrying away, while the man sighs and runs a wrinkled hand through his thin, gray hair. He says briskly ‘I wish you never came here. Now that you are, I can’t let you leave… You’re to be executed at dawn. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.’ Then he turns and leaves, ignoring anything you say to him.

That night, there’s a rattle down the hallway and your only guard goes to investigate. When he does, he suddenly turns to stone, before Mayvara and her cockatrice run up to your cell. She assures you not to worry about the guard, saying it’s just temporary, but insisting that you have to hurry because the path is clear to the surface–though it won’t stay that way for long. Using a set of keys she unlocks the cell, ushering you out.

As soon as you step out of the tunnels however, you find yourself surrounded by the leader and a handful of his most loyal men, as well as their cockatrices. They are all armed. The old man shakes his head at Mayvara, saying ‘I had the feeling you might do this, but I can’t believe you actually did. You’ve betrayed us, girl! Don’t you understand that if the outsider leaves, Eagle’s Rest will discover us and everyone will die?! I lost your mother, I can’t lose you too!’

Mayvara argues to her dad that this isn’t living, and their people need to go into the outside world, to become a public house again! No-one else here is anything close to her age, and she needs friends, she says, glancing at Alex and blushing. Her father disagrees, and refuses to budge. 

If you fight to escape, the leader will battle until he is captured or killed to keep his people safe. During the fight, Mayvara is almost hit by a stray sword, but Alex steps in the way and takes a nasty cut to save her. If you defeat the leader but don’t kill him, he is very bitter. He tells his daughter ‘Fine, go, but you’ll bring doom upon yourself and I won’t let you bring it upon the rest of us! If you return, we will not be here anymore.’

Mayvara dresses Alex’s wounds and returns to the village with you, crying quietly to herself at the start of the walk. When you arrive at Eagle’s Rest it’s dawn, and the locals who are up and about are terrified of her cockatrice, hiding inside or cowering behind objects when they see the creature. Mayvara insists that she must see the council of elders, and knocks on each of the four major houses until they come out, demanding an assembly. The last elder to emerge is an old, portly woman from the House of the Owl, a white barn owl on her shoulder. She turns white as a sheet when she sees Mayvara’s cockatrice

The assembly is held on the back of the statue of the great eagle, where Mayvara begins by trying to explain the history of her house–how it was once one of the five major houses–but the head of the House of the Eagle, a large, bald man with tattoos on his head and his eagle hunched over his shoulder, holds up a hand to stop her. He explains that all the village elders are told the secret history when they assume their position, and so they are aware of what happened, before bidding her to continue.

Mayvara then stumbles a little, before loudly preaching that the House of the Cockatrice should be rebuilt and those destined to join it allowed to do so. What was done to them was wrong, as they never broke any laws to deserve it, and she will prove that the Cockatrice don’t have to be evil in their search for power, as the Owls believed. 

When Mayvara is done explaining, the elder from the House of the Eagle nods thoughtfully and agrees. He says that what his house did was a stain upon their souls, and he will not be responsible for repeating that mistake again. The head of the House of the Swallow, a thin, older woman with a tangle of curly hair that her swallow nests in, agrees also; saying lightly that she cannot see the harm in it. The head of the Raven House, an man wearing crude black robes of raven feathers and a leather plague mask, his raven sitting on his forearm, says in a muffled voice that the House of Cockatrice did nothing wrong last time to warrant their erasure, it was only suspicion–if anything, the House of the Owl was in the wrong due to commanding the massacre before any laws had been broken.

The Owl elder disagrees, but is outvoted and so only watches the young woman with suspicious eyes. When the meeting is concluded, Mayvara thanks you with tears in her eyes. She is hopeful now that more of those destined to join the House of the Cockatrice can do so, now that they may come out of the shadows. She then tells you dreamily how the town is more beautiful than the descriptions she grew up hearing all her life.

As if remembering something, Mayvara suddenly begins delving into her satchel, and pulls out a carved stone cockatrice to give to you. She explains it’s magical, and can be used to summon a real one. Then she delves back into her bag and pulls out a large spotted egg, holding it out to Alex. She explains with a blush that it’s due to hatch soon, and he can bond with it as his familiar, if he likes. That way, he can be the first new member of the official House of Cockatrice. Alex takes it reverently, before giving Mayvara a kiss on the cheek in thanks; causing her blush to spread to the tips of her ears.

When you finally return to the herbalist, Malak, the old man is grumpy that it took you so long to bring him the death blossoms, joking about having thought a cockatrice got you after all. He grudgingly shows you his potions, poultices, and salves to choose from as thanks. However, if he sees Mayvara’s cockatrice he pales and gives you extra potions, stammering that he had no idea.

GM’s Notes:

The leader of the House of the Cockatrice is the descendant of the murdered captain of the Winged Blade, who was the last captain to hold the blade before it was sundered into three pieces.

During the massacre, the captain’s son wasn’t in the village when the House of the Cockatrice was burned down, so he survived and went into hiding; keeping the house alive in secret. Mayvara is the last of that noble bloodline.

This adventure was written for our Eagle’s Rest Adventurer’s Guide. If you’d like more information about the location, NPCs, and loot that can be found here, please go check it out!

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