Tom and Dra’goul, were the Best of Friends. Dra’goul, the dragonborn cleric of Lliira, was the strong one, while Tom, the human bard, was the weird one. Even so, these two were inseparable. So, when the call came for adventurers to travel to distant lands to defeat a great death curse plaguing the land, they answered the call together. They travelled to the land of Chult and began their great adventure.
Along their travels the met a halfling by the name of Snarl. It is worth mentioning that Snarl was raised by wolves in the wild, so his views on the world around him were, simplistic, to say the least. In his mind, you were either Predator or Prey, you either Ate, or were Eaten. So when during the course of the Trio’s first big fight together, Dra’goul (whilst being chewed on by a T-rex) was unable to get any of his spells to successfully land and Tom managed such a great feat of power that this monster was brought down swiftly (It is worth noting that Dra’goul actual landed the killing blow on this monstrosity, and not Tom, this is important). Snarl walked up to Tom, pointed at him in full view of Dra’goul, and said “Strongest”.
This was the beginning of a downhill slope between Tom and Dra’goul. As for the next few weeks/months, Snarl would stick to his view that Tom was stronger than Dra’goul, and Tom would playfully go along with it. Over time this started wearing on Dra’goul. It made him frustrated and jealous, emotions that only got worse over time.
They still fought side by side through many fights, but a specific pair of fights went on to change the course of these two characters’ history forever.
However, before we get to that, there is something we must discuss. At one point during all this Dra’goul met a beautiful elven woman. Her request? When they located the Soulmonger (the source of the death curse), she wanted him to let her study it for a while. He flat out refused. Angry at his indignation, the woman revealed her true self as the great Lich Valindra. She attempted to use this revelation to intimidate him into bending to her will as she was NOT going to be turned down so quickly and so easily by a mere Dragonborn. Dra’goul however was not going to be swayed. Valindra, was not pleased, and after he left, she sent spies to follow the party and find a way to break the spirits of this dragonborn.
During the course of a fight after this, Dra’goul became surrounded by enemies. Tom, doing his best to think quick and save his friend, cast Shatter, centered on Dra’goul. While Tom’s assumption that Dra’goul would physically survive the act was correct, it was Dra’goul’s emotional state that took the biggest hit here. His best friend had just intentionally dropped a spell on his head. Part of him understood why Tom made the choice he did, but he still held a grudge.
Shortly after this, Valindra, having learned a lot about the social dynamics of the party, sent a Red Mage after the party with the instructions to kill his friends. During the fight, Tom was knocked out and bleeding fast. Dra’goul, still holding his grudge against Tom, cast Spare the Dying instead of Cure Wounds. As he passed, he stated “Next time watch where you cast your spells.” And rushed to join the fight. The Mage, seeing the opportunity, Misty Stepped past the party to end up next to the unconscious Tom. With one swift movement he stabbed Tom through the chest. Immediately after Tom bled out and died, his soul being sucked into the Soulmonger immediately.
While the rest of the party did mourn the death of Tom, no one knew just how badly this was going to hurt Dra’goul. In the months following, the guilt of being directly responsible for the death of his best friend tore away at him internally. As his mental state slowly spiraled into depression, his use to the party slowly declined as well. His typical spell rotations shifted from healing the party to throwing damage as much as he could.
Months after this, when deep in the bowels of the Tomb of Annihilation, things came to a head. One of the newer members to the party, Lex, a warforged Wizard with a penchant for making the smart move but not the wise move, made a drastic mistake. You see, prior to the events above, some Hags had acquired the blood of a few of the party. The affected members were, Tom, Dra’goul, Snarl, and Bamoli (a dwarven fighter, who goes through some SERIOUS stuff at this point as well, but that is another story altogether). As they turned to descend a stairwell, Dra’goul came face-to-face with Tom, albeit a smaller, weaker pitiful version of him created from the blood of Tom.
Dra’goul, not yet processing what was happening, attempted to heal Tom, to no effect. The rest of the party had not yet realized what was happening, as they could see Dra’goul, but didn’t see Not-Tom. Not-Tom only had memories up until his death, and he had since ben stuck in this dungeon with Not-Dra’goul (We will touch on this in a minute), who told him essentially everything Dra’goul knew and thought. Not-Tom knew Dra’goul let him die over something so seemingly petty. And the words out of Not-Tom’s mouth cut deeper then any knife could.
“You told me, you let me die.”
Dra’goul, frozen in shock and fear, had no response to Not-Tom’s next actions. Not-Tom began stabbing at him with a small dagger. Lex, who had just come around the corner, saw Not-Tom’s actions and made the logical next step, he stabbed and killed Not-Tom.
This sent Dra’goul into an intense rage. See, in his mind, Tom was back somehow, and now Lex (who he already didn’t like at all) killed him. So Dra’goul went charging after Lex, while the Centaur Paladin, Sadida, tried fruitlessly to hold him back. Lex cast Invisibility on himself to hide from the rage-fueled dragonborn, while the rest of the party got pulled into combat with a crowd of Modrons. After a few seconds and watching his good friend Anders get pin-cushioned by arrows, Dra’goul snapped out of it and assisted the party. Sadida, who had continued to defend Lex due to their history together, went up to Dra’goul after and asked him if he was good now. Heavily indicating the sudden feud between him and Lex (who was still not visible to the party). Dra’goul turned to the Centaur, and stated very bluntly, “If I see that wizard again, I will kill him.”
Sadida was very hesitant about trusting the dragonborn at this point, due to the words he overheard from Not-Tom on the staircase, and his intent to kill someone Sadida found an extremely important asset to the group. So, when they continued down the steps, Sadida made a point to let Dra’goul go first to keep an eye on him.
In the floor below the entire room was shrouded in a green mist, Dra’goul went first to investigate and vanished into the mist. He walked into a cage hidden from the party and met Not-Dra’goul. Where Not-Tom was a lesser version of himself, Not-Dra’goul seemed stronger, as if he was just as healthy as Dra’goul himself.
Not-Dra’goul began tearing into Dra’goul about how he was not worthy of his own powers. How he was pathetic for living as he had after Tom’s death. Dra’goul dropped his weapon, one bestowed on him by his Goddess herself unable to fully contain the mixture of emotions swirling inside him. Not-Dra’goul picked up his sword and activated it, something Dra’Goul was unable to do since the floor above. Not-Dra’goul spoke of all Dra’goul’s failings to live in the memory of Tom. Reaching forward, Not-Dra’goul attempted to cast a spell on Dra’goul, who was unwilling to allow this.
“Even now you refuse to see the truth,” Not-Dra’goul said disappointedly.
Dra’goul, pathetically swung with his bare fist, unable to make any kind of solid contact on the visage before him. Not-Dra’goul began to shine, a set of golden armor, gleaming with every color imaginable and some unknown. Solidifying in Dra’goul’s mind, that this Not-Dra’goul, was more worthy to Lliira then he was. Dra’goul’s mind began to break.
Not-Dra’goul summoned a Guardian of Faith, in the figure of Tom. Dra’goul was unable to successfully defend himself at this point, and slowly his health dwindled all the while Not-Dra’goul’s words stung more than the Guardian ever could.
He slumped down onto his knees. His entire existence slowly coming apart in his own mind. Grief and guilt, self-hatred and loathing, all crammed into his mind was wearing away at his mind and heart.
Not-Dra’goul stabbed the sword into the ground next to Dra’goul and stepped back. Dra’goul’s last remaining health drained away as the spectral Tom looked on.
In his coma, Lliira came to visit. She admonished Dra’goul heavily. He had strayed from the path. Let himself become adsorbed so much in how he failed his friend that he was no longer living for him, but almost living despite him. Tom was a bard, and Lliira took great joy in his song, and the joy he brought the world. “Tom’s song didn’t die with him,” Lliira began to raise her voice, “It lives on in you. But when you live in anger and hatred, you are silencing a beautiful song.” So Lliira gave him a choice. Will he right his wrongs, and live honorably for Tom’s sake? Dra’goul accepted, what choices did he really have?
Dra’goul awoke, still on the cold stone floor where he had collapsed. Not-Dra’goul was still there and reached his hand out to help him up. As he stood, the gleaming armor started to fade from Not-Dra’goul. As it did so, it formed around Dra’goul instead. Not-Dra’goul slowly withered away, and Dra’goul felt strong, the healthiest he had in a long time.
In the following hours, Dra’goul took his newfound strength and determination and led his party into the chambers of the Lich Acererak, where he was instrumental in killing him, and ended his plans of death accross Chult.