INFERNO OF THE STAR MOUNTS
Tales of a red dragon of awesome age, power, fire-magic mastery, and hoard size have long been told and retold across the Heartlands and Sword Coast North. The dragon Inferno is said to lair in the heart of the High Forest, in a cave high on the north face of Angaroth, highest peak of the Star Mounts. Inferno is also said to devour even the mightiest adventurers who come against him.
Despite their wild claims, few Inferno legends are baseless. There really is a reclusive, magic-studying great dragon named Inferno (at least to humans, who have simplified his real name, "Imvaernarhro") in the Star Mounts, and his fire spells are impressive even to archmages of long years and many achievements.
Imvaernarhro is seldom seen by those in surrounding lands because he controls a portal -- possibly of Netherese origin -- that linked its cavern (in a small and nameless side-peak of the Star Mounts) with a wilderland continent on the far face of Faerūn where vast wild herds of beasts graze plains where no humanoid hunts, and where Inferno can sport and feed at will.
Imvaernarhro has never laired in the infamous cave on Angaroth. Before he found it, another dragon (whom he slew) had transformed it into a great death-trap, crammed with harmful spells, covered spiked pits, deadfalls, and collected deadly automatons and constructs. Imvaernarhro maintains it, deriving great entertainment from the sufferings of adventurers who seek him therein.
Imvaernarhro maintains dozens of caverns around the Star Mounts, some as treasure caches and a few sleeping chambers floored in "beds" of (as many as 100,000, each) gold coins. Imvaernarhro's combined wealth in gold coins alone has been estimated at "at least a dozen million" by the mage Elminster. Imvaernarhro has traditionally kept to himself, troubling other dragons and the wider world little (except those who seek to violate his privacy). Aside from the diversions of dealing with intruding adventurers, his time was spent chiefly in sleeping -- for decades at a time -- and in experimenting with fire magics. Curiously, recent "rages" among dragonkind seem to have left him unaffected; he might be magically protected against them.
However, Imvaernarhro's isolationist ways are changing. He now seems to be taking an interest in the expanding Silver Marches, Thay's expanding network of enclaves, and the politics and society of "civilized" Faerūn. He spends much time scrying as well as using spells to send messages or give orders to humans, especially outlaws and adventuring bands. Thus far, most of these communications have either been "Don't do that or I'll do thus to you!" missives, or "You should know X" (where "X" is information that will send the listener rushing to attack a rival, get to a revealed-by-Imvaernarhro treasure first, or meddle in something to further their own long-standing interests).
It's too soon to discern the dragon's motives for such meddling. Does he seek merely to stir things up for his personal entertainment? Set lands to war with each other, to weaken them all so none can threaten him (and he can raid for food at will)? Or, like priesthoods and the Chosen of Mystra and so many others, does he seek to steer and shape realms and their affairs to his own liking?
IMVAERNARHO CR 40
Inferno likes to know his foes: Before revealing himself in any direct confrontation, he'll want to observe intruders, making sure he's aware of all of them and of their caches, any hiding-places, and any magical concealments or misdirections. He might cast spells to find out as much as he can about who is approaching, and then enjoy trying to correctly anticipate what they're up to and what tactics they'll adopt.
He takes great delight in successfully manipulating humans and other humanoid races into doing things he wants -- and even greater delight in "aiming a weapon" by somehow getting a human to go and do a task or attack a target of Inferno's choosing. After centuries of delighting in magic and largely ignoring other intelligent beings and their societies, Inferno is enjoying honing his manipulative skills. (Turning defiance to fear is enjoyable too.)
Inferno will try to make adventurers who reach him turn aside from trying to attack or rob him, and instead strike against Zhentarim active in Anauroch and across the North, certain wizards and sorcerers in Silverymoon, and members of the Cult of the Dragon (whose identities and whereabouts he seems well-versed in) all across the Heartlands and the North. Imvaernarhro also seems to view Shade as a threat. He wants it explored, and its citizens (if they can be caught alone, in situations where they can't call on aid or communicate what's happening to them to their fellow inhabitants of Shade) covertly destroyed, ideally by adventurers he can nudge (not command directly) into such acts.
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