The trip to the suspected area of the lair would take the party of slayers north-east along the Old Road until they would reach Loc Lake where they could cross Farm Creek over the cart bridge since Miller’s Bridge was still being rebuilt and the creek was raging from the snow melt; more of a river at this time of year really. They could then follow the creek south-east and follow the rise up to the cliffs over the canyon where the former Greyling lair is located (see Pt. 4) where they could investigate the woods on the plateau in the foothills of the easterly Arn Mountains and the possibility of a low entrance in a narrow strip of canyon formed by the foothills whereabouts the low entrance to the Greyling lair was. The trip would take around 4 and a half days if they moved at a decent pace and baring any unseen trouble.
The trip began without incident our heroes keeping up the rear while the three covered wagons and horses trotted at a leisurely pace for around two days. Lundo rode next to Bers often both flirting with one another. A messenger on a fast steed rode up the evening of the second day of travel as the party sauntered towards Miller’s Fork where they would set up camp. The rider rode up to Orik and delivered some papers and took up a position in the rear next to Dead-Eye. They had a short conversation with Dead-Eye getting a bit more information about the Blackwing Dragon-Slayers Guild.
The main guild-house was located in Chago and the guild was seeking to establish itself outside of the Chago sphere of influence. The contract with Lord Dreyhawk was exactly what they were waiting for. The guild specialized in the hunting of marsh dragons and chromatic blacks as well as a few other species found prowling the coastline and dealt in the loot taken from hordes when found and dragon bone and hides. He also found that they had a poor knowledge of the Cleft-Rills and any part of the Westlands outside of the Ivoran Coast.
The party camped near the base of a hummock about 2 miles north of Miller’s Fork the area was mostly an open glade of high bright green grasses with clomps of bushes and trees scattered across the scene with a few hedges immediately around the camp. Once the camp was set Orik decided to crack open the ale casks, a job Lundo, Anizia and Shin eagerly volunteered for. The wagons were circled and the camp at center was gathered around a large fire and the whole party excluding Dead-Eye and Bers drank and ate late into the night. Bers played it off that she was drinking when Lundo would hand her a wood jack filled to the brim with brew and Dead-Eye kept patrolling the immediate area occasionally checking around the hummock just knowing something “was gonna go down.”
The entire camp began to echo with a chorus of snores as just about all of the slayers fell asleep save for the questionable Ivorans and Bers Dead-Eye being out of sight a fair distance away and Olf having wandered off the previous day. Bers decided to play it off and closed her eyes and acted as if she had dozed off. Lundo who was immediately next to her bought it; Jen (Bers’ player) rolled a Natural 20 on her Bluff. She heard him get up from his bedroll and felt his boots at her sides as he apparently stood over her. Jen was smiling asking, “Is he going to kiss me?” Bers opened her eyes. She saw Lundo hovering over her half straddling her with a big sh*%-eating grin his face and his fist cocked back ready to bust her straight in the face the emeralds on his silver bracers glittering venomously in the firelight. She immediately shouted and luckily Dead-Eye heard and started running frantically back to camp. Meanwhile Lundo cracked her in the face breaking her nose and Anizia knocked Bers’ axe away with her green quarterstaff. Bers threw Lundo off of her and went for her axe. Anizia tripped her then smashed her with the staff. Dead-Eye reached the covered wagons in a dust cloud and was immediately ambushed by Shin whose gold necklace bearing a single large emerald was glowing with an intense green light which outlined his body and armed with a pair of matching bowie knives. Dead-Eye immediately pulled his sword and bowie knife and engaged the Ivoran knife fighter. Lundo immediately leapt onto Bers again but was unable to pin her and she power-punched him in the head bloodying his mouth and was bashed with Anizia’s staff again on an attack of opportunity. As combat progressed into the second round Dead-Eye continued to battle Shin both of whom kept parrying with one weapon then striking with the other both getting badly wounded in the fray. Bers jumped up again power-punching Lundo yet again hurting him badly and snatched for her axe but was tripped by Anizia and cracked again by her staff. Lundo punched her again in the face while she was down filling her mouth with blood. By the end of the round Shinzarro dropped and Dead-Eye was bleeding badly and Bers managed to get her ax and cut Lundo in two with a single stroke and was again bashed squarely in the head by Anizia’s staff in another attack of opportunity. Dead-Eye and Bers attacked the half-Ivoran acrobat with Dead-Eye getting in the deathblow on his second attack of the third round. During the fray none of the sleeping Blackwings stirred.
Our heroes went and checked each one finding they were only sleeping and investigating Lundo’s saddlebags found an empty bottle from which probably had contained a powerful sleeping potion. They also found a cloak the gear of each of the three which had been painted in a camouflage pattern (see Pt. 6 & 12) but thought nothing of it.
Bers: “Were they assassins?”
Dead-Eye: “The damned green dragon sent ‘em.”
Bers: “I knew that guy was shady.”
They left the apparently draconic gear on the three would-be assassins and waited for the Blackwings to awake which they did around noontime. They told all that had occurred to Orik and they buried the bodies in shallow graves along with their gear just in case the dragon had built in some surprises. A few days later they had arrived at their destination on the high ground overlooking the ground entrance of the old Greyling lair with high cliffs directly south. The night passed quietly ‘too quietly’ in Dead-Eye’s words as the dragon didn’t attempt anything during the night. Come dawn Orik gave the orders to gear up and the search began. It didn’t last long the first to find the ground entrance to the lair was Dead-Eye using his impressive tracking skill. The mouth of the cave was fairly high up on a steep rocky hill-slope on the far northern face of the narrow canyon north of the former Greyling lair. The cave could be accessed by a steep slope of talus but there was a small open glade before the pile of gravel which was covered in Blister Plants. These poisonous plants grow along the ground covering a large area with their leafy vines. Four leafless vines grow from the top of the plant which if the plant is disturbed by (detects any) creatures within reach of these four vines these flail wildly delivering toxic sap which causes blistering and severe itching.
The Blackwings thanked Dead-Eye and Bers and paid them their due but wouldn’t let them accompany them into the lair.
Orik: “Guild business ya’know.”
Dead-Eye: <grumble, grumble>
Bers: “Aww, that sucks!”
The professional dragon-slayers left Bers and Dead-Eye on the high ground with the wagons and the few hirelings that they had hired in Fertum Dreyhawk promising more money if they help them haul the dragon-treasure back. So our duo waited…and waited.
After two days the hirelings left, Dead-Eye keeping a close eye on them so they didn’t walk off with anything. He then checked the wagons for anything they might use finding several iron chests locked and guild-marked. He found about a 100 feet of high-quality rope and a couple of healing potions in an already open and mostly empty lock-box.
Bers: “Those guys are dead aren’t they.”
Bers: “All of them?”
That afternoon they made their way to the edge of the Blister Plant field. They took great care to prowl through the clearest route through the Blister Plants, found by Dead-Eye of course, which they surprisingly did fairly easy. They got to the talus slope and Dead-Eye surmounted without a problem. Bers on the other hand made it half way up the slope, slipped and slid all the way down into the Blister Plants which began to whip her with their vines causing her face and all exposed skin to be covered in ugly (bringing her Physical Beauty even further down BTW) weeping blisters. In an effort to help her Dead-Eye shot the closest plant to her with an arrow forgetting that the plants are covered in sap-filled blisters which splatter toxic sap everywhere thereby covering Bers in more poison.
Dead-Eye: “@#$%! Just run!”
She ran away from the plant and again made it almost to the top of the talus and stumbled again and slid down to the bottom. At this point Dead-Eye tossed her the end of the rope he had found and pulled her to the top.
Dead-Eye: “Do you need a healing potion?”
Bers: “Na, I’m good.”
They walked into the cave mouth not bothering to try to sneak as they figured the dragon probably knew they coming by now.
To Be Continued…