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The Dragonslayers III Pt. 30: The Slayers Have Arrived

It took just about two days to backtrack and find the old rowboat that they

Guild Mark of the Black Wings Hirok-Nor Chapter

Guild Mark of the Black Wings Hirok-Nor Chapter

had abandoned upon surmounting the White Heath. Vorwulf used his jeweled gold closed helm and enchanted the craft with the Mysterial Chariot spell. In an hour and a half they were at the gates of the Hill-lander town of Aáhké. The gate guards’ shields were all now painted with the arms of the town: a gold chalice before a split field of white and red with a golden mace and sword crossing behind the chalice. As the slayers plus Xanto the Wasp approached the captain of the guard asked Vorwulf, “Wha’ happened ta’ ya’a fellas?” Vorwulf proceeded to go into full-on brag mode. Before the triumphant ranger/dragon-slayer could finish his self-aggrandizing speech the captain waved them through and as soon as they were through the gates the group split up almost immediately. Though they had been victorious and were reveling in the afterglow they appeared haggard, covered in road dirt, covered in scabs, and were still exhausted.

Vor was already sitting down to a table at the Red Ram Tavern with a full tankard of ale and a bottle of whiskey before he realized that he had forgotten to officially arrest the Wasp and detain him as was his duty. He just shrugged and began to put one on. Meanwhile Grom the shaman had kept his head about him and followed the Wasp as soon as the group split going in all different directions. He lost sight of him for a second and the Wasp was gone. He had lost him. Magiia the dragon-blood-warrior was already headed to her room at the inn intent on spending her time refining more dragon-blood potions. Grom joined Vor and later they both spent the night in Maggi’s room.

Come morning before even Vor could wake, the shaman had already tracked down the Wasp and about an hour after sunrise had guided the group to a make-shift tavern consisting of a canvas tent and a covered wagon next to the Aáhdrahké distillery in the West Quarter along King’s Walk. When the slayers arrived they saw Aáhdrahké clansmen everywhere and what appeared to be a caravan queuing next to a small courtyard. From a carriage bearing the mark of the Aáhdrahké, a blue bull with white horns before a solid green field, painted on it stepped the Xanto. He was in native finery with a cape of black silk with the embroidered clan mark on display, a pair of soft felt shoes with jeweled buckles, and a fine silver capped walking stick.

Vorwulf (played by Cris): “You! Wasp! Get over here! You’re under arrest by the authority of the Blackwings Dragonslayers Guild of Hirok-Nor!”

Xanto immediately jaunted over to the slayers filled with nervous energy: “Friends! Friends! What a surprise! Hehe. Um, can’t we work something out make a deal. C’mon we’re friends right? C’mon! I saved your @$$es up there in case you were not aware! Guys?”

Grom and Maggi kept a stoney gaze with hard expressions directed at jittery and smiling Wasp-mage.

Vorwulf (gesturing to the clansmen): “This man here, Xanto the Wasp has a PRICE on his head! The Blackwings guild will pay any man here who manages to bring him in.”

This started Xanto to start raising himself up and down on his ankles trying to shush the irritated alderman. “Wait! Wait. Hold on friend for just a second.” The skinny mage turned and spotting what appeared to be a noble or at least someone of importance wearing a similar outfit but with a tartan across his chest who was exiting the main building. He ran up to this man, a full-blood faun, and it appeared for the next minute or so that they were arguing but soon enough the noble gestured his men and they brought forth an iron chest from the strong-carriage in the caravan line.

Magiia (played by Jenn): “Oh no. What’s this guy up to NOW?”

Grom (played by Gil): “Don’t worry guys I got ‘em. Maybe I can turn ‘em all into chickens.”

The strongbox was opened and the noble paid out the 10,000 gp bounty on the Wasp’s head in gold talons to the slayers which they happily accepted.

Gil: “Hey. Why are they protecting this guy?”

Cris: “It’s whatever he took from the mushroom; you KNOW he took a piece of it or something.”

Vorwulf (looking the Wasp right in the eye): “If you ever step foot in Merdna or we catch you anywhere near Hirok we’re gonna arrest you and ship you to Chago!”

The Wasp (with s#*t-eating grin): “Don’t worry it’ll all get squared away! Are we not on good terms again? Besides I’m headed south. Maybe we’ll share a drink together!”

He took his leave at about the same time the slayers took theirs them being eager to get back home.

They soon picked up some supplies (mostly bottles of whiskey) and headed south back to Hirok-Nor and their adopted hometown of Merdna. While coasting down Barbarian’s Tread the surpassed the Aáhdrahké caravan noticing it too was going south.

Grom: “Man! Is he gonna make us arrest him?”

Jenn: “Heh. You really like him don’t you?”

Gil just grinned and shrugged.

After a couple of days and a battle with some Night-Trolls and a Formorian they arrived back in Merdna. The workman were assembled and digging ditches for the foundations of their guild house and dismantling the West Gate and setting a temporary palisade around the construction site. They arrived at the Hopping Rat and could see that Bers’ memorial statue had been finished and was standing in their courtyard. As soon as they entered Og and Trasknor (Grom’s & Vorwulf’s protégés respectively) whom were tending the place got them up to date on happenings round town leaving Ebor the bartender to man the board. Kyrahma had been spotted by them both transformed back into an amazon on the night of the green moon smashing the place up before she ran away, they haven’t seen her since. The framing for the guild house will be up by next summer; the foundation excavations are proceeding. Street crime even with the tat-eyes on the street is getting bad as more and more of former Black Soldiery are filtering in the cheap black paint cleaned off for the most part. Vezik the druid had sent a leather wrapped parcel for them in the back that had arrived a few days before. So the slayers went into the back past the tat-eye ratlings, no doubt agents of their criminal “guild” keeping an eye on the place, to see what it was. The slayers took the rest of the day off and on the following day spent it wrapping up business.

They had gotten the deed for Raven’s Eyrie in Grom’s name instead of the guilds from Lord Vorahd and Vorwulf sent off a magical pigeon to the Chago Blackwings. Vorwulf also used the 150 star-metal ingots from the group treasury to commission some breast plates, and axe & spear heads for the gate guards. As a celebration that evening Vorwulf opened the carved stone bottle he had purchased from Ole’ Twist back in Aáhké (see the Dragonslayers III Pt.20) in the rear storeroom of the Rat. They proceeded to ‘battle’ the whiskey elemental that exploded from it. Grom attempted to tackle the thing but belly-flopped onto the table and had his head engulfed in whiskey, he soon passed out due to extreme inebriation. All the while Vor and Maggi were scooping bits of the unfortunate creature up in their gold chalice and fine drinking horn. It was Maggi that drank the last gulp as Vorwulf passed out cold after his fourth or fifth chalice-full. The ferenoi stumbled out into the tap-room and “hung out there” until dawn.

Next afternoon, about the time all three had finally sobered up, they were given a letter from Xanto which he had left with Ebor. The Aáhdrahké caravan had passed through town the previous night and the Wasp had dropped in for a drink. The message ran as thus:

 

Too bad we couldn’t have a last drink together but I’ve gone South to a place called Skullhead to see some friends, brothers by the name of Dracorian. I’m sure you’re unfamiliar. Anyway.

Ciao!

P.S. – The wand I used to transfer that one book to the other is behind the seal.

 

They sat around thinking about it for a while until near the end of the day when it struck Magiia. She checked the area for the seal that had been stamped on some of the oldest bottles in the cellar and found a stone above the hearth bearing it. She reached up to the gryphon seal above the hearth and found it opened having a hollow behind it. Within the hollow they found a golden rod and a scroll describing its use. They could finally transfer the Tome of Dragonslaying from the troll-tome back to its rightful binding.

 

****

 

Grom the Shaman took up residence in Raven’s Eyrie where he began his research into things arcane. Magiia spent the rest of her life on constant dragon-hunts alternating between that and bouts of heavy drinking in the Hopping Rat. Vorwulf was eventually officially named guild-master of the Hirok-Nor chapter of the Blackwings Dragonslayers’ Guild, and spent the rest of his life funding repeated expeditions into eastern Cleft-Rills in search of the ultra-rare Brown-Spine Dragon he’s sure was there but to no avail so it may still be there somewhere. The Tat-Eye Ratlings kept up their end of the contract with the Blackwings and rose to a level of power equal to that formerly enjoyed by the Crossed-Staffs had been dominating the region and frequenting the Hopping Rat which has a massive mural along one side of the outside walls portraying Magiia slaying the red dragonlord with the other two standing behind her, commissioned by Maggi of course, and the statues memorializing Dead-Eye and Bers stand in the courtyard of the Hopping Rat marking their graves the urns containing their ashes being buried at the statues’ feet. After the erection of the guild house, the Blackwings became the biggest name in dragon-slaying in the pan Norusk/Hirok-Nor/Cleft-Rills region.

The End of the Third Dragon-Slayers Campaign (played between February and September 2015).

Finis.

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 29: Dueling the Dragon Lord

The Courtyard - 'X' marks the mushroom!

The Courtyard – ‘X’ marks the mushroom!

The great red dragon was at least 50 ft. in length not counting its powerful tail and extra-long neck. Its head was crowned with several spear-long ivory horns which ran along the spine in a ridge of spikes on its back to the end of and studding the tail. Its dark red scales resembled dark red shields battle-worn each but all still true. Three skulls of adult dragons, species unknown, hung clunking about its neck on a necklace alongside a shield-sized golden medallion covered in dragon-scratch. On a single claw was a carved jade ring like the one taken from the steel-helmed juggernaut which Vorwulf wore as an arm torque.

Vorwulf shot a dragon-bone arrow from his longbow which shattered harmlessly on the magic shield that appeared around the monster, its gold medallion glowing brightly. He activated an item gaining a magic shield of his own. Grom as soon as he caught sight of the legendary beast, the one which had wiped out his tribe leaving only him and his protégé, froze in his tracks a victim of his own panic. The dragon’s throat inflated with a hideous sucking sound, its jaws gaped and a white hot blast of fire shot out as it swept the entire area its back to the burgeoning millennium mushroom. Vorwulf took shelter behind the large stones under the ruined archway avoiding all the damage, Grom the shaman and Magiia however took the blast surprised that half of the damage bypassed their protection from fire dealing quite a bit of damage. Mags stopped her charge and drank down a healing potion. The first drake swooped over the rocks near the entrance to the courtyard and snapped at Vorwulf whom parried easily with his superior quality bronze buckler. The third and fourth of the three fire drakes swooped down at Maggi with their claws and caught her off guard as she ran towards the “big one” intent on “tasting his blood”. The flames of battle rose to a rage very quickly, three of the Drakes lashed out at Vorwulf as he tried to keep rounding the edges of the battle field using his bow more on them than on his main target as intended and the other Drake continued to pester Maggi. Grom fought top overcome his fear but eventually had to resort to casting Dispel Fear on himself. The dragon cast Hold Person on Maggi stopping her before she could get a blow in; she fortunately was still able to activate the Shield ability on her Bronze Helm. The dragon then turned and gupled the Ferenoi down following a massively powerful bite. Grom rushed forward eager to join the fray.

Maggi’s shield beginning to waver in the volcanic acid-bath of the dragon-lord’s stomach, Maggi was able to shake off the dragon-magic with a Natural 20 (the ONLY way she could’ve done so). Two of the Fire Drakes continued their assault against Vorwulf who was able to deflect their claws with his buckler. He quick-drew his swords and struck back concentrating his blades on the first of the two dealing some damage to the beast. Grom ran forward towards the dragon-lord and drew his morning star of Supernatural Might. The dragon glanced back keeping an evil green eye on the mushroom. Then as Maggi used all her might to slash with axe into the walls of the monster’s stomach it vomited her up. The Drake that remained near the dragon lunged at the shaman. The other drakes continued after the ranger, he continued to hack and slash at them. Maggi stood up and struck at the dragon-lord causing the second charge of his shield to be knocked down. The dragon stomped on her a great blast of dust mixed with the swirling coal smoke. Mags was able to work her way form under the dragon’s gigantic claw the way greased by the dragon-vomit which she was covered in as well as her own blood which flowed freely from her mouth and nose. The two Drakes fighting Vorwulf finally dropped their black blood spreading over the white ground where they fell. Maggi pulled herself up desperately trying to stay conscious (she made a Recovery check versus the stomp).

Jenn (Magiia’s player): “I’m on K-O points here!”

Grom dropped from the sky to her side with the third Fire Drake on his tail.

Vorwulf knocked an arrow and shot at the dragon-lord finally dispelling the monster’s magic shield for the final time that day. Grom tried his morning-star against the dragon’s hide; he found he was quite ineffective barely scratching a single scale (he did three points of actual damage to it). Maggi activated her shield and let loose a power-attack at the dragon who easily batted the whistling blow to the side. The last drake snapped at the shaman wounding him. The dragon struck at Maggi dispelling her shield with a single blow. Grom again tried his weapon against the dragon-lord (this time dealing about six points of actual damage). Maggi wound her body up and smashed her axe into the last drake felling it in a gory spray of blood and organs. Vorwulf was launching dragon-bone arrow after dragon-bone arrow at the red monster. He activated his boots of Fleet of Foot and the Eyes and Ears of the Dragon ability on his coif. Nearly all his shots at the dragon missed so he shot an acid-arrow at the monster which had little to no effect. In the ensuing struggle Maggi was forced into another recovery check to avoid losing consciousness and Grom used the Heal ability on his mithral open helm to being the Ferenoi back up to almost full health. She was able to counter a claw strike but dealt very little real damage with that blow. Then all of the slayers let loose a united frustrated groan as the red dragon-lord with a wave of its nasty claw summoned four more fire drakes. Its tail swept at both Maggi and Grom, the Dragon-Blood Warrior was able to get out of the way but the shaman took a great deal of bludgeoning damage and was forced into a recovery check to remain standing.

Jenn: “Well at least its shields are down.”

Vorwulf shot an arrow deep into the first newly summoned fire drake. Maggi hacked into the third, the nearest to her, hurting it. The dragon unleashed its horrific breath weapon for a second time sweeping the area forcing Grom to dodge into a nearby pit to avoid it and imminent death, Mags was barely able to absorb the damage she couldn’t avoid. Her life was now hanging by a thread though the bleeding was cauterized. Vorwulf had been just out of the area of effect. The drake on Maggi struck and she countered wounding it blood gushing. The first and second flew after Vorwulf; he was able to avoid their claws and teeth. The third leapt into the pit after the shaman. Grom in mid-fall was able against the odds, to quicken Bestial Might on himself magically morphing into his bizarre winged and furry form. He set himself down on the uneven ground below realizing he was in a high ceilinged vault which was choked with fallen stones and ruin. Up ahead he could see a strange glimmering light where the tunnel intersected with another; he briefly considered trying to seek out the Wasp whom they all believed to be down here somewhere. He ducked behind an amorphous pile of spider-webs, stones, and broken wood as he could hear the snarling of the incoming drake. Above ground the dragon snapped its jaws at Maggi who avoiding the blow lashed out and nailed it dealing it some decent damage. Vorwulf pulled out his great axe, he had run out of dragon-bone arrows, and engaged the drakes that were attacking him. Maggi dueled the dragon and drake while underground the shaman drank down a potion of Barkskin while trying to keep hidden as he could hear the drake trying to sniff him out. Before he stepped out he activated the Mage Armor ability on his necklace and made a run for it running past the beast and leaping into the air while it gave chase. No sooner had Maggi backed off and drank down a healing potion than she felt the claws of the drake raking her ribs (she rolled a Natural 1 versus the blow). The shaman burst out of the pit and swept over Maggi’s position. The drake on his tail was blur as it zoomed out of the pit and attempted a dive attack on him but floundered unexpectedly and smashed face first into the ground (it had rolled a Natural 1) at full speed killing itself.

Vorwulf closed with the dragon-lord, two drakes following him, Maggi struck at the drake still on her wounding it badly, and Grom also let loose a power-attack with his morning star on the same target dealing some damage. The dragon turned towards the mushroom which was now much taller and glowing with a strong and very pronounced eerie white light. The drakes continued their assault. Grom flew up 100 ft. above the dragon. The dragon swept its tail at Mags and she deflected the blow with her axe and countered it burying her axe in its hide. Vorwulf concentrated his attacks against the drakes using the magical speed granted by his boots to deliver a series of power-attacks felling two of the remaining three. The dragon unleashed a Swarm of Magic Missiles to little effect and then a claw at Maggi forcing her to recover. She was again in dire straits. Vorwulf, after dropping the two drakes, drank down yet another potion of healing.

Vorwulf then redoubled his efforts on the remaining drake dropping the already blood-ragged beast before it even had a chance to act. Maggi chopped into the dragon again. The dragon turned itself around to face the slayers and moved forward trampling Maggi then turned its face up unleashing a blast of its lethal breath at the flying shaman who was just able to get out of the way. Grom flew over near the tail end of the dragon struck at it; his weapon glanced harmlessly off of its armored hide. Vorwulf stepped back and exchanged his great axe for his cutlass and the Dragon Bane Longsword with the large rock-crystal pommel stone. The runes on the blade read, “Suck the Breath & Drink Deep the Dragon’s Blood”. Maggi power-attacked the dragon again wounding it and both Vor and the shaman focused their efforts towards cutting the monster to ribbons. It unleashed a Hold Person spell on Vor but he was able to resist, barely. They continued fighting it slowly making headway as its wounds began to multiply, Grom buzzed around striking and moving. The dragon-lord struck out at the flying shaman but missed only due to the constant Displacement spell emanating from the magic robes he wore. Using his magical speed Vorwulf continued to subject the great monster to a death by a thousand cuts.

All three of the slayers battled on for the next two rounds with their greatest enemy, all taking their share of wounds, their armor getting torn and dented. Maggi took the brunt of the dragon’s rage spending much of that time surviving by recovery-check and the shaman expending all of his healing touches per day. Grom found himself underfoot and was nearly crushed to death but fought his way out after struggling for two turns. At the beginning of the ninth round all including the dragon were badly wounded, bleeding, and filthy. All but the dragon were nearly out of breath nearing their threshold for exhaustion. Some of the dragon’s wounds closed and any bleeding stopped.

Cris (Vorwulf’s player): “S#*t! This is the last round and my boots are done. My armor’s nearly gone too.”

Jenn: “I’m out of potions! My girl’s bad, real bad right now!”

Gil (Grom’s player): “Yeah I’m hurt. My helmet’s out of Heal but I got some healing spells left.”

Cris: “Save ‘em. If we survive we’ll need ‘em.”

Grom swooped by the dragon doing a flyby attack dealing only a handful of actual damage. Vorwulf pulled a potion of Healing from his dragon-hide bandolier and downed it. Mags rushed forward again and let loose a powerful blow into the monster opening a deep and bloody gash. The dragon blasted its breath at Grom again and he dodged. Vorwulf moved over to Maggi and she surged forward again laying her axe into the dragon’s side. It reared and rushed forward trampling both Vor and Mags laying them out and leaving them bloodied and struggling to get to their feet in a cloud of choking dust. Grom did another flyby gliding down towards Maggi’s twitching figure. Realizing that it was nighttime Vorwulf activated the Cape of Bat Flight and shot straight up into the weird green night and drank down his last potion of Heal. Grom dumped his last potion of Heal down Maggi’s throat saving her life. The dragon lunged at Vorwulf striking out with its claws and tore into the airborne ranger wounding him badly. Its tail whacked Grom wounding him. Vorwulf, desperate, flew at full speed to the dragon and as he flew above its neck he canceled the cape’s effect and in midair went into a leap attack with both weapons.

Me (the GM): “Um, dude. you’re gonna wind up right next to him and he has an attack left.”

Cris: “S#*t. Damn. I uh…, Yup, he’s gonna kill. Ah..uh..Oh SCREW it, screw it.”

He threw himself towards its long and vulnerable neck with both weapons and as it turned it left itself open to his attack stretching its throat out for the Dragon Bane weapon in the ranger/dragon-slayer’s right hand (it rolled a Natural 1 to auto-parry). The first cutlass struck and laid open the hide to the muscle and the longsword sliced a bared artery, letting loose a virtual rain of steaming red-hot blood. He thumped to the ground on his feet and he, Grom, and the newly risen Magiia all had to dodge the dragon’s corpse as it convulsed in its death throes and fell with a crash. It was then that they saw that the mushroom which huge by then, it was starting to convulse madly jerking to and fro then suddenly it seemed to collapse in on its self, shrinking and shriveling into a nasty black mass then to nothing.

Cris: “Whatever the Wasp’s doing he’s doing it.” The others nodded in agreement.

There was a crack as of thunder and the energy of the leyline which the millennial thing had tied up and was sapping was suddenly freed exploded back into activity. All three of the slayers were injured by the explosion of magical energy. The strange green glow which had flooded the sky began to subside as the green moon began shrink away back into the darkness. The slayers looked about them and then to each other. They were all horribly wounded, completely battle-worn and utterly exhausted. Now all they had to do was travel back to town.

 

To Be Concluded…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 28: Follow that Wasp!

The slayers had gathered together the booty they looted from the corpses of the Sons of the Dragon including the unfortunate Archer. After Vor shot a few arrows to dispel the shield around the enemy bowman Grom had flown in above the half-dragon and cut his throat. Before the coup-de-grace they had agonized for a while over that decision. Vorwulf checked the juggernaut’s corpse, Maggi was searching the charred remains of Nose Bone, and Grom stripped the gear from the dead archer and flew it down to his companions. Their take comprised of a black lacquered composite shortbow probably with the True Strike ability on it, a large jade bracelet from the juggernaut which Vor was determined to wear as an arm torque, a superior quality spear that was magic but what it did they didn’t know, 4 superior quality throwing glaives which were also magical, a mithral arrow with red fletching definitely magical, 2 potions of Heal, a gold ring with a large emerald, and a pearl ring. They knew the massive mace that the juggernaut had wielded had the Thunderblast ability on it since it dealt quite a bit of damage to Maggs but that they left. They also left the gold medallions bearing the mark of the dragon that each of their enemies had also worn. They didn’t care about the bits of armor and none seemed to be holding any money or jewels. They packed their near gear away and readied to get back on the move.

Grom cast Restoration II on Magiia, she had been hit by one of the Draconian’s envenomed glaives. The shaman also decided to take the time to cast Impervious to Elements (Fire) on both himself and Vorwulf as it had served Maggi well in the battle. They took a look around mainly trying to locate Xanto the Wasp if he was anywhere near. He jumped out from behind a crumbling archway enwrapped in very dry vines.

The Wasp: “Guys! Hey! Over HERE! Let’s go its opening! It’s opening!”

He gestured to the darkening evening sky they could see the green moon was filling the sky with strange, green light and they now noticed that everything had a sickly green pallor cast over it. The Wasp extracted a small crystal sphere with a gold bee trapped at its center. He mumbled a quick spell over the orb and it disappeared with a pop leaving behind the gold be which immediately began to buzz and flew swiftly ahead the Wasp burst after it with his own blurring buzzing wings.

“C’mon Fellas!”

The Blackwings jaunted after the mischievous mage. Vorwulf took the opportunity to down his brand new Heal potion restoring himself to near full health. They proceeded through the weed & vine choked twists and turns of the maze-like ruins at a brisk pace leaping over sudden piles of dirt and stone and jerked to dodge unexpected obstructions and large fallen lichen patched blocks. All the while they were moving towards the pillars of black smoke which were all the more visible and appeared as hideous black pillars against the weird shimmering green sky that crackled with the blue-white bolts of magic energy from the active leyline which ran through the dead-center of the ancient city. They noticed the red-orange glow which began to bow over the shattered battlements more and more, tell-tale dragon-sign or at least the obvious light of a very large fire or fires.

The Wasp rounded a corner through a narrow but very tall archway and suddenly dodged to the side buzzing crookedly through barely avoiding the blade of a fairly large bipennis axe. He had nearly been cut in two by the surprise blow (at least in his retelling of it). Before the slayers stood near identical creature to the juggernaut but more lithe and wearing a polished steel helmet with a red-dyed horsetail tassel at its crown with large deer antlers mounted on either temple. The only differences besides the scant difference in build form the first juggernaut this one also had a jade bracelet on his left wrist and was wielding a long superior quality double-ended heavy bipennis axe. He ignored the Wasp whose buzzing was barely audible and was out of sight and turned towards the 3 slayers and took a fighting stance.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Ahh! I wondered where this guy was. Let’s do this.”

Gil (Grom’s Player): “Oh yeah, the guy the hunter told me about.”

Magiia charged and power-attacked with her axe but her blow was batted to the side with an unnatural ease and she suffered the very effective counter-attack wounding her badly in the very first exchange of the fight. Vorwulf lunged in simultaneously drawing his paired weapons and struck, the big-guy kicked a blast of dirt into his face but to no effect and he landed his double blows dispelling the magic shield, the half-dragon’s medallion burst with a golden glow. Grom stayed back and used his Rod of Magic Missiles which again hit the medallion’s shield. The half-dragon took a step back and slung one-end of his double-ended weapon at Maggi’s ankle trying to trip her nearly succeeding but ultimately failing to throw her on her back. He struck out with the other end at Vorwulf hacking into his armor and dealing a fair blow to the ranger/dragon-slayer.

Maggi struck out again but was again easily parried. Vorwulf followed with his paired swords and hit wounding the 10 ft.-tall brute and Grom sent another blast of magic missiles dealing no damage. The dragon-son swung at Maggi again but this she successfully parried the end aimed at her and struck back with a counter-attack smashing he axe into him unleashing a gout of red-hot dragon blood. With a roar the monster lashed the other end of his weapon at Vorwulf hitting him again. Maggi struck again wounding her enemy mortally but he was still on his feet. Vor followed up a second later dropping the half-dragon in a shower of gore. They made a quick check for the Wasp but he was nowhere to be seen. What they couldn’t know was that he was heedlessly buzzing along urging on companions who had ceased to follow quite some time ago.

They quickly looted the half-dragon’s corpse with Vorwulf putting on the jade bracelet as an arm-torque. They followed the path they though the Wasp had taken and soon could see his yellow and black striped form buzzing under an archway into a large high-walled courtyard where the ominous columns of black smoke were visible floating above the disintegrating battlements. It was fully dark now save for the weird lights of the green moon and the crackling leyline. The Wasp motioned for them to follow and he buzzed through the arch into the courtyard.

Cris: “Damned Wasp!”

Vorwulf: “HEY! WAIT UP!”

Vorwulf with the other two in tow moved swiftly to follow the Wasp through the tall archway between two half-ruined square towers. The group found themselves in a large triangular courtyard blocked on one side by a high hill of rubble and bush where several ruined buildings were scattered about. There were a few large gaping holes where the ground had fallen in and up ahead the group could see another archway between a pair of capped towers a large but badly defaced statue of white stone stood in front of each representing, possibly, wizard-like figures. Through that arch lay a larger courtyard where the dragon obviously lay as the red glow was shedding a bloody light over the triangular courtyard and a steady rain of fine black soot was raining down. The path under the arch was choked with two very large pieces of pale stone blocks.

The Wasp suddenly turned sharply to the east and buzzed through a large breach in the larger courtyard’s wall. Vorwulf sighed probably tinged with exhaustion more than frustration. He decided to try stealthily creep through the archway into the large courtyard hoping in vain to gain any kind of advantage. He moved around the last block in the path and saw before him a mostly barren courtyard bounded by mostly ruined 20 ft. battlemented walls. There several massive piles of burning coals and wood burning hotly placed at three corners around the place and several large cave-in holes in the ground and between all these at the center lay the dragon with its face peering at a small pale object that had a blinding crackling aura about it. It was the mushroom which seemed to increase in size as he looked on. He shot his eyes ot the east trying to spot for the Wasp. He caught sight of a yellow and black blur through the smoke of a smoldering coal field shooting across a short span of the courtyard and down into a nearby hole.

Vorwulf [more mumbling than anything else]: “Damned Wasp.”

He looked back as the rest of the group caught up with him being only a step behind. Suddenly the bone-white stalk of the millennial mushroom shot up and grew to at least 10 ft. in height in a second and its aura burst with white energy and the crackling energy of the leyline suddenly collapsed in on itself falling into the mushroom and disappearing all the while all sound seemed to just stop and everything seemed to freeze dead still for just a moment. The sky was a uniform dull green dominated now solely by the light of the weird green moon with only the pinholes of stars with which to share the night sky. The gigantic red dragon turned its horn-crowned head, the 3 dragon skulls slung around its neck clunking with strange music, its evil green eyes meeting those of Vorwulf. This was an ancient dragon.

It was also a dragonlord and a hybrid, its blood a mix of a Great Horned and a Chromatic Red dragon. Just as he realized this he heard Maggi’s war-cry echo out from behind him the frantic beating of her feet against the ground as she charged followed. The dragon, which still looked uninterested in them as it believed them no threat, waved a claw casually. Three large Red Drakes appeared near it and with a single beat of their wings they were roaring at the slayers through the air.

Vorwulf knocked a dragonbone arrow.

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 27: The Sons of the Dragon

Just in time Grom cast Protection from Elements (fire) on the Ferenoi before she was out of his reach. Magiia dashed between the ruined gate towers and leapt behind one of the large boulders to the side of the now revealed pit trap that had almost claimed Vorwulf. She peaked around and spotted a 10 ft. tall half-dragon partially concealed by a boulder about 45 ft. straight ahead in the cleft that lead via a slightly twisted path to the inner gate. The large guy behind the boulder was a human with vaguely draconic features with patches of bright red scales over most of his visible skin. He was wearing a scale mail shirt with a steel pectoral plate held by a cross-harness over that, a pair of spiked bronze bracers on each arm with bronze greaves on his legs, and a polished bronze open helm on his head which was decorated with a pair of nine-point deer antlers and red horsetail tassel streaming from the peak of the helmets crown. From his neck dangled a large gold medallion bearing the mark of the dragon. He was armed with a superior quality heavy two-handed spiked great mace. She couldn’t wait to sink her axe into him.

Magiia: “My axe is thirsty! THIRSTAAY!”

Grom the shaman stopped and tried to take as much cover as possible where he stood still between the decaying gate towers and by chance caught sight of the hidden archer whom was squatting camouflaged in a large clump of shrubs 10 ft. up on a ledge at the start of the cut-path at the base of a still intact crenulated wall. The archer was another human half-dragon with red scales and equipped with a steel pectoral plate, a wolfskin mantle, spiked bronze bracers on his ropey forearms, and a pair of bronze greaves protecting his legs. He had a gold medallion bearing the mark of the dragon around his neck, a red hip-bag, and a full hip-quiver filled with excellent and a few evil looking arrows. He was currently armed with a composite short-bow which was training on the shaman. Grom shouted and pointed the archer out to Vorwulf.

Vorwulf spotted another ducking behind a clump of woody shrubs just about 10 ft. across from the larger half-dragon, this one appeared to be a human dragon-shaman equipped with a red gambeson, a studded wide red leather belt with a red hip-sack, and a bishop’s mantle. He also bore similar spiked bronze bracers on his arms and bronze greaves on his legs. He was armed with a superior quality longspear with a pair of throwing glaives dangling from his belt. His skin was covered in a layer of red scales and his nose was pierced with a polished half-moon of boar’s tusk. The ranger could see the glitter of gems off of the rings on his fingers and from the gold medallion bearing the dragon’s mark around his neck.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Oh yeah of course! Of course they do!”

Jenn (Magiia’s Player): “Oh great! Are we gonna be able to hit these guys?” Referring to the cannibalistic barbarian’s they had faced several days previously (see The Dragonslayers III Pt.24: The Mark of the Dragon).

Vorwulf shot an arrow at the Nose-Bone dragon-shaman. The medallion glittered with a magical light and the arrow immediately turned and shot back at Vorwulf who barely parried his own arrow with his magical buckler. The half-dragon juggernaut from behind the boulder surged forward towards Vorwulf’s position. Vor caught sight of a dark feathered shape flapping its wings and slipping from the battlements at the top of a nearby tower atop a 10 ft. bluff to the west. It disappeared from sight as soon as it was clear of the shadows. He could hear something set down lightly on the boulder just behind the one behind which Maggi currently took cover. Nose-Bone stepped from behind the bushes and attempted to cast a spell but failed. The hidden archer took a pot shot at Vorwulf but the black arrow shattered on the ranger’s buckler.

Maggi pushed away from the boulder and charged the juggernaut, her obsession with killing dragons ultimately taking over, with a mighty battle-cry as soon as she reached the half-dragon juggernaut the ground before him exploded in a blast of fire but she was protected from the flames by Grom’s spell; undoubtedly a trap-spell cast by Nose-Bone. She swung but was easily parried. Grom cast mass bull’s strength granting his comrades and himself a badly needed bonus to their strength attributes. Vorwulf shot in the hidden archer’s direction (he missed the arrow zipped uselessly into the thicket) and moved away from the boulder on top of which he knew there was something he couldn’t see. The juggernaut nailed Maggi with his mace wounding her. Nose-Bone moved further back nearing the boulder from behind which Juggs had charged. A glaive flew unexpectedly at Grom whom dodged (barely). It had come from the top of the boulder on which Vor had heard something land. Now however, it was visible having made an attack dispersing the spell that had kept it invisible until now. On top of the rock was squatting a draconian with red-brown scales and with black feathers over its head and its black wings appeared as those of a large black raven. The creature was wearing a bright red gambeson over which was a steel pectoral plate held in place by a cross harness and spiked bronze bracers on its wrists and bronze greaves on its legs. It was armed with a superior quality quarterstaff and from its belt dangled a single superior quality throwing glaive.

Another black arrow with bright blue feathering shot from the thicket at Vor and exploded in a seismic blast which Vorwulf, thanks to his Improved Evasion feat, was able to completely evade. The blast was fortunately far enough out of the way not to catch anyone else in the area of effect. Maggi undaunted swung again at Juggs this time connecting with and dispersing the invisible magic shield that surrounded him his medallion burst with gold light. Vorwulf still armed with his longbow turned and shot at the top of the boulder striking a shield surrounding the feathered draconian. The juggernaut smacked Maggi with a Natural 20 and could’ve killed her in a single blow had she not previously activated the shield ability on her helmet. The draconian replied to Vorwulf’s arrow with his last glaive which Vorwulf masterfully parried with his buckler. Nose-Bone retreated behind the boulder out of sight. Another black shaft shot from the bushes and nailed Vor dealing some damage. Maggi replied the juggernaut’s devastating blow with one of her own which smashed away his final shield of the day signaled by the glow from his medallion suddenly going out with a pop. Grom slung a spell at the thicket in which the archer hid causing it to squirm to life and completely entangling and immobilizing him. Vorwulf tried to get another shot at the feathered draconian but fumbled burying the arrow in the dirt. Meanwhile the juggernaut smashed into Maggi this time as she hadn’t had a chance to re-activate her magic shield and blood gushed. Again Vorwulf shot at the draconian and again struck a magic shield but the light from his medallion also went out with a pop. Juggs hit Maggi again wounding her fairly badly this time.

Magiia leveled a power attack at the juggernaut burying her axe-blade deep in his flesh. Vorwulf buried and arrow with a Natural 20 in the feathered draconian who shrieked in pain. The juggernaut answered Maggi’s powerful hit with his own which only by the breadth of a hair she was able to deflect. Grom moved to the rear of the Ferenoi Maggi and used his healing touch to keep her standing. The draconian flapped its black wings and flew roaring at Vorwulf in an attempt to catch the ranger in its powerful and venomous jaws. Vorwulf dropped his bow, quick-drew his scimitar and cut into the monster with a simultaneous attack killing it. The strange corpse petrified into stone while still in the air and crashed to the ground. Maggi activated the Shield ability on her helmet and let loose with another power attack at Juggs opening another wound. Vorwulf stuck his swords in the dirt and grabbing his longbow back up knocked an arrow let off a wild shot at Nose-Bone pinioning him with an arrow wounding him badly. The juggernaut again tried to finish Maggi with another insanely powerful blow but only managed to smash away the shield spell surrounding her. Grom cast a Heal Other spell on Maggi trying to assure her survival. Nose-Bone peeked around his boulder and cast Fire Bane at Maggi. The Protection from Fire spell that Grom had cast over her protected her fully however Grom forgot to cast it on himself forcing him to make a Recovery Roll to keep standing. Vorwulf put away his bow, snatched up his swords and went for the juggernaut but his single blow was easily swatted away. Maggi leveled another axe-blow at Juggs taking another chunk out of him. Vorwulf now side-by-side with Magiia struck at and hit the juggernaut dealing very little damage. The half-dragon replied with his spiked mace but the blow was deflected far too easily off of Vorwulf’s buckler. Nose-Bone activated one of his rings and a Swarm of Magic Missiles, 5 each, struck the three slayers. Grom called down the lightning from the sky blasting the dragon shaman with the nose bone into a smoking ruin barely recognizable as a corpse. Vorwulf again struck at Juggs but was again swatted away.

Finally with the upper hand, the slayers began hammering away at the juggernaut even Grom after pulling his morning star of supernatural might and tightened ranks with his two companions. It was another full round of bashing, chopping, and slashing before the impossibly tough villain was finally dead. The only one of the slayers not on the verge of death was Vorwulf who was still very wounded.

Cris: “Yeah, I’m about half-way.”

They began swilling potions as the shaman wanted to preserve some of his spells for the dragon. It was then that they turned their attention to the still entangled archer.

Grom (sort of downcast): “I’ll do it.”

Grom cast bestial might on himself and flew up above the head of the half-dragon archer and pulled out his dagger.

 

To Be Continued…

GM Copy of the battle-map

GM Copy of the battle-map

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 26: A Flight of Graylings

It took a couple of hours for the slayers to clear the debris field of the ruined city and emerging from the piles of pale rubble that used to be a city gate they were confronted with a bleak, limestone desert broken sparsely by clumps of woody shrubs. The sun beat down with unrelenting heat but the air and occasional breeze was icy cold. They continued northward for an hour. Vorwulf’s compass proved itself useless as the needle began to spin around its face faster and faster the farther they got from the dead city. After about another hour of travel Vor stopped the group, he was lost and unable to get his bearings back. The landscape was white and flat. Grom the shaman cast Commune with Nature and was able to point the way, they were a lot farther to the east than they should have been. The spell seemed to speed his senses over a vast area. He realized the leyline was expanding the area of effect of the magic allowing him to detect their goal about 2 miles off and an uncountable number of supernatural creatures all around. They started again this time in the right direction.

They broke out their rations on the move, Vor pulled some steaming fresh-baked bread, ripe cheese, and juicy meat from the Bag of Meals. Just after finishing, after about an hour, Vor spotted something moving just at the edge of his vision. By chance (a natural 20) he made out the camouflaged shapes of seven manticores in a ring surrounding the group. He shouted his warning as he pulled his swords.

In less than 30 seconds they had killed all seven only Grom took any damage from their claws and Magiia was sporting claw furrows in her armor. The wasp was nowhere to be seen until the last monster dropped. He buzzed back among the slayers and touched down; he had been hovering about 100 ft. above the fighting.

The Wasp (kicking a dead manticore): “ALRIGHT! YEAH!”

Jenn (Maggi’s Player)[to Gil after hearing him giggle at the Wasp’s antics]: “You really like him don’t you?”

Gil (Grom’s Player)[at the level of a whisper almost dismissively]: “Well, uh, yeah…yeah.”

Grom chopped off all of the manticores’ scorpion tails and stuffed them into his Bag of Holding.

Maggi: “What are you doing!?”

Grom: “They might be magic. Right? They’re different colors. Might be able to use ‘em.”

Each manticore was of a different and brilliant color (red, green, yellow, blue, orange, purple, and black).

They continued on with Grom in the lead and as evening began to fall on the white plain they could see the eerie wall of blue-white energy crackling in the distance yet somewhat too near for comfort. All of their magic items, each was heavily equipped with all sorts of magic stuff, was vibrating. Grom and Maggi felt euphoric from the rush of magical energy flowing through their bodies. They got as close as they dared (within 100 ft. of the line) and tried to sleep, Maggi didn’t feel the need to rest at all so she volunteered to keep watch all night long. Vor would join her for the third however. Before going to sleep Grom decided to try to commune with nature again and got a very strong bead on the true Sons of the Dragon, those that the trapper had told him about (see The Dragonslayers III Pt.21). They were planning on following the leyline north-west until they would come to the city, or so said Grom anyway.

The night passed peacefully under the strange blue glow of the leyline until third watch when Vorwulf was able to spot five adult graylings swooping in at the camp. The battle was another brief skirmish with Grom coming out the worst. The slayers had managed to kill 2 of the dragons; the other 3 were wounded and had flown off. Vorwulf had spent a couple of his precious and dwindling number of dragon-bone arrows. During the battle Grom had cast Bestial Might on himself and whipped out his Morning Star of Supernatural Might and being frustrated that the dragons were strafing them with somewhat effective flyby attacks flown straight at them very quickly finding himself surrounded, realizing his mistake almost too late he flew back to his allies. He had to use a daily charge on his helmet of Heal fully restoring his health.

Maggi immediately fell onto the corpses cutting arteries and filling the empty potion bottles. The dragon-blood was burning hot to the touch. Vorwulf cut out some teeth and claws for trophies.

Vorwulf (Played by Cris): “Damn. Too bad we don’t have time to skin ‘em.”

They ate breakfast and let the shaman warpaint them. Xanto the wasp refused (savages). They got on the move shortly thereafter with Vor in the lead again heading due west along the leyline. At noon a bright green flash in the sky painted everything with a pale green pall for an instant.

The Wasp: “The Green Moon! The Green Moon!” Excited, he immediately picked up his pace and began to buzz far ahead of the slayers.

By evening they reached the ruins which jutted up like broken bones piercing the pale landscape. These were much more intact and the walls and battlements high. Large thickets of pale green bushes and patches of tall golden grass huddled about the fallen stones and broken arches of the city. They could see a cobblestone walkway, an old road, leading right into the overgrown mouth of the city gates a partially intact grand archway between two skeletal towers. Grom cast Impervious to Fire over the entire group (save for the Wasp) and they proceeded cautiously. Vor looked over to the Wasp.

Vorwulf: “Okay Xanto. You want to be here so go ahead!”

Xanto the Wasp: “Um, naw that’s fine lead the way you’re the leader!” He was quaking with excitement obviously anxious to get in there.

Vorwulf (shrugging): “Fine then.”

Vor moved as quiet as a cat through the high broken archway into the overgrown outer courtyard immediately he had to dodge to the side as he had nearly stumbled into a pit trap just 15 ft. past the gate towers. An arrow shot from somewhere up ahead of the ranger aimed at Grom but due to his ring of greater displacement it missed a direct hit but as it thudded into the ground it exploded in a seismic blast visible shockwaves rippled through the air and the earth dealing some damage to Grom though he was able to cast a healing spell on Maggi to bring her back to full health. Maggi was unaffected by the spell, her armor was only slightly dinged by the shockwave. She roared as she charged and Vorwulf knocked an arrow yelling for the Wasp whom didn’t answer back.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 25: The Wasp’s Tale

Vorwulf had just finished chopping the head off of the barbarian chieftain (trophy headhunting is a Westlander warrior tradition of great antiquity), Magiia was busy looting the headless corpse finding 250 gold pieces, 50 silver, and 20 platinum pieces. Vor then snatched up a couple of small bags, both were black and yellow in color, from the dead man’s belt. He assumed that they were the Wasp’s property. One proved to be a bag of meals from which a hot meal of bread and meat could be pulled out three times a day. The other was a bag of holding full of what appeared to Vor as a bunch of spell components and other uninteresting stuff. They wisely left the medallions (the magic charges that had fueled their magic were spent anyhow) and their boots all of which bore the mark of the dragon. Grom checked the Wasp and found that he was very near death.

Vorwulf (Played by Cris): “Well, heal him healer. You are the group healer.”

Grom (Played by Gil): “Aww man, I don’t wanna waste a healing potion on this guy.”

Afterwards they moved the wasp to the rowboat and got on their way with Vorwulf at the stern of the magical craft. Grom eventually healed the Wasp up enough for him to ‘not die’ with his healing touch ability. It took a little while to catch up to their hill-giant guide, Jez. Vorwulf had mistaken a strangely shaped yew copse for the boar-hunter and taken them a little ways in the wrong direction. Jez agreed to guide them north around the bend of the ridge, a trip of around 11 miles or so. The trip was necessary as around the southern curl of the ridge was the Spider Wood.

Vorwulf (when the others complained): “Well it’s not named ‘Spider Wood’ for nothing.”

By evening they had reached the apex of the north bend and could see the Nor-Rills (river) a few miles directly north as they were on the high ground and completely in the open having broken into a large area of grassland. The night was quiet and passed quickly. Wasting no time they were off and moving again finally being led to a lakeside campsite hidden among reeds and cattails that were several inches above their heads and to Jez’s waist. Jez used the swampy place frequently when on hunts. It featured a stone-lined fire-pit and stash of dry firewood. After the giant set camp the slayers sat around the fire and discussed the Wasp.

Gil: “Maybe I should turn him into a mouse or snail and carry him in my bag.”

Cris: “Man he’s a mage so his Will save’s gonna be high. Maybe we can pay the giant to take him back to Merdna and the protégées.”

Jenn (Magiia’s Player): “Naw. The giant’s a dumb@$$ he’ll just talk the giant into letting him go or something.”

Gil: “Yeah man, he’s crafty he’s gonna find his way out of it.”

Cris: “Well, where we’re going he wants to go too so we’ll just have to keep an eye on ‘em.”

The night was quiet until Maggi’s watch when all were wakened by the sounds of battle but by the time they were all up and ready Maggi assured them that they were safe. A pair of Green Jellies had crept up on the bivouacking adventurers from the water and she had with a single powerful whack killed the both of them. All that was left was a sizzling puddle of slime at the water’s edge.

Morning; the argument between Vor and Grom about the Wasp continued. Eventually…

Vorwulf: “Alright, alright! Go ahead and try then!”

Grom attempted to cast Animal Form on the Wasp but the lanky wizard was able to resist the magic quite easily. So in an attempt to finesse some information from Xanto, the shaman engaged him in a brief conversation in which the Wasp was his usual charming self and tried to get Grom to loosen his tethers “just a little”. Vor who overheard the whole exchange saw right through the ploy and stopped the shaman from carrying it out. Probably a little embarrassed, Grom stopped playing nice and threatened the Wasp getting some information as reward for his intimidation attempt. Xanto told them about Millenium Trees and the immense power those legendary plants hold and that the Millenium Mushroom should have a similar potency. A few minutes later Grom had the genius idea to try to “recruit” Jez the hill-giant bribing him with the gold lightning javelin he had taken from Blackbrow. It didn’t work but the giant took the treasure anyway.

After a day’s travel they came to the pebble banks of a rapidly flowing westerly river, the appearance of the purple moon signaled their stopping. Jez departed dragging his sledge due east after telling the slayers to go straight north across the river, they could already see the chalk mesa of the White Heath about 2 miles beyond the unnamed river. To the south were seemingly endless rolling grasslands which gradually sloped down with a long low hill about half a mile from their camp. There was no good place to conceal their camp. They wisely decided to light no fire. Grom attempted to commune with nature in order to get a better idea about the ruins and to pinpoint their location but unable to get a bead on anything realized they were currently out of his range. The Wasp now demanded to be released as he knew which ruins they were seeking.

Magiia: “There’s more than one?”

Xanto the Wasp: “There’s two.”

Grom (intimidatingly): “WHERE? WHICH ONE!”

Vorwulf just stood there laughing to himself.

Xanto: “Uhm, Uh, there’s a southerly ruins and a more northern one. We want the northern one!”

Vorwulf (referring to the Wasp’s initial demand): “Not till morning.”

The group settled in to sleep; Maggi counted her dragon-blood potions and found she had only 3 left.

Come morning Vorwulf fed the Wasp from the bag of meals and discussed with him the terms under which he was traveling. The rawhide snapped as he cut the Wasp’s bonds (who was now conscious and complaining) and tossed the Wasp his bag of holding. The ranger kept the bag of meals. Xanto pulled out a yellow glass vial from his bag and drank down its contents, all his wounds instantly and fully healed. He pulled a fresh suit of yellow & black clothes and a clean pair of black velvet shoes.

Gil: “How’re we going to get across the river.”

Jenn: “It can’t go over water right?”

Cris: ?

The GM (me): “They think it’s like a hoverboard.”

Cris: “Nooo! It’s MAGIC!”

They proceeded in their hover-boat over the rapidly flowing river. Suddenly when they reached the dead center of the span a giant horned water-serpent leaped out of the water its bull-like horns aimed at the vessel’s timber but Maggi made quick work of it while balancing on the edge of the craft as they hovered over the raging water. Soon, they were able to quickly reach the pale edifice of the White Heath well before noon. The 200 ft. cliff-face was heavily pocked with hundreds of bird hovels with a few being “man-size”. Vorwulf climbed a pine, there many trees, thickets and woody shrubs growing in the cold shadow of the cliff, to catch a bird’s eye. The cliff stretched as far as he could see both northward and to the south-east. They deserted the rowboat and were determined to climb up to what appeared a bounding wall along the top of the edifice which fluctuated in height greatly depending on the level of ruin of that particular section.

Vorwulf used his scimitar of dimensional door to reach the top, slashing open a dimensional rift and at stepping through appeared at the top of the wall at its most stable-looking point. Maggi easily scaled the rope that Vorwulf had lowered arriving at his side at surprising speed. The shaman cast bestial might on himself gaining a pair of wings as well as a thick coat of fur, a pair of claws, and large owl-eyes. He flapped his wings and shot upward in the direction of his companions but from out of one of the larger bird-holes in the cliff-face as he passed over the opening a Roc (a brown eagle the size of a man) shot at him with talons bared. Grom got off a spell as a simultaneous attack blasting the powerful bird back into its burrow with a cleverly applied wind rush spell. He wasted no time in joining his companions; the monster-bird did not reemerge.

What they saw before them was a vast ruined city made of bone-white limestone with multiple gaping and shadowed windows, holes, and doorways in the remaining squat structures staring back at them like the orbits of malformed skulls and vast areas and piles of limestone blocks like broken teeth scattered everywhere. When they realized that they had taken their eyes off of the Wasp they noticed he was already at the top of the wall next to them.

Cris: “He probably has wasp-wings under that cloak.”

Jenn: “Well let’s see.”

Magiia gave the skinny wizard a “helpful push” knocking him easily from the wall, a pair of buzzing tough looking brown wings, much like that of a wasp, sprang forth and lowered him gently to the floor of the skeletal city. They soon followed one after the other. Vorwulf was determined to stay out of the buildings and try to stay in the open areas desiring to get out of the place fast as possible as there were probably “all sorts of things abouts”. He made it a point to make sure the Wasp understood that. They began to move and the shaman spotted several piles of scattered bones, indeed there fairly fresh bones everywhere. Vor identified them as the bones of bears and goats and the tracks all around the area as those of a pack of manticore.

Grom: “What’s a manticore, they have wings? Like a chimera?”

Xanto the Wasp: “I hate manticores. They freak me out!” He looked truly disturbed.

After explaining to Grom what may be wandering about, Maggi didn’t care “as long as they bleed”, Vor told everyone to stay close and don’t stray. The Wasp was staying almost too close to the ranger as the party snaked their way through the remains of the dead city. To calm his shaky nerves the Wasp started to run at the mouth telling the slayers a story:

 

Y’know around 600 years ago the Brown Horde seized the entirety of the White Heath and both cities which at the time were still but weakened bastions of the Mad Mages. It was they that chewed the maze of tunnels that now exist in the limestone edifice connecting the tombs, natural caves, labyrinths, storerooms, and oubliettes. And I guess the bird-holes now. I have no doubt some of those Roc-burrows lead there. They run the entire underground of the heath. The first city the hordes attacked, the southern one, resisted their attacks to the bitter end but the northern city was betrayed by a small wizard faction connected with the Obsidian Guild possibly some of its founders which allowed them to remain unmolested for a time. Eventually however with the coming of the Red Horde and then the Black the city was reduced to a complete ruin. The fate of the betrayer wizards was never recorded though an adventurer and brother of good standing with the Obsidian Guild led an expedition about 100 years ago chasing down the lost brothers after discovering some documents in the library at Ezmer recorded by an anonymous Hill-Lander bard. He discovered their tomb, or at least where their bodies were piled but he also noted the active leyline and silvery filaments that were a part of some strange inter-dimensional fungus which was too powerful for him to “molest” in any fashion save to come out of the tumulus the only survivor with a single silver strand. I have read his notes the filaments lend a special potency to viands and potions and especially to the imbiber. I have done the research as well on the mushroom and it is indeed akin a millennium tree though I admit, I have no idea it’s nature. I do know though that in 2 days the mushroom should sprout if the planetary charts are correct, ah druids ever their eyes to the skies, with the Green Moon making an appearance. We need to get there before the cap fully opens. If the Outrider, wherever he is, was correct we are still about 2 days away from the northern ruins though.

 

Vorwulf: “Good to know.”

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 24: The Mark of the Dragon

Mark-of-the-Dragon

The titular mark

The sharp-toothed cannibals charged the slayers all bearing a common mark branded into their foreheads. Grom recognized them as an enemy of his tribe from the far north, dragon worshippers. All of the barbarians were clothed in red dyed bear-hide armor and wolf-skin mantles with steel pectoral plates held in place by a cross-harness and a spiked bracer on each arm, the armor also bore the same crude mark. The chief, baring his pointed teeth from under his open-helm and its antlers, was wielding a two-handed great bipennis axe in each hand and what they took as his second was wielding a two-handed great war-hammer in each hand. Just behind them were 7 warriors each wielding a two-handed great mace and following the 7 was a shaman wearing only a red robe and wielding an iron-staff covered in runes. All were also wearing gold medallions around their necks stamped with the familiar mark. Suddenly bounding over that group appeared what appeared to be a winged red-scaled dragonsaurus, Vorwulf instantly recognized it as a Drake. The creature was wearing scale mail barding.

Vorwulf (Played by Cris): “Sh*#. They have a war-beast.”

The slayers disembarked their vessel. With some seconds before the raging barbarians would reach them Vorwulf activated the Ring of Orbs ability on his scimitar and Bear’s Endurance on his gold helmet. Grom cast Mass Bull’s Strength, as did the enemy shaman for his allies, and summoned 4 earth elementals which began to move forward very slowly. Vorwulf shot a magic arrow at the oncoming tribals which exploded in the air unleashing the Thunder Arrow spell raining arrows of pure electrical energy over the entire area. But they disappeared before colliding with their targets, the medallions around their necks glowed with unnatural power. In response the shaman cast Call Lightning with the same results.

Cris (with more than a little sarcasm in a rather hostile tone, and referring to the medallions apparent abilities): “OH OF COURSE they have something to stop magic! OF COURSE THEY DO! OH SURE, SURE!” He threw his hands up in the air in disgust. “SURE THEY DO!”

Vorwulf charged to meet the oncoming war-party which as they closed with the slayers erupted into a foaming rage. As it flew low over Vorwulf the drake unleashed its fire breath which Vor easily avoided. Magiia charged forward 50 ft. following after the battle-thirsty ranger. He quickly drew his great axe and attacked the charging war-chief dealing but a scratch to the barbarian. Grom cast Entangling Growth and caught every charging barbarian warrior save for the leader and his second within the twining grasses. The war-chief swung at Vorwulf missing. The red drake swooped in with a talon attack against Maggs barely missing his target. The barbarian lieutenant attacked Vorwulf missing by a hair’s breadth with his paired war-hammers. The entangled warriors were held fast until their shaman neared and he was able to counter the active spell freeing them as the spidery grasses retreated. The warriors continued their charge homing in on Maggi and Grom. Vorwulf continued his two on one duel with the barbarian chief and his lieutenant. Maggi engaged the drake and Grom pulled out a magic rod and used its Quicksand ability trapping 3 of the charging warriors. The fight continued this way with Maggi getting a powerful hit against the drake on a counter attack and Grom sent his elementals forward to try to get at the enemy shaman who was still a fair distance away. Four of the encroaching warriors finally reached and surrounded Maggi landing a few solid hits on her. Grom called down lightning on the enemy shaman, his medallion prevented it from harming him as before. The 3 warriors in the quicksand were able to extract themselves from the quagmire with a group grapple check roll of a natural 20. Vor was holding his own against the pair of powerful barbarians though he took a couple of nasty blows. Near the end of the round the Drake pounced on Maggi forcing her to the ground with a flying tackle. The 4 warriors that had surrounded her unable to reach the Ferenoi through their war-beast instead turned on Grom nailing him with several furious blows. He unleashed a primal scream on them dealing some damage and partially deafening them but they were proof against the fear effects and continued to wail on him with their spiked maces. The enemy shaman countered Grom’s elementals which melted back into the earth and used his iron staff to teleport right next to his counterpart and swung with the heavy staff. Grom caught with only a magic rod in his hands attempted to parry the red-shaman’s blow and successful got caught in a clinch locking the staff in a test of strength against the iron rod. Vorwulf found himself in a similar situation with his buckler locked with one of the leader’s great bipennis axes. Fortunately his sword arm was free and as he saw it one of the leader’s axes was tied up as well.

Maggi was able to force her way out from under the drake, Vor hacked away at the leader with his free arm, and Grom got free of the clinch by dropping the rod but the red-shaman whacked him in turn with the iron staff. The war-chief’s second swung madly at Vorwulf as did the war-chief with his free arm and freeing the other of the clinch with shear brute strength. The red drake lunged at Maggi with a powerful bite but was batted away and wounded savagely by her counter attack. The four warriors around Grom began to swing in unison with their maces and the shaman countered with a simultaneous Mass Animal Form spell. All four were zapped into rabbits which immediately fled hopping away in all directions. Maggi chopped the drake down with a finishing power-attack opening the mighty animal from shoulder to belly, shrieking as it fell. Vorwulf continued to battle the war-chief and his lieutenant almost losing his weapon in a serious fumble. Grom pulled out his morning star of supernatural might and swung at the red-shaman whose robes immediately shot forth dozens of red-scaled serpents which entwined the shaman’s body serving the barbarian as some kind of hideous magic armor. The morning star smashed against the writhing snakes and a few serpents struck back at him but missed with their venom dripping fangs. Maggs charged the barbarian lieutenant landing a blow but finding her opponent her toughest yet though she had drawn blood.

Magiia (Played by Jenn): “If he bleeds I can kill’em!”

After avoiding a powerful blow from the war-chief and with succor from Maggi engaging his second foe Vorwulf disarmed the barbarian leader of one of his weapons. Vorwulf continued his assault against the cannibal chieftain and Maggi blasted his second with blow after blow which he tried to match never quite landing a blow of equal power. Grom meanwhile valiantly stood against the enemy shaman and 3 of the barbarian warriors. The Blackwings’ shaman activated his ring of Frost Nova which unleashed a blast of cold which enveloped him dealing frost damage to any who would dare to strike at him and freezing 2 of the nearby warriors’ feet to the earth. The third however struck a horrid blow mashing half of Grom’s ribs into a single purple, bleeding mass.

Gil (Grom’s Player): “Guys!? I’m gonna die here!”

The cannibal lieutenant and Magiia continued to exchange blows. Vor caught the chieftain in a fumble when he tried to parry his axe blow and nearly cut him in half slaying the cannibal chief in a geyser of blood. The ranger turned and ran to Grom’s aid. The warriors fighting with Grom alternated from getting their feet frozen to the ground and freeing themselves as they struggled to continue their assault with one nearly throwing his weapon in a dramatic miss and another bashing the unfortunate shaman with a natural 20 reducing him to knockout points. The red-shaman swung with his iron staff again the whistling blow ending in a clinch with Grom.

Maggi and her foe continued to furiously hack and hammer at each other. Vorwulf chopped into one of the warriors assaulting Grom. Grom activated the Mage Armor ability on his morning star in the hopes of saving his own life; a semi-transparent field of bluish light came around his body taking the form of gently glowing transparent full plate armor. The red-shaman attempted to disarm his clinched foe but failed. Vor was able to drop one of the still-standing fighters while the other two redoubled their efforts against him while the two shamans fought it out in single combat. Maggi eventually felled the lieutenant and moved to assist Vor; she was badly wounded by this time. Grom disarmed his enemy flinging the iron staff far into the tall grasses, it was lost. He followed that with a mighty blow of his morning star which tore through the red serpent armor; the tattered serpents fell away from the enemy shaman’s body and faded to nothingness. The red-shaman backed up about 25 ft. from Grom and cast a spell that caused his hands to curl into bestial claws.

The remaining pair of warriors landed massive blows (both Natural 20’s) on Maggi nearly killing her. She served back some damage back to them but they still stood fast. Vorwulf continued to strike at one of the two hitting only air. The enemy shaman slashed at Grom with his evil talons and Grom responded with a wide and powerful swing accidentally flinging his magic weapon several feet away. One of the warriors swung a massive and hateful blow (Natural 20) at Vor whom expertly parried with a natural 20 and the other warrior unleashed a possible deathblow at Maggi with another natural 20 roll but this time on a power-attack! She knocked the massively powerful strike away with a natural 20 of her own! She then replied with a nasty swing of her axe dropping the savage steeping herself and weapon in blood up to her elbows. Vorwulf took a few more swings to kill his enemy and then tossed the wounded amazon a healing potion. When they looked over to the dueling shamans they saw that Grom had clinched a paired claw-strike at his eyes and then wrestled the red-shaman to the ground and pinned him down.

They attempted to question the barbarian but he continued to fight and was able to free a single clawed hand. Vorwulf saw through his attempt to swallow some poison from a pouch around his neck snatching it away just in time so the savage clawed out his own throat. Maggs turned to the pouch which Vor had tossed away and saw a few strange looking yellow pills had rolled out so she scooped them back into it as she picked it up.

Magiia: “Hmmm what are these?” She shrugged and put the small leather pouch into her bag of holding.

The scent of human blood was overpowering. The Blackwings were surrounded by 10 butchered human corpses and a dead drake.

Vor: “Wait. Where’s the Wasp at?”

He looked over and saw the Wasp was still where he had been dropped. It was evident that he had tried his rawhide bonds but was too weak to escape.

The slayers walked over to beaten wizard. His battered face rolled up towards them. “Hi guys.” He said pathetically and then his face flopped back into the dirt. He had passed out.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 23: Black, Yellow & Red

The dawn broke over the dewy grass and heather of the East Meadow, the great ringed purple moon began to fade gradually in the West in proportion to the new rays of the sun, and the acrid stench of burnt troll-flesh still choked in the throats of the Slayers as guttering columns of black smoke rose from the improvised pyre. The Blackwings’ morning ritual commenced Grom the shaman applied war-paint to each in turn. Jez their Hill-Giant guide kept his distance finding the “heathen practice” distasteful; he mumbled a quick prayer to Vinshru and to all of the Saints of the hill-people and of the Hyvalians. A little while later Vorwulf the ranger found some elevated ground and began to survey the land with his spyglass. The ranger spotted a column of grey smoke in the distance, the faint remnant of a distant campfire only about 2 miles off to the northeast.

It took about an hour with the speed of the giant and the slayers’ weird craft to arrive at the sight of the smoldering campfire at the top of a hill-ridge. There was no cover in the immediate area with only distant clumps of low evergreen shrubs scattered over the wide undulating grassland. It was obvious to all a fight had taken place by evidence of the torn ground and the ratling corpse and dead riding-boar among the hastily deserted camping gear.

Vorwulf (Played by Cris): “Well, I guess that’s it for the Outrider.”

Grom (Played by Gil): “You think that’s him?”

Vorwulf shrugged his shoulders in response.

The ranger was able to discern that there were tracks moving north and another set going east maybe southeast. The tracks moving north were of 3 boars and 1 goat probably being ridden; those moving in the other direction were the prints of around 10 humans. Maggi stood by keeping an eye out as she was “still messed up from the troll-fight”. The shaman sat down near the corpse of the ratling and began chanting trying to Commune with the Spirits. Jez the giant found this practice distasteful as well and walked away mumbling something about “blasphemy”. The shaman was able to contact the ratling’s spirit after about an hour and asked its name. Bellok fourth-born told Grom that his master and brothers were guiding a mage to the White Heath, a mage that wore black and yellow named Xanto when they were attacked in the night while they were distracted by an apparent battle to the southwest (the slayers fending off the night-trolls) by barbarians with sharpened teeth.

All of the players went wide-eyed, I swear, and all at once hissed, “The Wasp”!

Cris: “It’s that mushroom. There’s something up with that mushroom! He’s after it.”

Come evening the slayers found themselves further to the northeast having traveled the rolling landscape of Norusk keeping north of a small forest of pine and yew that Jez referred to as the Steppe Wood. They were setting camp in a shallow gulley in a glade that ran between the Steppe Wood in the south and a large unnamed thicket to the north a high ridge was visible about 2 miles directly east over lower ground. The shaman used up the last of his magic for the day healing Vor and Magiia and before sleep both of the latter also rubbed on some healing salve. Just before first watch began and while all were just about to settle in Vorwulf decided to pull out his spyglass and take a quick scan of his surroundings. He immediately spotted a large balefire, easily in the gloaming, directly east presumably at the base of the ridge. Activating the Eyes and Ears of the Dragon ability on his magic helmet he was able to spot out those dancing about the fire with some detail, barbarians with the hides about their shoulders dyed red. They also had a prisoner tied to a post where one of them was casually brutalizing him occasionally holding a dagger to the poor soul’s throat. The bright yellow stripes, spattered with blood, of the prisoner’s clothes gave away his identity though Vorwulf couldn’t make out the face through the blood. Squatting on a stone next to the thick wood post and the prisoner was a very large man presumably the leader of the band turning what appeared as yellow silk mask or hood over in his hands inspecting it before ultimately scrunching it up and tossing it into the fire, the steel helmet at his feet which was presumably his own had a pair of deer antlers attached on either side.

Jenn (at hearing the details of Xanto’s situation): “Oh no!”

Cris: “S#*t! The wasp went and got himself captured.”

Gil: “So, we got to go and rescue him?”

Jenn: “Hey! We got a giant don’t we?”

In response Jez the boar-hunter started fake snoring and rolled over so that his back was to the slayers.

Gil: “I’m out of spells.”

Jenn: “Yeah, I’m still kinda hurt, I don’t think my girl can take another battle right now.”

Cris: “S#*t. Well I guess we wait until morning and try to follow them. They’re probably going east – same place as us.”

Morning. They struck camp as quickly and quietly as they could munching leathery trail rations at the same time. Vorwulf kept an eye on the enemy camp. The barbarians were apparently eating human and possibly faunic remains for breakfast. Xanto was still tied to the post and whole from what the ranger could see. After Grom war-painted them the slayers got into the rowboat and Vor activated his helm. They readied for pursuit.

Jez: “Hey guys um I ain’t gunna fight, I wasn’t hired ta do dat. So I’ll uh meet you guys somewhere easterly if’n we get separated.”

Grom: “What!? How about if we pay you some more money, we got alot.”

The GM (me): “He’s only a hunter, just an NPC class.”

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Yeah. He isn’t gonna help us he’s only tough ‘cause he’s a Hill-Giant.”

Both Jenn and Gil sighed in disgust.

The barbarians began to disembark Xanto still bound to the pole, was being carried between the shoulders of two of the hulking warriors. The savages were farther from the ridge than Vorwulf had initially guessed but were heading directly towards it. The group began to make plans as they tried to stealthily follow the enemy party; the landscape broke into a desolate pale rocky mostly flat area with absolutely no cover. The Blackwings pondered waiting for nightfall then sneaking into the enemy camp as they slept, snatching the wasp up, also pondering leaving the wasp with their hill-giant guide as to cover the escape anticipating some immediate “blow-back”. Barbarians had sharp senses after all.

Jenn: “We can’t leave the wasp with the giant, he’s a dumb@$$. The wasp will just talk his way out of it.”

After less than a quarter of an hour it appeared as if the barbarians had reached the foot of the white cliff and were getting ready to surmount it which would make it hard for the Blackwings to follow in their mysterial rowboat.

Cris: “Well, I guess it’s Plan A then.”

Gil: “Wait. What was Plan B!?”

Jenn: “Follow then wait till midnight.”

Cris: “Plan A is CHARGE!”

Before our heroes were able to put their brilliant plan into action the barbarians suddenly turned, every single one of them easily spotting the boat-load of dragonslayers whom had floated dangerously close (within about 600 ft.). The savages snarled showing their sharpened teeth, dropped Xanto to the stony ground right onto his scabby, swollen face and charged. Without missing a beat Jez burst into a run southward towards the trees of the Steppe Wood deserting his sledge.

Jenn: “Stupid giant.”

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 22: Howl of the Night-Trolls

A bit from the GM's notebook

A bit from the GM’s notebook

Magiia held a ready stance her shield on one arm and her battle-axe in hand, Vorwulf stood unarmored with his two-handed astral-drift-metal great axe in his, and Grom readied waiting to unleash his magic on the onrushing troll-flesh. The battle howl of the night-trolls became deafening as they charged in. The raging black-skinned trolls were wearing Scale-mail vests the medallions on their chests bearing the unmistakable arms of Trollguard. They were brandishing their serpent-bladed great swords menacingly and carelessly in the air.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Makes sense. These guys loose out here like the Black Soldiery.”

Gil (Grom’s Player): “What?”

Cris: “We killed their leaders. The lich. Remember, Vorwulf and Bers killed their [the trolls]  God-King. Of Trollguard. While you fought with the army.” Trollguard is immediately adjacent to, in the North-East of, Norusk.

Gil: “Oh yeah. Well. Let’s do this guys!”

A pair of trolls charged Magiia but their clumsy blows proved ineffective. Maggi whacked the first troll to reach her of that pair with a powerful swing of her battle-axe dropping the creature immediately, foul black ichor spattered everywhere. Two more trolls charged at the amazon leveling powerful blows with their own twisted weapons; both blows whistling by missing her by inches. The ground shook as a giant with slate-grey skin, 14 ft. tall, and with single eye on the side of its malformed head an enormous hunch rising up above its pointed skull, thumped onto the scene and swung a massively powerful blow with its two-handed iron-spiked great club at Maggi, but missed. Another pair of night-troll warriors entered the battle attacking Grom forcing him to simul-attack with an Animal Form spell (via the Battle Magic feat) instantly transforming one of the savages into a chicken which in a fluster of greasy black feathers leapt clumsily away into the darkness. The other gashed him deep opening a nasty wound. Yet another pair of trolls appeared and went at Vorwulf with a pair of mighty blows narrowly missing the ranger/dragon-slayer. Vor replied hacking a vicious wound into one of the duo of monsters that had charged him. A small group of about six trolls were engaging their guide, dancing around the giant seemingly only serving to distract him and were pushing him away as he held them at bay with his enormous boar spear separating him from the slayers. Soon the boar hunter was pushed into the dark outside of the firelight. The slayers lost sight of him. That was when they heard the baying of a pack of hounds running towards the fight, they could easily see them they were following the trolls and the Formorian (that is what the giant on the trolls’ side was). All the snarling dogs were wearing spiked collars and what amounted to studded leather armor over their backs.

Gil (Grom’s Player): “War-Dogs?”

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “They have War-Dogs with them!?”

One of the trolls on Maggi swung its sword at her but missed, she responded with a power attack dropping it in a blinding splatter of blood. The other two surrounding her swung clumsily at her as well each missing in turn as did the Formorian with its tree of a club. The single troll left on Grom took a swing but was parried, barely, by the shaman. The blow deflected from one of his bracers. Vorwulf parried the blows levied at him by the pair attacking him.

Grom: “Man! I need to get some room!”

Grom stepped back and unleashed a Wind Rush spell at his foe blasting it 100 ft. away from him. Vor hacked away at the troll he had previously hit, gore flowed over his axe up to his wrists though the monster still stood fast. One of the three remaining trolls on Maggi swung and missed, she dropped him in a single blow. Another of them swung at Maggi and the blow rang off of her axe and she turned her blade in counter and drove it through the monsters scale-mail crunching into ribs. The other threw its sword losing the weapon as it whizzed over Maggi’s head. She grinned murder at the monster. The Formorian took its chance and bashed the Ferenoi with a crushing blow, had she not been helmed the giant would’ve knocked her out. She was no longer smiling. The pair on Vor attacked again but missed badly as their impatient swings became more furious as well as clumsier. One of them also lost its grip on its heavy blade and wound up flinging it away. It was Vor’s turn to smile. With a single blow of his heavy axe Vorwulf whacked the swordless troll into two messy halves. The pack of war-hounds began to run into the battle and Grom quickened a Turn Beasts spell, every single war-dog turned tail and ran away the yelping quickly melted away into the distance.

One of the pair on Maggi swung and missed the other desperately clawed at her missing both times. The Formorian stomped on her smashing her to the ground like bug almost squashing her as it tried to pin her with its foot so it could grind the life out of her. She was badly injured. Vorwulf, after kicking the troll bisection at his feet into the campfire, chopped down the last troll within his reach. Grom tossed an alchemical grenade, an Alchemists’ Fire, onto an obviously regenerating troll body. It began to spasmodically twitch as it burned. The boar hunter was still out of sight though they could still here the clash of his boar spear against the night-trolls’ weapons.

Cris (to Gil): “Man! You know this all because of that troll book!”

Gil: “What troll book?”

Cris: “The Tome of Dragonslaying! Look! Hand me that.” Gil handed Cris the info-sheet, he got to keep it since Grom had ‘mastered’ it, for the troll-king copy of the Tome of Dragonslaying and pointed to a bit of information on it.

Cris: “Right here. ‘Troll Sense – ALL trolls within 1 square-mile will be attracted to the book’!”

Gil: “Oh. I forgot about that.”

Magiia was barely able to squeeze out and roll from under the Formorian’s club foot leaping to feet shield at the ready. Grom tossed another Alchemist’s Fire on another troll body as he neared Maggi’s position. The troll that Grom had blown a hundred feet away stood up and took its chance to flee. Vor kicked another half-troll into the fire, the air filled with the fetid stench of roasting troll-flesh and heavy, oily smoke began to fog the battlefield. The Formorian made a mighty sweep attack with its club catching Grom, Maggi, and a night-troll in the swing. The troll’s broken body took flight. Grom got hit and horribly injured. Maggi made a simultaneous attack in an attempt to drop the giant before his swing could reach her. She hacked his belly open but still took the blow which nearly killed her but the giant was hurt so she saw no reason to retreat. Vor chopped into a troll that tried to sit up. Grom ran back to try to heal himself. Maggi stepped in towards the Formorian and chopped him down with a final single blow and was able to sidestep the massive bleeding, eviscerated corpse as it came crashing down. The howl of the night-trolls was silenced. The battle was ended. Jez the Boar Hunter came bounding back into the view of the slayers; the trolls that had been keeping him busy had broken away as soon as their giant was felled jaunting off into the cover of the dark.

A downed troll near Maggi suddenly sat up. She immediately buried her axe in its skull putting it back down. They wasted no time in dousing all of the corpses, and the various severed bits, in the naphtha from the barrel of the stuff that Grom had purchased on their way out of town just a few days prior. Among the ever brightening yellow flames Maggi chopped through the log-thick neck of the Formorian severing its head after a couple of whacks ‘just in case’.

Jenn (Magiia’s Player)[Pointing at me, the GM, and with the annoying gusto of a late 90’s Gangsta Rapper]: “Ha! You tried to KILL me and I BEAT you! I killed that sucker like NOTHING! Ha! Just CUT HIM DOWN! Yeah!”

Grrr.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 21: It’s What We Do!

Dawn in the town of Aáhké in the land of Norusk, in their bungalow Maggia had just finished restocking her Dragon-Blood Potion supply and Vorwulf was just beginning to nurse a hang-over with plans on fetching “some hair o’ the dog” with breakfast when Grom burst in wild-eyed and full of new info. He had easily bested the corrupted trapper and sang all he knew about those who had paid him with gold minted in the far north. The shaman went on to tell the slayers about the group of adventurers that had bribed the trapper since they had desired to stay out of town and keep a low profile having him among others that trapped and hunted the far eastern parts of Norusk to purchase wagon-loads of supplies for them and deliver those to a staging area near the White Heath. The assumed enemy group consisted of the “sons of the red dragon”, led by a half-dragon human with a double-ended bipennis axe and a steel helm marked by a pair of antlers, a dragon-shaman human, a red draconian with a cloak of black feathers and strangely feathers on his leathery wings and lastly another half-dragon human, a hunter and bowman whom was the spokesman to the trappers for the whole scary lot. They were all marked with a specific scarification on their chests and foreheads but the trapper couldn’t reproduce it for the shaman.

Gil (Grom’s Player): “And that’s all he would tell me. So after the gates reopened I came back here.”

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Let me get this straight you spent all night OUTSIDE?”

Gil: “Oh yeah. I guess I could’ve transformed into an eagle or grew some wings and flew over the wall huh?”

Cris laughed and Jenn (Magiia’s Player) face-palmed.

Grom (Played by Gil): “Y’know he wouldn’t guide us there even after I threatened to kill him. Then he ran away WEST.”

Vorwulf (Played by Cris): “That’s because they’re scarier people than you.”

Grom settled in to catch some sleep while Maggi and Vor went to the Red-Bull tavern for breakfast and beer where the Ferenoi (an Amazon from the Icefere and Feren civilization there) put a platinum piece on the counter and wanted change since all she had was platinum. After Vorwulf helped to break up her currency so she could spend it at the bar they turned and noticed the place was rapidly filling up with two groups each of a fair number. The milder group appeared to be fighting men each with an Acton quartered with white and light blue but with the lower white quarter obviously and hastily painted with red. The central charge lying at the center of each of their chests which was a pair of crossed black maces with one being spiked. Hanging from each of their belts were maces of varying quality. Maggi asked Ole’ Twist about them and he told her they were a local “security outfit” called the Black Maces which hired themselves out to guard the merchant caravans that traveled through town and those moving north and south. He pointed out their offices just down the street though she couldn’t spot the placard bearing the very same heraldry. It was then that the other group filtered in.

These were definitely a large group of former Black Soldiery, rough looking and somewhat in a general state of agitation. A couple of them bumped into the pair of Black Maces that were pitching blades and tomahawks at the toss board, the defaced wood carving of the Achaánal clan heraldry. The captain of these ruffians rudely tossed a small sack of coin on the board and ordered drinks all around for “his men” and slopped himself down at a random long-table smelling to Maggi’s nose a bit road weary. The men at the toss board were beginning to argue loudly until the brigand captain gaveled his large wood mug which he had just pulled from his pack on the table. His men relented and sat down though still mad-dogging the mercs. The tension in the place settled and the uncomfortable silence slowly retreated as all of the men began to drink. After breakfast Maggi ordered herself a second jack of whiskey. Vor settled in at a table next the bar so he could sit with his back to the wall determined to wait for the boar hunter in order to hire him as a guide to the White Heath.

Jenn [to Cris]: “Dude, aren’t you a tracker or something?”

Cris: “A ranger and we’re not in familiar territory and it’s not small.”

That was when one of the Black Maces, a little tipsy, bumped into a brigand and the brigand roaring with drunken rage lunged up and drew his sword and swung, but missed, at the Black Mace. Almost instantly the place erupted. Strangely enough nobody paid any mind to Vorwulf but Maggi stood up and used the butt of axe to assist the locals.

Vorwulf: “Man o’ man. This is going to be good.” And so he watched.

It lasted less than a minute Maggi had battered down virtually all of the brigands including their leader without even breaking a sweat. Only two from each side were actually severely wounded and were quickly dragged away by their compatriots.

Gil [to Cris]: “Wait. You were just sitting there? Drinking while they fought all around you?”

Cris [a toothy self-satisfied smile on his hairy face]: “Yup.”

Having gotten into the good graces of the Black Maces and receiving and turning down an invite to join the company consisting of the ever-inticing “we could make a lot of money together” eliciting a derisive laugh from Vorwulf, Maggi went to the market later followed by Vor to gather up various sundries the most noteworthy being a 1 gallon clay jar and some black paint. Maggi and Vor went back to the room where Vorwulf painted 6 wooden shields with the black icon of the Blackwings guild (with a Natural 20 untrained art-check btw) later he went back to his spot to wait “all day” if necessary. That night Grom stood watch at the tavern as the other two slept talking with trapper after trapper all night long finding the same answer from each when he inquired as to their services as guides and probably giving them too much information. “The White Heath is cursed and what fool would go’o dere when a dragon’s tak’n oop dere.”

It wasn’t until the next morning that the titular boar hunter had appeared, a Hill-giant dressed in a patchwork of bristly boars’ hides and a sledge full of dressed quarry. Vorwulf introduced himself in a long-winded manner titles and all then the group and the giant sat next to the tavern drinking and eating from the barrel of pickled eel Maggi had bought from a gaggle of fishermen from the shores of the freshwater Norusk sea to the northwest. They talked awhile and when the giant, named Jez, found out where they were going…

Jez the giant: “What? You want to find dragon? There!? You fools or somethin’?”

Vorwulf: “Hell Yeah! We’re dragonslayers! It’s What We Do!”

So Jez the boar hunter agreed (after the shaman paid him a large Lapis Lazuli and charmed him then Vor paid him a silver talon “for expenses”). They would meet up at high noon at the south gate; the boar hunter had some trading to do. They shortly met back up at the prescribed time and place and departed with the giant in the lead.

It was a day or so later while traveling straight east they had stumbled upon an old campsite which they assumed to be that of the Wasp and his companion The Outrider which was 5 days old according to Vorwulf’s tracking instinct just before they stopped for the night. They were in what appeared to be a wide open glade but in reality it was an area of rolling hills which rose somewhat and flattened gradually to the south, a deep hidden ridge lay to the immediate north. They set up camp in a flat area which the giant called the East Meadow. It was on first that Maggi spotted the night trolls moving rapidly towards their camp with something much larger following them and in the distance what appeared to be a large pack of hounds. It was the howls of the trolls when they realized that they had been spotted that alerted the party. The slayers sprang up and armed themselves though with not enough time to don their armor before the monsters were upon them.

 

To Be Continued…