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The Arvan Game Pt. 38: The Big Red One

The story thus far; after a harrowing sea cruise our heroes have landed on Sulfur Island (more of an isle really) with a healer of the White Star Guild, 3 torchbearers and 3 porters carrying their bags & chests. The group of slayers consists of Bers played by Jenn, Vorwulf and his protégé Trusk both played by Cris, and Grom with his protégé named Thrall (along with his black bear companion which was kept below decks while on the ship) both played by Gil. The she-captain a Ferenoi named Ionisus (Ee-o-nees-oos) told them that she would await them on the other side of the island in a cove in an attempt to shelter her ship from the dragon if it’s still on the prowl.

They circumnavigated the base of the volcano and found two ground entrances one fairly small the other a large gaping cave. The smaller was a ways up a gravel slope where the base was surrounded by boiling sulfur springs with steam pouring from it obscuring everything so they decided to “go in the front door”. They marched into the large cavern which tweaked off at the end in a sharp turn hiding the far end from the view of our heroes. The porters were ordered to wait at the mouth and the torchbearers began to follow as the group was already in.

Vorwulf: “Spread out. Don’t stick too close together.”

The porters screamed and a blast of flame was narrowly avoided by the torchbearers who immediately fled out of sight.

Vorwulf & Bers: “Crap.”

Vorwulf (after a successful dragon-lore skill check): “Damn thing’s an ancient!”

The cave quaked as the red dragon landed at the mouth roaring at the slayers. Fortunately its attempt to frighten them didn’t work (all passed their Courage saves versus the dragon’s Horror Factor). The healer activated her Ring of Invisibility (useless by the way within a certain distance against the dragon) and Ring of Cryo-Armor lent to her by the slayers in order to protect herself.

Vorwulf: “Here it comes!”

The dragon was an ancient red dragon not the great adult they had expected. The colossal beast was at least 100 ft. long from nose to tail its wings twice that length when unfurled and it had to be well over 2 tons in weight. It was wearing a gold breast plate, a single jewel-studded claw sheath, a gold diamond-studded ring on its tail, and a gold skull cap with a single large ruby as a helmet on its head. The dragon blasted the group with its formidable breath-fire but to no effect as the group was fully protected from fire and heat damage via magic items and Grom’s magic. The group retreated, except for Bers, as they beat the dragon in initiative in order to down some potions. When they rounded the corner they found it came to an immediate dead-end. They were trapped. When the dragon charged in that was when Vor, Trusk and Grom froze with horror. In the first round Vorwulf’s courage overcame his horror and Grom dispelled the terror freezing his heart and that of his protégé with two spells. The dragon fought with Thrall and Bers and when Vorwulf shot at it he found its armor caused arrows to turn back on the shooter and stuck himself pretty good. By the second round Thrall and Trusk had been stomped into paste splattering all over the remaining slayers.

Grom: “Noooooooooo!”

Vorwulf: “Noooooooo!”

Cris: “Crap. Again!?”

Vorwulf remembered (he forgot in the first round but since he was frightened it worked out in game context) to activate his Boots of Fleet of Foot and stood side by side with Bers, Grom retreated behind them in order to sling some spells all of which failed to penetrate the dragon’s natural spell resistance. On the third round only Vorwulf got in dual weapon strike before the suddenly leapt up and beat its wings once before catching hold in a hole in the ceiling 100 ft. up which apparently opened into the interior of the volcano into which the dragon disappeared.

Vorwulf: “OH NO you don’t!”

The flying potion he had drunk at the beginning of the fight was still in effect so he flew up after the dragon. He found himself in a large passage which angled steeply up so steep in fact that it was almost vertical potentially dumping one back into the cave from whence he and the dragon came. He chased after the dragon and came to a fork with one passage going back down at a very steep angle the surface of which was smooth and slippery obsidian-glass and lit brightly with an evil red glow and the other which continued steeply upward. He followed the passage up and found a large domed chamber at the end which was lit from above where the ceiling was open presumably into the main crater though the sun could not be seen through the volcanic-exhaust and there was another opening at the other end of the chamber which sloped back down at a manageable angle. The shaman had since flown up and lowered a rope down to the others those being Bers and the healer. Vorwulf rejoined them.

Vorwulf: “Crap, crap, crap. It’s gonna be completely healed by time we catch it.”

They traveled to the sunlit chamber at the top of the initial passage that Vorwulf had scouted and encountered 4 large scarab beeltes each about the size of a large dog whose exoskeletons had the appearance of crudely shaped obsidian. From above as they engaged the creatures an eagle flew in its feathers appearing as flames began attacking them from above. The battle was quick and the monsters were easily defeated. Vorwulf checked the downward sloping passage that came from the high chamber and found it trapped with a camouflaged spiked pit. It was spiked with razor sharp obsidian spikes. They decided to back track.

The healer’s cryo-armor expired as they descended and the ring had no more magic left for the day and thus had to be carried out due to the heat and toxic fumes. They decided to proceed along the dangerously slippery obsidian tube discovering that its higher end exited into the parasitic cone of the volcano and thus proceeded in the opposite direction. The rest of the group consisting now of the core 3 characters made it to the end realizing that the passage terminated at the main volcanic vent where the air was surging up appearing as thick as running water the white hot light dazzling their eyes as they tried to gaze down into the heart of the volcano. They saw another passage in the wall of the main vent on the opposite side which the shaman could fly Bers over and Vorwulf could fly into as the potion had a while still before its effects expired. They easily made it through the massive opening.

A dim red-orange light filled the room from the main vent and suspended from the high vaulted ceiling was a massive jewel-encrusted gold cage with the man-size door ajar. On a golden T-stand on the opposite side of the chamber next to two more exits sat two eagles with flames for feathers. Again these foes were easily dispatched. They took the passage which angled downwards as the second opened into a level passage terminating in another vaulted chamber with only a large and deep hole in its floor. They found the passageway that they had taken ended in an opening which was high above the floor of the chamber that it ran into but which had four more openings in its walls. The chamber was dark and thus Bers was finally able to use her Cape of Bat-Flight carrying Vorwulf to the floor and Grom using another spell flew down. One of the exits was a steaming pit in the floor opening into a very smooth walled and wet obsidian chute. When Vorwulf found out the steam could bypass some of his heat protection he decided against scouting that passage. They lit torches and proceeded forward finding the feeding chamber, bone pit and the exit on the opposite side of the volcano which they had seen when scouting the perimeter which was filled with steam shooting out from the obsidian tube which angled down into the heart of the volcano from that entrance. They back tracked again into the chamber with multiple portals and were surprised by lava oozing from the cracks in the far wall which formed into a semi-humanoid form. It attacked and they fought it wiping it out embarrassingly quickly. They followed the level passage to its other end and a gas pocket triggered by their torches exploded dealing virtually no damage to them. Then at the end they found the passage terminated in a small chamber with a perforated floor with an iron door at the far end. They realized this was a trap; the room was filled with poisonous exhaust gases drawn from the main vent. So they went backwards again traveled back up to the chamber with the golden cage. The backtracked all the way to the chamber where the only exit besides the way they already came was the yawning pit in the floor.

It was completely black at the bottom so Bers lit her lamp and Grom a torch. Bers flew down and found the floor immediately under the pit was studded with 6-foot long razor sharp obsidian spikes. She was immediately set upon by a pair of dragonsauri with bright red scales. Grom slipped down a rope and was able to turn the beasts away ending the confrontation without a fight. Vorwulf followed and they took the only passage they could which angled and spiraled down into the loose gravel floored wallow chamber of the lair. In the wallow they encountered a pair of wolves that had stone in place of hair or hide which Grom easily turned aside as well. They followed the one-way path which exited into the magma chamber of the volcano several hundred feet above the white hot magma, the heart of the volcano. Below them on the precipice of the lava-pit they could see a pair of opposing ledges.

They figured, correctly, that the main hoard chamber was down there on one or the other side so the shaman taxied them one at a time to one of the ledges. They saw yellow steam gushing out of one of the openings and so avoided that one. This was the water chamber of the lair consisting of a boiling lake of sulfurous opaque-yellow water with a ‘small’ hoard chamber across it. They instead made the right guess again and found the gaping mouth before them into a massive passage which continued into a large chamber with a depressed floor. A bright blue flame hovered a few feet above the floor its eerie light only apparent when they got near it over powered by the brightness of the searing light of the magma chamber and the orange glow coming from the chamber ahead. The walls were carved with the jeweled images of red dragons swirling in a forest of flames. There were also 5 niches scattered about the chamber walls containing 1 draconic skull each.

Vorwulf: “Great he’s a dragonlord too. He kills other dragons and makes himself more powerful than normal.”

Bers: “Oh. We can kill ‘em right?”

Vorwulf (shrugging his shoulders): “We had him on the run before.”

The chamber beyond had a floor of bubbling lava and beyond that a massive adamantine door bearing a familiar sight. The relief sculpture at the center of the door was the large jewel-eyed head of a sneering troll. They began to turn back and went back to the ledge and that was when the red dragon burst from the white hot magma landing with a rumble on the ledge before them. The creature was indeed fully healed and ready to fight.

The fight commenced and the dragon was suddenly wrapped in red serpents which served as a fleshy armor for a short time. Bers hacked off the slithering armor in two blows. The fight was vicious and long lasting 5 rounds with the dragon going into a dragon-rage in the second round. The slayers burned up their attacks each round quickly as most of their blows was a power attack even Grom the shaman waded into the fight using his mace. By the beginning of the last round the dragon was finally dropped and as it had pushed them back towards the adamantine vault and the lava pool in front of it they could harvest the body for some hide and bone. They explored the opposite passage finding a smaller but more easily gotten hoard and were satisfied with looting that. They took mostly gems and coins basically what they could carry wrapped in improvised sacks of red dragon hide.

They found the ship by nightfall the crew apparently readying to sail come dawn. The slayers’ hirelings were all intact and the slayers though wounded and their armor again pretty much shredded were unharmed.

Captain Ionisus: “Ya know yer bear tried to attack one of my crew and then ran off a few hours ago.”

They had forgotten the bear on the boat where it was sleeping under deck. They arrived in port just before the first fall storm and were looking forward to wintering in comfort in the city. They paid off the ‘freebooters’ and took up residence in the guild house. They gained even more credit with the Blackwings guild after slaying the ‘big red’ especially when they mentioned it was a fledgling dragonlord. They were rich, franchised through the guild and were eager to start a new guild house in Hirok-Nor come summer. Oh, they threw themselves a parade along the main drag of the city as well even though Vorwulf warned them that even with the red dragon’s treasure they were low on cash as compared to what they had when they first arrived.

The End of the First Dragon-Slayers Campaign (played between August 2012 and February 2013).

The Arvan Game Pt. 37: On Black & Steaming Shores

We rejoin our heroes ready to rest for a few days in the guild house Vorwulf spending the time looking at the Tome of Dragonslaying leveraging the intelligence they had gathered afield gaining the right to read a few pages from the tome. Draznor was left to keep an eye on their apartments where they had most of their stuff in the bad part of town. Vorwulf got the gist of the contents of the great book while Bers looked on. The newest item was uncomfortably familiar to her copied to the back pages of the very large iron-bound tome. It was a spell titled Draught of the Dragon’s Soul. The same spell copied from a book of invocations Bers had taken from the winter dragon’s horde and sold to a wizard in Fertum Dreyhawk. The mage had identified the spell initially telling her (and Dead-Eye) the name then became nervous beads of sweat forming on his furrowed brow becoming suddenly very eager to bargain for the book. Bers thought she had gotten quite a sum for the tome but in fact turned out she sold it for a pittance. The dragon-slayers began to realize this when they needed to buy some potions and found the shop closed up finding out that the mage had left town for the city of Chago (should’ve been included at the beginning of Pt.19 while liquidating some of the dragon’s horde, my bad again).

Jenn (Bers’ player): “Ugh! I was so stupid to sell that!”

Bers pointed this fact out to Vor while read the portions of the book that he was allowed to. Neither of the dragon-slayers was allowed to actually touch the book as the keeper of the tome had opened it and turned the pages for them. A couple of times Xanto occasioned to walk in and talked to Bers trying to convince her to throw another party or about “investments” she could make. A day or so later the pair were awakened in the middle of the night, the shaman was busy wandering the city, were awakened by ringing bells signaling an alarm inside of the guild house.

The keeper of the tome had found that the book was completely blank though the book itself was still intact. He first pointed a finger at the new Blackwings but relented as they and Duoamo discussed it. The pair decided that the wasp was responsible as the keeper mentioned that Xanto had come in to see them earlier that day and neither had actually met with him though they kept that a secret.

Vorwulf (to Bers when they were walking back to their separate quarters): “We need to track that guy down and get our hands on that tome!”

The next day they spent drinking in the Leaping Fish with the Green Dragon Archers well into the wee hours trying to ply them for information. At the end of the drinking binge Bers turned on her charms on the “cutest” of the brothers. Mind you they were all identical so she wound up next to the least scarred I guess. All of the brothers wore a pair of bronze bracers each with a single large moonstone mounted on them as well as ring on their right middle fingers. The rings was the method Vorwulf used to distinguish them from each other as the eldest and seeming leader wore a mithral ring, the second a silver ring, the third a gold ring, the fourth a dragonmetal ring, the fifth a bronze ring and the sixth a star metal ring. Strangely enough he adventurers never really bothered to ask these guys for names. Bers took the brother with the bronze ring to her apartments in Stumpy’s building for a “nightcap”. Vorwulf left half of the others passed out on the saloon floor and managed to get some information. They were contracted by some troll-lord named Pallgak and a red dragon was mentioned to them as well trying to capture it or bring it to its death throes. There was supposed to be a ship reserved for them at the docks and another group called the Skulls that was to accompany them to an island somewhere. They were to leave for the troll’s stronghold in the morning. Vorwulf went back to the guild house.

Late morning found the Dragon Archers in Bers’ apartments waking her and their brother telling him to “shake out the cobwebs” and join them a.s.a.p. in the Leaping Fish taproom. Vorwulf was up early and immediately had rushed to the Leaping Fish determined to follow the Ivoran slayers and waylay them en route to Pallgak. By the afternoon both groups were sitting in the taproom of the Leaping Fish at opposite ends of the room, the Dragon Archers were conferring keeping their voices low. Bers, Vorwulf and Draznor, the shaman was still absent, were eating a lunch of fish stew waiting for the archers to move out. A too familiar sound, an alarm bell began ringing out a warning over the city from the harbor.

A litany of clattering sounds and then the rings of steel on steel and the screams of the dying began to fill the air. The adventurers shot up and ran outside to see that the harbor was under attack by several Feren raiding vessels. They saw the amazons attacking en masse with their shield men and male thralls looting and fighting. A few of the younger amazons were dragging nets with captives behind them. They also saw that a group of Ferens were headed straight for them charging up the boardwalk towards the tavern. The leader was an amazon bearing a short spear with a sheathed falcata at her side and wearing greaves, bracers, a hauberk and an open helm as armor. Next to her was her shield man, a significantly shorter man with wide shoulders bearing a round wood shield wearing much the same types of armor save he had on a suit of chainmail in place of a hauberk. On either side of that pair were four more warriors, two of which were Ferenoi (amazons). Following behind was an apparent priestess attired the same but with a grey-blue cloak flapping behind her. Off to the side near the priestess was a silver helmeted archer.

An arrow thunked into the building next to Draznor’s head and the battle was on. The fight lasted for 2 rounds with the adventurers taking very little in the way of wounds with the Ferens losing all but the priestess who seemed to be immune to the arrows of Draznor and Vorwulf. The archer had been taken out after an exchange with Vorwulf in the first round along with two of the male thralls. The two Ferenoi warriors and their leader and her shield-man were all killed by the end of the second. The priestess fled and Bers was going to chase after her but thought better when she saw the other Ferens running to assist her. They went back into the saloon and found the Dragon Archers had not moved a finger other than to lift a tankard. After an hour it was all over. The Ferens had pulled a lighting fast hit and run raid leaving the harbor in chaos for the rest of the day. The adventurers spent the night taking turns on watch outside of the Leaping Fish just in case the archers should leave in the dark.

By the next morning the archers had left and our dragon-slayers had given them an hour lead in order to stay hidden hoping to catch up and ambush them in the swamp. They double-timed it not stopping to rest as they chased the archer group through the next several days until they finally caught up to them in Strogo Swamp somewhere around 20 miles northwest of Chago. Our heroes had acquired 3 hireling fighters before leaving the city for some “backup”. The dragon-slayers were immediately sighted as they had unexpectedly rolled right into the archers’’ camp. It was apparent that the archers were fully equipped and were about to split into two groups just before the slayers arrived. Vorwulf tried to play it off and talk with the leader but blew it big-time and the fight began as the archers began to retreat to cover. Vorwulf activated his Boots of Fleet of Foot doubling his attacks and granting him the auto-dodge maneuver.

Each archer was wearing a bronze open helm each with a large piece of carved jade on the forehead, a mother of pearl studded bronze buckler, a pair of bronze bracers with a single large moonstone, a green dragon-skin bandolier replete with potions, and a green dragon-skin quiver on their hip and another on their backs. They each were armed with a green longbow. The battle was a storm of arrows and magical fire blasting from magic items and weapons with two of the three hirelings being killed and Draznor dropping by the end of the first round.

At the beginning of the second round Bers was forced into making a recovery check and then paralyzed by a magic arrow knocking her out of the fight. The last hireling was killed and by the end of the round Draznor and 3 of the archers had joined them. In the third round Vorwulf closed with and killed the leader and the sixth brother. He fought hand to hand with the fourth brother and easily dispatched him. Frankly, without the magic boots he was wearing he and Bers would most certainly be dead. They limped through the swamp on their way back to the city when they came upon Xanto the wasp his yellow and black robes reduced to rags.

Xanto: “Ah! My friends there you are I’m saved!”

Vorwulf: “We have to talk.”

Xanto: “Of course! The scoundrels I was riding with robbed…”

Bers: “Give us the book!”

Xanto: “Uhm. What book?”

Vorwulf: “The tome you stole from the Blackwings! Hand it over now!”

Xanto: “Uhm. I don’t know…”

Vorwulf leapt off of the wagon and drew his sword.

Xanto: “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Here! It was Pallgak! It was Pallgak!” He tossed a scroll to the angry ranger/dragonslayer.

Vorwulf got back up on the wagon with Bers and they left Xanto standing there in the swamp. After a few days they were again back in the city reunited with Grom the shaman and his protégé Thrall. The group worked out a deal with the Blackwings for the return of their tome’s text for a copy of the tome for their branch of the guild as a reward. They were determined now to rent a boat and head out to Sulfur Island to slay the red dragon before Pallgak realizing that he was after the Drought of the Dragons Soul spell and a dying dragon to work it on. The spell would harness a dragon’s life force granting the caster an increase in magical power from that energy. They found a boat for hire, the only one available at the docks, with a Ferenoi captain named Ionisus whom they promised half of the total pay up front the other upon safe return as they noted the captain and the Westlander/Hill-Lander crew were most likely pirates. They were aware however of another ship with dragon-slayers onboard in black bearing shields painted with white skulls. Vorwulf took on a new protégé named Trusk while hiring a healer form the local White Star Healers’ Guild a day before they departed. The group also hired on 3 porters to carry their gear and chests as well as 3 torchbearers. A couple of days later they were at sea.

It would take them 3 and a half days of sailing north which would be tortuous due to the onset of fall and as the isle lay somewhere near the start of the firth of woe it would already be bitterly cold that far north. The first day went without a hitch and quick Fern vessel (a longship) was equipped with Hyvalian style three-mast ribbed sails. They kept the coast of Arvan in view to their east all the while and only went further out when the sea got rough. Come the second day the lookout in the crow’s nest spotted a pursuing vessel. It was a large deep keeled Westlander vessel familiar to the dragon-slayers as the vessel which was bearing the enemy dragon-slayer group, the Skulls. The Westlander vessel should’ve been much slower its single square leather sail stretched as it caught the sea winds but it had 8 oars on a single side the Feren vessel had only 4. The sun-baked amazon captain roared orders and the drum beat for the crew as they manned the oars. The speed of the shallow bottomed vessel picked up and the wind seemed to roar in the adventurers ears as pot shots from the crossbows in the hands of the crews we taken back and forth. The Feren vessel began to outpace the enemy ship easily with the aid of her sails combined with the muscle of her crew and iron persona of her captain until the winds stilled. The vessels drew to a narrow gap though the Feren pirate vessel was maintaining its lead easily then a lucky shot took out an oar-man then another and the ship slowed enough to be rammed by the other and grappling hooks and gang-planks were foisted upon the longship and the was being boarded. Her exhausted crew and angry captain snatched up their cutlasses and met with the opposing seamen. A volley of crossbow bolts was traded but again without casualties many lodging themselves in the sides of the captain’s cabin behind the corner of which the slayers were taking cover. Then they saw their prey, the Skulls leapt aboard taking down a few of Capt. Ionisus’ crew in the process. The far end of the longship nearly rose out of the water and dumped a few men from both crews into the water as it slapped back down as the Hill-Giant of the Skulls jumped onto the deck. The giant was wielding a morning star which crackled with electricity as it swung with a silver dragon-winged helmet with a single sapphire in one of the eyes of the facemask covering his head. He was also armored fine steel half-plate and a black dragon-hide mantle expanding behind him with every splintering stride. Next to him was a human fighter with a steel chest plate, gold helmet, and a similar mantle on his shoulders wielding a black buckler bearing the white skull and armed with a farmer’s scythe. Following them was a human thug armored in black dragon’s hide bearing a gold shield and twirling a morning star and two human spearmen armored as the thug but with mirror-polished shields on one arm and wielding a superior quality short-spear in the other hand. The resulting battle was savage lasting five rounds.

The scythe-wielding Ripper took two attacks of opportunity once against Bers and the other against Vorwulf as they charged into battle dealing some additional acid damage when it hit. Trusk kept back behind the cover of the captain’s cabin as he took shots at the giant. The shaman was unfortunately sidelined with sea sickness and was below deck as was his protégé Thrall. At the end of the first round Vorwulf had to make a recovery check as he was already badly wounded. At the beginning of the second round Vorwulf remembered to activate his Boots of Fleet of Foot doubling his number of attacks, speed and granting him auto-dodge. He again had to make a recovery check to keep from being dropped by the Ripper with the scythe as they also found that the scythe passed through their armor bypassing its protection. The thug with the golden shield when struck with a melee weapon his chest plate shot forth a cone of force at his attackers. By the end of the second round the giant was dead his massive corpse falling over board and sinking immediately. At the beginning of the third round the thug with the golden shield was slain and Trusk was forced into a recovery check from the blast. The Ripper was killed and Bers was forced to make a recovery check due to her severe wounds. The pair of spearmen continued to fight on into and through the fourth round with one dropping by its end. The last spearman was slain at the beginning of the fifth before he was even able to act. By the end of the battle the Westlander ship they had hired began to break away its crew retreating. The pirates cheered in victory. They then went about the grim work of tossing the bodies overboard and mopping up the bloodied deck.

The dragon-slayers had acquired a good deal of useful loot from the Skulls whom were carrying a Bag of Holding embroidered with a skull of obsidian beads. There were 5 Rings of Cryogenic Armor, 6 Ice-Steel Arrows, Ice-Steel Shortspear, and an engraved silver battle axe with a large sapphire mounted in the blade, a glowing sapphire which was probably a grenade-like weapon of the magical kind, a glowing aquamarine probably akin to the sapphire, and a lot of potions which were mostly healing.

The next day came and by mid-morning they saw a dragon, a very big red one, flying in their direction and they knew they were dead-meat with nowhere to hide. The captain had the sails lowered and the crew furiously into a fog bank hoping it would hide them. She calmed the slayers saying the ship’s wood was protected from fire by the intricate painted runes on the hull. A blast of flame came down from the unseen source beyond the fog and struck the ship’s deck which repelled the flames like an invisible protective dome. Then everything was dead quiet as the crew and the slayers waited silently and listened as they heard the massive leathery wings beating above them close enough to clear a large area of fog to the starboard of the ship. When it was presumably satisfied as to their destruction the red dragon left the sound of its gigantic wings beating into the distance.

By the evening they found themselves on a black gravel shore between an active volcano and the misty sea. The sea captain had taken her ship and would be waiting, she said, in a cove she knew about on the other side of the island. The porters were carrying their chests and Grom and Thrall were over their sea sickness. The healer and the torchbearers were ready to follow.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 36: The Great Escape

What Bers and Vorwulf found behind the door was a narrow passage with an iron door at the other end which was barred on the other side and thus was probably impossible to get through. Along both walls were faded murals probably hundreds of years old lit by the flickering flame-light of black iron braziers. Among the images, representations of ancient Hirok-Nor and the surrounding territories, was a familiar one, a conical mountain surrounded by a moat with a brown dragon above the peak its wings outstretched (see Pt. 32).

Vorwulf: “Aww, let’s get outta here!”

Bers attempted to break down the iron door but was unsuccessful and realized that she was never going to be able to break it down. They activated their Rings of Invisibility and opened the door carefully just before 4 dragon-slayers and a couple of latter-generation trolls found the regenerating remains of the 3-headed troll. Vorwulf and Bers both tossed vials of alchemist’s fire at the regenerating corpse as a “distraction” and ran down a random passage. They ran around dodging running guards both human and troll getting chased down twice by trolls which were able to sniff them out. They were alerted more than once that their trail was being followed by the loud snorts and sniffing sounds made by the trolls at their heels. They found the passage up to the battlements was blocked by about 6 trolls they turned back around hoping to find a passage into the hall and from there into the courtyard. They were successful when they followed a pair of humans heading back out as the trolls and “evil” dragon-slayers were turning their attentions to the courtyard.  Of course once they found themselves in the open they were detected by latter generation trolls and the dragonsauri that one of the dragon-slayers in black dragon-hide armor they had seen earlier at the gate was leading. They immediately were descended upon but as most of the slayers in the courtyard were human and faun they were easily able to avoid sword and spear blows until the slayers got the idea to look for disembodied footprints.

They ran around in circles for a while and then successfully prowled into one of the apartment-like chambers along the walkways lining the outer circumference of the courtyard. The bed-like slab that came out from the wall served to hide Vorwulf below it and Bers ducked under a table. The room was strewn with dirty furs and half empty mugs of cheap ale. In fact a few of the warriors that had been drinking to kill the boredom of waiting were still in there. The adventurers were hoping that the smell of the snoring drunks would mask them from the trolls and dragonsauri. It did as a troll wandered up and stuck its gruesome mug through the unglazed window. After it loudly sniffed the air it mumbled something about “killing ya all in yer sleep”. Bers and Vorwulf let out a collective sigh of relief and were readying to make their escape while waiting for a break in the patrols that were circling the courtyard. After a few hours they realized the dawn was just about to break as the sky began to change color from black night to the pastels of early morning. That was when one of the drunks was awakened by Vorwulf clumsily stumbling on an empty bottle. The man immediately began to yell thinking they were robbing the room but was quickly silenced by Vorwulf’s knife and as the other of the three drunks jumped up Bers chopped him back down and Vorwulf shot the third before he could rise. Two trolls burst in and in the confusion of blindly flailing claws they ran between the large creatures’ legs and into the courtyard using her Cape of Bat-Flight Bers grabbed Vorwulf and they flew up into the air as a troll caught their scent on the breeze and pointed them out and arrows whizzed by them.

They fell to the ground from 10 ft in the air as the sun broke the horizon outside of the walls and they continued to run to the wagon at the bottom of the rise without missing a beat. When they got to the wagon they found it intact and their donkeys were grazing idly. However the shaman and Buck were nowhere to be seen.

Vorwulf: “Too bad they’re on their own, let’s go!”

They got into the wagon and spurred the donkeys heading to the northeast into Lachmor. They continued on through the day knowing they were being pursued only the chaos inside of the ruins gave them the lead. Vorwulf thought to lose their pursuers in Strogo Swamp and they continued until dark only resting for a few hours before continuing on. By morning they were at the far end of Lachmor lake and camped their without a fire and hidden under an outcropping of rock. Here they met a stranger dressed in black robes and a pointed black beard. He seemed to try to grill them with his mouth frozen in a constant amused sneer. Ultimately he left seemingly disappearing into thin air. They ran for two more days finding themselves in the midst of Strogo Swamp and forced to camp at night they had the previous night seen several campfires in the distance behind them. They had dodged a patrol which nearly had the dumb luck of running into them but were fortunate enough to be hidden by high reeds and barely ducked the enemy slayers. Again the stranger in black showed up and this time began to ask them if they were dragon-slayers. Vorwulf lied and told him no but several are pursuing them who are seeking a shadow dragon out here in the swamp. The stranger responded with “interesting” and left the camp seemingly melding into the darkness. It wasn’t long after that they were sighted by a group of the enemy and were forced to flee. Not long after as their pursuers began to converge into a larger group a large black dragon flew over and smashing into their midst form above. Using the distraction the adventurers made their escape wagon and all.

They double-timed it south to the West Road and arrived in Chago after a total of 7 days on the run. They immediately went to the Blackwing guild house and relayed what they knew. A day or so later Grom the shaman showed up tired but perfectly clueless about the other dragon-slayers. He had pursued a Yompgnarl into the woods after sighting it as he desired its blossom. He had stumbled into one while traveling from Hirok-Nor to Chago (should’ve been in Pt. 32 but really came to naught so I didn’t include it there) making a successful Monster Lore skill check on the creature he found he desired the red-fringed orange blossom that grew between its headless shoulders. Vorwulf however was unable to pick up on its trail.

Cris (after Vorwulf made a successful Monster Lore check): “Man! You see the Challenge Rating on that thing!”

Gil (Grom’s player): “Man you guys could take ‘em, c’mon now!”

The Challenge Rating was 14 by the way meaning it’s a fairly tough creature. Grom had lost track of Buck (Buck’s player left the game after only two sessions) and didn’t know where he had lost him.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 35: The Troll of the North Cliffs

A few days after the party the group of 5 dragon-slayers (Bers, Vorwulf, Grom the shaman, Persis, and Draznor) are combing the beach along the shore of the Western Ocean hunting a giant two-headed troll. The group figures they will hunt the giant two-headed troll prowling the beach and then travel as far as they can along the beach before hitting the sea cliffs then move inland to a cluster of fishing villages along the shore of a natural bay and onto the rumored ruins west of Lachmor ot the north of the city of Chago. Suddenly they catch sight of a group of Templars in full battle regalia their full plate and steel barding glinting in the morning sun at full gallop towards them.

The Templars reign in at a respectful distance while the two leading horses jaunt up to them both holy warriors remove their great helms. The first is Zavan the red whom hails them in a barely comprehensible Hyvalian accent. The other reveals himself to be Han-Morro an arrogant sneer smeared across his face. He begins talking to Zavan in derisive tones in the Hyvalian tongue never once deigning to look in their direction.

Zavan: “What are you doing out here?”

Vorwulf: “Hunting trolls.”

Zavan: “Well, beware of druids! We almost mistook you for them!” He let out a belly laugh. Han-Morro said something else that Zavan didn’t translate.

Bers was just standing there silent and content with simply scowling at him.

Zavan then said something which was unintelligible to the dragon-slayers and then he and Han-Morro turned and rejoined their group. The armored horsemen then galloped off past the dragon-slayers making sure to have their horses kick up a virtual storm of sand.

The next day they begin moving inland form the beach trying to find the first village on their planned route and wind up traveling farther inland than they realized sighting the edge of a forest that Vorwulf recognized as the northernmost end of Chago Forest. While trying to correct his mistake in navigating the party Vorwulf caught sight of a young dragon which appeared as a brown fang dragon but was black striped. While he kept an eye out after sighting it they wound up back near the beach close to where they departed it by early afternoon. This is when the dragon pounced.

It blasted at them with its fire breath catching all within the cone of flames singeing Bers and Persis badly enough for Persis to take cover by the wagon which miraculously escaped damage this time and Bers to make a recovery check. The battle almost lasted a full melee round with Bers getting in a devastating power attack and Thrall (the shaman’s protégé) dealing the deathblow. They decided to try to double time it to the first village and by dusk they made it.

Travel along the bay coast was easy and uneventful they reached the 3rd of 4 villages by sundown the next day, they checked out each and every village tavern to ‘gather info’. At the 4th village they were directed towards Lachmor lake but were told that they would have to leave the coast and travel inland to circumvent the sea cliffs traveling up the rising land then to where it suddenly drops where it meets the southern end of Strogo swamp. They were warned that trolls were about at night in the swamp spreading out from the Troll’s Marsh several more miles ot the northeast for some unknown reason. There were also ruins of an ancient stone fortress at the edge of a sea cliff reached by a narrow earthen ramp a few miles of the lake. When questioned about the giant troll they were told that the creature was known but didn’t seem to travel from the beaches which the villagers of all the villages have learned to avoid at night. It also seemed to wander the highlands where the cliffs swept up inland.

The next morning after spending the night in an outlying hut that they had rented for a small sack of gems as the village had been hostile upon their approach they first headed to the beach to find the base of the cliffs. They did find evidence of the troll further up from the beach and spent most of the day looking for a potential lair but could find nothing so they decided to continue on to the ruins. Over the next four days while circumscribing along the shore of the freshwater lake Lachmor they fought and killed a pair of swamp dragons, 8 marsh trolls where each of them scored at least a single kill, and a group of 3 more marsh trolls led by a 10 ft. tall troll armed with a mace (most of the trolls save the one with a weapon were bestial). At the end of the fourth day they set up camp on the shores of the lake ready for a well-deserved rest.

That morning they began maneuvering towards the high ground and found that they had to turn further inland than they intended towards the Strogo Swamp in order to find a slope up into the highland as they kept running into bluffs. To make things worse the land sank and was covered in tough woody bushes and rushes which blocked vision and impeded progress. They found a trail and by midday found they had barely made any progress and realized they probably had to approach the highlands directly from the north. They continued following the trail and soon found an ancient paving, probably an old road but it appeared to carry at least occasional traffic. They decided to follow it north as it was the only clear path and found it turned northeast towards Strogo Swamp. They stopped at what appeared to be an old plaza with a pitted low wall on one side and an overgrown well. It was already evening and they decided to turn back south in the morning and pulled the wagon up in order to secure it when they caught the sound of crackling branches and saw an Arborean in druid’s robes bearing a wooden staff.

Druid: “Hail there! I am Bohk of the Banded Rock who might you be?”

Vorwulf: “Dragon-slayers but we’re making our way to the ruins on the cliffs.”

Druid: “I see, I see. You wear the symbol of the Hyvalians.” He pointed a woody finger at Bers. She always wore the wooden holy symbol of the Hyvalian Theocracy given to her by the paladin Sir Chinsalis.

Vorwulf: “We came from Chago.”

Bohk the Druid: “I see.” He waved an arm signaling his compatriots whom sprang from bushes.

They found themselves surrounded by a group of guerilla fighters 3 of which appeared to be Moorvyr, ethnic Westlanders loyal to the Orthodox Druidic Order. Another of them was a Faun with the appearance of a mage with sword drawn and Vorwulf could see at least 2 archers in the bush one of them wearing a bright red tunic and cape. The remaining man had the savage appearance of a typical Westlander tribesman. The bush-fighters declared them prisoners and the dragon-slayers went on the attack. At the beginning of the battle a scraggly looking man in the soiled clothes of an Ivoran buccaneer with a rapier at his side joined the battle attacking the druid when he fell back into the bushes stopping him from casting his spells at the dragon-slayers.

It was a short but savage battle where by the end of the first round Persis, Bers’ Ferenoi protégé, was dead feathered with red fletched arrows. One of the fighters and the faun on the other side were also killed. By the end of the second round the all save Bohk and the scarlet archer were dead. Bers chased down the scarlet archer and cut her down in vengeance slaughtering her with a single blow, she hadn’t been touched once in the battle proper as she had stayed under cover.

The vagabond that had entered the battle on their behalf introduced himself as simply ‘Buck’ and presented them with the druid’s staff though he hadn’t managed to kill him he had taken his staff form him before he “got away”. He had been lost in the swamp for several days after a caravan he was a part of had been ambushed by Westlanders. He was the only survivor that he was aware of. Their destination had been Chago. They allowed him to accompany them. Buck and the shaman became fast friends. During the night during camp after they found a suitable spot after about an hour of additional wandering on Vorwulf’s watch a large black wolf wandered into camp that he recognized as Rrhga. The sentient wolf from the Wilderlands which they had hired as long with his companions in the Falmark when traveling into Hirok-Nor.

Rrhga: “I’ve been watching the camp this entire time. The druid sent me.”

Vorwulf: “So what’s going down?”

Rrhga: “Just a warning. The next time we meet we’re enemies.” With that the wolf disappeared into the dark.

By late the next day they found themselves at the foot of a wooded rise to where the ruins should lie. They traveled up the rise for about 2 hours until they came to the ruins at the end of a narrow ramping path with a shut iron gate and what appeared to be a makeshift guard shack at the bottom of the ramp with a bored looking guard leaning against it. The guard a massive man with trollish features, he was a half-troll after all, looked up at them and with a sigh donned his horned great helm with its snarling demonic facemask. He lifted up his weapon a massive iron maul onto his shoulder and held out his hand to stop them.

Gate Keeper: “Ho there! Dragon-slayers!” The group looked at each other then back at the guard.

Gate Keeper: “Password.” He sighed then started to step aside then stopped himself when they remained quiet. Bers said something a wild guess at a password which was absolutely wrong as should have been expected.

The group tensed prepared for battle as the half-troll got into a fighting stance then a loud shout came from behind the group. They saw a hill-giant cresting the rise followed by a wagon his black dragon hide armor glinting in the sun his giant bearded axe on his shoulders. On the wagon were 3 Westlander humans one wrapped almost completely in his black robes. The other two were mean looking acid-scarred and dirty faced men with bristly beards. One was armed with a black dragon hide bullwhip and the other was in the back of the open wagon polishing his flamberg wearing an open helm studded with dragon teeth. Both were wearing similar suits of black dragon hide armor. Following alongside the wagon was a dragonsaurus which looked whip-scarred and vicious with a cape of black dragon hide armor. Buck recognized the loud yell of the Hill Giant as a word in the troll tongue, very hard for non-trolls to pronounce. Our heroes watched as the other apparent dragon-slayers were granted entry. After the gates closed the guard looked back at them and started with surprise as if he had forgotten that they were there.

Gate Keeper: “Password?”

Buck tried but failed to pronounce the word then Bers attempted it and failed miserably. Buck tried to bluff their way in but it failed but he did convince the guard that they simply couldn’t pronounce the word.

Gate Keeper: “Well then, you can wait but you ain’t getting in that gate till I hear it from one o’yer mouths.”

They traveled back down to the bottom of the rise and went into the cover of the trees. The group decided to wait until nightfall then attack the gate keeper hopefully as quickly and quietly as possible and then figure something out after they get inside. The attack on the gate keeper went pretty much flawlessly even though the armor he had on was apparently magical as a glowing golden shield appeared in front of him when the fight began automatically blocking arrows and almost blocking the slayers’ melee weapon blows. The fight lasted for a single round with the gate keeper only getting in a single unsuccessful power attack against Bers with Vorwulf getting in the last blow. They tossed in a few alchemist fires into the suit after removing the helm and reduced his corpse to ashes inside of his armor. None of them was so much as scratched during in the combat. They found, however, that the gate was locked with no apparent keyhole and there was no key amongst the half-troll’s remains. The shaman was convinced it was magic of some kind the doors probably only responded to those of troll-blood. They then decided to split up leaving the wagon hidden off to the side somewhere and leave Grom, Buck, and Draznor to guard it. Now the plan was to fly over the wall as they assumed, rightly, that the gate opened into a courtyard using Bers’ Cape of Bat-Flight and the Rings of Invisibility each of the two had. They would scout it out first then return to the rest of the group maybe opening the gates from inside. For the most part their plan was successful and they found themselves in a rather large courtyard which was surrounded by a system of open walkways the lengths of which lined were with doors opening into small apartment-like rooms. The courtyard was filled with pup-tents, cooking fires and dozens of apparent vagabond dragon-slayers. There were a few hill-giants among many humans and fauns. All appeared to be Westlanders so the pair decided to turn off their rings careful to not get sighted suddenly appearing and walked among the crowd in order to glean some information about what the hell was going on. After about an hour they found out that the congregation of dragon-slayers was orchestrated by a self-proclaimed “troll-king” named Pallgak. They also gathered that depending on whom they asked that the slayers were supposed to either kill or capture a dragon, an ancient, lairing somewhere in the swamp or possibly among the “isles”. They also spotted various trolls wandering among the crowd acting as guards, most were latter generation (stupid and more bestial than their born or second or third generation trolls) the few that weren’t varied in size and were well-equipped with plate armor and weapons. They waited until a troll crier made an appearance waddling through the only double-doors in the courtyard opening to reveal a large hall behind once opened. He made the announcement that the slayers’ promised bounty, 5,000 gold talons plus any treasure that they may find, if they deliver either the Shadow Dragon of Strogo Swamp or the Great Red Dragon of the Sulfur Isle. For those going to take the red ships have already been bought for the trip and wait in the port of Chago. All groups will depart as soon as the Green Dragon Archers arrive and are briefed.

Bers: “So when are we going to kill this guy.”

Vorwulf: “Shh. Let’s turn invisible and fly up to the battlements and find a way down into the throne room and we’ll get ‘em then!”

So that’s what they did and fairly easily they found their way down into the passageway which led into the rear of the throne room. What was waiting there in front of the doors behind which they assumed Pallgak waited was a 15 ft. tall three-headed troll wearing full plate armor and wielding a massive hammer big even in for its wielder’s size. They charged it.

In the first round the giant troll had the upper hand forcing both Bers and Vorwulf to dodge his hammer and even forcing Vorwulf to make a recovery check at the end of the round. The second round started off bad with the giant troll getting a Natural 20 for its Initiative check but Bers was able to get in two power attacks and Vorwulf backed off to drink a healing potion then moved back in. The third round found Bers and Vorwulf making recovery checks in an effort to stave off at least some of the massive damage they were enduring. The pair of heroes held their own against the giant in the fourth and fifth rounds where the creature began showing some wear from their rain of blows. By the end of the sixth round Vorwulf was forced into another recovery check and both Bers’ and Vorwulf’s armor was nearly shredded and barely hanging on fortunately the troll appeared to be in bad straits gushing black stinking blood everywhere. In the seventh the troll was finally felled by a blow from Bers but not before Vorwulf was again making another recovery check. They were going to burn the corpse but they heard the clatter of guards, probably mostly trolls coming in from all sides. They were both very wounded, were out of potions and Vorwulf’s armor was gone and Bers had only a few shreds left which would be torn off with a single good hit. They quickly found the keys on the giant’s corpse and opened Pallgak’s door rushing into the darkened chamber and shutting then locking the door behind them.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 34: Party Party Party!

We rejoin our 5 heroes, Bers the Westlander female fighter played by Jenn, Persus the Ferenoi (Feren amazon) fighter/dungeoneer her protégé, Vorwulf the Westlander ranger/dragonslayer, Draznor the Westlander ranger his protégé, and Grom the Westlander shaman played by Gil. It was the evening of the party and the guests were starting to arrive. Bers stood by the entrance the shiesty mage Xanto the wasp next to her standing like a pompous scarecrow as the crier announced each guest as they entered the hall. Xanto was dressed in his finery with a black silk cape with a yellow lining and split yellow and black tights. He had long-toed black leather shoes with silver buckles and had on a soft leather doublet with silver buckles up the front with yellow silk sleeves showing from the shirt underneath and a pair of black leather gloves. His black hair was slicked back and his black forked goatee was styled with scented oils. On his neck he had on a ridiculously high frilly collar ruff. Bers had on a custom bright orange silk gown with a bright blue leather bodice all studded with diamonds, sapphires, citrines, opals and rubies from her own hoard of treasure. She also had on purple leather sleeved-gloves and for some reason she also had on a thick candy-red belt with a single large engraved silver buckle and wearing the ebony barrette with decorative runes taken from Sawback’s horde. Persus was dressed similarly but with a bright blue dress instead. The first guest entered.

In royal finery and a black soft leather cape with a silvery silk lining was Han-Morro (see Pt.13) bearing the escutcheon of the Templar Order of the Rose on his blue soft leather doublet and next to him the large red-haired Templar also in his best who was Han-Morro’s apparent lackey introduced as Zavan the Red (I never bothered to mention him in the blog since the players pretty much ignored him and never got his name nor did he ever interact with them while at Veringer’s Field). Han-Morro was there representing the “king” of Chago as he was the royal cousin. They shook the hands of the skinny mage whom eagerly reciprocated with a wide toothy grin his slick beard jutting out. Neither of the Templars attempted to meet hands with Bers simply walking by with their noses in the air and they giggled after they passed out of her sight which made her wince since she KNEW they were laughing at her.

Jenn: “Ugh! I was hoping that guy was dead!”

The fanatic cleric Li-Alo followed wearing his standard and humble yellow priests robes (see also Pt.13) followed by the Arch-Bishop of Chago (they weren’t important enough for the Hierophant to actually show up) named Wuhan Nangiori accompanied by priest Vodou as representatives of the cathedral. The representatives of the mages’ guild, the Pillars of Vision, arrived meeting Xanto with a raised eyebrow.

Guildmaster Nang-Corani: “So where is your badge Xanto?”

Xanto: “Well I’m hardly representing the guild in my current capacity, no?”

The other two mages named Shustro and Renglio both of whom had met with the slayers in the Blackwings guild house followed him all grasping hands with Bers as they passed her but each rolling their eyes as they passed the wasp in turn. The guild badges on all three of their chest glinting in the lamp light. What followed took Bers aback a bit.

3 large lions strode gracefully through the door each wearing a silver fringed deep green cape with heavy gold chains with large uncut rubies hanging at the throat. The first large male lion was introduced as Grahrg diplomat of the Wilderlands, his wife was next to him a proud lioness named Aahmgra accompanied by their bodyguard Nhryag. Eight more guests funneled into the hall, a portraiture from the artists’ guild, the chancellor of Stormcliff university (the name of the stone formation by which the cathedral sat), a pair of knights, a father and son each wearing large silver dragon pendants which dangled on their chests they seemed hostile to Bers but not at all to Xanto.  They were followed by their bodyguard a martial artist bearing no weapons with large rampant serpent tattoo on his chest. A knight and his lady followed them. They both had yellow cat-like eyes and sandy-blond hair. He bore a beaded griffin on the chest of his blue doublet. They seemed to snub the previous pair and walked over to the lions with which they seemed to have an affinity. Their bodyguard followed them wearing a tiger-patterned gi who immediately glowered at the previous bodyguard and got daggers shot back at him.

After a short gap 3 military men walked in. General Lou with a rampant leopard on his cloak followed by Lieutenant Astamo with a rampant tiger on his with Captain Renale with a rampant bear on his walked in last. They made a beeline to the ale kegs and seemed to keep to themselves unless approached by other guests. 21 other guests followed 3 individuals from each guild in the city. The minstrel threw aside his shimmering purple cape and began to play his harp. He was named Lugo Anmori dressed in a split brown and green outfit with a green escutcheon with a ram’s horn curling about a golden acorn was sown the chest, the symbol of the Bardic College at Ezmer. He was the most respected and most expensive entertainer in the city. Douamo the Blackwing guildmaster and his second Trogon were the last to be greeted by Bers at the door. Her duty fulfilled at the door greeting the guests Bers retreated to the barrels with the other Blackwings with Persus following.

The party was underway and the hall was filled with the low murmur of polite speech, mostly in Hyvalian with some Westlander in an Ivoran accent and occasionally brief bursts of polite laughter would rise above the chatter then sink quickly back down. The griffin knight and his lady stayed next to the lions for most of the night. Han-morro, his companions and those of the cathedral stayed in their own group sat at the tables drinking heavily and eating the lion’s share of the food especially the bishop. The guildsmen were the largest clique at the party a few sometimes breaking away to circulate among the other groups. The mages were busy briskly jaunting from one group to another never spending too much time with any group or individual. Persus proved to be popular with the men being tall and beautiful. Bers spent the night trying to “get her some” but failed at that though she managed not to commit any social fopaux.

Grom on the other hand brought in his chickens and his pig in the middle of the party. He then went about slaughtering them and began cooking them on the stone oven and fire-pit in the middle of the hall. The cooks were nonplused but were quieted by a handful of gems. After he left the meat sizzling over the flames he went about washing his hands with ale and proceeded to drink himself into a stupor. Vorwulf stood in a corner drinking by himself occasionally talking to the Blackwings then decided to step outside where he smoked his long-stemmed dragon-bone pipe using up the last of some high-grade smoking herbs that Xanto had procured while he gazed up at the stars.

Later on in the night the shaman decided to show off after the minstrel finished his last song and figured the wood hall was a perfect place to throw a line of flames into the air mostly to impress the Templars who were using him as a butt of a joke that he didn’t understand. They burst into maniacal laughter when the rafters caught fire and even harder when he turned as the flames gushed from his fingers setting a wall on fire! He panicked and dumped a barrel of ale on the fire and used a Wind Rush spell on the rafters fortunately putting it out but blasting out a patch of roof. The Templars then dumped a full keg of ale over his head. He then went outside to smoke with Vorwulf. Both of the men could still hear the raucous laughter from outside for quite some time.

They returned together to the apartments where Vorwulf expected to find only Draznor guarding the stuff. They instead found him passed out drunk next to a drunken barbarian.

Grom: “That’s Thrall he’s from my tribe and my protégé.”

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 33: In the City (of Chago)

A day later after renting the largest room in the top floor of a seaside saloon called the Leaping Fish, its placard displayed a blue fish leaping from an ale keg our heroes were in the tap room enjoying several rounds of ale and platters of roasted fish and steamed vegetables. They were a little miffed after spending a fair sum buying carry licenses for each weapon they were carrying save for 1 dagger each, taxes equal to 10% the value of the goods they were carrying and intent on selling and a gate toll. They were also warned by the gate guards that the shaman would have to purchase a Wizard’s License from the Pillars if he was thinking about doing anything “magical”. The place was patronized mostly by brawny, sunburnt, pipe-smoking sailors from along the Ivoran coast as well as hairy similar appearing sailors, probably pirates, from the Hill-Lands and dark-skinned Creschans even a few naga from the far southern Serpent Coast. The dragon-slayers noticed when a group of southron Ivoran brothers, all identical, wearing green-dragon hide armor, bronze bracers, bronze open helms with a flying dragon crest set on the scalp walked in. They were handsome young men with long black gleaming hair and blue eyes, Bers was smitten but they weren’t interested in her the bar-maid on the other hand was a different story. They were a bit snobbish and tight-lipped but were somewhat friendly and talked with the group especially when our heroes paid for the drinks and food. They were non-guilded dragon-slayers and archers from the city-state of Xuun far to the south in Gorloc. The next day they set out to explore the city.

Bers wanted to see if she could find out if Sir Chinsalis had survived the winter at Veringer’s Field (see Pt. 14) so she walked to the cathedral. Vorwulf wanted to purchase some potions as well as sell a few of those he was carrying Grom decided to follow him as he was at a loss as what to do in a city. Bers donned the wooden chalice medallion Sir Chinsalis had given her upon her and Dead-Eye’s “conversion” to the Hyvalian faith (see Pt.10).

She wended her way along the twisting streets which became more twisted and shorter as they approached the great rock bluff at the foot of which stood the impressive cathedral of Chago. She went up the steps into the open archways of the front entrance the place was sunlit by skylights and brightly painted with massive murals, great works of art, on all of the walls and ceilings. Her nose was almost overwhelmed by the strong scents coming from piles of smoldering incense mixing with the perfumes worn by the wealthy and body odors of the beggars whom loitered within. There were performers, jugglers mostly, performing for coin which were plinked into shabby earthen plates at their feet. There were tables set up by the entrance where scribes and lawyers were plying their trades. She observed the collection of brightly colored banners among the streamers hanging from the archways one of which she recognized as that which the Templars led by Han-Moro and another which the knights had flown back at Veringer’s Field. The Templars were called the Order of the Rose and their arms were a black escutcheon on a white field bearing a red rose with a thorny green stem. The knights’ heraldry was a golden chalice with a gold sword conceivably being thrust into it contained in an escutcheon of powder blue on a black field. She approached a young priest and asked after Sir Chinsalis. She was told he was indeed alive but was absent from the city on a mission to recapture an escaped criminal named Xiahmnecha which she took to mean Siamnecca pronounced with an Ivoran tongue. She also found out that the druids had a center of power in the Strignor Lagoon almost directly north 10-miles and tensions were high.

Vorwulf found himself in a small shop where dim beams of light shone through the glass windows on both sides of the door. Drying herbs and plants hung from the rafters providing a strange and cloying spicy scent which pervaded the small cramped space. Behind the counter lining the shelves were dozens of jars and some vials of various oils and extracts. The herbalist was an Ivoran named Wezra, really Weishi in the Ivoran tongue, whom was friendly enough. He was dressed in shabby but clean clothes his peppered grey hair was shoulder length and wiry appearing somewhat unkempt. Vorwulf found out that business in the city was completely controlled by the multiple guilds and he would have to sell any magic items to the mages’ guild called the Pillars of Vision and the potions to an alchemist guild approved alchemist. Upon Vorwulf letting him know about the dragon-bone and hide possibly for sale he directed to the Blackwing Dragon-Slayers guild house at the foot of the King’s Edifice, the other large stone formation on which the royal manor was built where the Colonial Regent lived as this city was still loyal to the Hyvalian Emperor.

Wezra (in a heavy Ivoran accent): “Ya know, you could sell some of yer stuff unofficially.” He tapped his nose and winked. “I know a guy in the not-so-good part a’ town.”

Vorwulf: “Hmm. Yeah I guess so and where’s the best place to stay if we don’t wanna be bothered?”

Grom: “Hey, hey. Where can I buy a chicken?” Cris scowled at Gil.

Wezra directed the shaman to the livery and told Vorwulf that the same guy could put him up in a place that no one will bother them at. The man was a Westlander ex-dragon-slayer named or rather his “street name” was Stumpy and he could be found sitting at the café in front of the apartment building he owned.  It was a white-washed four story place found in the “bad” part of the city, the poor part right off of the central market plaza. They made a note of their itinerary in their minds, they would see Stumpy first then on to an alchemist in the marketplace then after reuniting with Bers they would go to the Blackwings and then the mage guild. They would also try to pick up on any rumors or tell of dragons or trolls and such while running their errands.

They went to the livery and bought some chickens before returning to the Leaping Fish. The shaman was fascinated by a captive dragonsaurus which was obviously unhealthy and a small lizard called a Dragon-Lizard by the proprietor. It had six legs and its scales were of an earthy red-brown color fading to a greenish-black at the nose horn and along the bumps of the crocodilian skin. He was told these are highly sought after pets but decided against it as Vorwulf didn’t hold a high opinion of it so he bought a pick instead.

Later while eating at the Leaping Fish Bers pulled a stool up to their table followed by a tall nearly 7ft high amazon named Persis, her newly accepted protégé. Vorwulf and Grom shrugged their shoulders. Draznor was elsewhere sent to check the wagons at the carriage house where they rented space and paid for security. Vor and Grom had shared the rumors they had gathered of a red dragon terrorizing caravans traveling along the shoreline of the Firth of Woe in Northmarch far to the north and Bers was updated on all of the other business over a round of ale. They also heard of a giant two-headed troll prowling the beaches near some Cliffside ruins about 10-miles up the coast. Soon after they departed the saloon leaving a message for Draznor letting him know where they went with the barkeep. They met with Stumpy and wound up renting the top 2 floors of his building and had Stumpy send a runner to relay the message to Draznor to move their stuff to their new digs. Stumpy was a short very fat man with dirty stringy grey hair and a greying black moustache. His chin was studded with grey, white and black stubble. He was wearing a stained soft leather tunic and breeches with a faded red soft leather knee-high boot on his one leg. His crutch was finely carved and lacquered blue-black which he kept under his one-arm, the left one, when he stood. They sold him a few things which were identified as mundane (non-magical) and he was happy with the deal as they let go of very valuable objects for around 10% of the actual value less in a few cases.

Stumpy (as they left for the Blackwings guild house in a slight Ivoran accent): “If you guys need anyting, anyting! Jes ask I can get it for you!”

About a half an hour later they were sitting in a cool meeting room with smooth plastered walls and a hanging chandelier which was providing the light as the chamber was windowless. They were visibly exited to be inside of the Blackwing guild house at a large oblong table of polished redwood inlaid with mother of pearl. On the wall behind them there was a banner with the arms of the Hyvalian church on it bearing a golden chalice radiating orange and white beams which filled the field. Behind the guildsmen who sat opposite to the adventurers at the table there hung a banner with the symbol of the Blackwings against a split field of sea-blue and forest green. Douamo the guild master sat at the center of the guild side, next to him Trogon his apparent second and guild steward, with a clerk on either side of them. Draznor drug a sack of dragon-bone and a roll of dragon-hide he had fetched from the wagon which they had brought along and began laying the pieces on the table for the inspection of the guild. Persis was outside guarding the wagons while they sat in the guild carriage house. They also sent him back out to bring in the skulls which they had kept from the wyvern of Black Brow, the green dragon of the Cleft-Rills and Sawback. The Blackwing guild master was a broad muscular man of Ivoran descent but tanned and sun-hardened. He was wearing an eye-patch over his left eye and had large visible scars on his arms, face and neck. His studded soft leather shirt was open at the collar exposing the tattoo on his chest of the guild brand. They were impressed with the skull specimens and were sorry to hear about the loss of their men in Hirok-Nor and the murder of their people in Merdna where they had hoped to establish another guild house. Vorwulf let them know that they wanted to petition for membership and hopefully help them start a guild house in Hirok-Nor. In response Douamo asked for a steep entry fee which the adventurers easily paid right there. Douamo told them they were known to them via the last message that was relayed by their messengers of dragon-slayers from the Cleft-Rills that were plying their trade in Hirok-Nor before we lost contact (remember the messenger that galloped up in part 20, he was riding a magically disguised six-legged sleipnir and had a short conversation with the adventurers and followed the party to the lair and from there he left to relay the info).

They then asked if they could pay guild dues and when our heroes said they could pay a year in advance they were given the good news that they were now members. They were to sign or make their marks in the guild ledger and would have the run of the guild house save certain chambers and of course the vaults were off limits. There was a library, Vorwulf was literate and Bers had since learned to read, which contained the guild’s treasure the Tome of Dragonslaying which was housed in a locked side-chamber which they would have to be overseen by Babilla a guild alderman in charge of the book and whom was charged with the key to the chamber. They were invited to stay in the spare quarters for their stay in the city as they were now obligated to leave for Hirok-Nor by the next year. When they asked him where the mages’ guild was as they had some magic items for sale Douamo invited them to stay and offered to send a runner as the Blackwings had to offer the dragon-bone first to the Pillars anyway.

Douamo: “Now, let’s sit down to some spiced wine while we wait.”

Grom: “Oh yeah, they’ll sell me a Wizard’s License right?”

Bers and Vorwulf turned and glared at him.

Grom: “Hey, just in case!”

While they waited Douamo let them in on some guild news and rumors. A shadow dragon prowled the Strogo Swamp 4-miles north of the city but was tolerated for now as he seemed to keep the marsh-trolls of Troll’s Marsh out of Lachmor just 3-miles or so west. However a rumored new power is rumored to be rising in the Troll’s Marsh but who or what is not yet known. He repeated the rumor about the red dragon which they had already heard. Also there were outlaw dragon-hunter outfits wandering into town with some frequency including a notorious group of poachers calling themselves the Green-Dragon Archers all of them identical brothers. Vorwulf and Bers shared what they knew of them when they realized to whom Douamo was referring. He told them to “keep an eye on those guys”. After an hour or so have expired according to the sands of the hour-glass the representatives of the mages guild had arrived and as the last mage entered the meeting room Bers and Vorwulf recognized him.

Cris and Jen simultaneously: “Xanto the wasp!” (see Pt. 31)

Xanto did not make eye contact with them trying not to acknowledge that he knew them by constantly rubbing his guild badge, a sad beat up and tarnished bronze affair as opposed to the silver badges, gold on the eldest, of the others. The mark of the Pillars of Vision mage guild were the oblong images of an eye with their corners set on a common axis lending the appearance of a flower placed on an octagon, normally blue but the badges were of varying metals based on rank, with a motto ribbon stating “nothing is unknown” along the bottom. The eyes of the petals on the badges were set with gems of multiple colors those on Xanto’s badge were missing. The mages bought up almost all of the magic items that the adventurers had brought and could offer custom magic items but only to the guild and as new recruits their guild budget was reserved for when they arrived in Hirok-Nor. Cris just looked at me when I told him that. The eldest mage offered to have Xanto show them the town and introduce them to the necessary guildsmen of which there were many as they were going to stay in the city for at least a year. They accepted.

He dutifully showed them around town until the evening and was constantly offering to show to hidden gambling joints and dens of iniquity which catered to varying tastes. When asked if he knew Stumpy he replied:

“Yeah I know the guy. He doesn’t like me much.”

Vorwulf: “Well I like that guy even more now!” He laughed out loud (both the character and Cris) and slapped the narrow mage on his back.

Bers: “Hey let’s throw a party! I wanna throw a party and invite all the guild guys! Could you [to Xanto] help with that?”

Xanto (a big toothy grin broke across his face): “Of course! I could hire the entertainment. Buy the food, booze and hire the cooks. Rent a hall. What’s the budget I have to work with? I’m a superior party-planner if I might say so myself!”

Bers: “Oh spare no expense!” She tossed him a fat purse pregnant with gold and platinum coins.

Xanto: “Yes ma’am! When?”

Bers: “At the end of the week!”

Cris (to Jenn): “Good move. Keeping that guy close is a good idea. We might be able to use him.”

Jenn: “Oh yeeaah!”

They retreated to Stumpy’s place for the next three days having ordered prostitutes, young gigolos, booze and food through the wasp of course. Xanto made appearances here and there afterwards asking for more money which Bers always gave him as well as delivering and taking their orders for whatever they wanted at the time. On the fourth day as they nursed hangovers at the Leaping Fish, Xanto found them and let them know that he had rented a hall and all the invitations for the party had been delivered. They checked the hall out and found it was a wood hall built with a floor plan similar to a Westlander hall with a stone oven at the center and was sectioned off by sliding doors which could be slid back and folded to open up the entire hall as a single continuous space. He said the entertainers and the minstrel were hired and he would introduce them on the afternoon of the party as the guests would begin arriving at dusk.

The day before the party the shaman fed his chickens and pig which he planned on taking to the party for some reason or another. While he was “socializing” a strange warrior dressed in skins with fur girt shoulders hailed to him from across the narrow steep street in front of Stumpy’s. Vorwulf and his protégé, Draznor, were performing some accounting of the group funds and going over the gear and goods on the wagons. Bers spent the day with her protégé, Persis, shopping and having a pair of expensive silk party gowns made which were … loud shall we say?

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 32: The Road to Chago

After taking on the dragon cult known as the Disciples of the Divine Flame and slaying the great adult dragon Sawback we rejoin our four heroes, Bers played by Jenn, Vorwulf and his protégé Draznor both played by Cris, and Grom the shaman played by Gil as they check out the lair. The lair consisted of 4 massive chambers with domed ceilings from whence iron chandeliers were suspended and finely honed & polished walls. The central entrance chamber was the largest with large archways connecting to the other 3 chambers. There was a small hoard pile in the south archway consisting of 5,000 malachite, 2,000 alexandrite, 4,000 gold pieces, 2,000 silver pieces, 600 star metal ingots, 5 suits of high quality lion-skin soft leather armor (2 of which Vorwulf took for himself), 2 high quality bronze pectoral plates, a hammer (which they took as it was probably more than just a hammer), and a set of steel bracers with iolite rivets. The walls had niches dug into them which sheltered large gold oil lamps which appeared to glow with magic flames. There were bags and chests in the northwest corner and 2 hogshead of fine southern wine and 6 amphora of olive oil in the northeast corner. They took account of the bags and chests.

There was 1 large alligator skin sack, 1 large lion-skin sack, 1 large leather sack, 1 vulture-lion hide sack, 1 rhino-hide sack covered with decorative runes, and 1 large purple velvet sack. There were 3 chests which were 1 orange metal chest, a mother of pearl chest with a blue steel lock, and a titanium chest with quartz hardware. None of the chests were locked and the sacks were each filled to bursting. The treasure contained within is simply too much to list here but Bers took an ebony barrette with decorative runes for herself and all non-healing/curing potions were given to the shaman and he put on a string of amber prayer beads. Each of the three senior slayers took possession of a chest, Vorwulf the orange-metal chest, Bers the Mother of Pearl of chest and Grom the titanium chest with quartz hardware. They followed a careful process while sifting through and splitting up shares of the treasure by having Grom make use of his Repel Vermin spell to keep the swarms of gold scarabs at bay which eventually dispersed. The north chamber was lined with shelves sagging with 5 booklots and some potions & spell powders. On the bare portion of the wall hung an adamantine chest plate and a high quality star metal shield. A high quality bloodmetal suit of full plate armor was standing next to the shelves. The south chamber appeared to be a scrying chamber with a large scrying pool and a large circular polished-silver mirror. The large pile of loot consisted of 1,000 high quality garnets, 4,000 superior quality diamonds, 3,000 citrines, 4,000 rubies, 1,000 pieces of coral, 2,000 pieces of agate, 200,000 gold pieces, 600,000 electrum pieces, 300,000 steel pieces, 100,000 star metal pieces, 1,000 steel ingots, 600 bronze pigs, and 10 large superior quality rubies. Needless to say taking even a small portion of the booty would prove to be a feat of logistics.

They figured out a method of setting up a series of rope pulleys and a combination of using Bers’ Cape of Bat-Flight and Grom’s Nature’s Ability spell allowing him to grow wings. They took the treasure out by the upper entrance onto the top of Hirok. They managed about 3 sacks and all 3 chests their bags of holding were already fully loaded. They woefully stood inspecting the mirror-polished vault door unable to figure out how to gain entrance though they did spy a maker’s mark etched into one of the bottom corners resembling a conical mountain surrounded by a moat and a dragon with wings outstretched above the pinnacle.

Later the next afternoon after a good rest and the gathering of their shares of the treasure they mounted a level-top hill next to the top entrance of the lair finding a pair of ruined towers with a sink hole next to them where the ground had collapsed into some earthen tunnels and chambers. They buried their chests under the shadows of the broken towers each burying their own with their own hands with Draznor helping Vorwulf of course. That completed they decided to retreat to Fertum Vorahd via the North Road for a well-deserved rest. From the Fertum they decided they would travel to Chago come early spring as it was now late summer and they knew it would take at least 1 season to reach the coastal city.

Come spring they left Fertum Vorahd following the West Road passing between the skeletal remains of the Varidvir and Varid Woods as they traveled into Varidna the wheels on both of their wagons creaking all the way. They had a covered wagon for travel and their open wagon packed with rolls of Sawback’s tanned hide and a healthy stow of dragon-bone. They continued west for 2 weeks until they reached the town of Anaster where they had a 1 week stopover then continued for 4 weeks to the town of Wenbaer where they had another 1 week stopover. They continued from Wenbaer for 3 weeks until they came to the fishing town of Corvik and the ocean.

They spent the first night on the beach as it was the first time any of them had seen the ocean. The shaman stepped into the foaming waters, “it’s glorious!” His arms were outstretched Gil miming this at the table. He then cast the Swim As Fish spell on himself and dove in determined to swim as deep as he could.

Cris: “Watch it man! Don’t go too deep.”

After a few minutes Grom had gone very deep under the salty waters and caught a glimpse of something very big swimming below him. Bers and Vorwulf saw the shaman shoot from the water and run back up onto the beach pointing back at the water.

Grom: “There’s something down there!”

Bers and Vorwulf laughed while Grom marched back to the wagons where Draznor was guarding the gear. The next night Grom cooked a bunch of mud-worms while the locals, who all had heavy unidentifiable accents,  looked on and were surprised when he had an edible meal that actually tasted as well as smelling tasty (Natural 20 on his Cooking skill). Normally the grey slimy slugs taste like mud and smell worse. Of course, the rest of the slayers refused that meal and stuck with the fish stew. After a 1 week stopover in Corvik or rather Corvir as the Westlander farmers further inland called it they followed the road as it turned south across the Corvir Moor and into the Corvast Plain into Chago’s sphere of influence. It was slow going up the Chago Rise but it was easy going across the Weisha Plateau, through the Chago Forest and ultimately into the city itself. They had to stop and gawk in awe at the massively high stone walls of the city the highest they had ever seen that were not in a completely ruined state.

It was still early summer as they passed through the massive gates. It had taken 3 and a half months of travel between the Ivoran city of Chago and Hirok-Nor. The banners wafting from the battlements on either side of the gates displayed a turquoise peacock on a red field with a golden heart in the top right corner and a bundle of black arrows tied with a white string beneath the bird. They could see even before they entered a cloud of low hanging smog hovering over the city and they could smell the place long before they could even see it. They joined a flood of other caravans and wagons entering the city mixing into the river of flowing faces that crowded the avenue the chief commercial artery of the city from which all other streets diverge. There were a multitude of faces, the bristly goatish faces of fauns from the Hill-Lands, the flash of a darting ratling, the dusky faces of Creschan sailors, an occasional Arborean with a baffled expression, the sun-baked faces of the southron, the yellow tint of Hyvalian visages caked with cosmetics and draped in fine silks strung with beads all melded together into a cacophony of color, clattering hooves, grinding wagon wheels on the paving stones and general noise. They passed between two high plateaus of stone which jutted up inside of the city walls before the land suddenly dropped to the natural sea-cliff bounded harbor providing the highest vantage points in the city. On the flat pinnacle of one a large manor house the noble residence of the King of Chago surrounded on varying lower levels by the smaller houses of miscellaneous nobility. On the other formation sat the manor-complex of the Hierophant of Chago and the Hyvalian priesthood. Below its spires stabbing into the sky built higher than any other building in the city stood the Cathedral of the Hyvalian Theocracy. The stone faces were carved with the gigantic depictions of ancient Westlander warriors and warlords carrying aloft bundles of severed heads and walking on the decapitated corpses of their long forgotten enemies centuries worn and pocked with the nesting of sea birds. The land began to slope sharply and the avenue widened as they made their way to the waterfront. They found themselves in the city marketplace where the street was lined with booths in which all of the trades were represented. Shops and offices occupied most of the buildings that were here and almost all were of  3 or 4 stories tall most made of wood with tile roofs built in the Hyvalian pagoda style others were very square, only 2 levels high and built of quarried stone blocks of varying dimensions. The multitude of voices blended into a constant and overwhelming white noise over which could be heard the regular shouts, bids and bargaining common to the market. The group found they had to shout at each other or get close enough to talk directly into each other’s ears in order to be heard.

Cris: “Oh man, Dead-Eye would’ve hated this place!”

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 31: Desperately Seeking Sawback

We rejoin our four wayward heroes Bers the fighter played by Jenn, Vorwulf the archer/ranger and his protégé Draznor both played by Cris, and Grom the shaman played by Gil stopped in the middle of a hidden back road in Nor Forest. In front of them stands a man in full plate armor whom just declared himself Boshi Ironskin wielding a pudao seemingly waiting for them to charge. Behind him they could see what appeared to be another Ivoran, a mage wearing black and yellow striped robes and cape, yellow gauntlets, a high quality scimitar at his side. At either of his slight shoulders buzzed a large, 6 inch long, wasp. Vorwulf sighted a familiar face hidden in the bush behind these two, an archer wearing yellow silk with scaly skin known as Wu’ahm (see Pt. 25). Vorwulf shot at the hidden archer and stuck an arrow in him and he returned fire. Vor dodged the arrow. Grom tried to cast a spell but failed his casting check so the spell just fizzled out. Bers charged and was struck by a dusky skinned woman whom tumbled out from the bushes on one side of the road with a cutlass so she swung at her in a simul attack wounding her badly and forcing her into a recovery check before she could roll away. Draznor shot Wu’ahm the half-dragon archer and the striped mage cast a spell which summoned another comparatively large wasp different but similar in appearance to the other two. Wu’ahm shot Grom with three arrows at once one a critical hit forcing him to into a recovery check while the dark-skinned woman started to run away. Bers readied and waited for Boshi to rush her while it appeared he was guarding the mage waiting for someone to rush him. Draz aimed at the dark-skinned woman through the bushes she had run behind and shot her dead with a lucky shot. Vorwulf dueled it out with Wu’ahm with arrows killing him halfway through the second round being only lightly wounded by one of Wu’ahm’s arrows. Bers charged and took a power attack on Boshi her great sword blowing through his armor wounding him badly. He power attacked back slashing at her with his pudao but missed and was killed by her follow up strike. The striped mage sent the summoned wasp at Grom who dodged its dagger-like stinger. Draz shot the mage but the arrow bounced off of his robes. As they advanced on the mage, all 3 of his companions dead he surrendered all the while whining pathetically and begging for his life.

Vorwulf: “What’s yer name!”

Striped Mage: “Xanto, Xanto the wasp! Wait! Wait! Here, here’s my money just don’t kill me!” He tossed his hip purse at their feet.

Bers: “Should we kill him?”

Grom picked up the purse and emptied it into his hand. It was apparently a Hip Purse of Holding and out fell 6 potion vials, some coin which a few were stamped with the mark of Fertum Vorahd and a single gold talon stamped with the Coiled Dragon symbol. Vorwulf noticed as did Bers.

Vorwulf: “Where did you get that talon! Where’d you get the gold from!”

Xanto: “From the guy with the black mask on! The boss of tha’ guy that led you guys here! Their… the cult’s cave is at the end of this road!”

Vorwulf: “What are they called! Their name, their name!”

Xanto: “The Disciples of the Divine Flame! Please, please!”

The mage was slowly backing up the entire time as well as sweating profusely. The dragon-slayers conferred as to what to do with him but they forgot to keep an eye on him. As soon as all of their backs were to him he cast a spell on himself causing him to sprout golden-brown wasp-like wings and he buzzed off over the trees. Vorwulf and Draznor could have gotten a single shot at him each but decided to let him go as he was just a “hireling” anyway. They decided to go after the dragon cult and swallowed some of the potions that they were carrying realizing they were getting a bit low on healing potions though they gained 3 Closed Wounds potions from the hip purse. The rest, 1 potion of each Adhesion, Fly and Sharpen Smell they put back in the purse and let the shaman carry it. They began marching forward.

The hacked through the four draconian guards by the beginning of the second round and killed all four of the cultists’ pet dragonsauri. Lesser members fled their approach and they found themselves very shortly in the main chamber of the cultist lair. The chamber was massive and its floor sank 20 ft lower than the rest of the complex and they entered by way of a stone ramp-way. At the end opposite them was a 5 ft high dais accessed by two narrow ramps on either side. Atop the wide dais stood two cultists in yellow robes with the familiar flaming black spiral embossed on the front with one wearing a polished black dragon-skull mask and the other a white one. Each ramp was blocked by 2 human cultists dressed much the same but with chest plates bearing the cult symbol and armed with halberds. Two naga cultists armed and armored the same way sat in front of the dais. After dropping a naga cultist Bers got hit by a Slow spell cast by the white mask failing her saving throw. Vorwulf and Draznor shot at the two leaders and the shaman threw fire at the white masked leader finding the fire burnt off his robe but didn’t affect the scaled skin beneath also revealing the draconic wings protruding from his back. By the end of the first round one more cultist was killed and both of the leaders dead feathered with arrows but not before the white mask had hit Grom with a magical blast that forced him to make a recovery check. By the beginning of the second round they had killed all but one human cultist and promising to let him go he told them where the dragon Sawback’s lair was located. It was the mouth of a cave approximately 5 miles to the northeast, a big one from whence a large creek flows into the Estnik River a spur of the larger Nirix River. Just follow the bluffs of Hirok.

They were moderately wounded and were low on potions so they decided after they rest for the night they would go to Ekit’s Watch and try to purchase potions from the hedge-mage there. They also decided since the lair is obviously under or within Hirok they should check the north side for any other entrances into the dragon’s lair. Meanwhile the shaman was fascinated with an egg-shaped object of agate on a polished brass stand behind where the black masked cult leader had been standing when they rushed in. Ultimately he left it alone as it was too large to carry and it wouldn’t fit into the mouth of his hip purse. He didn’t sense any magic on it anyway. He also noticed the cave walls had a plethora of carvings and graffiti, symbols of various gods, cults and the vandalism of travelers. Some had been newly defaced and among the newest additions was the spiral symbol of the cult.

The next morning they found themselves in the dark storeroom ground floor of the tower called Ekit’s Watch which the eccentric mage which owned it had told them was called Raven’s Eyrie. He was wearing a bright red robe the deep cowl of which hid his face which must have been of a very strange elongated shape judging by the way the crimson hood draped over it. He sold them nearly a dozen potions of Close Wounds for a steep price which they paid without haggling. They then scouted out the north side of the Hirok bluffs and finding a cave they entered guessing this was the cave called Merchant’s Stow the mage of Ekit’s Watch had told them about when they asked about the north side of the hill. The wretched stench of carrion filled their noses and mouths with foulness. Within it was a bent cavern which contained some old molding crates and boxes as well as a couple of pits in the floor which opened into deeper caverns. Vorwulf descended into one of these with a lit torch while Bers stood by holding the rope. He found a larger cavern which curved around where he stumbled onto the rotting corpse of an adult wyvern. It had died of a severe wound which was a single bite that had nearly split it into two halves. He continued past it and found another opening which lead into a deeper and larger cavern beneath. Deciding this was the rear entrance to the lair he fetched the rest of the dragon-slayers and they entered the low cavern.

They found it a massive feeding chamber its floor littered with bones rotting flesh still clinging to most. Here they fought and killed 4 dragonsauri of a more wild variety than those that belonged to the cult. They continued on as the ground rose and found another ancient and apparently deserted feeding chamber with two passages exiting. The left rose and a bright greenish magical glow filled the large chamber at its end. The other to the right was shorter and glowed with the faint shimmer of sunlight on water. They went towards the sunlight and found themselves in a large chamber which opened to the outside with a large body of water at its center which was flowing out of the cave mouth. At the north of the chamber was a 20 ft. cliff at the top of which was an entrance to the chamber which glowed with the magic light. Immediately they were attacked by 4 draconians one of which was an adult and almost 10 ft. tall. They had glided from the top of the cliff with their short spears in hand at the adventurers. The fight didn’t last long with the slayers easily chopping through the monsters within two rounds. The group discovered that the glowing chamber had a large emerald at its center placed atop a stone pedestal shining with its own inner light which the shaman entertained the notion of taking until talked out of it by Bers.

Vorwulf: “Well, if you’re going to take it at least let us back out of the chamber first!”

They wandered around the caverns for a spell until they found their way to the High Chamber of the lair and were staring down the main shaft which led to the subterranean water chamber far below. The shaman drank the potion of Fly that they had taken from Xanto the wasp and he carried Draznor. Bers and Vorwulf dove into the shaft hoping once they were in complete darkness her Cape of Bat Flight would start functioning and she could catch and carry him. Surprisingly this actually worked. The water chamber was the largest chamber yet and snaked to the north and the south curving in such a manner as to conceal the end lengths of the chamber. Vorwulf was able to spot a faint flickering light at the north end and that’s the way they flew.

They came upon a bluff which dropped into the dark waters of the Water Chamber and atop that a large passageway with a high vaulted ceiling and lit by dozens possibly hundreds of oil lamps placed within the niches in the walls. There was a golden double door at the opposite end bearing the image of a ridge-back dragon. It was to these and over the dozen halberd-wielding cultists grouped at the center of the passageway. They fought with the cultists cutting them down though at the end of it Bers was now feeling the accumulation of all of the wounds she had suffered through all of the fights that they had experienced since entering the lair. She downed potions while the others tried to figure out how to open the massive gold doors all were also downing potions in an effort to heal their wounds. When all had drunk all of the potions that they were going to the doors opened and all could see old Sawback.

The dragon was 40 ft. long from nose to tail and probably a Great Adult. The gold diamond-encrusted claw sheath shone on its right forefinger and a gold necklace with a single large ruby glittered against its chest. Its throat puffed out and they could hear and feel the great rush of air as it inhaled. Bers, Grom and Draznor were terrified (failed their Courage Saves against the dragon’s Horror Factor) and Bers turned and fled. Vorwulf shot at it and planned on advancing. Sawback blasted them with its fire breath, Bers being fortunate that she had run outside of the maximum range of the flames. Bers was able to overcome her fear and turned and ran back to the fight determined to close with the dragon. Grom cast Dispel Fear on himself curing his terror but Draznor was paralyzed unable to conquer his fear until the end of the round. The dragon clawed Vorwulf dealing a fair amount of damage. Grom had to cast a healing spell on himself due to being badly burnt by the dragon’s fire breath. While fighting the dragon Vorwulf found his strikes were being stopped by a Mage Armor spell which he was going to have to chop away before he could make contact with the dragon. At the beginning of the second round the dragon again blasted the group with its breath luckily Grom was out of range. Draznor peppered the creature with arrows which was helping to knock down the magical field around it but knew his arrows may not do a thing to the creature itself even on a critical hit. Grom maneuvered around to what he thought would be a safe distance and cast Nature’s Ability on himself wings sprouting from his back. Bers and Vorwulf closed with the monster and hacked away at it. It took an attack of opportunity on each of them as they closed with it hurting them badly. They began to back away in turns and down a potion from their bandoliers while one fought and the other would run back in to fight allowing the other to fall back. The third round began to go their way as the field was finally knocked down and they dealt plenty of damage to it with Vorwulf “working the leg” trying to slow it down and Bers getting in a devastating power attack with her sword.  At the end of the round it swiped at Grom with its tail as he flew in approaching from above. In the fourth round of combat the dragon backed into its lair, a massive rounded cavern with another chamber to the north, south and west (directly behind the dragon) joined by gigantic chiseled archways. Bers got in a couple of power attacks, Vorwulf hung back to guzzle a potion and ran back in to engage the dragon while Grom pursued it by air and tried to cast a spell on it but his magic wasn’t strong enough to penetrate Sawback’s spell resistance. Draznor stayed back but remained within bow range but was taking a range penalty for the distance and kept hoping for a lucky shot with his arrows which kept striking and shattering on the iron-hard scales. The dragon blasted them again with its breath and tried to trample the two in front of it both successfully dodged, barely in each case. In the fifth round the dragon had positioned itself well using the trample and unleashed a fourth gout of flame-breath catching all but Draznor in the heat cone forcing Bers and Grom to make recovery checks to not get reduced to cinders. Grom moved as far back as he could winding up by Draznor. Vorwulf continued on the attack even though his potions were spent and he was badly injured and Bers dodged a strike from one of the dragon’s massive scimitar-claws. It snapped its powerful jaws at Vorwulf who tried to dodge but got chomped and swallowed instead. Bers swung her sword in a power attack at the end of the round and scored a powerful hit cutting the creature deep and splitting its side open suffering burns as she got sprayed with a flood of scalding dragon’s blood. The monster shrieked and as it collapsed Bers having to run away from the massive bleeding body as it came crashing to the smooth stone floor. A few minutes later Vorwulf emerged acid eaten and a bit worse for the wear having cut himself free of its gut. All four had survived but were all very badly injured. Bers’ and Vorwulf’s armor was completely destroyed or hanging off in shreds barely having enough hit points left to hold together. They surveyed the massive treasure filled chambers which glowed with firelight from huge solid gold braziers and various magical lights. What really caught their attentions was the massive mirror-polished vault door behind the dragon’s main pile of treasure in the far end of the north chamber. They decided to simply spend the night here and take account of the treasure, at least the bits they would plan to carry out after a good rest. They were careful however to avoid the hoard piles until they could figure out a way to dispose of the gold scarabs which were likely swarming within.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 30: Dagger-Tooth Cave

Leaving behind two columns of black smoke rising into the sky behind them from the Varidna Plain they made their way to Fertum Vorahd to gain some well-earned rest. They were disappointed at not discovering the dragon hoards they were expecting or being able to harvest any dragon-bone. The few days they spent there were occupied with purchasing another wagon and some donkeys to haul it, drinking in the tavern and being openly avoided by the remaining members of the Crossed-Staffs and keeping an eye on the ratlings which they occasionally caught watching and following them. Vorwulf recruited a protégé of his own named Draznor a human ranger/dragonslayer. After they were all fully recovered from their foray into the Varidna Plain they decided to “take care” of their ratling problem.

They decided to set a trap up for the ratlings by stocking up their wagon with their gear and the dragon-bone they harvested from the young Crimson Reaver then Vorwulf would lay in wait since his Hide skill was the highest. The others would wait around a corner or near the door in the tavern nursing some full tankards. They assumed that the street urchins were not going to bother their stuff since they were probably under the auspices of the Crossed-Staffs.

It took until late afternoon until a ratling took the bait revealing itself to approach the wagon but before it could presumably pull one of those magic flasks Vorwulf made his move and jumped out and shouted for his comrades. They pursued the ratling down the main street, the small creature unable to lose the pack of howling adventurers. They chased it out of the gates and beyond as it fled north into Morik’s Wood. Draznor was assigned to follow behind them with the wagon. It seemingly got away as they lost sight of it in the bush but Vorwulf was able to pick its track back up and they pursued at a more leisurely pace eventually coming to a clearing and once they walked to the center of the tree-lined ground a group of 10 cultists wearing yellow silk robes leapt from the bushes and crossbow bolts shot from the 10 ratlings hidden in the surrounding bushes. The first round was a stalemate as the adventurers and the cultists/tat-eyes did more maneuvering than anything else with Bers forced to wipe her eyes as a ratling assassin spat in them in a dirty fighting maneuver after revealing itself. Three of the thugs were dead by the end of the first round. At the beginning of the second round a roar ripped through the clearing form above and a brown-fang dragon wielding a giant-sized two-handed mace dropped through the canopy snapping branches. It had to have been 30 ft long from nose to tail but fairly light weighing in at around 960 lbs. It was wearing a steel pectoral plate bearing the insignia of the dragon-cult. The four battled the dragon and the ratlings with 2 more back-stabbing ratling assassins making their presences known at key moments but proving to be ineffective in turning the battle. Only 1 ratling assassin dropped by the end of the second round. By the end of the third round 5 ratlings, a second ratling assassin and the dragon were dead. At the end of the fourth round all but two ratlings were killed and the adventurers were only moderately wounded at worst and began chasing the surviving two ratlings down both of which fled north and were bleeding profusely. After an hour they came across the corpse of the first dead of its wounds and continued chasing the other which they found dead after another hour at the mouth of a cave. They were immediately attacked by 3 ratling savages who were all dead at the end of the first round.  They entered the cave determined to eliminate every ratling they came across especially now that they knew they were in league with the dragon-cult.

They tore through the cave complex which featured a subterranean river they found their way into a cavern filled with the cowering offspring of the Daggertooth ratlings defended by their mothers which attempted to engage the adventurers with their bare hands and teeth. Draznor was put out of action by a barbed javelin to the leg, nailed when the javelineer popped out from behind a stalagmite. Our heroes backed out of the cave and were swarmed by the tribals which they hacked through without a problem barely taking a scratch. Draznor was sent back to the entrance to keep watch for any reinforcements. They leapt over a chasm when the narrow planks that crossed them were kicked over by the ratling defenders, Bers flew over using her Cape of Bat-Flight. They eventually found themselves in a large chamber where the leaders of the tribe held court and by the third round they had eliminated them and taken their treasure a blue-steel chest with a mirror polish. Within it, after finding the key hidden on the chief’s corpse, they found a fair sum of coin of several different types and 10 gold talons and 6 bronze pigs. The talons bore the symbol of the dragon cult, the flaming spiral. Their aims achieved the dragon-slayers left for the fertum by the next morning.

They spent a few days in Fertum Vorahd trying to decide what to do. They still weren’t entirely sure where the dragon Sawback’s lair was located and decided to travel back to Merdna where the dragon cult seemed to operate openly and to call upon the corrupt druid under the pretenses of identifying the two items they had taken from the Black Cathedral (see Pt. 28). They were in Merdna as soon as Draznor was fully recovered. That day after flashing their cash all over town they were meeting with the presiding druid of Hirok-Nor and rumored dragon-conspirator. He was a perfumed fat-man who was rude, overbearing and draped in fine and expensive clothing his fingers and neck weighted with gold and gems. He became instantly courteous when he realized they were not the servants of his new clients but they were his new clients though he kept a perfumed handkerchief to his nose the entire time. He had introduced himself as Jeorwe the Priest of Hirok.

They handed him the ring and he immediately began to tell them what it was.

Jeorwe: “This is a ring of the Slayers of the Tower, a ring of dragon …” he trailed off then looked up at them with an expression as he if he were trapped.

He exhaled deeply and continued on, “A ring of dragon protection”. Vorwulf recognized the name attached to the gem-encrusted ring. It belonged to a legendary group of dragon-slayers whom mysteriously disappeared somewhere in the Great Delta (a still wild region far to the southeast) and are known mostly due to a song sung about their leader known only as Redtooth the mighty. They were actually a group from some of the very first test-games in which Cris had played, but not as Redtooth. An NPC bard hired by Redtooth to write and sing his epic had rolled a Natural 20 to write it and during its first performance in front of a full house some of which were bards. There were 5 rings which were commissioned by the group and were +5 rings of protection versus dragons. They handed the sword to the druid.

Jeorwe (as he turned the sword over in his hands): “This is interesting. You said you found it in some ruins in Varidna eh? It’s not extraordinary though it is magical. I have another client who wishes to remain anonymous that will be interested in this and will offer you a fair price.”

They knew that he was probably going to lie to them about what the sword actually was and told him they weren’t going to sell it and took their leave. They exited the backroom of the tavern which they had “rented” for the meeting and put Draznor to keep eye on any tails. They immediately went to find another magic user and found out the local Apothecary was in fact an Ivoran Alchemist. He identified the sword as a Dragon Bane weapon which could absorb the breath weapon of the last dragon it killed within its large pommel stone and the wielder could unleash it as additional damage on a strike. The runes on the blade read, “Suck the Breath & Drink Deep the Dragon’s Blood”. Vorwulf took the sword for his own and Bers the ring.

They then split the party in two with Grom the shaman and Draznor going off on their own and doubling back around so that they can keep an eye on the other two and anyone that may be tailing them. Meanwhile Bers and Vorwulf sported their new items, the ring and the sword, in public. It wasn’t long before the shaman and Draznor caught eye of street urchins spying on the other pair. Draznor was able to snatch one up and interrogate him getting the info that a cult member was waiting in the beerhall and wasn’t wearing his robes. After the kid described the guy Draznor tossed the kid a gold piece and told him to carry on with the job and to mention nothing of “this”. The group reunited in the beerhall and kept an eyeball on the cult member when he got up and left they followed. He departed on his horse from Merdna that evening with Draznor following and leaving sign for Vor while the others hastily prepared the wagon and their gear for the chase. They pursued him into the night as he rode hard first north on the road then suddenly cutting east leaving it and going into Nor Forest towards the hills/highland known simply as Hirok. They passed under the hateful gaze of Ekit’s Watch the long red banners bearing the black raven fluttering the night breeze. They lost him as he cut deeper into the forest but figured they could track him in the morning as their donkeys were exhausted. They also needed sleep and so laid down for a short nap for the few hours they had before dawn.

Late the next morning the four adventurers were tracking the cultist’s horse traveling southeast. After about 2 or 3 hours of travel on foot with the shaman leading the donkeys they came to a clearing and an obviously well-traveled and remote trail. As they broke the tree-cover they noticed a large man wearing a suit of full plate armor painted with the image of a horse severed in two on his chest. The armor appeared to be of Hyvalian design, the crown of his great helm had a horse-tail tassel and he had a pudao in his hands.

Armored Guy (in a strong Hyvalian accent): “I am Boshi Ironskin! Your heads shall fetch me a decent wage!”

To be continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 29: Dragon-Hunt

Vorwulf (played by Cris), Bers (played by Jenn) and Grom the shaman (played by Gil) stood around a wide and ancient well. It was so completely covered by moss and fungus that it appeared as part of the landscape and the mossy stones that jutted from the ground next to it. They had arrived by late morn traveling from Varder’s farm and turned from the road tracking the Ivoran Merchants wagon trail easily straight of the mouth of the well. They had attacked a pair of “tat-eye” ratlings (they had begun calling the ratling savages this) which they had caught trailing them, the fight taking two rounds as they found the ratlings very hard to hit and both successfully fled the group of dragon-slayers. Vorwulf was tempted to track them down but as they were already “trailing a dragon” and upon inspection no dragon-bone had been missing he decided to let them go.

Looking down the well’s mouth they could smell the moisture and feel the cold draft coming up from the well its bottom masked in darkness. After tossing in a stone Vorwulf figured it 100 ft deep. They secured a rope to their wagon which they parked right next to the low stone rim and dropped it down. The first to go down would be Vorwulf then Grom and the finally Bers the logic being that if she should fall one of the others might catch her (I didn’t say it was sound logic). Both the ranger and shaman made it about half way, 50 ft down the rope. Bers on the other hand as soon as she descended on the rope pass the lip she slipped. She collided with the shaman knocking him from the rope and Vorwulf acrobatically leapt from the rope into a short tunnel dug into the slimy side of the wall. While falling the shaman cast the Swim Like Fish (see The Great Grimoire Vol. I) spell on his self and dove into the water 50 ft below breaking the vapors hovering over its surface. Bers crashed onto the water’s surface and sank like a stone due to her armor. She was wearing a star metal chest plate at this point which she was trying to unbuckle as she sank into the murky depths. Grom had to swim down to grab her and hauled her with some effort to a ledge just above the water. Vorwulf had observed that there were 2 other openings like the one he was currently squatting in. Each appeared to have been clawed into the rock and opened into moist dirt tunnels. He was absolutely certain this was a dragon’s lair of a species they had yet to encounter. From above the scene of Bers and the shaman below he could see something like a snake just under the surface of the water but could not make out what exactly it was in the gloom.

Vorwulf: “Lookout!”

Bers pulled the great sword she had taken from the ruins of Black Brow (see Pt. 6) and the shaman tried to take some cover behind her and prepared to sling a spell. The waters broke and a serpent-like creature rose up rearing like a viper. It was definitely draconic with a long beard hanging like wet Spanish-moss from its chin and a fin-like ridge running along its spine. The creature had to be easily 20 ft to 30 ft long and several hundred pounds in weight. The creature struck at Bers who parried its jaws with her sword then struck at it just missing as it dodged. Vor shot at it with his bow his arrows dealing some damage. Grom using magic threw fire at the monster which dealt very little damage. Its neck inflated as it sucked in its breath and exhaled blowing a narrow blast of noxious gas down at the ledge. Bers didn’t suffer the tear-gas effects of the stuff but was unknowingly infected with the same disease which had been ripping through the farmers. Grom jumped off of the ledge into water dodging the gas altogether. Vorwulf continued to shot down from his vantage point dealing virtually no damage. Bers swung at the creature but her blows were easily dodged by the serpent-dragon. At the beginning of the second round Grom leapt back out of the water as he realized he was essentially dead meat if it decided to pursue him. Luckily for him the gas had dissipated enough not to affect him. Vorwulf put his bow on his back and pulled his weapons. Bers swung and missed and the dragon again blasted her with its breath and again the shaman jumped back into the water avoiding it. Vorwulf leapt from the low tunnel mouth and slashed with both of his weapons as he careened down from above delivering two powerful blows to the creature using his acrobatic skill to flip in the air and dive into the water. Bers slashed at the enraged creature and hacked it nearly completely through. Black blood spilled changing the color of the water as its corpse sank into the depths of the well.

They wasted no time in climbing back out of the well claiming victory though they had no hoard or dragon hide or bone as booty. Vorwulf using his knowledge of dragons figured out it was a Guivere a serpentine water-loving dragon whose breath is a disease inflicting miasma. Grom on a hunch cast the Cure Disease (see The Great Grimoire Vol. I) spell on Bers. They began the journey back to the West Road and from there back to the farm to rest a little then track down that adult Crimson Reaver. As they approached the road they could see another draconian standing in the way and then after Vorwulf pointed them out, two ratlings coming in from the sides.

The fight was another quick one. One of the ratlings coming in from the side, especially fast mind you was shot dead by Vorwulf. The draconian was slain in a single stroke by Bers who was able to wrench her sword free of its corpse before it turned to stone the instant it died. Another ratling they had yet to spot stabbed at Bers which she successfully dodged. Vor spotted and shot at the other which was trying to sneak into the gap left by Bers when she charged the draconian. Probably to get to the wagon as it had a glowing flask in one of its hands. The ratling that had gotten close turned its knife on the shaman who could see the blade was covered in a poisonous looking substance and dodged the strike. As the flask wielding ratling kept trying to get close enough to through its payload Vorwulf targeted the flask and shot it. The ratling burst into a pillar of blue flame and was instantly reduced to ashes. The knife wielding ratling turned to run saving successfully against the spell leveled at him by Grom and being missed entirely by Bers. He was felled by one of Vor’s arrows which stuck up out of his back.

They returned to the farm by late afternoon and decided to use the “cow method” to bait the dragon into revealing itself but found the ranchers unwilling as they had lost “too many animals already”. It took would have taken some convincing but the party was not the most charismatic group so they purchased several very fat sheep for a hefty sum. So they decided to rest and take up the hunt the next morning probably leaving immediately after slaying the dragon to Fertum Vorahd. So Grom decided to buy a few chickens for some reason and put them in their wood cage on the wagon. The next morning most of the bait had been taken and Vorwulf began to carefully track the trail of bloody bits of wool and footprints which proceeded west towards the Varidvir Woods. It took them about an hour to catch up to the dragon which had by this time doubled back around on them charging at them when they reached the center of the wood.

Bers closed with it using a charge, it parried her blow then it spit its venom at her forcing her to dodge. Vorwulf shot at it and Grom threw some flames at it to little effect. It came to the second wave of turns and Vorwulf joined Bers in closing with the monster and Grom cast a Call Lightning spell and lost control of it (rolled a Natural 1 casting check). The area of effect was magnified to a 100 ft radius and struck everybody and everything within including the dragon, Bers, Vorwulf and the wagon. All were wounded save the shaman who was unaffected, the field of battle which was cramped with trees and bushes was now for the most part cleared and the remains and outer perimeter were now on fire. The oxen and chickens were killed however and the wagon was blasted to pieces. The battle continued with the adventurers and the dragon on full attack with Bers taking a tail swipe getting stuck with the dragons tail-spines (fortunately they’re not poisonous). The second round put all three slayers on the defensive at least once during the fight with Vorwulf being forced to dodge twice and getting rent in the dragon’s jaws. In the third round Bers was forced to dodge twice and was stomped on wounding her severely though she successfully landed a devastating power attack with her sword. By the end of the third round the adventurers were all badly wounded as was the dragon so it fled as fast as it could manage. The adventurers letting it go so they could guzzle some potions form the bandoliers before taking the hunt back up very well-knowing that the dragon would be fully healed by the time they were able to reengage it in combat.

With the burning Varidvir Woods far behind them they found themselves confronting the dragon again in the early afternoon within the Varid Wood approximately 8 miles southeast of the Varidvir Woods. Bers tossed another dancing ax into the air which she had in her equipment to lend them assistance and it began to fly about striking at the dragon which on its first attack snatched it out of the air with its jaws and reducing it to scrap metal between its teeth. The dragon was stunned by fumbling a claw attack against Vorwulf and falling on its face. By the end of the first round the shaman had missed the dragon when throwing fire at it hitting a nearby clump of bushes and trees setting the forest aflame. They continued to battle the dragon in the midst of the flames and easily took it down in the second round with only Bers being forced to dodge on her second action after nailing it with a power attack. Realizing they were in the middle of a forest fire they ran from the burning woods without being able to butcher out the dragon’s corpse. Hauling their gear in the two sacks and 1 backpack of holding that they carried with them they fled north stopping at the West Road.

To Be Continued…