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.
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…