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…