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).

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