It had taken an entire day and night to talk Vor Jetl out of “confiscating” the wand. He wanted to cash it in with the blue dragon. Fauna had even pulled rank on him. His soldiers were apparently cult members themselves, they relented to her before he did. So, he spent an entire day and night “conversing” with them about possession of the wand. Eventually, however, the trio finally talked him into letting them keep the wand. They could keep it safe. Then they formulated a plan which they needed Vor Jetl’s resources for. He cheerfully endorsed the idea since now, they would “owe” him “two” now.
Excor: “What?”, turning to Fauna, “What did he say?”
Fauna: “Oh, don’t worry about that right now.”
Excor (pointing at Fauna): “You and me, we really need to have a long talk when this is all over.”
Fauna waved his concerns away, of course, they would tell each other everything afterward. Note dear reader, Jenn (Fauna’s player) winked at me.
Meanwhile, Excor had formulated a plan. Vor Jetl would lend them the use of an empty warehouse on the docks, and he would send a messenger who would deliver the trio’s location to the dragon: the warehouse tomorrow at sunup. The trio would use what remains of the day to hire members of the dragonslayers’ guild to assist them in “ending this”. All adventurers were nervous and taking deep breaths (as were their players).
Vor Jetl: “Um…”
Szoo: “Aw crap, what!?”
Vor Jetl: “The Roaring Skull – dragonslayers’ guild? Um…”
Fauna: “Spit it out!”
Vor Jetl: “During that nasty storm a few nights ago…”
Fauna shrugged her shoulders; she had been the guest of the Wasp the night that summer storm struck. Szoo and Excor had passed out completely exhausted (and drunk) before it had even started to thunder (see The Cabal of Eight II Pt.19 – The Dragon & the Wasp).
Vor Jetl: “…lightning struck the guild house and most of the slayers were killed when it burned down… to the ground.”
Szoo: “In the rain!”
Vor Jetl (he shrugged): “Well…”
Excor: *sigh* “We all know what happened, that damned dragon queen – Ocean of the Desert or whatever her name is.”
So, they decided to find any survivors and hire them, they should be raring for some vengeance. All went about their roles for the rest of the day.
Morning of the 27th of Monsoon – the first bleeding rays of sun were starting to pierce the slit windows of the massive barn-like warehouse. The floor was the moist wood of the pier onto which the place was built. Above on a central heavy support post and along the ceiling supports was a hook and tackle. The mages spread out at the far end and the three survivors of the dragonslayers’ guild massacre, for that’s what it had been, were hiding in the rafters. Jirek was to wait by the huge pair of sliding doors; when the dragon entered, he was to slam the doors shut trapping her inside with them. At least that was the hope.
They had figured at just past dawn that their message had reached the dragon queen – the Ocean of the Desert. It read:
The Cabal of Eight awaits the presence of the oh-so-powerful Puddle of the Pisspot if she does not fear the true power of the mages of the Cabal of Eight. We have your wand here in the red warehouse between the first and second piers on the waterfront. Come alone or we will disintegrate the wand before your very eyes.
The Cabal of Eight.
The sun had just fully peeked over the dark blue horizon of the Silverset Sea, and the mages were stretching tired of waiting. The dragonslayers were silent and waiting like eager cats in their perches.
Jenn: “So. We’re going to destroy the wand if she doesn’t show?”
Cris: “Hell no! I mean, we don’t have the magic to destroy it, it was a bluff but she don’t know that.”
Dark clouds moved over the horizon causing the warehouse to become shrouded in a muggy, grey gloom.
Szoo: “Well maybe she won’t show.”
Excor: “Oh, she’ll…”
The warehouse doors crashed as they were thrown open, standing between them was the silhouetted human form clad all in blue and silver of the Ocean of the Desert, the dragon queen. She seemed angry.
Excor: “Well, here we go! Jirek! Jirek?”
Szoo: “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.”
Fauna: “Alright! Let’s kill this b*#@h!”
The queenly form of the Ocean of the Desert instantly swelled into that of a giant blue dragon as she strode angrily toward the young mages. Her true dragon form still wearing the silver diadem on her head, a silver and diamond necklace with five silver acorn charms dangling on her neck, and the gold and silver bracelets on her left and right wrists. Still very much a dragon queen. The trio of adventurers sucked in air but held their ground, as did the dragonslayers in the rafters, Jirek, however, shrieked in terror and backed into a corner failing to shut the doors.
Fauna immediately moved to the side towards Excor while throwing fire at the dragon. Her flames hit a shield spell, but she maintained them as they jetted from her hand. The dragon queen’s throat swelled and the mages and dragonslayers braced themselves as the entire place vibrated with the dragon’s inhalation. Then with a deafening roar, she let loose a blast of lightning from her mouth catching Excor and a dragonslayer. Fortunately, a shield spell protected both from the thundering energy. Some rafters blasted through the hole made in the roof of the warehouse and flaming splinters rained down on the mages sizzling out on the damp planks as they fell. Excor summoned a giant earth-elemental that erupted into existence from thin air. The planks under its feet creaked.
Szoo activated his ring of Fearsome Form II and flew up into the rafters, a hideous insect-like version of himself with leathery dragonfly wings. The head dragonslayer leaped from the splintered rafters and landed a tremendous leaping blow with his sword but the blade hit another shield spell. The second dragonslayer also dropped from the rafters with a single tremendous axe blow, her axe hitting a third shield spell.
Excor: “It’s okay! It’s okay! Her shields are down! Her shields are down!”
The third dragonslayer shot his bow launching a dragonbone arrow right at the heart of the beast, however, she instantly knocked the fragile projectile to the side with a claw. It hit the wall shattering. Jirek tried to flee but was too afraid to run past the dragon and just dove behind a heavy wood stud. Fauna ran across the warehouse floor to the side opposite Excor as she maintained her flames dealing very little damage. The great blue dragon queen clawed the elemental tearing a significant chunk out of its solid stone chest.
Excor cast Mage Armor on himself as he drew his Wand of Spell Penetration. Szoo flew to the apex of the warehouse ceiling, near the hole should he need to escape, and shot a ray of fire at the dragon dealing no damage. The head dragonslayer slashed the dragon with his sword dealing some damage followed by his fellow who landed a blow with her axe, but it bounced off the steel-hard scales. The slayer in the rafters took aim with his bow and hit with a magic arrow but it shattered harmlessly against the monster’s scales. Fauna continued to blast fire at the dragon dealing very little damage. The dragon snapped her massive jaws at the axe-wielding dragonslayer who dodged instant death by a hair’s breadth. Excor channeled the Slow spell through his wand at the blue dragon and penetrated the dragon queen’s impressive magic resistance.
Szoo & Fauna (both at once): “Yeah!”
Emboldened, Szoo flew down using his naginata to strike at one of the dragon’s eyes, but the blow glanced harmlessly off the beast’s cheek. The lead dragonslayer lashed out with his sword again but the dragon easily parried with a claw. The archer in the rafter drew his bow again and this time hit, nailing the dragon with a magic arrow which did a little damage. The blue dragon’s massive tail whipped at Fauna, fortunately, hitting a shield spell. Excor cast Verminous Might on himself gaining a pair of insect wings, he buzzed up to the apex of the roof. The dragonslayer leader slashed again but his blade bounced harmlessly off the monster’s hide. The axe-wielding dragonslayer swung as well but her axe also bounced harmlessly off the dragon. The archer shot and hit but did very little damage this time.
Szoo, still hovering about the dragon’s face, tried to shoot a ray of fire into the dragon’s eye but missed and dealt no damage. The axe-wielding slayer put all her might behind her next blow in a power attack and dealt some damage. The archer used his last magic arrow, he dealt a little damage. Fauna maintained her throw fire spell dealing some damage as her flames continued to increase in intensity. The dragon touched a claw to the central sapphire set in her diamond-encrusted silver diadem. A flash of magic light and Excor instantly knew that his slow spell had ended. The lead dragonslayer attacked with his sword and not only missed but dropped it. The earth elemental stomped forward and slammed both its fists against the dragon queen’s ribs but did no damage while Excor cast slow again but the dragon successfully resisted this time.
Szoo tried to grab and pull off the dragon’s diadem but failed to even touch it. The axe-wielding slayer swung again in a power-attack hacking at the dragon, dealing minimal damage. The archer shot a highest-quality arrow at the dragon, but the projectile shattered on a deflecting wing. Fauna maintained her flames the intensity of which all in the warehouse could now feel but the dragon took no damage. The dragon belched another bolt of lightning right at Excor, but it hit his mage armor instead, sparing the structure of the warehouse. The lead dragonslayer backed off and retrieved his sword. Excor cast shadow ribbons on the dragon, but the black straps of shadow stuff melted away as soon as they touched the creature. Jirek was juking left and right as he ran about aimlessly panic-stricken trying to escape the massive dragon.
Szoo again tried to pull the tiara-like diadem off the dragon queen but again failed. The archer loosed another highest-quality arrow that splintered on the dragon’s deep blue scales. Fauna maintained her flames dealing a decent amount of damage this time. The dragon surged forward and tried to stomp on the axe-wielding slayer knocking her prone and wounding her badly. The archer shot his last highest-quality arrow, and again it broke on the dragon’s scales. Excor cast shadow ribbons again but again his magic failed to penetrate the dragon’s defenses.
The dragon twisted its body and swept one side of the warehouse with its massive tree-trunk tail. All the axe-wielding slayer could do was scream until her fearless leader leaped in its way and miraculously parried the blow with his sword. One of the heavy wood supports was smashed and as a result, a small part of the roof caved in. However, the archer was able to stay on his perch as the rafters quaked from the blow. The lead slayer again struck the dragon with his sword dealing some damage. Excor moved to the corner farthest from the dragon queen.
The battle raged on for another round where Szoo was able to snatch away the dragon’s diadem and was surprised when it shrank in his hands to a wearable size. The archer tried for the dragon queen’s eyes but repeatedly failed, and Fauna maintained her fire dealing increasing amounts of damage. The dragonslayer leader continued to slash away, Excor began using his force ram spell as his chosen weapon, and the dragon unleashed its breath on the archer nearly killing him and blasting away a portion of the roof. Jirek was barely able to dodge a portion of the falling roof.
They continued to fight on. Excor shot a storm of force ram and shadow ribbon spells at the dragon queen including a quickened slow spell, all ineffectual. He had to renew his mage armor as the first instance was almost gone by the end of the round. Fauna was dealing the most damage with her long-running throw fire spell. Szoo hacked away at the dragon’s face with his naginata while wearing the dragon’s diadem.
Jirek found a space under some debris to hide and cower. The three dragonslayers were barely able to hang on using recovery checks and dodging along with power attacks and attempted eye shots as their main strategies. The dragon snapped repeatedly at Fauna and Szoo fortunately hitting their shields. However, it blasted the two dragonslayers that were on the ground horribly wounding them. Fauna, caught in the blast, lost her last shield but mage armor activated from one of her items.
The fight ground on. All three dragonslayers were dead by the first minute thirty seconds of battle. Jirek finally overcame his horror and began using a magic dagger that flew at the dragon on command, however, it never landed a blow. The dragon eventually smashed Fauna with a tail swipe causing her to lose her carefully maintained flames and she could not overcome the dragon’s spell resistance with subsequent instances of the spell. Szoo resorted to hand-to-hand combat and the elemental remained unable to damage the dragon queen with anything but a lucky blow though it was devastating.
The battle continued for another grueling thirty seconds. Fauna nearly died save for a very lucky recovery check and a healing potion. Szoo nearly died, save for a decent recovery check before performing a suicidal power attack driving his naginata blade into the dragon’s neck. The dragon queen continued to blast the mages and the warehouse with her lightning bolt breath and snapping her steel-trap jaws at them eventually putting a sizeable hole in the floor planks exposing the seawater below. Jirek was unconscious and bleeding on the ground. Excor exhausted his repertoire of force ram spells, dealing severe damage to the warehouse but ultimately scoring the death blow on the dragon with the last spell possible for him to cast (he had 1 KO pt. left).
The dragon queen was finally dead, her massive corpse slid through the gigantic hole in the dock planks into the ocean. The last three standing began to giggle. They had won and survived by the skin of their teeth. Then they heard the grinding of wheels and the clopping of the horses of a coach pulling up to the doors. Excor and Szoo went and looked through the ruined opening. There was a black coach with a large seal painted on its door. The mark of the Ezmer branch of the Star-Sapphire Confraternity. A man of advanced age in black and blue silk robes opened the door and slowly disembarked the coach.
The Old Wizard (at Excor): “Ah-hem. I think you have something that belongs to me.”
Excor: “Oh, of course, of course, sir!”
Excor immediately fetched the wand from his robes.
Fauna: “What!? You’re just handing it over! After all that!?”
Cris: “Hell yes! That guy could probably take us at our best, right now we’re done. I don’t have spells left, do you?”
Jenn: “Damn. Okay, you’re right.”
The Old Wizard: “Yes. I remember you all.” He gingerly took the wand from Excor’s hands. “We’ve been tracking this baby since it arrived in the bay aboard ship.” His eyes washed over it hungrily.
Excor introduced himself with his full noble name (sorry dear reader, I lost the notes though only the old wizard heard it anyway) finishing with a flourish of his still-smoking hat.
The Old Wizard: “Indeed. Well, I am grateful. You and your companions speak well of your little cabal just as your other two friends have proven themselves. This cabal of yours has been noticed. Though this does not mean you four have earned an audience with the guild as the other two have.”
The four young and rather haggard mages were puzzled.
The Old Wizard: “Well, I might entertain a favor from any of you, maybe. I am Xendo Zhaivo, arbiter for the confraternity.” With that, he turned and leaped back into the carriage. It almost immediately trotted off.
Szoo: “What did he mean by that?”
Excor: “I have no idea. … Oh well, we’ll probably find out soon. We have a cabal meeting in two days.”
The remains of the warehouse creaked dangerously. The splintered floor with its gaping hole was now treacherous. Small dusty bits of wood and roof tiles were occasionally falling down from above the survivors’ heads. Excor walked over to Jirek and poured a healing potion down his throat. After that, he looted the dragonslayers’ corpses. He kept the bearded axe, the two-handed longsword, and the bowie knife. Not long after, the trio and Jirek limped to the road where they collectively collapsed to their duffs. Suddenly, a carriage clomped up to them. None other than Vor Jetl leaped out of it roaring with anger at the three victors. His warehouse was “ruined”! Fauna gave him three large sapphires. He went back to smiling immediately and told his footman to arrange for carpenters as soon as possible.
Cris: “Hey! That old bastard didn’t give me his name!”
To Be Continued…