Kingdom of Aeristine

Cry 'Havoc!' and Let Slip the Gnolls of War
in which we repel Tyranthraxus' monstrous horde

Coming back down from the rooftops of the haunted island keep, we encountered a strange creature indeed – it was a naked human, hunched in a dark corner, clutching a knife and gnawing on a dead rat! It turned out he was a fugitive wizard, who had fled Phlan after the initial attack long ago, by swimming out to this abandoned island keep. It was said to be haunted, but he never encountered any ghostly denizens. Once he grew accustomed to a diet of mostly rats, he became quite comfortable living there alone, and used his magic to create ghostly dancing lights and other apparitions to keep the fearful superstitions alive in the hearts of the populace of Phlan. In this way, he kept strangers and explorers at bay, and had the entire keep to himself… until we arrived. An odd fellow, to be sure, but nevertheless this Ben Ken as he called himself proved friendly enough. The years of solitude must have left him hungry for company and adventure, for he decided to tag along on our mission and get involved in the war for the realm. I loaned him my Towel +1 from Ignax’s Bathhouse, and the green Hatchetmen’s sash, to clothe himself in temporarily. We returned to the mainland together and headed out to the Northwest of Phlan to see what discord we could sow amongst Tyranthraxus’ monstrous ranks.

As we headed out of Phlan, a messenger caught up with us and brought us word from the Duke. It seems that recruiting was going well, with thousands of soldiers and scouts being drafted from among the lower castes of Burke. Additionally, gnomes, halflings, and other voluntary militia were filing in from the surrounding countryside. The Duke was also being reinforced by a legion of the King’s own men, and the coalition forces were entrenching in a long siege line from East to West across the center of the realm.

Encouraged by our Duke’s determination to hold the line, we headed into a region of known troll activity, to see if we could persuade the vile creatures into betraying Tyranthraxus. No such luck.

On our way Westward into the swamps, another messenger caught up with us, bringing word of the first major battles of the war. Tyranthraxus had made the obvious move. He sent a large force of ogres and orcish skirmishers directly at the center of the coalition siege line, hoping to fracture it at the town of Glenbarrow. Had it worked, the tactic would have been incredibly demoralizing to our comrades. As it turned out, many brave human militiamen, bolstered by hardy dwarven mercenaries, lost their lives at the Battle of Glenbarrow, yet the attackers were repelled! “They came, they saw, they ran like a bunch of whipped dogs,” boasted the messenger. Meanwhile, we were informed, a naval fleet carrying marines had departed from Burke and was headed up the coast towards Phlan, when it clashed with a smaller force of Tyranthraxus’ ships. Luckily, the enemy ships had recently been damaged by an encounter with a sea monster from the deep, and so our boys had little trouble sending them to a watery grave.

We continued on our way, slogging into the swamplands to parley with the various bullywog tribes that made that moist territory their home. Here we had some success, persuading the chief of one particular tribe that his best interest lay in an alliance with the human King. Just when he was marshaling his warriors to accompany us though, a black-robed mage appeared in the village and had a secret meeting with the chief. After that, the leader of the frog-folk turned chilly towards us and nullified our agreement. Curses, foiled again! We hustled out of town before we could be bushwhacked by Tyranthraxus’ treacherous minions, and continued West.

On our way into the forested outskirts of Helirne, another messenger tracked us down. The news had turned sour. It seems that some of the dragon’s forces had assaulted one of our walled towns, and had managed to take it with only minimal casualties. In another spot along the siege line, there was a massive battle in which the Duke’s men were routed by a monstrous host, although in that instance the enemies’ ranks were sorely depleted. The silver lining was that not one, but two of our biggest coalition armies were approaching that location, so it looked like the depleted monstrous army would not be able to hold their prize for long.

We now headed into elven territory, and began to treat with the leaders there. This was a long and drawn-out affair of diplomatic pomp and ceremony… it is always thus with the elves, but they could prove powerful allies so we persisted.

While enjoying their hospitality (and possibly making a few half-elves), another coalition messenger reached us. He brought word that the two aforementioned large armies had engaged the enemy. The King’s own infantry had thrown themselves with foolhardy abandon at the now dug in, but outnumbered, monsters, only to be bloodily repelled. Cleverly, though, a large force of the King’s calvary used the distraction to come around from behind the trench lines, destroyed their position, and ran down every last survivor! We also heard tell of a fortuitous flash flood on one of the rivers, which evidently had drowned quite a few gnolls – the unit’s morale was broken and they slunk back to their homelands with their tails between their legs.

Finally we reached an accord with the elven leaders, and they dispatched a generous force of their warriors to accompany us back towards Phlan for a concerted assault on the enemy HQ. We began the long trek downriver together.

Halfway there, another messenger brought news. The King had recruited a large force of mercenaries who mounted an assault on Tyranthraxus’ own personal army. It was a resounding success… a heroic scout sniper had taken out one of the dragon’s eyes with a well-placed arrow, causing him to flee and his monstrous army to lose morale. They were then completely defeated! The Duke tried to press some of the orcish warriors into service on our side, but most of them fled back to hide in their orc holes. Then the Duke’s forces had teamed up with Team Rocket, our old rivals, and they had engaged a unit of ogres… but an assassin struck at Team Rocket, taking them out of commission.

We continued marching downriver, using various magics to speed us along our way.

Nearing Phlan, we came upon another messenger waiting for us. She related that Tyranthraxus had recovered from his injury, and had mustered another large personal army. They had struck at the King’s army, decimating them and driving the survivors back beyond the siege line.

But now Tyranthraxus had pulled his battered legions back to Phlan to lick their wounds and re-strategize. Though the enemy was well-fortified there, and numerous, It was time for a final assault. Our coalition hammered its way into the city, resorting to close-quarter tactics in this urban environment, and steadily driving Tyranthraxus’ undisciplined beasts back to the edge of town. Eventually a siege line of goblins, hobgoblins, and trolls hunkered down inside an abandoned castle, and managed to repel two massive assaults (by land and by sea) for several hours. Finally, as we rolled into town with our elvish war host in the eleventh hour, it was our faithful servant Hef who led a charge of mighty minotaurs to batter down their last defenses and root them out.

Only Tyranthraxus and his personal guard remained in a highly-fortified keep.

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Looking into Phlan's wreckage
Hrolf's Log,

After some last-minute shopping and re-supply, the Party met with the commanders of the expeditionary force being sent to Phlan to discuss plans, and our groups’ role in the coming conflict. We were initially told to scout ahead of the army, but Kalli reminded them that they had scouts for that who knew what to be looking for – and who wouldn’t be slowed down by a 4’ something Dwarf… And we weren’t hired for that anyways. We were hired to kill a dragon (our specialty), and cause as much mayhem and destruction of enemy supplies and forces as we could, ahead of the E.F.’s attack.

We decided to take a boat to somewhere north of Phlan, and make our way into town, a 2-day or so trip. Near sunset of our first day out, a crewman shouted a report of a sea beast heading our way. Kalli readied her bow, while the rest of us with ranged capabilities readied our spells and weapons. As it approached, it was revealed as an Athanc, a great sea serpent known to create whirlpools to suck down ships into the depths and devour their drowned crew at its leisure. One shot from Kalli slew the mighty beast, as she was using the Arrow of Sea Monster Slaying found in Ignax’s dungeon (that I thought we’d never use!).

The following day, after many Athanc steaks and ales, another report of approaching monsters: manticores with goblin riders! We armoured up, as we were approaching shore, and prepared for battle – including a rarely used Call Lightning spell from myself, and flight spells/abilities from Kalli and Blake. With a cry of “For Tyranthraxus!” the goblin riders directed the manticores to attack! With our usual level of bloodshed, and some well-placed Magic Missiles from Blake and a nasty Flamestrike from Deacon, as well as a few Thunderbolts from your truly, we made short work of the manticores and their riders, leaving no survivors to tell of our coming.

After nightfall, we approached Phlan, using a Silenced longboat to cross to the old haunted keep on the island, we set up camp. We later went to the roofs to look at Phlan, and see where we should start our search for the dragon, and found much of the city to have been razed to the ground…

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5 Holy Waters to the Wind
Hrolf's Log

Upon the death of the old white dragon patriarch, we found ourselves with a lot of stuff, and few options to get home. So we removed the dragon’s head, wing membranes, and some choice scales and hide, wrapped the hoard up in the hide, and flew down the mountain on Stefan (Blake having Polymorphed him into a roc first). A short time later, we loaded everything into the wagon and took off again, not stopping (except for short rests for Stefan the roc) until we got to our winery outside the Walled City of Burke.

After our triumphant return, we mostly went about doing our own things, with half a chest of mithril and a lot of cash to spend, but we also arranged for servants for the manor, additional guards, and to have the dragon’s head taxidermied. Kalli commissioned a suit of plate mail (made of mithril chain and scales from the elder dragon), while Stefan repeated his demands on the armoursmithing community for a set of magical mithril full plate (non-cursed if you please). Kalli and Raynard purchased new Elven boots, Blake supplemented his store of arcana (and taught at the mage’s college), and a number of potions were bought for the party supply. Raynard took some Law classes, while Deacon commissioned a golden statue for the megachurch and hired some monks to produce some Swiftfootian propaganda pamphlets to be used in missionary work in the surrounding towns and villages.

In our travels around town, we noticed a number of new, well dressed clerics of Ronan Swiftfoot, including one with a big, impressive, ostentatious hat. A discrete inquiry revealed that Deacon’s home church had assigned a Cardinal to Burke (not Deacon?!?), who made the decision to move the site of the megachurch to a spot outside of town along the main road, and put a hiking boot factory on the previous site, employing many of the poor in the surrounding slums.

After a week or so back, we gained an audience with the Duke, which Stefan and I stayed back from, both to guard the manor from possible reprisals from the Hatchet Clan (strangely absent from town now) and because, frankly, we both get rudely wild at parties – and this wasn’t that kind of party! Kalli and the Company of the 4- no, 5, is it 6? Dragons (by extension) gifted the Duke the preserved dragon’s massive head, and a suit of golden full-plate armor found in Siegfried’s lair. During the discussions at the gala, we were hired to kill Tyranthraxus, the bronze dragon whose horde had once again taken Phlan, and help with that city’s liberation (again)… and possibly discover the whereabouts of the previous party that had been hired to help with Phlan’s recovery.

Afterwards, during the month or so of preparation time for the expedition, Kalli discovered both a desire to learn roguery, and a secret admirer! He left her a masterfully crafted gold and platinum rose on a folded Elven cloak, in her trapped and enchanted iron chest, along with a note saying, “Cute chest!” She later discovered a partial report on the group’s adventures and misdeeds, and later met one of the observers: a rogue working for a group called the Brotherhood. The name of her admirer was also revealed, and the strange individual who took some of the party gear, leaving other loot in its place. A mage-rogue named Ghostwind instructed another thief named Nilvin to instruct Kalli in the arts of roguery, and to let the group know we’re being watched… though whether just as a warning to “clean up our acts,” or to let us know of a new possible threat, we’re not sure.

Finally, we began our journey – off to Phlan at the head of an army!

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A Bit of How's Your Father
Hunting the White Patriarch

Before we could leave, the psionicist spoke through Stefan again. He must have accessed Stefan’s past memories, for he began to praise us for our prowess as dragonslayers. Along that train of thought, he came to mention that he knew where the last of the white dragon family – the father – was. Siegfried, as this papa dragon was known, roosted on the highest peak at the headwaters of the river we were on. We decided to go after him, both to finish off this malevolent family that had threatened Burke, and in the hopes that this dragon might actually have a hoard of treasure we could add to our funds. And he was clearly evil! What a relief to throw myself into a task with no moral qualms to worry about.

We set our horses free, and Kalli, still in black dragon form, flew us and our wagon as far West as she could before sunset. Then we made camp at a bend in the river, Blake polymorphed Kalli back to her normal self, and we slept the night.

Next day we began the slow hike upriver, coming to a fork at one point. My prayers of Divination revealed the correct route, and we continued, starting to plod uphill. By the end of that next day it was growing cold as our elevation increased. Blake conjured us up a Secure Shelter, a sort of well-appointed cabin, and we rested cozily inside. I filled the basin in the cabin with water and used it as a Magic Font to do a little scrying, scouting the way ahead and verifying the papa dragon’s location. Indeed, I could see him lounging in the crater of a dormant volcano some miles ahead.

Next day we continued upward, ever more steeply. It began to snow. Hrolf and I prayed for all of us to Endure Cold (few of us were equipped for an icy mountain expedition) and we slowly picked our way up the craggy, slippery rocks, using Stone Shape, Wind Column, Spider Climb, and other magical contrivances to facilitate our travel. We eventually stopped again when daylight gave out, and this time Blake conjured us a sturdy stone hut. I scryed the dragon again and we rested, the cabin’s Unseen Servant massaging our weary muscles by turn.

Finally we approached the summit – Siegfried’s lair. Blake Flew up to the lip of the crater and fastened some pitons there, tied a rope, and let it down to us. Stefan climbed up and then, one by one, hauled the rest of us up the last of the way. What a view! From the lip we could see down into a vast volcanic crater, the bowl of which was covered in thick ice and snow with a few trees poking out here and there. One edge of the lip was a sort of roofed-up ice shoal, and under the overhang could be seen the glint of gold, gems, and other treasures! We were in luck, if only we could defeat papa dragon.

And just as the thought crossed my mind, there was a great stir in the center of the crater. It was as if a massive sheet of snow trembled and began to rise… but then the snow fell off, revealing an enormous pale draconian form. Siegfried was impossibly huge – he dwarfed any of the other dragons we had encountered. He looked older, more venerable… apparently, mama dragon had a thing for older men!

At any rate, we now had to act fast. Kalli held up her shield and appeared to be calculating furiously whether she could “ski” down the bowl on it to charge the white dragon. But before she could, Siegfried’s wings rose up and violently beat down, launching the magnificent bastard high into the air over our heads! He banked around and came diving down at our neat little row of dragonslayers, perched precariously on the icy lip. I muttered a prayer to Resist Cold and, almost without thinking, I leapt forward and began tumbling down the snowy slope into the bowl. Raynard leapt after me, tumbling in my wake, and Hrolf quickly followed suit (though far less gracefully to be frank). Blake flew off to one side. Kalli drew her magic sword, Francis, and it launched itself into the air dragging her with it.

Only Stefan, the indomitable tank, stood his ground. He braced for an onslaught the likes of which had never been seen… and which never came. Instead, Siegfried redirected his angle of approach, whipping his tail out at Blake and bowling him, end-over-end, out high into the air over the mountain (home run!). Then Siegfried looked down and unleashed a devastating blast of frosty breath on us three tumblers! We were enveloped in impossibly cold frost, and if not for our prayers of cold resistance our flesh would’ve instantly shattered. As it was, Hrolf and I escaped the worst of it, but Raynard was frozen solid in a block of ice.

Kalli (and Francis the sword) darted up to the enormous wyrm and slashed at his side, over and over. He tried swatting her away but couldn’t connect, and her harrying drove him back down into the bowl. He landed in the center of the crater and glared at Kalli as she floated up near his face.

Hrolf waddled back up to where Raynard stood frozen, and began chipping away at the ice block around him. I came with, and started praying for any frost burns to be healed and for Raynard to revive. It seemed to be working, and luckily we were able to rescue our comrade free from further attack since the others now had Siegfried’s full attention. Blake had detonated a fireball on the dragon’s rear legs, distracting it for just a second and allowing Kalli to dart in and chop viciously at Siegfried’s face. It howled in pain – a fearsome echoing boom – and swiped out a claw at the raging warrioress, rending her armor and tearing through flesh. She staggered backward just as his jaws clamped down where she had just been.

Then it turned away from the wounded warrioress, leapt into the air once again, and this time dove down upon Stefan, charging up from behind. WHUMP – the whole mountain shook as Siegfried came down violently… and the shining knight could be seen skittering, rolling, skittering out from under it, miraculously unharmed! He must’ve been positioned in just such a way that there was a concave impression in the snow protecting him from the dragon’s crushing weight. As the dragon groped about for Stefan, Kalli staggered to her feet, gritted her teeth, and then strode up behind it and unceremoniously sliced it’s scaly throat wide open with a mighty strike of pure vengeance! The ancient dragon thrashed briefly, and bled to death without further ado.

We gathered our composure, Hrolf and I praying for everyone’s health, and began to sift through Siegfried’s underwhelming hoard. We discovered a few coins and gems, but mostly potions for some odd reason. Anyways, we had all survived, and added another dragon hashmark to our tally! Any dragon-fight you can walk away from, is a good dragon-fight.

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Amber Alert
An Ethical Dilemma

Having defeated the Hatchetmen’s fearsome championess, we took the enchanted axes she dropped and retreated back to the entrance of the mines to lick our copious wounds.

On the way out, Stefan suddenly jerked upright, and began speaking in a strange tone of voice while flexing and musing about how his body felt. When he addressed us it became clear that the psionic master of the mine had taken over his body and was using it to communicate with us remotely. Kalli stepped forward and began to negotiate. She offered that we wouldn’t come back to finish the slaughter if he were to give us 3 chests of mithril. After some time, they struck an even bigger deal: the psionicist would dissociate from the Hatchetmen, removing his mantle of protection from them (and therefore allowing us the opportunity to finally destroy them once and for all) if we would kill the amber dragon we had encountered earlier, who seemed to be protecting Riverton and the surrounding wilderness. Furthermore, he would give us a bonus if we could procure for him some of the dragon’s blood.

This didn’t sit well with me, but before I fully comprehended what was said, the deal was struck. I would have to chew on this for a while.

The psionicist then relinquished control over Stefan’s body, and he came to. Next Blake examined the ornate pair of axes, and determined that at least one of them was imbued with fire magic. He read a command word on the pommel, and violet flame sprung up the handle, engulfing the blade! He couldn’t read the other, but speculated that it may be imbued with ice magic. Stefan took them back and we continued to trudge out of the mine, down the mountain, and out of the dead magic zone.

Our psionic powers diminished, and eventually our magic returned. As we marched, I reflected on this moral dilemma I had been thrust into. My comrades were a good sort overall, although perhaps a bit too prone to greed for my taste. But still, my cut of the earnings from this quest would complete the construction of Ronan’s megachurch, and endow the Burkean congregation with a fortune to keep it strong for decades to come. That had to count for something, right?

As we traveled, I fell into the rhythm of the march. Feeling my pack sway as my legs moved methodically, my body proceeding automatically, I Withdrew into a deep, meditative trance. Only a few hours passed for my comrades, but I experienced days, weeks, perhaps eons flying by as I pondered the mysteries of my destiny. I examined the situation from all angles:

  • The psionicist was clearly evil, a strange bedfellow indeed.
  • Amber dragons, I knew, tended towards moral neutrality. This one had even seemed to help us, by relieving us of Stefan’s cursed armor that had brought us so much grief.
  • Although, the dragon probably had not helped out of altruism so much as for her own selfish ends. She had seemed strangely attracted to the armor, desiring it for herself. The dragon’s act of assistance to us perhaps had the same moral weight as any other neutral force of nature that happens to help rather than hurt, like a fortuitous rainstorm that fills our canteens and helps deliver us from the burden of thirst. Right?
  • The dragon had seemed to be protecting the village of Riverton, and the surrounding wilderness. Seemingly a good act; and what would happen without her protection in the future? Perhaps some of the villagers would become unwilling slaves of the psionicist, toiling away the rest of their lives in his mines…
  • But who knows why she was protecting the village? It could be simply to safeguard her own ready supply of meat: the innocent villagers like a fenced-in herd of pigs just waiting to be turned into so much bacon.
  • There was the Greater Good to be considered as well. Even if the dragon were altruistically protecting the innocent villagers, how does keeping that tiny village safe weigh against the consequence (if she dies and we annihilate the Hatchetmen) of saving the entire region, including the populous mega-city of Burke, from being ruthlessly terrorized by a brutal criminal syndicate? Surely that good outweighs the murder, or martyrdom really, of one neutral being, who perhaps carries the same moral significance as a powerful force of nature. Right??
  • So really, her living stood in the way of the greater good, but her death would help advance it. Nothing good comes with out a price, they say. If you want to make an omelette, and all that. Right???

After anguishing over this for what seemed an eternity, suddenly it dawned on me: this was not murder at all, but more akin to an execution in a civil society. Unpleasant, but necessary. The honorable course of action would be to just lay it all out straight for her. Inform her of the reasons why she had to die so she could make peace with her fate, and then just do it as mercifully as possible: quick and painless. Maybe she would even see reason and accept her demise gracefully, the way that land whale had on the road to Riverton. Yes! Blunt, clear, and honest was the way to go. It was regrettable that it had to be this way, but it was not murder, I could rest at east. It was but duty to the greater good. She had to die, so that we could use the evil psionicist as a tool in the service of good. I hoped Ronan would understand.

I came out of my trance, relieved and now excited by the challenge at hand. We continued marching until it grew dark, then we came to halt and made camp. Hrolf and I prayed for healing for us all, and we rested the night.

Next day we spent strategizing how to locate and slay the amber dragon. I was able to Divine the creature’s approximate location, and we set off hiking through the forest in that general direction, hiking for several hours. We came into a clearing that I judged to be in her territory, and decided to see if we could lure here there. Everyone spread out, and I thought it might be of use to Call some Woodland Beings to our aid, since we’d be fighting, after all, a dragon. I sent out a Summons for any nearby bears or wolves to take part in the execution, but none came! Had Ronan judged my reasoning false and cut me off from His good graces? Or perhaps had all the local bears and wolves become prey for our quarry long ago? I couldn’t say, but the question put my nerves on edge. I Called out again, but this time I felt her presence: the amber dragon. I sent out empathic vibes that it was imperative that I speak with her, posthaste. I could sense her curiosity, and felt her draw near.

She emerged behind me from the dense foliage, mere yards away. But not in the form that I expected: she was a mere little girl, naked and appearing as innocent as you please. She looked up at me, inquiring with big yellow eyes what was the matter. I suppressed a sudden emotional urge and spoke sharply, barking my explanation quickly before her innocent appearance could soften my heart.

“My lady. I’m afraid that your life is now forfeit. If you submit, we’ll make it quick and painless, and I will shepherd your soul into the next realm.”

“What? Whyyyyy?” She ask plaintively, beginning to tear up and sob.

I could sense my comrades rolling their eyes at my sentimentality, but only Ronan mattered to me now. I had to tread carefully.

“Look, it’s not that you’ve done anything wrong. The whole thing is regrettable. But it will be for the best if you die, so that we can take some great villains out of the world. You’ll be dying for a good cause, you’ll see! Well, I suppose you won’t actually see, seeing as how you’ll be dead, but you can trust me on that.”

Blake must have sensed my wavering resolve, for in the middle of my sputtering justification, he fired a salvo a magic missiles at the girl from up above where he had been Flying around the clearing. By rights, they should have blasted her into a fine red mist, but instead they barely knocked her back an inch. The innocent look in her wide eyes vanished, and she narrowed them to glare at the bard through slits of hot yellow anger.

I don’t know what I expected then, but it was not for her to disappear. Yet she very nearly did, but for a tiny mote of glimmering amber light where her heart had been. This rocketed up high over my head and straight at Blake! It seemed to zap him angrily with jolts of electricity as it buzzed around him. Kalli, holding aloft her magic sword (Francis) rocketed up into the air too, slashing at the mote. I wondered if the dragon-girl had used some kind of shape-changing magic to transform into a Will’o’the’Wisp… I prayed for any magic on her to be Dispelled. It worked! She instantly reverted to full-grown dragon, amber scales and all, right between the airborne Blake and Kalli. She now stood on the ground, but immediately shrieked a terrible roar as Stefan dashed in, hacking off a piece of her tail. In response, she flapped her terrible wings and launched herself into the air, scooping up the armored half elf with her rear claw as she rose. Blake stayed low but Kalli followed the dragon (and Stefan) up, slicing and slashing at her vulnerable wing joint. The harrying distracted the dragon enough to drop Stefan, who Blake caught with an impressively timed Feather Fall spell; he gently floated to the ground.

Across the clearing I could make out Hrolf intoning the words to a Dimensional Anchor spell, which I figured would prevent the dragon from making any sneaky magical escapes. (Who knew the little fella was capable of such forethought? I gave him a spiritual “bro-fist” from where I stood.) Indeed, the dragon seemed to be attempting some Blink magic… and was a bit surprised when it didn’t work. I yelled, “Your magic has no power here!”

Kalli took advantage of the brief distraction to slice again, doing more damage to her wings.

Now she somehow managed to revert back to wisp-form once again, and seemed to almost fade from view completely, but Hrolf once again had her in check with an Invisibility Purge. Repeatedly thwarted from her powers, she apparently chose now to flee instead. She rocketed off into the woods to the South. I summoned a Tree Steed and picked up Stefan and Hrolf to follow, but Kalli had other ideas. Blake was about to fly off after the mote, but instead Kalli barked a command at him to Polymorph her, and so he cast the spell. She quickly grew into a giant black dragon! Her plan was to use another dragon’s acute senses to track the amber dragon… and it worked. She launched herself up after the fleeing mote, crashing through the trees in her way and leaving raw destruction in her wake, quickly outpacing my poor wooden horse.

I don’t know quite how it happened, as there was nothing for us to do but follow, but after some tense minutes the black dragon came crashing back. Kalli had caught the mote in her massive black dragon maw! She motioned for Blake to get out the Bag of Holding, which he did, and when he held it open, she spit into it and he sealed it back shut. The amber dragon was dead, though it was now physically in wisp form. I muttered a fervent benediction for her departed soul.

Kalli gathered us up and flew us back to the mine entrance, to pay our blood price to the psionicist. Then we took our earnings and discussed what to do next.

Now, polymorphing is a dangerous procedure even when turning into a simple creature. Becoming something like a dragon almost never ends well for the morphee. By rights, Kalli should have been permanently brain damaged, and yet knowing this she had chosen to put herself at risk on behalf of the mission. That’s dedication! Yet somehow, despite all odds, she finally reverted to her scrappy old self, in perfect sanity. I hoped I could say the same for myself after coming to terms with my moral compromise… was I starting down a road that could lead to spiritual bankruptcy? Or was I ensuring the greatest good for the greatest number? It was a crisis of faith. I needed a vacation.

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To the Mithril Mines pt. 2
Lair of the Illest Illithid

WILL FILL IN DETAILS LATER

On the mountain road up to the mine, we all felt a queer sensation, and seemed to hear a strange keening sound. Our enchanted gear grew heavier. I felt a preternatural spiritual quietude, and asking Hrolf, he felt it too, like our chakras were disconnected from the network. Blake murmured some incantation, but his spell fizzled! I quickly spoke a prayer, but there was no response! We must have blundered into one of the fabled “dead-magic” zones. Yet at the same time, we all noticed our minds racing. It was exhilarating, like an epiphany, a sudden expansion of our cognitive abilities somehow. I realized that I could easily create new interpretations of common things and events, telling a crushingly cynical and demoralizing story about the meaninglessness of things people love, and further that I could somehow telepathically project that sense into another’s mind, giving them an instantaneous aversion to that thing, action, place, or event. With some experimentation, my comrades discovered similarly startling powers: Hrolf could think portals in space into existance, like little dimensional doors. Blake could telekinetically move objects without touching them. Stefan could agitate matter on a molecular level, causing explosive detonations. (OTHERS?)

Then we all heard, or rather sensed, an overwhelming and sinister voice warning us off, and taunting us. But our courage was indomitable, and we resolved to continue into the mine despite the apparent loss of our magics, enchantments, and divine protections.

We finally came to the gaping mine entrance. It was unguarded, and we followed the cart tracks into the dimly lit mouth. Some fortifications and dwarven architectural ornamentation greeted us inside, and as our eyes adjusted, we saw a form lurking in the shadows further in, beyond an ornate archway.

(BRAIN GOLEM AND ZOMBIE DWARVES)

(SNIPER POST AND PORTCULLIS)

(HALLWAY WITH MROE ZOMBIES, FLAMING BARREL)

(KITCHENS, DINING HALL)

(BARRACKS, 2 BROTHERS AGAIN, AXE WARRIORESS, MORE ZOMBIES)

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To the Mithral Mines, pt. 1
The perilous road to Riverton

After assigning our workers to extricate the worm corpse and repair the brewery, we headed back home to the island stronghold to return to business as usual. Our next task was to investigate the mithral mines up the river to the West. We would have to travel some 180 miles and determined to make the trek on horse rather than by barge, because it would be faster. So we gathered up supplies, readied a wagon, and six horses, and departed. Stefan rode out front, scouting a couple hundred feet ahead. He was followed by Raynard, then came the ecumenical healing wagon which I drove, and which carried Hrolf and our supplies. Behind us rode Blake, singing jolly travel tunes, and finally Kalli brought up the rear. Our first day’s journey was pleasant and sunny.

But partway through the afternoon, Stefan called a halt. He shouted back that he had noticed something glinting in the reeds by the water, and that a learn-ed man should come forth to investigate. As one such man, I stepped down from the wagon and walked out to meet Stefan near the shore. I bent down and peered at some kind of crystal scepter; surely an ominous thing to be just randomly laying in the reeds. Sure enough, something moved rapidly, whipping through the reeds – clutching troll claws burst out at me! I jerked my head back just in time, stumbled backwards, and fell, as two of the stinking beasts vaulted out, trampling over my prone form and fixing their eyes on Stefan. “SCRAAAAAAGS!” I yelled.

River Troll Ambush: Epic Fail
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The two trolls charged up the shore at the mithril-clad warrior, but Blake detonated a fireball right on top of them, giving them pause and igniting some of the reeds around me. Raynard raised his bow and loosed an arrow that struck one of the trolls as it scrambled, smoldering, up the shore. Seconds later, several more scrags emerged from farther downriver, near Kalli at the end of our convoy. She charged her horse at the nearest one approaching, violently knocking it back into the river. Meanwhile, Stefan had lifted his axe and brought it down hard, cleaving into the first troll to reach him. The other troll was coming up fast on its heels, and Stefan bellowed a challenge to it even as some kind of acid arrow flew from Blake into it’s chest, causing it to shriek and smoke as it fell to the ground and rolled back and forth.

I could see Kalli then dismounting farther down the shore, and she began one of her improbable spinning assault routines, tearing through a couple more scrags like a whirlwind of razorblades and leaving behind a fine green mist. Hrolf could be seen hurling a flaming hand-axe. When it missed and landed amongst the reeds, he turned around and tromped off in the other direction. Where are you going, dwarf?!?

I used my faith to summon a watery psuedopod, which splashed out to wrap around the nearest troll and drag it backwards toward the river… but it splashed through and leapt on Raynard, clawing bloody scratches in his face. Then Stefan came charging up, chopping its head off. It’s body collapsed on top of Raynard and twitched. I climbed to my feet, grabbed the scepter, and climbed back up to the road as Raynard extricated himself from the troll body, and the others gathered up the pieces and burned them. I actually felt sorry for the poor bastards. For all their low cunning, they had foolishly messed with the wrong travelers, and been massacred for their troubles. We continued on our way.

Shortly thereafter, we came to a signpost on the road, indicating that we were nearing the village of Riverton. Blake suddenly exclaimed, “Hark!” and cupped his hand to his ear, listening. Then we all heard it, a kind of gutteral screech from afar. We turned to look across the river, and there was a massive 40’ long behemoth of a killer land-whale! It’s black and white skin shone in the sun, and it gazed balefully at us for a moment before thrusting itself into the water.

The Unfortunate Behemoth
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We could see the sinister black dorsal fin cutting across the river, making a beeline straight for us. Blake ignited the reeds along the shore again, putting a curtain of flames between it and us. But seemingly heedless of the flames, the enormous form launched itself out of the water, galloping furiously on its four stumpy legs straight at Stefan! It opened it’s 6’ wide maw, picking up the half-elf and even scooping up the dirt beneath him like a shovel, but he twisted aside and rolled back before it could snap it’s jaw shut around him.

In shock from this thunderous and sudden assault, my comrades now all began to dismount and ready their weapons. I calmly stepped down from the wagon, placing all thoughts of violence aside. Time seemed to slow down for me as I approached the marvelous beast. I placed my hand to my forehead, thumb and pinky outstretched, and began to generate a low-pitched whinging sound in the back of my throat as I prayed. I peered into the behemoth’s soul, and we had a real moment there.

Imagine this water buffalo is a giant killer whale with legs

Ronan be praised, He truly watches over His travelers. The massive creature, which could’ve bitten any of us in half without thinking of it, instead simply became entirely passive and lay down at my feet. ‘This would make a great parable for my flock back at the megachurch!’ I thought, but just then Kalli came striding up behind me and shoved a spear into the creature’s eye, hammering it with the heel of her hand until it sunk all the way in through the brain. The poor beast didn’t even resist, just accepted its fate, shuddered, and died. We should all die so gracefully. We mounted back up, and rode on.

Much Ado About “Nothing”

Not much further on, we approached some kind of black sphere, a few feet in diameter, half sunk in the road. But it was slowly rising, and soon floated up out of the road, leaving a hole behind. It leveled off a few feet up in the air, and floated slowly towards Stefan, who was in the front line with Raynard. While advancing unsettlingly steadily, it moved slowly, so Stefan and Raynard trotted their horses around it. As soon as they passed it though, it veered around and began following directly behind Stefan. He began to dodge this way and that, but the thing seemed to track him, always moving slowly but inexorably in his direction! Raynard, noticing this, bolted away, but still the sphere moved slowly. I prayed that if some foul magic were causing this phenomenon, that it be dispelled, yet nothing happened. Blake cast magic missile, attacking the darkness, but it just swallowed the streaking bolts of energy up and continued on its implacable way, unaffected. It was like some kind of preternatural force of negation, a kind of sphere that annihilated all matter and energy that it touched… and it wanted Stefan! Oh dear.

We new began to wonder why the thing was following our mithril-clad warrior. We realized that the hostile creatures we had previously encountered had also seemed intent on getting to Stefan. Was he attracting them in some way? Was he cursed to arouse the ire of monsters? This had never happened before… and he had just gotten that fancy new suit of armor… was the armor cursed? We debated that theory and decided that, to be safe, Hrolf and I would endeavor to pray hard for Stefan that evening, when we had time to concentrate, and hopefully we could exorcize whatever curse might have befallen him.

….
……..
…………
at some point we come to the outskirts of Riverton and are greeted by a golden dragon lady polymorphed as a human, made a bargain with her, she removed Stefan’s armor and took it. We came in to town, got in a scuffle with some hatchetmen at the local bar, headed out on a side quest to protect the local farms from some rampaging frost giants, came back, and headed up to the mithril mine itself! WILL HAVE TO FILL IN DETAILS LATER

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Purple Worm Ale
Purple ichor makes good liquor

Cleric’s log, astrological date 1.12.14

So we had laid waste to the warehouse of the Hatchetmen, descending on them like vengeful angels of the apocalypse, dealing fire and death at every turn. At some point, I lost consciousness. Two days later, I awoke back at our new island stronghold. I felt recovered.

Later that day, a runner came knocking at the door. Our surly dwarven security guard answered, and bade us assemble to give us a message that had been brought from Hef, our minotaur foreman of our brewery just outside of town. It seems there was a problem: a giant hole had appeared in the floor there, and had spooked the workers.

We gathered up a team of dwarven workers and headed out to investigate. Once there we indeed clearly saw a large ragged hole in the wall, over a deep pit about ten feet in diameter, stretching down into the dark earth farther than we can see. A vat is missing where the hole is. Hef the minotaur is there, looking confused and a little shaken. We all search around for clues as to what happened, but there is just broken equipment and a traces of slime.

Kalli decides we had best explore the hole, so she uses brewery equipment to rig up a pully system to facilitate rappelling down. She and Blake begin descending, as the rest of us crowd around the opening, peering down. They get down about 150 feel deep when they call up, reporting that the tunnel continues but at a 45 degree angle now rather than straight down. There is more slimy goo down there too.

But then the ground and building started just slightly rumbling. The trembling slowly increased in intensity however, and before long the building was violently shaking, equipment was falling from the rafters, and dirt was sprinking down the hole on Kalli and Blake. We began to panic and called down for them to climb back up, fast! Hef began yanking up the rope, hoping to haul them to safety. But before he could, the ground 20 feet west of us erupted in an explosion of dirt and wood splinters, directly underneath another vat. A hideous purple mass smashed its way up through the floor and opened a gaping maw under the vat, sliding up and engulfing it! The monstrous giant purple worm continued to rise into the air, scraping open another hole in the wall and crashing through the ceiling as well. More debris rained down upon us all. Hrolf muttered, “I haven’t seen a scene like this since that brothel back in Calimport.”

Those of us on the ground all seemed to attack in unison, hacking and flailing at the seemingly alcoholic monstrosity. Hrolf hurled his ice axe and it embedded itself in the lip around the thing’s circullar maw. It began to pulse waves of frost, icing over half of the thing’s mouth.

Meanwhile down in the pit, Blake could be heard singing something about flying like an eagle, and indeed it would turn out that he had grabbed Kalli about the waist and literally begain flying up out of the pit! Hef fell back as the rope went slack, but quickly regained his composure and charged up behind Stefan, who cleaved a slice of flesh the size of a roast ham off the side of the thing. Did it even notice? I don’t know but it reeled to one side, cracking open another vat and crashing into the hoist 20 feet above the pit, sending it splintering and tumbling down past Blake and Kalli. The worm then dove down upon Hef, nearly engulfing him whole and lifting him skyward, the better to swallow.

Stefan and Hrolf continued to assail the thing’s side, yet for some reason I couldn’t bring myself near enough to strike a blow myself. But we could now see the outlines of Hef’s form inside the thing, upside down and struggling as the flesh around him constricted and undulated. His horns punctured through to the outside, but he kept moving down inexorably.

The worm then reared back and seemed to eye Stefan, the creature causing it the most pain probably. It smashed it’s maw down over him, yet he ferociously batted it with his shield, deflecting it enough to keep from being engulfed.

Then Blake and Kalli finally came hovering up over the lip of the pit. As Raynard launched an arrow into the thing’s eye, they hovered a few feet higher into the air, and then the bard tossed the snarling warrioress down upon the worm’s head! Kalli’s Death From Above tactic is fruitful – her whirling scimitars cut ribbons of flesh from it’s head.

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Fuzzy Times at Axe High
A Burning Question at Hatchetmen HQ

Deacon’s log, astrological date 12.15.13

After the celebration and the ceremony with the Duke, we had a little time to relax and enjoy our new fame as the dragonslaying saviors of Burke. In fact, people started calling us The 4 Dragons and so we changed our name to that (we were formerly the Basilisk Mercenary Co.)

In the ensuing days I oversaw the beginnings of the construction of Ronan’s new megachurch in the slum district. Some beggars were miffed at the razing of a few dilapidated crack-houses and brothels, and the local Thieves’ Guild was suspicious that religious donations would be cutting into their take, but so far things were going fairly smoothly for a project of this magnitude. Blake was spending his days happily researching new magical theories while Raynard studies law. Kalli wondered if she could be Polymorphed into an elf without any side effects. Stefan conducted training with the city guard. Hrolf did whatever heretical priests do. We all began moving into our new digs… an island stronghold in the river delta.

One day, we were all (luckily) over at the new place, arranging furniture and so forth, when we saw a mushroom cloud erupt in our old neighborhood. It was our old house! Some nefarious goon had Fireballed it, singeing our poor dwarfservant Duggan, and ruining some of our stuff. This aggression could not stand. We assumed it was the work of our new nemeses: The Hatchetmen. We immediately headed off to their warehouse headquarters, lusting for vengeance. They tried to burn us down? We would burn them down. (The vengeance of Ronan is swift and severe.)

Approaching the warehouse, we knocked on the front door. No answer. So the others fanned out around the building, as Kalli and Blake and I remained at the front to rig up an exploding barrel. We detonated it, and the front door caught fire. Using the powers of Ronan, I ensorcelled the fire to produce a thick, choking black smoke that exclusively wafted inwards, filling the warehouse with noxious fumes in minutes.

Shortly, a window opened up above along the side of the building, to vent smoke. Blake chuckled at their predictability, and immediately lobbed a fireball through the opening! KA-BOOM! Meanwhile, Hrolf around back began to use his dwarf-god’s favors to alter the shape of the stones forming the back doorway, so that he and Stefan could slip in that way. Hrolf and I both asked our respective gods for their blessings on this mission of righteous vengeance. As Stefan clanked his way in, a flurry of hatchets flew at him from all directions, tinking off his armor.

On the other side of the building, Kalli scampered up the wall towards the second floor window. Below her, Blake and I opened a large delivery door, to see several hatchets flying out at us. I ducked behind The Decanter and the hatchets stopped in midair and fell to the ground, halted by his Protection from Normal Missiles. Nice!

At this point Kalli spider-clung to the wall next to the window, detected a guard behind it, and just stabbed him in the face right through the window. Then she spun around and stabbed through the adjacent window as well, and finally dove through the broken glass to enter the building. Landing on a catwalk, she leapt up and began just violently shanking her way through several Hatchetmen who had been stationed up above, one-by-one. We could see many brown-robed Hatchetmen fleeing at the sight of this spectacle, but many wearing red robes remained, as well as a couple green and yellow. Did the colors represent some rank or status? We didn’t know yet.

Below, Blake and I strode forward into the threshold. The bard looked up, sang a few magic notes, and caused a Wall of Fire to spring up all along a catwalk that ran perpendicular to the one Kalli was on, igniting the robes of another line of Hatchtmen who were advancing along it towards her. A couple of them leapt off screaming, to a 15’ drop where they broke their legs. We could see that the original fire had spread from the front door explosion, so now there were two sources of fire.

Hrolf then barreled in behind Stafan, bowling over a large Hatchetman thug. Stefan buried an axe in another one’s head, laughing at the dwarf’s tactics, and slaughtering foes with a song in his heart despite a couple of strong blows he received himself.

Suddenly a large cask of liquor to the right of Blake and I exploded! The rest of the catwalk guards started to climb down as fast as possible. I Produced a handful of brilliant holy Flame and tossed it at a pile of wooden crates they were using as a staircase, and it slowly ignited them too. Next I asked a great boon of Ronan – that he would grant Blake and myself immunity to fire, so that we might enter the rapidly growing conflagration and move about safely. We took a deep a breath, a leap of faith, and entered into the flames consuming the warehouse! Like horsemen of the apocalypse come to deal death, we strode almost in slow motion.

Blake brandished a lighting wand and began loosing bolts of sizzling energy at anything that moved, as I stalked along side him, smashing down any assailant who dared come too close with my flail.

A salvo of whistling magic missiles issued forth from a doorway across the room (some kind of office) and swooped upward into the center of the room, striking Raynard full the face! He had been lurking above, peering down through the sky light to snipe with bow an arrow, but a magic user must have detected him.

Across the building, Hrolf and Stefan now were backed up against one another, surrounded by a press of foes. Hrolf began to pray furiously for deliverance, as Stefan held them off.

Kalli, covered in blood, somehow hopped over the side of the catwalk, and began running literally sideways down the side of it, clinging horizontally like a spider. She paused to slice open another Hatchetman, then sprinted straight down a wall of crates the the floor.

Suddenly a devastatingly freezing Ice Blast whirled up around Blake and I, catching us unaware and tearing shards of ice into our unprotected backs. That accursed magic user! I took the brunt of it and collapsed in shock, but The Decanter soldiered on. I felt my spirit rising up out of my body, and miraculously I could still observe the battle! I saw a Hatchetman captain in the office room dart through an interdimensional door and escape. I saw Kalli and Stefan cutting down several more thugs. I saw a mysterious energy coalescing on the upper balcony, and so did Blake, who directed a lightning bolt up there – this caused a humanoid shape to appear, collapsing and spasming on the catwalk. An invisible wizard! Several more Hatchetmen fled, and from there it was just cleaning up, nothing too remarkable. Eventually I felt a tug back into my body, as Hrolf prayed over my prone form, and my comrades must have carried me away and taken me back home to recover. More next time, everything’s a little bit fuzzy right now.

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I'm Dreaming of a White... Dragon?
wherein we save the city

Deacon’s log, astrological date 12/1/13

So it’s been snowing heavily and we’re running out of heating oil. We decided to head to the riverfront market to load up on winter provisions. Along the way, I paused to disrobe and make naked snow angels in homage to Ronan, who had seen fit to bless me with resistance to the cold. Later in the market as we were minding our own business, haggling over smuggled dwarven ale, the snow picked up to blizzard-like conditions. Suddenly out of nowhere, three young white dragons thumped down into the center of the market square! The crowd screamed in unison as I quickly ducked behind a wagon, muttering a prayer to send a message to Stefan, who had stayed behind in our house. We would need his courage for this!

Most of the city guard fled in terror, but I observed a couple of stalwart fellows striding forward. Their bravery was commendable, although I did notice a dark stain spreading down their pant legs as they advanced. One of the dragons lashed out a claw, disemboweling some poor townsman who had been supervising a group of kids at play. As it reared back, preparing to chomp down on its first victim, quick thinking Blake the Decanter summoned a web in it’s maw, gumming it’s jaws shut! It shook it’s head in surprise, but then just sucked air in through its nostrils, and released a frigid blast of breath that froze the webbing and violently ejected it in crystallized shards which, tragically, tore into several of the crying children.

Now Kalli had seen enough of these monsters’ wanton destruction. She brandished her blades and charged full on into the second dragon’s flank, carving through it’s hard scales with sheer rage. I too was livid, as I summoned forth a blade of pure holy fire and advanced (a bit more cautiously) on the third dragon.

Three guards leveled their spears and charged the first dragon in anger, after it snapped up a frozen child, tossed her into the air, and swallowed her whole like a dog might snap up a lump of gristle. One of the guards’ spears even found purchase between the beast’s scales – that got it’s attention! The dragon whirled its tail around, smacking the offending guard across the square where he crashed into a merchant’s tent.

Meanwhile I could see Raynard steal into another tent adjacent to the third dragon I was approaching. Surmising his plan, I began to taunt the beast with slanderous insults about its mother while waving my flaming sword in order to distract it. It worked! The sneaky rogue plunged his blade deep into the dragon’s underside, catching it by surprise. I then charged forward swinging, but the beast pivoted away, now dancing around the rogue with the thorn in its side.

The second dragon was now in shock from the trauma of Kalli’s onslaught, and she viciously clambered up the thing’s back, stabbing into it for handholds. As it staggered to it’s knees, she continued her butcher work, eventually literally scissoring off it’s head! A couple guardsmen cautiously approached once it stoped moving, poking at it with their spears as Kalli strode away.

Finally Stefan came lumbering up one of the paths, shouldering aside a handful of trembling guardsmen, but hesitated as a massive fireball detonated on top of the first dragon, igniting several tents, knocking back the brave guards, and blasting shards of frozen children in every direction! More of Blake’s work, but also now Hrolf leapt up from the snow to to hurl a flaming axe, which impacted into a frozen townswoman. (I assume he was aiming at the dragon). Shaking off the fireball, and clearly not happy, this first dragon now reared back, drawing breath once again… and blows out a freezing cone of air, catching Blake as well as Kalli and the two guards in her wake!

Raynard was now nimbly engaged in a dance with death with the third dragon, but eventually a claw caught him off-guard and disrupted his flow long enough for the dragon to bite down, catching the Black Fox halfway in his mouth! I saw the poor rogue go slack, as he passed out from the pain and trauma, but just then is when Stafan came raging in, cleaving off one of the dragon’s feet with a mighty axe blow. It dropped Raynard and fell to its side, hissing and bleeding to death from it’s guts and arm-stump. I dropped my flame blade, darted in and grabbed the unconscious rogue, dragging him behind a tent to pray for his survival.

Kalli now shook off the frost and ice and roared a challenge to the last dragon, which roared back (bitchily if I may say so). But just then, the sky darkened, and the massive form of an elder dragon crashed down into the center of the square, flattening an entire row of merchant stalls. It was their mother! (I hoped she hadn’t heard my insults.)

In the brief second of stunned silence, Blake took the last young dragon in the face with a second fireball. It fell to the ground charred and unmoving, and all turned to face this new, greater threat. Hrolf was the first to advance, trundling forward to smack the mama with his little mace. It pivoted, looked down disapprovingly, and bowled the dwarf over with a casual tail swipe. In one fluid motion, it also buffeted Kalli away with a mighty wing swipe, while impaling Blake with a claw and raising him up to her face, to inspect this puny creature that had just murdered her child right in front of her. After a second, she chomped down ferociously on him, nearly tearing the poor bard in half before dropping his eviscerated body to the snow!

Stefan now swung into action, charging in from behind and boldly hacking at her nether regions. Kalli staggered to her feet and flailed dizzily and feebly before regaining her composure.

Seeing the carnage, and reassured that Raynard was beginning to stir, I drew a special vial from my pockets, lurched up, and began sprinting toward the mother dragon to aid my overwhelmed comrades. I vaulted over wrecked wagon debris, dove, and slid through the bloody snow to Blake’s crumpled form. Heedless of the danger looming overhead, I immediately began to slather his gaping wounds with that miraculous Keoghton’s Ointment I had previously procured, and, as advertised, the severed flesh indeed began to knit back together. I then wrapped him in my Towel +1 from Ignax’s Bath House, and used it as a sling/stretcher to drag him away from the thrashing dragon.

Just in time too, for then the dragon let loose a freezing blast of breath straight down onto Stafan (and where we would have been), encasing the mighty warrior in ice. Raynard was rising to his feet across the square, and now raised his bow and loosed an arrow at the mother, only to see it bounce off, though it distracted her for a second. Kalli, having now regained her balance, strode forward once again, slashing at the mama’s leg. The ice couldn’t keep Stefan incapacitated for long – he quickly flexed his muscles to fracture the ice, and shook it off in anger, bursting forth to leap up and hack at her maw.

In the face of this renewed assault, the mother dragon hunched down and then launched herself upward into the air! But Kalli was too quick – she had stabbed into the dragon’s underbelly, pulling out an entrail and hanging on for the ascent, during which she continued to plunge a blade into the dragon’s guts as they rose. The rest of us could only watch the winged form pirouette across the sky, over a row of buildings, and eventually plunge into the nearby river. Kalli had been victorious!

We would later learn that Kalli had almost drowned in the river, wearing all that armor. But the river guards had seen what happened, and sent a rowboat out to pick her up and bring her, bedraggled, back to shore.

Back in the market, curious townfolk began reappearing. I calmed them down and started leading a prayer of benediction for the dead children, townsfolk, and guards, to help shepherd their spirits into the afterlife. Meanwhile, a bumpkin named Dorvin (who operates a warehouse called The Ice House) sidled up and offered Blake $10,000 gold per dragon corpse, but he refused, although he finally consented to sell two for $26,000; and we kept the third and decided to keep the big mother’s corpse as well. Kalli plans to make a bed out of her skull, and armor from her hide. We will stuff the young one for our bar. We decided also to use some of the proceeds to set up a fund for the families of the dragons’ victims.


Later, we went off to the fighting pits to find Hef the Minotaur, and deal with his rotund owner. While there, a guard captain found us, and handed us badges for entry to a celebration that was to be held in our honor. In preparation for this event, we also found an artisan to make a present for the Duke out of dragon scales. We then went home to get cleaned up and don our formal wear. A crowd had gathered around our house to cheer for us. I took the opportunity to distribute pamphlets proclaiming the good news of Ronan’s salvation.

Finally, we were all fancied up and went to the ball! A carriage with 6 white horses conveyed us there, where the Duke gave an elegant speech in our honor, and proclaimed us High Citizens. We presented him with our dragonscale token, and he offered each of us a boon of our choice. I requested the construction of a megachurch for the greater glory of Ronan. Hrolf, wary of perpetuating the stereotype that “dwarves just like gold,” asked for item enchantments. Blake asked for admission of the College of Wizardry. Raynard asked for admission to Law School. Stefan, so decisive in battle, was apparently made completely indecisive in the face of nobility, and after much hemming and hawing simply asked for an I.O.U. (later, he would settle on commissioning the fabrication from mithril of a suit of platemail). Kalli offered a rare glimpse back to her former selfless days as a paladin when she asked for freedom for Hef the Minotaur – and at this time his fat owner in the crowd could be heard whining “I PROTEST, THESE SCALLYWAGS!” As Kalli’s eyes got moist, the Duke voided the repulsive man’s ownership and commanded him to be put in the stocks. It was truly a storybook ending.

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