Flames and Steel: The Chromatic War

A Side Story: The Firestorm and a Reconciliation
By mid afternoon they had finally reached the site that could only be where Zorebane had taken to hiding. Approaching a the rocky slope that initially appeared to be little more than just another to be traversed, Nora stiffened visibly and quickly made a gesture to get down. Al’ev and Mel, who were trailing a short distance behind, did not need any warning as the air had grown increasingly foul with the stench of burnt flesh and wood.

Nora slowly approached a fallen and charred tree then poked her head over and glanced quickly around before ducking back down. Al’ev and Mel carefully made their way up to where she was and waited for her to say something.

After a few moments of concentrating, Nora looked at Al’ev and made another hand gesture indicating he should take a look. He nodded and cautiously poked his head above the remains of the tree.

Al’ev suddenly had the urge to draw his blade for there by the entrance of a cave about twenty feet from where they were now, were two cloaked individuals. Those individuals, clearly on sentry duty, wore the garb of the Disciples of Zorebane. Zorebane was clearly being careful as a wide area around the cave entrance had been cleared of all foliage using his choice method. Several husks of once enormous trees stood smoldering, smoke rising slowly with the slight afternoon breeze.

Taking one last glance in and noting that both sentries appeared armed for close quarters combat, Al’ev ducked back down and whispered “This is the place.”

“Are ye certain? They could be some other fire worshiping cult just hiding in the woods.” Nora said sarcastically.

“Did you see my father? Was he there?” Mel whispered as she drew The Halarian Blade from the sheath on her back.

“No, just a pair of guards who are clearly expecting company.” Al’ev replied. “They are likely holding him inside the cave. I don’t think we have much choice but to get in there and get him out.”

“There will be others within the cave aside from Zorebane and Mr. Rolovir, Sergen…Reldin.” Nora mentioned correcting her error.

Al‘ev, for his part, let it pass. “Possibly. Only way to really find out how many is to get in there ourselves. Mel, I want you to…Alright, where did she go this time?”

The sound of metal penetrating flesh from near the cave entrance as well as a deep throated yell answered him. Both Al’ev and Nora quickly looked back to the entrance and saw Mel locking her blade with the second sentry’s blade. The first Sentry already lay on the ground behind her, unmoving.

Al’ev and Nora quickly made their way to the entrance, Al’ev preparing a spell as he ran, but his words stopped in his throat as Mel knocked aside the second sentry’s blade in a very showy full body spin that concluded with her opponent missing a portion of his head.

“You couldn’t just wait?” He said quickly, as he drew his blade and watched the entrance carefully, fully expecting flames or more men to come charging out.

“I will not let my father suffer any longer than he needs to, Al’ev. Sometimes you just need to act and deal with the consequences later.”

“Feisty woman you have there Reldin. I be liking her more and more.”

Al’ev turned to look at Mel and stared into her eyes for a short time.

“Mel, you need…”

“You need to know when to keep silent.” She cut him off. “I have already told you I will not hesitate to act if it means getting my father back sooner.”

He was about to reply when a familiar voice echoed out from inside the cave somewhere.

“Then you should act now, young lady. Your father probably won’t last much longer at this rate.” A ominous chuckle followed the words. “He unfortunately seems to be less fond of fire than I am.”

“Zorebane, if you so much as cause a heat rash on him, I will skin you alive and use you as my rug for the next decade.” Al’ev threatened.

“Come now, Sergeant. That’s no way to talk to an old war buddy. I see you brought your cleric friend.” They all started to look around for him as he could clearly see the entrance where they stood. “No no, I’m not out there. Believe it or not, I do know other spells than those that burn. To be honest I’m surprised the cleric hasn’t tried to take your head off for what I hear you did back in Dorn.”

“The only one of us who’ll be losing his head to me axe is you, Zorebane.”

“Not so happy to hear from me either, huh? Well come inside and we’ll see if we can’t change that. Don’t worry, it is only young Mel’s father and I inside. You already took care of most of my people back in Dorn if you don’t recall.”

Al’ev looked over at Nora and Mel, then the three made their way into the cave. As they continued deeper, the cave seemed to consist of little more than a long winding hall that was lit only by sconces every fifteen to twenty feet. They walked almost painfully slow for the next couple minutes, fully expecting to run into a trap or an attack at any moment.

Finally they saw an opening up ahead which turned out to be a large circular room with a walkway ringing the outer portion and an inner portion that was sunken down a few feet. From where they entered, Al’ev noted several things.

First, the lighting in the room was entirely dependant on the large fire that was burning in the pit‘s center. Second, Zorebane stood openly by the flame, arms crossed and smug look on this face. Passed out or, gods forbid, dead on the floor before him was Tanidor Rolovir.

“Welcome, Sergeant. I’m glad you could make it all the way here from your hidey-hole in Kassadin.”

Al’ev was taken by surprise.

How could he know where I was?

“Don’t be too surprised. Think about it carefully with that supposedly amazing brain of yours. You do not think word could filter down to a small town like that so quickly after my attack in Caori without my intending it to, do you?”

“But that means…”

“Yes, I did this for little reason aside from luring you here.”

“Why? Because ye be wanting revenge?” Nora asked.

“Actually I had no idea that the Sergeant here was the same one responsible for my setback in Dorn until recently. No. I was hired to do this by someone named Brelzic. It was lucky I came across a few letters of correspondence between Melesteil and Al’ev. Certainly sped the process up. As for the why I would work for this Brelzic well…a man needs riches to raise an army.“ His voice, and the flame before him, rose with those words before both became calm again. “After all, you did destroy mine and so I will be needing a new one.”

Al’ev quickly glanced around the cave again as Mel protectively put her hand on his shoulder.

“Judging by your reaction I would guess that that is a name you are familiar with.” Zorebane chuckled. “Don’t worry about him just yet. Brelzic has not been alerted to your presence and he is currently far from here last I heard. Still, you will be seeing him soon enough.”

“So why did you have to involve Mel? Why not just come for me in Kassadin? There was no reason to do what you did there.”

“Actually, there was. Even the best military strategist knows that fighting on your own terms is far more preferable than fighting on your opponent’s.”

“What’s so special about this cave?” Al’ev asked.

“Oh, the cave is nice. Let’s me really relax away from prying eyes. But the real thing you should be asking is why did I not just take the girl instead of taking her father. Hmm?” Zorebane grinned.

He knew I would be too much to handle if it were just me and him! He needed me distracted!

No sooner did Al’ev realize what Zorebane had been planning when the ifrit snapped his fingers and Nora was covered by a pale light emanating from the ground right beneath her. Al’ev quickly recognized the rune as one that induced temporary paralyses.

“Can’t have her pesky ability interfering like last time.” Zorebane laughed and Al’ev drew his weapon.

A few things happened just after Nora fell to the ground as though little more than a statue. First, the flame in the center of the room came to life and engulfed Zorebane, then the fire shot out from the center of the room to the edges in the form of multiple fire streams. The fire streams found the previously unlit sconces and the room’s perimeter now held no less than eight newly lit fires. Zorebane had vanished.

The second thing that happened was that Al’ev heard a blade swinging in from behind him, but it was aimed at Mel. His own blade intercepted the newcomer’s weapon before it could pierce Mel’s flesh then batted it aside, quickly turning his cut in the opposite direction and killing the man who struck at her.

The man was limp on the ground as Al’ev turned back to the room in time to watch as the nearest sconce let loose a bolt of fire that he would not be able to avoid.

But Mel saw it coming and was ready with her a spell to counter the magic flame. A couple words from her and the bolt of fire fizzled out a few feet from them.

A growl of frustration echoed through the room and Al’ev could not help but laugh.

“That was not part of your plan I take it? You dragged Mel into this so that I would be too worried about protecting her to fight to my fullest, is that it? Gods did you make a mistake. She can take care of herself!”

“We’ll see….” Zorebane’s disembodied reply seemed to come out from all of the sconces.

The room again erupted into flame and this time Al’ev weaved his own counter magic to protect their position. Holding his magical shield he looked to Mel and said “Mel, get Nora up again. A simple dispel should do it. Just don’t step on that rune.”

“Right.” She replied and knelt down next to Nora, carefully avoiding the glowing rune on the ground.

Once more the sconces launched their flame and once more Al’ev countered with his own magic. But this time, Al’ev could feel the drain on his energy. He knew he could not keep this up very long for Zorebane was the superior spell caster here.

Come on Mel, come on. We need Nora to cancel out these spells!

He focused on drawing energy from his reserves as another wave of fire rapidly approached. This one nearly drained what vitality he had left and he soon found himself kneeling on the ground, panting.

“Is that all, Sergeant?” Zorebane’s voice came mockingly. “I expected so much MORE!”

An even more massive volley of flame barreled towards Al’ev and he knew he would not be able to stop it. He was just about to launch himself between the flame and Mel when Nora jumped to her feet and Al’ev found a intangible magic wall spring up to stop the flame.

She looked down at Al’ev and placed a hand on his shoulder, whispering a few words. Al’ev felt energy flood back into him.

“So you’ve managed to revitalize your friends and restore your energy. You and your friends are still no closer to getting out of this alive, Sergeant. You will be cinders, just like your comrades in Dorn.”

“Reldin, I’ll concentrate on canceling out his magic. We need to find him soon, though. Even my powers be having their limits!”

He was about to suggest going for the sconces knowing that Zorebane was hiding his essence within one or all of them when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw caught light reflecting off yet another blade. He lunged in front of this one, catching it on his armored torso before it could connect with the back of Nora’s head.

Al’ev quickly knocked the feet out from under this new assailant which appeared to be yet another Disciple of Zorebane.

“I thought ye said it be just us, Zorebane.” Nora shouted as she countered another flame wave.

The only answer was the same chuckle from earlier.

“Bad guy lies to our faces. Nothing new there.” Al’ev said as both he and the disciple got to their feet and locked blades. “Mel, you and Nora need to get those sconces knocked out. He is using them to hide himself. I’ll take care of this guy.”

“Sure Reldin. Try not to get singed.”

“Be careful!” Mel shouted over the sound of another series of flame bolts hitting Nora’s spell shield.

Al’ev again focused on his opponent. The man was wielding a longsword with the occasional fire emerging along its length. Clearly another of the enchanted blades Zorebane’s forces used during the Battle of Dorn.

He decided to go with a slow approach against this opponent as he already demonstrated skill the others had not. He traded a few attacks with the disciple then danced back as a ray of fire unexpectedly erupted from the man’s free hand. The man’s grin was quickly erased when Al’ev forced him to jump above a leg sweep and then quickly block a slash from the other direction.

This move allowed Al’ev a moment to see Nora and Mel knock out a few sconces then continuing around the room.

Zorebane will be making his move soon……yep.

Almost as if provoked by the thought, A massive fireball materialized off to Al’ev’s right and began rolling towards where the half elf dueled with the disciple. His back to the center of the room, Al’ev waited for the last moment before he shoved his opponent back into the hall. Instead of pursuing, Al’ev jumped down into the center of the room and watched as the disciple again emerged from the hall….only to be met full force by Zorebane’s spell. By the time the ball passed him, there were only cinders left of Al’ev’s opponent.

Al’ev took a moment to see where Mel and Nora where and watched as they knocked the second to last sconce from the wall. Al’ev cast a dancing light spell and watched as Mel did the same while she and Nora approached the final sconce. Glancing down at Tanidor Rolovir, he saw the elven man’s shallow breathing. Unsure of his condition, Al’ev began to move towards the captive just as Zorebane shouted out.

“Rrrrrah!” Something heavy slammed into Al’ev’s side and knocked him off his feet as Mel and Nora disabled the last sconce.

He thought he saw stars dancing before his eyes for a moment before he realized he was seeing his own dancing light spell and the flickering of the only remaining flame in the room.

No, not flame but hair! Al’ev raised his blade to ward off the flaming sword falling towards his face. His opponent was quite strong, Al’ev’s blade nearly flew from his grip.

Al’ev fought his way to his feet then engaged in a quick exchange of blows with Zorebane. The ifrit was panting fairly hard, but his blows did not seem to be getting any weaker as they went.

Al’ev caught movement out of the corner of his eye, apparently just as Zorebane did as well. A wall of flame shot out of the ground as the ifrit gestured, separating Nora and Mel from Al’ev.

“I will have none interfering in this. Even you will be hard pressed to disable that spell, cleric.”

Al’ev danced to the side of swing and ducked another. He attempted to dodge the third blow, but was unsuccessful. A loud clang sounded and a heavy pain erupted from just to the side of Al’ev’s spine. But the lack of moisture was enough to tell Al’ev that his armor had stopped the blow from penetrating skin.

He allowed the power of the blow to push him out of reach of Zorebane before he turned to face his opponent once more. But Zorebane had taken the brief break in their combat to cast another spell. An illusion stood where the ifrit was.

It fooled Al’ev just long enough to allow Zorebane to again get the drop on Al’ev. The pummel of Zorebane’s sword found Al’ev’s head and everything went black as he dropped to the ground unconscious.

Nora had just disabled the wall of fire when Mel saw this happen. She cast a spell to enhance her speed and soon found herself toe to toe with the ifrit. It was all she could do to hold him off long enough for their dwarven ally to catch up.

Nora reached the melee and joined in immediately. The ifrit, however, seemed fully capable of holding his own against both women as neither had the experience in melee combat that he had. He punctuated the difference in their skill when, seeing an opening in their defenses, he kicked Nora in the stomach, doubling her over while catching Mel’s sword arm in his free hand before she could follow through with her attack.

As the dwarf tried to recover, he grabbed Mel and threw her hard into the stone wall across the room. She was not able to immediately get back up.

Nora again engaged Zorebane before he could finish Mel off. She could tell his blows were coming less quickly, likely because he was tiring. But even still, he managed to knock Nora to the side with ease when she left herself open to a backhand.

She found herself on her backside and struggling to return to her feet as the ifrit, heavily panting by this point, slowly advanced upon her.

Nora was beginning to worry that this may be it until she saw Al’ev get back to his feet, and Mel do the same across the room. Al’ev, being closer, reached Zorebane first. It was obvious from the way the half elf wobbled as he advanced that he had not fully recovered from the blow that had knocked him out cold.

Zorebane must have heard him coming, for he intercepted the blade before it connected with his back and forced Al’ev away. He glanced over at Mel quickly, then at Nora who was now on her feet, then back to Al’ev.

“He wanted you alive, Sergeant. But given the trouble you and your friends have caused me here, I’m just going to have to explain that….” He swung his sword and knocked Al’ev’s blade to the ground. “you simply could not be taken.” Zorebane lashed out with a kick that brought Al’ev to his knees.

Mel started running as fast as she could to stop the ifrit from finishing Al’ev off, but as she lunged, she knew she would be too late. The ifrit pulled back his blade ready to take Al’ev’s head off his shoulders and swiftly brought it to bear.

The blade connected, but it connected with Nora’s shoulder as she jumped in front of it. The blade stopped, stuck in the dwarf’s bone.

Before Zorebane could tug it free and finish the job, Al’ev found his own weapon on the ground and shoved it around Nora and into the ifrit’s gut…just as The Halarian Blade found its way through Zorebane’s chest.

Shock was in Zorebane’s eyes as the flaming hair finally died with its owner. The body fell limp to the floor as Nora, already passed out from the loss of blood, finally came free of his blade.

Staring at the body for a few moments Al’ev finally brought himself back to the present. “Mel,” he started shakily “we need to get to Nora’s wound. We have to stop the bleeding. She cannot be another of his victims.”

Mel nodded calmly and placed a hand on Al’ev’s. “I would never allow that to happen to the woman who jumped in front of a blade to save you.“

She then moved to inspect the sword wound in the dwarven cleric’s shoulder. After a couple moments, Mel looked back at Al’ev. “He nearly took off her arm. If I’m not careful she may still lose it.” Al’ev watched in amazement as Melesteil Rolovir, the little girl who used to live down the street, cast a powerful healing spell that closed up Nora’s wound. “She lost a lot of blood, so it will be a few minutes before she regains consciousness.”

“You…you’re amazing.”

She looked back at him with an eyebrow raised. “You say that as if you’re surprised.”

“We should check your father.”

“There is no need for that. I’m quite alright, thanks to you three.”

As thought a lighting bolt straight of the past had just struck him, Al’ev suddenly found the strength to stand up straight. He put his hands, shaking not because of the recent fight but out of fear, behind his back.

There was only one man in the world whom he feared almost as much as his father, and that was Tanidor Rolovir.

Al’ev did not fear what harm Tanidor could do to Al’ev directly, no. The man was strong and intelligent, to be sure but even under the terms the two had last seen one another, Al’ev knew he had little to fear physically from this man. Emotionally however…emotionally Tanidor Rolovir held a weapon more potent than any sword.

“I thought I told you that you were never to see my daughter again, Reldin.”

“Sir I…’

“I thought I said that if you ever came near her again, I would kill you.” Tanidor said, as he grabbed the blade that had recently been freed from Nora’s shoulder then leveled it at Al’ev.

“DADDY!” Mel started forward but Al’ev gestured for her to stop. Otherwise he made no effort to protect himself.

“Well? What have you to say for yourself, half-dragon?”

“What is there to say, sir, besides the obvious? I came here to rescue you because I knew how much you mattered to Mel. I love your little girl, sir. And because I love her more than anything else in this plane of existence or any other, I came here to rescue someone I would hope to call family someday.”

A small grin touched Tanidor’s lips before he quickly hid it away. “And you let her come with into this hell hole to hunt that monster?“ Tanidor gestured at Zorebane’s corpse. “What have you to say about that?”

After a moment Al‘ev replied, “Have you ever tried to stop her from doing anything before, sir?”

Tanidor looked over at Mel then lowered the sword and looked back at Al’ev. “You have a point there, half-dragon. Now what’s this ‘calling me family’ business? Last I checked, you were a bit old to be adopted.”

Al’ev looked over to Mel, then back to Tanidor. “Well sir, this is not exactly where or when I wanted to be asking this…”

Tanidor waited expectedly as Mel drew in an audible breath.

“Reldin” Nora said weakly as she sat up “Just spit it out already. We all know what you’re going to say anyway.”

“Nora, you’re okay!”

“You won’t be if you don’t finish that thought.” Nora warned shakily.

Al’ev couldn’t help but blush a bit.

No turning back now…

“Sir, I wish to marry your daughter.”

“Hah! Ha ha, ha ha ha, hahahah!” Tanidor stopped to gasp for breath. “And you think I would allow this?”

“I can only do what my heart is telling me to do so I have little choice if I want to do this right.”

“A half dragon with a sense of honor…and you kept my girl alive through a fight with the man who murdered my wife while I was helpless.”

For the first time in nearly five years, Tanidor Rolovir smiled at the young man who used to live down the street from him.

“I only wanted to hear you ask and to ask correctly.“ Tanidor sighed. “Al’ev, I know it was not you who destroyed Halar. I know you have been through hell since I last saw you, what with the mess in Dorn and all.”

“How…?”

Tanidor chuckled. “You did not think I let all those letters go to my little girl without my screening them first, did you?”

Al’ev turned bright red almost as fast as Melesteil did.

“You ….you read those?!”

“Of course! But that doesn’t matter. I know how you feel about my little girl. I can see clearly how good of a man you are, despite your father’s blood.”

Tanidor took a deep breath before finally saying “I would be happy to call you son someday.”

“Daddy!” Mel ran over and hugged her father.

“Sir I…”

“What is it? Don’t tell me you want to take it all back now. A bit late for that.”

“I want nothing more than what you are offering me, but…”

Mel had a look of concern on her face. “Al’ev?”

“I cannot get married to you, Mel, no matter how much I crave to be with you for the rest of my days. At least not yet.”

“But why, Al’ev?” Mel asked, sounding wounded.

“Reldin ye be talking nonsense. Did he hit ye that hard?” Nora chimed while slowly standing up again.

Tanidor simply said “Let him finish.”

“I cannot get married to you, Mel, until the day my father is no longer hunting me. If I did, I would just make you a bigger target than you already are and he will use you and your father to get to me without hesitation. If my father knew what Zorebane obviously did by using you, we would be in much bigger trouble. In that we got lucky today, but even being lucky it still cost us your mother. So until that day comes when my father has stopped hunting me, we cannot be together. I‘m…sorry…”

He could see the tears welling up in her eyes so he went over to her to hold her for a while and all was quiet except her sobbing.

After a few minutes, they all made their way back out into the evening air of the forests of Quellion and, seeing night beginning to fall, they went a short distance from the cave to set up a makeshift camp.

“Al’ev, couldn’t we just run from him?” Mel finally whispered as they sat by a campfire later that night.

“No, he’d find us eventually. I could never risk you. Never.”

“But I…”

“Mel,” he put a finger up to her lips to silence her, “I know how much you want to be with me because I am the same way about you. This is tearing me up just to tell you this.”

She looked down at the dirt by her feet as Al’ev hugged her tight again.

“Mel,“ he whispered into her ear, “I promise that when the day comes that my father is no longer hunting me, I will come back and we will be married. We will be married and we will live out the rest of our long lives together happily.”

“Okay…but you had better come back or I will hunt you down myself.” She stammered out before the tears came again. She cried herself to sleep in his arms, no doubt the motions of the past few days finally overwhelming her.

Later that night Al’ev watched over the camp. Mel lay sleeping quietly, as did Nora who had nearly fully recovered from her wounds already. It was a moment before he located Tanidor. The elven man came up to him and sat down. He looked at his daughter for a while before he said “I will hold you to that promise you made to my daughter, Reldin…so. Take care of this problem with your father soon or else you will give me too much time to plan an elaborate wedding.”

Al’ev, despite the hardship that he would no doubt face in the days, months and years ahead, smirked before he looked up into the night sky filled with stars.

* * *

The next morning, the group awoke and Nora began to say her goodbyes.

“I expect to see an invitation to your wedding someday, Reldin.“ Al’ev chuckled at this. “And you, young lady. I am sorry you chose him. He is more than a handful.“

“Don’t I know it.“ Mel smiled and hugged Nora. “Thank you for everything.“

Nora turned back to Al‘ev, “I will let them know, Reldin, that you helped me get the scumbag, avenging all those we lost in the battle. It will not clear your name, not officially. But it certainly cannot hurt.“

“All I ask is if they send out people to come after me, you let me know before the dagger finds my back.“ He winked then hugged her. “Goodbye Nora. Say hello to Joshua and Nelya when you get back.“

“I will.“

And with that the dwarven cleric left for Dorn, hauling a melon sized bag containing evidence of Zorebane’s demise.

Later on that morning, after a quiet walk through the forest back to Caori, Melesteil, Tanidor and Al’ev found themselves outside the city’s entrance.

Al’ev let out a sigh before turning to Tanidor. “Sir, thank you. I’m happy you’re alright. Can I ask you to continue looking after Mel for me?”

“Try and stop me, not that she needs it…” The two men shared a quick laugh before shaking hands. “Take care of yourself Al’ev. Come back to visit from time to time.”

“I’ll try.”

And with a slap on the back, Tanidor made his way back into Caori stopping only to tell his daughter he would be waiting.

“Mel I…”

Before Al’ev could say anything she locked him into a deep kiss. Several people passing by the entrance on the way into the city whispered excitedly as they went, but neither Mel nor Al’ev noticed. As far as they were concerned, in that moment, in all the planes of existence, there was only the two of them.

When they finally separated, Mel looked into Al’ev’s eyes and said “Don’t be gone too long or I will come for you, Al’ev.” She winked, then turned back to the city and walked away becaming lost to him in the crowds.

Al’ev found the first few steps back to his life in Kassadin to be very difficult. He wanted nothing more than to stay with Melesteil Rolovir. But he knew that his father was still out there hunting and he knew that every minute he was not doing something to end that was another he could have been with Mel.

The steps came easier as he journeyed back to the southern reaches of the human lands of Oskalon. A few weeks after parting ways with Mel, Al’ev was again looking through old books for any information that may help him someday end his father’s pursuit. But while his body and mind were in Kassadin, his heart and his future were in Caori with an elven girl who used to live down the street from him all those years ago.

Only his father stood in his way now and knowing that, Al’ev hoped it was only a matter of time before he could finally be happy again…

View
The Lair of the Enemy

Gathering just beyond the sight and hearing of the Orcish army encampment, the heroes looked out and whispered about what they should do. As they did motion near the entrance of the cave caught Al’ev’s eyes. He pointed it out to a few others who were able to get little more detail on what it was they had seen sneaking around the rocks behind the encampment.

Before Al’ev could point it out to anyone else, Sindri must have decided he was tired of listening to everyone talking. He stood up and made familiar motions that Al’ev recognized very well. The handsome Halfling then pointed his finger into the thickest clustered part of the enemies and a bead of light shot forward. When it reached its destination there was a violent destination. Fire shot forward ripping into the unprepared enemy. Deciding to capitalize on this, Al’ev followed Sindri’s fireball with a highly potent version of his own.

The enemy knew they were there now, and though many had been burned to cinders, many more were readying their weapons.

Then the shadows attacked.

But the shadows were more than just an absence of light for they cackled with maddeningly familiar voices.

One of the adventurer’s laughed with recognition as Al’ev shot forward on his horse, charging a suddenly confused line of enemies.

The orcs were being assaulted by a gigantic host of goblins. Goblins lead by Emperor-god-king Grobble, wise ambassador of his people, ruler of all goblins everywhere and slaughterer of many shiny bugs.

Al’ev had to admit, the goblin’s timing was flawless and they had achieved complete surprise, perhaps further aided by the massive balls of fire that had ravaged the enemy’s ranks.

Deciding to take advantage of the opening, the heroes scrambled through the battle and into the home of the red dragon flight.

A dark cave hall is all that greeted them immediately within and Al’ev cast his dancing lights spell giving them all a chance to examine their surroundings a bit more.

The rock,Harry and Al’ev noted, were consistent with those found within and near volcanoes. This fit with what both knew of Red Dragons and their appreciation for geothermal warmth created by such landmarks. This tunnel they found themselves in was probably once carved out by lava, a lava tube as the books referred to it, and could lead just about anywhere within the mountain.

They continued forward soon finding they had two options on how to proceed. A few voices from down the tunnel speaking in Red Draconic soon gave them the answer.

Al’ev listened close and was unsurprised to hear Red Draconic. These individuals were complaining about being left behind to do menial tasks while everything was happening outside and elsewhere within the lair. The voices drifted off in the direction that Harry had earlier indicated contained a fowl smell. The stench was strong enough now that they could all smell the rotting meat that surely lay in that direction.

Deciding they would rather not be snuck up on from behind, they tailed the two voices until they found themselves at the entrance of what could only be a hatchery. Hundreds of eggs lay within. And Al’ev noted, unfortunately out loud, that they were nearly completely unguarded. Only a few kobolds were within, tending to the eggs that would someday produce more red dragons.

It was all Harry needed to hear. He rushed in, yelling a war cry that, Al’ev thought, was sure to alert the entire mountain. Duke charged in behind Harry and several others as well. They finished the Kobolds so quickly that they were unable to react.

Then the egg smashing began and Al’ev forced himself to leave the carnage within, heading back to the split in the hallway.

The others eventually rejoined him and then following a very messy Harry, continued on in the other direction.

When they reached the opening to the next large room they were surprised to see someone waiting for them. Someone who had been preparing for them.

Someone who turned out to be Sindri’s father, Izats.

The reunion was short as was the time before the ritual would end. Izats provided the heroes with a simple map of the red dragon’s home, informing them that he had prepared several magically distorted spaces that could act as rest points. There was an entire army of red dragons above their heads within the caves., including the red dragon queen, a pair of ancient guardians and more. The guardians in particular presented quite the dilemma for the heroes. Guarding the final doors into the ritual chamber where they were ultimately headed, these guardians would sound an alarm of sorts that would alert all inhabitants of the mountain to the adventurer’s presence. This would cause them to have to fight not only the guardians, but anything else they did not deal with beforehand. They had no choice but to face everything within this mountain or be overwhelmed at the end.

So these spaces were designed to stretch minutes into hours so that the heroes had a place to catch their breath without losing too much precious time in the process.

Izats made to leave, but Sindri made him promise to speak after their respective tasks were complete. He agreed and then left for the battlefield.

The heroes left for their own battlefield and soon stumbled upon a massive gathering of kobolds. Looking at one another, Sindri and Al’ev started lobbing fireballs into the densely populated caverns within.

Hundreds of kobolds fried within moments as those closest to the heroes reacted only to find a wall of blades and armor in the form of Neo, Harry and Duke. The room soon contained only one enemy, the kobold who had been speaking to the others. This one turned out to be quite the crafty opponent. He nearly caused T’lemya to kill herself through a strange curse that was seemingly impossible to counter.

He also briefly took control of Duke in an attempt to stop the heroes from destroying the skull which contained his essence. But the seemingly Kobold enemy ultimately failed and the heroes healed their wounds then headed for their first rest point that had been set up by Izats.

The distorted space worked perfectly and the heroes found themselves revitalized and ready to continue deeper into the enemy’s home.

They soon found the Red Dragon Queen who was suspended upon a strange contraption manned by a total of forty kobolds. T’lemya was elected to go in and scout it out. She returned to inform them of what they faced.

Conscious of the fact that if they left this room’s inhabitant’s alone, they would face them again when the ancient guardians sounded the alarm, Al’ev outlined a plan to get the Queen facing the opposite direction from the entrance.

Together with Neo and Harry, he would fly into the room while invisible to a point nearly opposite of the entrance. From there they would attack her, forcing her to turn to face them. They executed this plan nearly flawlessly.

The dragon queen, nearly helpless in her birthing harness was barely into position before the heroes finished her off. On the ground the kobolds were quickly swiftly silenced and Harry went about destroying the recently hatched eggs once more. And once more Al’ev was forced to leave before his blood got the better of him.
Continuing on, the heroes soon found themselves outside an enormous cave.

Again T’lemya snuck into the cavern and acquired all the information she could without being detected. This turned out to be quite a bit of information as not one enemy had the slightest hint there was a Tiefling among them.

She returned to the heroes with quite the animated dance chanting “They didn’t see me. They didn’t see me“ to make her presence known. Clearly pleased with her prowess, she inform the group in great detail that there were three entrances into the cave. Two were being used by dragons flying in and out of the mountain. The final entrance was the one they stood outside of now. The two being used by flying dragons were nearly opposite of one another. One sat at the other end of the cave from the ground entrance, nearly 1000 feet from the entrance. The other sat almost 200 feet from the ground entrance. The cave had hundreds of wounded dragons and healers within. Perhaps most important, Azar was also within the cave.

Al’ev was sure he was not the only one who wanted to storm into the room and destroy all between them and Azar so that they could have their revenge on Crim’s behalf. But reason won out when he realized they would never make it back out of that room alive…even if they did succeed in killing the demented dragon.

Instead Sindri volunteered his staff’s power to create earthquakes in localized areas on these openings. This would cause a collapse of the cave in those areas and hopefully block them from being used for a while. Nodding in agreement with this plan, Al’ev said he would collapse the ground entrance after Sindri accomplished this.

The Halfling ducked into the cave and, standing just outside the ground entrance, used the staff on the far cave entrance. It worked like a charm and caused the dragons within the room to turn in that direction.

Quickly, before they had much time to consider what was happening, Sindri used the staff a second time on the closer flying dragon entrance. This too collapsed with little trouble. But now they had the dragons moving for the last remaining entrance into the room. As soon as the Halfling passed him, Al’ev shot several lightning bolts into the ceiling by the cave’s entrance. This caused the desired affect and collapsed the entrance.

Hundreds were out of the fight now and they had also managed to help their side win the larger battle outside by removing this makeshift hospital from the enemy’s resources.

Pleased with another well executed plan, the group continued on until they found yet another branch off which slanted down a short ways.

Again T’lemya scouted it out and again she returned with many details. The room beyond this branch contained a portal, a few individuals and the rest could only be described as some sort of research room.

Realizing that time was continuing to tick away, the group elected to return to the main tunnel and collapse this branch off from the rest of the mountain the same way they had the last entrance to the hospital cave.

It took a bit of effort, but Al’ev was again able to collapse the ceiling and watched as boulders rumbled down the branch and settled near the base, blocking off the room as they had desired.
The heroes decided to take this chance to use another of the rest points that Izats had established for them for they knew that the Guardians were now the only things standing in their way of stopping the ritual beyond whoever was involved there.

As with the previous rest point, only minutes passed before the heroes emerged fully rested and ready to go.

They followed the winding tunnel until they emerged into another room where large double doors were bordered by enormous statues that nearly scraped the ceiling on either side.

The heroes knew these statues would activate the second they came within line of site of the statue’s eyes and the mountain would then be alerted to their presence. Deciding to charge in, the heroes arranged themselves for a fight and rushed in.

As expected, the statues reacted. A burst of air shot slammed into the heroes, momentarily knocking them off balance as it passed them on its way down the hall and deeper into the mountain.

Then the enormous statues began moving and the fight began in earnest. Al’ev and Neo attempted to keep each statue’s attention from the others, but their blows were connecting even against their heavily defensive abilities.

The adventurers were in trouble until they managed to recognize why their own attacks were doing no damage to these behemoths. The pair shared a unique shielding mechanism that seemed to jump between each one so fast that nothing could get through…even simultaneous attacks. Then the second bit of the puzzle came to them. Mundane attacks seemed more affective against one and magic based attacks seemed more effective against the other.

With this in mind, the group was ordered to disperse to opposite sides of the room, Al’ev and Neo drawing the attention of the proper targets. Those with the ability to only wield weapons and do damage stuck around Neo while the remaining members grouped up with Al’ev. When the behemoths were separated each group unleashed their wrath upon the statues and with little more than a whimper, both crumbled to the ground.

With several of the heroes now heavily wounded, they elected to use the final rest spot that Izats had created for them. As with the previous two times, they emerged fully healed and ready to go with only minutes having passed.

Finding themselves back before the giant doors, they pushed it open and entered the ritual room.

There, arranged in a magical pentagram formation, were five individuals with beams of light being directed at the figure directly opposite of them. The two nearest to the heroes were a dwarf and a human. Beyond them were an Elven Illundra mage and a tiefling. At the convergence of the beams was the one Al’ev had waited twenty eight years to face.

Brelzic.

Taking his eyes from his father, he looked at the rest of the room. First thing of note was that it was open to the sky and the floor was surrounded by an uninviting looking pool of lava. Mirrors of some sort sat on the floor in some sort of pattern Al’ev did not recognize, but it was clear these mirrors were somehow focusing the powers being used in the ritual. The entire room reeked of wrongness and at its center was a large, dark, crystal-like object floating above the middle of the room. Eyes that could only be described as demonic looked at the adventurers from within this floating gem.

Brelzic finally acknowledged their presence when he stated what an inconvenience they had all proven to be. He went on to state it was nice they had seen the ritual that would bring Asmodeus into the world then his voice became mockingly sad when he ordered the other for that formed the pentagram to kill the adventurers.

This did not work out quite so well as the heroes made short work of all four adversaries and Brelzic was not too happy about this.

Al’ev stepped forward to face his father, but before he could get too close Brelzic did something he did not expect.

A quick gesture and the entire mountain began to shake with magical energies and before any of the heroes could react, Brelzic, still in his humanoid form, hovered up to the middle of the room and was quickly absorbed into the crystal.

The heroes soon found themselves looking into the crystal to see Brelzic with a self assured grin looking out towards him. They tried to attack the gem, but nothing seemed capable of getting through the debris swirling around him and the magical barrier beyond that.

The evil dragon let out a mighty shout from within the crystal and a mighty burst of energy knocked all the heroes back, causing small cuts caused from smaller pieces of debris to appear on each of them.

Recovering quickly, and noting that the energy from the blast that connected with the mirrors had been redirected, he shouted to everyone to grab a one of the five mirrors and position them around his father pointing at them at him so that the next blast would be redirected and possibly amplified at himself.

The plan worked and the swirling energy shattered the magic barrier, and crystal that shielded his father.

Obviously they had only ticked his father off by this point for that is when he chose to take his dragon form.

Brelzic was the most enormous dragon they had seen so far. Clearly very old and very powerful, even being within fifteen feet of his true formed proved painfully hot.

But Brelzic was not the only one to undergo a change. Harry too had suddenly changed. Actually, if Al’ev had not seen the transformation happen, he was not sure he would have believed that the ice demon beside him was once an angry dwarf.

He wondered what had happened when it clicked in his mind. This was what Harry had bargained for before leaving. He had traded his soul for the power to fight Brelzic.

Anything for revenge….

The fight began anew and Al’ev soon found that nothing he could do was harming his father. Only T’lemya, her shadow, Neo, Blasphemy and Duke seemed to be doing damage. While frustrating that he had spent his whole life up to this point preparing for this moment, his allies seemed to be capable of ending this fight on their own.

It wasn’t until Caramel was caught full on by a breath attack from his father that he finally found something helpful to do. Seeing her fall unconscious, Al’ev removed her from immediate danger and gave her one of the potions he had purchased in Varalon.

She woke just in time for both to watch as the adventurers defeated Brelzic.

Knocked down to the ground and forced back into a humanoid form, his father laid on the ground chuckling weakly to himself.

As Al’ev drew near, he heard his father’s dying words and saw him form some sort of viewing portal with magic.

Brelzic stated that they had only delayed the inevitable. And Al’ev realized that he was seeing entire boats full of tieflings armed with really strange looking devices. These boats were clearly in transit. And, combined with everything that was learned on the library island and all the events of this day, it was obvious that their intent was to take this continent over.

His father was right, this war was not over at all. The first major battle had gone the adventurers’ way, true. But only time would tell when the tides of war would change again, bringing the armies of Asmodeus to their shores with it…

View
The Sign and A Heroic Charge

The heroes reconvened the following morning after a good rest. They set out upon the human capital, looking to improve their wares and were just finishing up when it finally happened.

The black dragon queen, Latifah, had told them almost a month previous that the sign would herald the beginning of the final battle. She had not mentioned the sign would be, but it was very obvious to all when the sky darkened and beams of green shot out from points all around the horizon along with two more from Sindri’s bag followed by an enormous pillar of light from one of the taller peaks of the Larian Mountains, that the time had come.

As though materializing with that thought, the Black Queen appeared and informed the heroes that the Red Dragon flight’s ritual had started and the armies were marching upon one another. Their task was to end the ritual before it could be completed.

She then vanished, leaving them with little more than two options. They could beginning their final stint of the journey in to the South, near Kassadin or to the North in Sindri’s home town of Zamosc.

After a quick discussion they Prepared themselves, and a portal was created to Sindri’s home in Zamosc. One by one they transitioned instantaneously through the dimensions and found themselves well to the North of where they had been in a small building that was Sindri’s house.

The air was much cooler here than it was in Varalon, even indoors…

But such observations barely registered to Al’ev. His mind was realizing just what was happening. This was a day he had been born for. One his entire life’s experience had prepared him for. He had his doubts about how successful he would be. But when Neo, T’lemya, Sindri, Harry, Leon, Caramel, Blasphemy, Desira and Duke stepped out of the portal behind him and made their way towards where he could already hear the sounds of blade upon blade and the roars of flames and dragon, he grew much more confident. Together he knew they could achieve the impossible.

Now all they had to do is figure out what the next step was.

Looking for someone in charge, they spotted Sindri’s mother who seemed to be directing some of the forces in the immediate area from atop a molebear. They gained her attention and learned that she had little idea what specifically they were to do. But she was able to inform them a bit of what they faced.

But the heroes could have ascertained that by simply looking off towards the Larian Mountains to the East. Already grand armies were battling to the death a short distance away. The armies of the red dragon flight appeared nearly limitless. Orcs, Ogres, undead dwarves and several other creatures formed much of their ranks. In the skies Red and White scaled dragons struggled for dominance over their blue and black brethren, occasionally one side or the other would gain an advantage and either tear one another from the darkened midday sky or take a chance and strafe the armies below with their mighty breath.

The mounted halfling woman informed them that they were plow through the battlefield with the help of a detachment of Halflings armed only with shields. Their job was to keep the enemy army away from the heroes as they raced through the battle as quickly as they could. The detachment formed a protective barrier around the adventurers and, only stopping to bid Sindri’s mother good luck, they moved towards the front line as one.

As they approached the lines, Al’ev could feel almost feel the emotions pouring from his companions. Fear, determination, bravery, disgust, sorrow, blood lust. It was all there. He doubted any had experience something like this before so it was to be expected.

Drawing his weapon he prepared to charge behind their mobile shield group and hesitated when one of the ebon dragons dropped from the sky to decimate all in the path directly ahead of them with its mighty breath. That is when the shield group moved, and with it the heroes did as well.

Remarkably, the Halflings seemed old hands at this kind of combat. Nothing was making it through their protective half ring barrier and they were moving quick enough that the enemy was having trouble keeping up with them all. Similarly, the blue and black dragons did their best to keep the red and white dragons from dropping down onto the heroes, proving highly successful.

The terrain, however, seemed to prove somewhat difficult to traverse to the heroes. Several times the group found itself starting to spread out a bit and nearly falling victim to the enemies at their backs.

But thanks to their determination and to Al’ev’s surprise, their cohesion, they all were able to make it most of the way through the enemy lines, even managing to scramble over the body of an enormous black dragon that had crashed down into their path.

Then an enormous Ogre crashed into their shieldlings, flattening some, throwing others into groups of nearby enemies and placing itself into the adventurer’s path.

However Al’ev did not even hesitate to draw blood with his readied sword, connecting with a pair of flawless strikes.

Harry, following close behind Al’ev, finished what the Half-Dragon started and dropped the enormous creature so fast that the others did not even have to slow down.

But their actions had cost the two of them precious time and they both almost fell victim to the approaching enemies. Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes managed to reach the far end of the battlefield where several horses stood tied to a post, waiting for riders.

Eventually Harry and Al’ev caught up and the heroes continued forward into the disturbingly quiet forests of the Larian mountains.

They traveled for several hours on horseback before finally reaching the base of the mountain which seemed to house the source of the beam of light shooting into the sky. At the base of the mountain sat a host of Orcs who sat in what appeared to be a temporary camp.

The Red Dragonflight had left the heroes with one heck of an obstacle to clear before entering their lair just beyond…

View
Little John's Demise

THIS LOG POST TAKES PLACE AFTER “A Very Shiny Meat-Shield (or, How Sindri Got His Groove Back)” WHICH HAS YET TO BE POSTED. PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND BEFORE CONTINUING ON.

With Sindri mostly himself and back in the land of the living, the heroes had finally regained their full strength. For the first time in months the heroes finally felt things were beginning to look up again. Lamashtu’s Gullet, an evil sword that had been a conduit for the goddess of Chaos herself, had been destroyed through their efforts.

If Neo’s armor was any indication, the gods had clearly taken notice of their efforts. Crim had been finally laid to rest. Though Sindri seemed to have eyes that were no longer his own, all who remained were all together again.

Of course, when the guards came calling, pounding on the large double doors at the entrance of the church the heroes sat in, and shouted that they were searching for a reported red half-dragon, Al’ev knew things were not quite as perfect as they felt just a few moments previous.

Realizing the danger nearly immediately, several of the heroes began searching for the unconscious and heavily wounded Zell while a few of those remaining tried to stall the guards who seemed very convinced that the makeshift hospital was harboring enemies of all the races.

After some time, Sindri found Zell and decided to port him to his home town of Zamosc, hoping the half dead half-dragon would be safer there. He was followed by several of his companions, including Neo who ended up taking a tumble through the wooden floor of the building they found themselves in. Sindri confirmed it was his old house.

Meanwhile, back at the church, Al’ev sensed the portal form and knew that the others had located his half brother before he was able to and had whisked him away to supposed safety. What he was not sure of was if the guards had given up.

He found it was quite the opposite. They were now dead set on entering the church and making it no secret that if they found a half-dragon enemy among those who were injured, there would be very negative consequences for those who were only trying to help.

The magus recognized that finding him would mean just as much trouble as the guards finding nothing. So he decided to make himself bait. Using his spells, he gave himself the ability to fly and to do so invisibly. Floating up to the glass window high above the entrance to the church, he confirmed that there were more town guardsmen waiting outside, likely backed by magic users. Taking a deep breath he made himself visible and broke through the window to gather the attention of those below. Pausing only for a moment to allow the moonlight to catch his scales, he flew off into the night as the city guard began to hunt him fervently.

He knew he was safe when he landed in one of the numerous trees outside the metropolis walls so he decided that then was a good chance to rest and wait for the others to return.

Back in Zamosc, Sindri had found his mother and took some time to explain why there was a half dead being laying on her floor. Together, they were able to help Zell to consciousness. After a few groggy moments, a roar from outside informed the crimson half-dragon that there was something going on outside.

That something, Neo would later confirm, was the entirety of the Black and Blue dragon flights as well as a host of what dragons referred to as “the lesser races” doing combat drills in preparation for the looming conflict with the Red Dragon Army.

Zell was not comfortable being so close to those who would no doubt consider him an enemy, but he had little choice other than to remain where he was so he could continue his recovery. When he finally settled down, and Sindri’s mother had been warned of Zell’s lude tenancies, the heroes returned to the church in Trinity. From there they all eventually reunited outside the city’s walls.

Telling the others of his intentions to head to Varalon in an effort to discover Little John’s fate, they all left for the human capital via portal.

Sindri, having a mind like his, could only aim the portal one place. Fronties. The strip club that acted as a front for Little John’s underground activities.

But the heroes quickly learned that not all was as it had once been. It was discovered that Little John’s base of operations had suffered an attack by a single individual. Everyone they talked to, including the establishment’s new owner claimed that Little John had died.

But Al’ev, like many of the others he suspected, was not buying it. The story sounded too convenient and the supposed attack far too restrained to be the work of someone under the control of a chaotic goddess like Lamashtu. He shared his thoughts with everyone and it was agreed that the situation bore investigating.

The heroes separated into a few groups, scouring Varalon for information that may lead them to what had really happened.

Eventually they found all they needed when they located a few of John’s old rivals in the poorer part of the human town. These individuals informed the heroes that almost immediately after Little John’s supposed demise, a new player had emerged in the Varalon underground. This one went by the name of Big Tom.

Information brought to them by more members of their party confirmed that John’s death was probably faked.

Al’ev barely suppressed a smirk. It might have fooled Crim a long time ago, but Lamshtu should not have been fooled. Perhaps there was more to this story. The answers would lay with John’s replacement, Big Tom.

So following T’lemya’s lead, the heroes spent a while attempting to contact Big Tom. Once they crossed into what was considered “Big Tom’s territory” they received a prompt warning to leave or face the consequences.

T’lemya’s return message must have been as pointed as it was effective, for when the heroes were told where to meet the new underground lord, they were told that T’lemya was to do so alone.

But Neo and Al’ev would have none of that. They resolved to escort the young Tiefling to the meeting location that night.

The location turned out to be in the rich part of the human capital, where large plots of land had enormous mansions sitting upon them. The information they had been given told T’lemya to enter a shed like structure off to the side of one of these mansions which stood behind the land’s well defined limits.

After they confirmed that it was not an immediate trap, they decided it was okay for T’lemya to continue alone.

Sneaking forward, she soon found herself at the entrance of the shed. She must have been excited to see this “Big Tom” for she forgot to inspect the door for traps before opening it. Had her reflexes not been so honed after all she had experienced the past few months, she might have been caught in the first of what turned out to be a short gantlet of traps.

As it was she danced around this contraption and managed to avoid others as she found her way down into the basement of this otherwise unassuming shed.

There she sat and met with Big Tom.

It was several long minutes before Al’ev and Neo saw her emerge from inside the shed. When she did, she was followed by someone who they did not immediately recognize. But Al’ev could tell by the way T’lemya tried to smack the man, and by how quickly the man blocked the smack, that she had found who they had come to find.

Despite the strange sensation of a complete lack of magic in the area surrounding “Big Tom”, Al’ev was happy.

John was alive and that was good enough….for now.

View
Pools of Blood and Dust

(As with the previous main story post, this is from T’lemya’s POV.)

Group steps through portal… and arrives in sewers. Again. Do not understand why Small-Thing-Sindri keeps bringing us here. Does he like smell, and foul swimming? Something is very wrong with Small-One…

Grudgingly, group makes way from sewers to Guild. As group approaches, human man is walking to the front door of Guild: looks to be well-worn traveler, complete with heavy cloak and bow, and sword at side. Travel-Man reaches door to Guild, but is locked, and Travel-Man is confused.

Meat-Shield runs up to Guild, starts banging on the door. Yes. Because banging on locked doors makes them open. Also, no one could possibly suspect anyone is coming to save Cuddle-Friend-Goat now… Meat-Shield is height of stealth capabilities! Eyes roll. Oh… uses of sarcasm… suppose John always said it would become natural the more Common-Smooth-Tongue is heard…

Break train of thought – must save Half-Orc-Friend now, chastise Meat-Shield later. Hide in shadow of Meat-Shield, see no traps. Pick the lock. Is fairly simple, lock opens. Room is dark… Tall-Friend-Half-Orc-Goat is standing at desk-counter of Guild, staring straight ahead, unresponsive. Half-Red-Elf-Dragon (Al’ev) does not sense magic. Search for traps in room, look for trouble; Fluffy joins. No traps, but smell of smoke, roast coming from further in hall. Marks on back of Half-Orc’s hands do not fade with presence of Meat-Shield’s hammer. Move around side of desk, opposite way of Fluffy’s movements.

From side, problem with Tall-Friend is obvious. From waist-down… all of the flesh is missing. Bones only… clean, white bones. Where flesh ends, it has been burned closed, but Half-Orc still stands in pool of congealed blood. Back of shirt is pinned open… Skin has been stripped off back, and dagger attaches ponytail to back. Eyes widen, stomach churns, smell of death and excretion in air, but stay quiet, watch for danger. Fluffy sees same thing, barely has time to shout, “Oh shit!” before scream from area where mages work, and sounds of fighting.

Half-Breed-Al’ev calls for guard, then runs with Fluffy and Clanky-That-Does-Not-Clank toward source of screams. Travel-Man continues calling for guards. Move next to Half-Orc, check for danger – traps, enemies, hidden things, but see nothing. Meat-Shield checks Half-Orc’s wounds, and casts minor healing magic that once saved my life… or was that a dream? Small-Thing-Sindri runs behind me, but does not make it all the way to Half-Orc before Fluffy shouts from back room, “Nothin here… It’s a trap! I think it’s a trap!!!” Strange… always imagined Fluffy as sort of sturdy pet from mountains, but those words make him sound more like an octo—

Thought is cut short as two shadowy, dog-like creatures jump out of the side-rooms into hallway where Clanky and Half-Red are standing. Both have wicked-looking whip-tails that are up and fwipping around. First dog attacks… Clanky is barely scratched. Suddenly, Half-Red-Elf-Dragon is stabbed horribly from unseen enemy… blood pours from wounds, but Elf-Dragon still stands, retreats as far as possible. Suddenly, there is voice in front room, coming from everywhere, nowhere… “Aw, you interrupted my play! Though it was only to lure you here – I’ve only got a few loose ends to tie up.” Voice is very raspy…

Despite statement, group remains active. See Clanky fight for first time – horrible-shadow-maul-dog dies in less than six seconds. Damage is impressive. Why did Clanky not fight drake that Dark-One presented? Definitely would have won…

Small-Thing is now on table beside me, casting spells for healing on Cuddle-Friend. Tall-One’s eyes unglaze, and small moan escapes mouth. Am very proud of Small-Thing, for courage and care. Barely notice Travel-Man joining fight and Half-Red casting seven copies of self because of pride in Small-Thing, but pride is short-lived: Small-Thing-Not-Quite-Dragon-Sindri is bleeding, and attack was not seen! Meat-Shield tries to move in next to Small-One, but instead runs into invisible person – reactions are quick enough to hit him. Clanky drops the other shadow-dog, and he and Fluffy move towards invisible man. Ever-smart Half-Breed casts spell for throwing glitter, catches enemy in the face – now no longer invisible. Glitter spell is interesting… know Fluffy would like for hair, but think it would be much more suited to those “Parties” rich targets always talk about…

With invisibility gone, can see figure clearly. Scar tissue from head to toe, no ears, no nose, tattered remains of red suit around waist… and red-scaled-arm holding a black katana. Ninja-Crim. This is what they did to Ninja-Crim. Glad Shiny-Thing was still too damaged to come inside – do not know if could give enough protection, from self, from transformed ninja. Mumbling from scarred-lack-of-lips, and clones of Not-Crim appear. Must disarm, must stop, must protect others first… spring forward, stab, spring back, repeat! Daceraenne joins me… or, perhaps, ghost of Daceraenne. Not really sure. Small, still in pigtails, stabs when she can. Meat-Shield catches attention of Not-Crim… group is grateful, will save lives. Rest of group joins attack, clones start disappearing. However, Small-Thing-Sindri manages to use spell to choke Not-Crim… makes it much harder for him to hit us.

Not-Crim attacks Meat-Shield, says “God damn paladin! What do you think you’re doing, your gods are dead!” Green ray comes out of sword towards Meat-Shield, but Meat-Shield is unhurt. Group begins to attack Not-Crim in force… at least until sword heals him. Then most of group targets Not-Crim, while Meat-Shield and Fluffy try to break evil-dark-horror-sword. Not-Crim is staggering from Small-Thing’s choking spell, and sword and wielder are hurt. Still, sword is raised towards Small-One. Same green beam fires… but Small-Thing does not have the protection of Meat-Shield, can not protect self. Can not reach him – no one can. Sweet-Small-Thing-Sindri… dissolves into a pile of dust. Purple crystal lands on top.

The word “no” rings in my head once, but others need saving. Pounce in, strike, retreat. Meat-Shield cracks sword again, and then Sweet-Small-Sindri’s spell drops Not-Crim to floor, unconscious. Good. Perhaps now, can break sword, can tie down Not-Crim… Maybe has information. Maybe… maybe Ninja-Crim, real Ninja-Crim, is still insi—

Hope is crushed as Not-Crim’s skull is shattered into a thousand pieces. Fluffy. The hammer. Skull-juice. Things that have been seen before, but not like this…

Rest of group is unaffected, continues to attack sword. Sword turns on Meat-Shield, but Meat-Shield easily deflects and shatters evil-dark-soul-eating-sword. Group has won. “Won”… No, that is not the word we deserve for this.

Guards run in. Useless as ever – only serve to harm street-dwellers, after all. Can’t even save one they were supposed to protect. Half-Red-Al’ev, currently true to name while soaked in blood, sends guards to get town healers. Group does what little we can for Half-Orc, who regains consciousness… Damage is worse than originally thought: spikes in hips to keep standing, nails going through hands into counter. Eventually, healers arrive, work on Half-Orc, take him away for more healing…

Remains of Small-Thing-Sindri on the table… am about to walk over, give crystal the kiss that was meant for the top of his head, but Half-Red sighs, stops people from touching. He gathers Small-Thing’s possessions – wants to get Small-Thing’s real body back, instead of putting gem into a not-body. Healers also gather up remains in bag, to preserve dust as is, keep gem out of reach of others. Must hide… must return to shadows… watch events from out of reach.

Fluffy holds up wooden box with levers and knobs… is playing false sounds that were heard from back room. Fluffy… Fluffy and the hammer. Fluffy and the hammer, and I will not forget. Will not forgive.

Fluffy goes to bar, for mourning… Mourning for Small-Thing, but not for complete loss of Ninja-Crim. Meat-Shield begins to pray. First is disgusting, second is… second is usually waste of time, but for Small-Thing and Not-Crim, will not criticize this time.

Travel-Man looks around, “Which one of you guys is the leader here?” Half-Red says that Half-Orc is, but will answer questions. Travel-Man is looking for someone… not quite paying attention to man’s questions, until he says name, “Velius.” Squishy. My Squishy. Half-Elf-Red-Dragon says he knew a person named Velius. Travel-Man is confused; Half-Breed briefly explains death of Squishy, including completed vengeance. Dragon-Elf-Al’ev asks to walk and talk – wants to check rest of guild while Travel-Man asks questions. Follow along in shadows, silence.

Travel-Man’s response to the death of Squishy: “Well, that’s not good, she’s not gonna be happy…” First room has dead crafters, half-finished belt. Travel-Man: “Is there anything left of his I can take back to his mother?” Of course there is. Sword and cloak, both with me. Do not bother to offer them… not important right now. Dragon-Elf says he will ask the others, does not know. Other rooms are checked, mostly empty. But they do stop in one room.

Still in shadows, haven’t been seen or heard. Peer past Travel-Man, Half-Dragon, and Clanky… see a body, hanging through a broken window. Is very strange… Then I look closer. Is an older man, starting to gray, and very, very familiar…

Shove past startled Half-Dragon and Travel-Man, feet fly toward body. Heart pounds, breath shortens… please, please be alive! But, as I approach, can see the wound: precise stab through the chest, in the shape of a katana. Dead. Garrett is dead. Garrett… dead… Dead… DEAD.

Pain, hurt from before are gone. I scream. I scream in my mother tongue, feel rage materialize in reality as room plunges into darkness. Garrett is dead! You bastards! Blades are in my hands before I realize it. Curse the gods, all of them, scream at them in Infernal – after all, wasn’t damnation and hate what the language was made for? Curse the universe, scream obscenities and hatred at every thing, living and dead and inanimate. The whole time, body is attacking, stabbing and punching wall and objects in path. Good. Will tear down this whole building, which has brought nothing but death.

Someone grabs me, large figure in wooden armor. Opponent. Maybe another possessed Lamashtu victim, maybe one of those murdering bastards from the outskirts of Varalon, or maybe Bloody-Fucking-Azmodias himself. Don’t care, stab wildly, make contact with flesh. Figure grabs me again; easily slip out of his grip. Years of practice with that sort of thing. Will kill them. Will kill them ALL!

Through haze of rage, realize a lit arrow is pointed in my direction. Someone is shouting at me, but words are muffled. Creature with the bow asks the thing next to it a question, no doubt ready to kill me, and some disarming response is uttered. Room feels like it’s choking me, and Garrett’s dead body lies face-down through the broken window, and it’s my fault. Begin to hyperventilate, feel tension building in chest, and then once again not real, dissolving into the shadows.

Find myself in rafters of the Guild’s entrance. Sink blades deep into the wooden support beams. Garrett is dead. Phrase repeats itself in my mind. Garrett is dead. Is my fault… but is it only my fault? Why did I join these people? Horrible mix of mutts like me, only bring death and misery in wake. Group that tried to kill me without question during first encounter. Everyone… everyone except for Small-Thing-Sindri.

Suddenly hate everyone around me. Tall-One-Goat… Horrible, smelly creature. He is why everyone is dead. Liked him, and what for? Mostly seemed to tolerate me… but tolerance is not enough, not anymore. Garrett died trying to protect him. Sindri died. Fluffy, horrible brute, killed Not-Crim without attempt at bringing him back. Meat-Shield and his horrible visions led us on this path. Travel-Man and his selfishness, despite our losses. Half-Red not providing a voice of reason to this whole mess. Clanky not being strong enough to incapacitate Not-Crim in time to save Sindri.

Sit in the rafters, stewing in rage, mentally preparing every way to destroy everything in my path, when Meat-Shield enters room. In his arms is Garrett. Meat-Shield is carefully carrying the body outside. Drop down beside him, don’t bother to hide. Simple action – gently carrying the body of dear, sweet friend – has caused immediate change. Still angry and hurt, yes, but… is not Meat-Shield’s fault. Meat-Shield… another one who has always tried, and often failed, to do the right thing.

Do not know that, once I left room, Meat-Shield went in and found note in Garrett’s pocket – the order from John to keep an eye on the Half-Orc – and shared this information with Half-Red and Clanky. Do not know that he has also pacified angry Travel-Man by telling him I have Squishy’s possessions, or that Half-Red prevents Travel-Man from immediately going to kill me by saying that he will talk to me instead. Do not know that Half-Red-Naked-Vomit-Brother (Zell) has been found dead in another room, along with his journal. Only know that Meat-Shield… Neo… has the body of my friend, who kept me alive more times than can count. Meat-Shield asks, “Is there anything special you’d like to have done with the body?” Pat him on the shoulder. Garrett has been brought outside… our last mission complete. Can not stand to watch him be placed next to others, to start to decay, rot, so fade from reality and return in rafters on other side of Guild entrance.

Watch, hidden in shadows, as Meat-Shield continues carrying bodies outside, then leaves to find a church. Maybe is not group’s fault at all… maybe we’re all just cursed. Still, will not leave here. Not tonight. Am so tired and numb, constantly surrounded by death. Will not return to the tavern with the others. Belong here, with results of my efforts staring me in the face. What does it matter? Not even real anymore anyway – may as well stay in a house of death. Wedge into a corner of the rafters completely engulfed in shadow, and tie just enough rope around midsection so as not to fall off if I fall asleep and turn over. Press my face against the rafters and stare vacantly into the room…

View
A Side Story, Calm Before Conflict
The morning following Al’ev’s arrival at the Rolovir residence, he found himself in the forests outside of Caori with Mel where the two had begun their search. Several hours of examining the area around the city allowed Al’ev to find the first hint of Zorebane’s trail. “Ifrits,” he had explained to Mel, “can hardly contain their need to burn everything around them.”

The clue was quite inconspicuous, a scorched squirrel that lay in the forest with no hints of a camp being made anywhere nearby. Even the ground around it had no hints of fire. Unless some young magician was fooling around with magic right under the Illundra’s nose, there were few other reasons for such a sight.

Taking this as their first hint as to which direction they should head, they had continued deeper into the forests of Quellion until the pair decided to take a break mid afternoon.

“You know, if it weren’t for our reason for being out here Mel, I would find this place quite peaceful.” Al’ev commented after taking a bite of his military rations. He simply watched the water of a nearby waterfall as it cascaded down the side of a small hill and splashed into a pond below.

“Isn’t it though? Mel said from just beside him.

Despite the obvious danger they were sure to be facing, the beautiful young elven woman refused to let Al’ev go alone.

Al’ev had argued with her in the entry way of her home for most of the morning.

“Mel, I just don’t want to see you get hurt. You know this will probably come to a fight, right?” Al’ev had said.

“I know what going with you will mean Al’ev. I’m not stupid.”

“So why…”

“And I am NOT helpless. Wait right here. I will be back in a few moments.” She started to leave towards her room then stopped and turned back to him. “Don’t you dare leave without me Al’ev Reldin or not even the Gods themselves will save you from my wrath when I catch you.”

Al’ev did as she asked, having no idea what she was doing until she returned. When she did Mel almost looked like almost an entirely different person. Her hair was tied back in several braids that would ensure it stayed out of her eyes. Her body was covered in a tight fitting leather armor that was almost scandalous to look at. And on her back, Al’ev could see a familiar hilt of a weapon, one that he had held when he was much younger.

“Is that?” He started.

“Yes, the Halarian Blade.” Mel answered as she drew the weapon from the sheath that rest upon her back. She then took a few practice swings and cuts through the air.

Al’ev watched as she did so, noting that her footwork and that her grip on the hilt were perfect. “When did you?”

“Al’ev, come on. I know you’re smarter than that. Okay, remember the days before the tournament when you were practicing in old For Halar?”

“You weren’t just watching Joshua and I?”

“Oh, I was watching you alright. But I was doing so for more than just pleasure, Al’ev, though I did it for that reason too.”

Al’ev felt his cheeks begin to grow warm.

“I have spent the past four and a half years practicing the ways of the blade, among other things.” Mel said, returning the Halarian Blade to its sheath upon her back.

“What do you mean, other things?” He said, obviously shocked that the woman of his dreams had such a skill and that he had had no idea she possessed it.

Mel smiled then said a few words that Al’ev was familiar with. That they were in Sylvan hardly caught his mind, but what the words actually were was more what he was focused on. The sensation they produced. It was….

Three orbs of light shone into existence and hovered around Melesteil Rolovir as she finished a gesture to complete the spell.

“Dancing lights. You can cast spells too?”

“Some, yes. I am still not quite as good as I remember you being that night, Al’ev, but I did remember how handy those spells of yours were. That’s why I decided to follow in your footsteps and learn a bit of magic for myself. It has been very handy to have around.” She sent the lights dancing around the room.

“Well…I must say I am very impressed. I had no idea how much skill you had in the way of the blade or the way of magic.”

“Does this mean our argument is over and we can finally get to looking for my father?” She asked.

“Oh, the argument is over…and I will let you know when I find him.”

“AL’EV!”

“Mel…you have no idea what combat is really like. What you saw at the tournament? That was nothing. Real combat, real life or death combat, is the most frightening thing in this plane of existence. One mistake and all you ever aspired to will go right out the window. I don’t want you to take that risk.”

“Are you done?” She said glaring at him hard enough to make him reconsider that line about “most frightening thing in this plane of existence.”

“No, I…”

She did not let him finish. “Al’ev, you have been through things I could hardly even imagine since I last saw you. But we went through Halar together. If that does not prepare you for anything the world can throw at you, then what will?”

Al’ev was silent as he remembered the terrible night that changed everything.

The fires…..

The screams…..

The faces he would never again see…..

“Al’ev?” Mel whispered, stepping closer to him until she was face to face with him. When he did not stir, she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. This seemed to bring him back to the present.

Al’ev sighed. “You’re right. I don’t like this, but you’re right. If you want to come along, I won’t stop you. But I will be damn sure to protect you from anything we may encounter Mel. And you had better be willing to listen to any orders I may issue.”

Mel stepped back from him, grinning, then gave him a traditional generic military salute. “Yes sir, Sergeant Reldin, sir.”

Al’ev smiled a bit. “I’m serious.”

“And so am I. But I can tell you we won’t be doing anything to help the situation if we just continue to stand here arguing.”

“Agreed. Let’s get moving.” Al’ev said and began to make for the door. With his hand on the door knob, Al’ev paused again.

“What is it? Forget something?” Mel asked from behind him.

He glanced back and looked her over. “Do you have a cloak or something you can wear over that? There is no way I’ll be able to concentrate with you running around in that outfit.”

She grinned mischievously then shoved him aside and opened the door. They stepped out into the early morning sun and had began the search together.

She never did put a cloak on.

“Hey Al’ev. Al’ev?”

He snapped back to present just as a pair of hands shoved him hard enough for him to lose his balance from where he sat upon a dead tree log. He was unable to recover before he found his arm caught by the woman he loved.

“Did I get your attention?” She asked from atop the log.

“You could say that. Care to help me up?”

“I’m debating just letting you go actually.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Oh?” She playfully let his arm slip a bit.

“Mel!”

Laughing, she pulled him back up. “Remember that the next time you think about ignoring me.”

Al’ev chuckled in response.

“Come, we’ve already been here too long. We need to keep searching.”

“Right right. Just let me…stretch…ahhh. There. Much better. Shall we?”

“After you.” Mel responded.

He hopped down from the log that lay about ten feet above the forest floor and landed with a cloud of dust flying in the air.

He was straightening himself up then, when he saw something shiny flying at him out of the corner of his eye, he immediately dove to the side.

A bright spear, one that could only have been a weapon of magic for it was surely made of pure light, implanted itself into the side of the hill that the log had been resting upon. It then vanished.

As it did, Al’ev returned to his feet and drew his weapon just in time to fend off the attacks of a diminutive woman cursing in dwarven. A voice, he thought, was suspiciously familiar.

“Ye have no right to be wearing that armor, blasphemer!” Another swing of a weapon, Al’ev guessed it was a hammer judging by the impact it had made on the first swing.

“Nora?!” Al’ev danced back again, narrowly avoiding a follow up blow.

“Al’ev? What’s going on?” Mel said from somewhere above him.

“Just a minute, Mel.” He shouted up to her as he danced around another hammer swing.

“Blasted traitor. Fight me!” The dwarf growled before swinging again.

This time Al’ev caught the blow on his sword and managed to lock the hammer on the blade forcing the fight to come to a standstill. Al’ev took a closer look

“Nora! It is you!” He managed to get out before she shoved him back away from her.

“Aye. Though why ye’re here must be a joke of the gods. Then again, I imagine you heard the same I did.”

Al’ev paused to consider her words, keeping his sword up in a guard position.

“You’re here for Zorbane too then?”

“Aye, the bastard killed me men about a weeks ago when we stumbled across him at the border. But that does not change the fact that you are a blasphemer and a traitor. By the law of Doul and the honor of my people I am sworn to kill you.”

Al’ev sighed and dropped his guard. “Can we deal with each other later? I’m trying to help my friend rescue her father.”

“What friend? I don’t see anybody else.” Nora replied.

Al’ev looked up and saw Mel was no longer on the log. “Mel?”

“I’m over here Al’ev.”

He turned towards the voice and Mel emerged from behind a several trees behind Nora.

How did she…

“Who is your friend Al’ev?” Mel asked slowly approaching them both, weapon still in its sheath.

Nora dropped out of her combat stance but did not put her weapon away as Al’ev introduced her to Mel.

“Nora, this is Melesteil Rolovir. Mel, this is Nora. We were at the Battle of Dorn together. She is here for the same reason we are. To find and rid the world of Zorebane.”

“So she was the one all those letters were going to, Reldin?”

Before Al‘ev could answer Nora‘s question, Mel’s arms suddenly enveloped her in a hug. “You helped him get through that battle! I don’t know you very well but thank you thank you thank you!”

“Ooof. Reldin, what? What’s going on?”

Al’ev couldn’t help but laugh. Mel had managed to resolve a situation that he knew he would never have been able to handle on his own without it ending poorly.

When Mel released Nora from her hug, the holy woman straightened herself out and sighed. “Reldin I…I owe you an apology. The truth is I knew ye were a arcane caster, Reldin. New it the moment I saw you in the ruins of Halar. I prayed to the gods that nobody would find you out. For years the gods protected you. You saved our town and the lives of so many. But you know how our laws are.”

“I do. But I also know I did nothing wrong.”

“As do I…which is why I have decided I am going to forget the fact that we met here, Reldin. And it is why I have decided we should work together to end what we started two years ago.”

Al’ev nodded. “Okay. But Nora….”

“Your friends are fine, by the way. Joshua and Nelya were wed just last year. They were also promoted again and now run the Dorn Garrison.” Nora said.

“They got married? Finally? Ha ha ha! Well it was about time!”

“I wish we could have been there with them. I couldn’t believe it when those two ended up together at the festival. And now they’re married!” Mel added to Al’ev’s response as she went over to him.

“And have a child on the way.” Nora added.

Both Mel and Al’ev looked down at Nora with wide eyes.

“Aye, a child. Should be any day now. The entire garrison is excited about it.” Nora confirmed with a smile eyes off in the direction of distant Dorn.

“And so life goes on…” Al’ev stammered out.

“And so should we, Reldin. Zorebane will not sit and wait for us forever. Come.”

The three set off on the path, Al’ev with his thoughts on his friends.

“We’ll see them again someday, Al’ev.” Mel said with her hand on his arm.

“I know. When I can safely walk back into Doul, you and I will head straight to Dorn and visit our friends. I promise.”

The two stared into each other’s eyes for a short time then shared a quick kiss.

Nora looked back at that moment. “By the way Reldin. Did ye ever get married to this beautiful lass?”

View
Naval Warfare

The heroes stood along with Captain Amanta’s crew surrounding the constructs that Al’ev had rescued from the sea. For a moment, only the raging sea was all that could be heard upon the deck. Then the heroes ventured to break the silence by asking the constructs questions.

They learned many things. First, the constructs had planned to capture the remaining ships in the fleet by activating more of their compatriots after taking the first ship. But the plan had failed when the ship sunk with many unactivated constructs still aboard. The constructs further explained that each soul had been given a choice to either serve their new masters and gain the use of their new bodies or they would remain in their soul gems for eternity. The heroes were also told that each ship in this fleet was holding hundreds of unactivated bodies of the constructs and that they preferred to go by the name “War Forged” for they had been created to serve as part of the red dragon army. They were expected to arrive in enemy hands within the next five days.

With little time remaining the heroes began asking as many questions as they could about enemy numbers on each ship. A plan was hastily put together to disable and then capture as many ships in the fleet as possible. The Adventurers could not allow the enemy to gain hundreds more for their already swelling armies.

Captain Amanta had his crew set the cutbooms, massive swords that stuck out from either side of the mast on their ship intended to cut through rigging. They made for the end of the spread out V formation the rest of the fleet was sailing in. By the time they reached the first of the enemy ships the storm had nearly completely passed them by.

Captain Amanta’s marines proved to be very capable in combat as they stormed the enemy ship along side the heroes.

Combat against the enemy crew proved to be only slightly hazardous to the Adventurers who had become veterans of several battles by this point. The only real challenge occurred when they fought the ship’s first mate, a heavily armored halfling with a flail, as well as the ship’s captain who turned out to be a spell caster.

Taking little in the way of casualties, the heroes gained control of the first ship of eight remaining in the fleet. Inside the captain’s cabin they found incriminating documents that detailed some of House Kashka’s dealings with the red dragons as well as more soul gems Using some of these gems and the gems that Norman liberated from the first ship, they activated several constructs and left behind some marines to protect the ship as the remaining compliment returned to captain Amanta’s ship along side the heroes. They made for the second ship.

noting that it had taken a lot of time to take the first ship, it was decided to disable as many ships as possible before fighting to take control of them. By doing so, they would gain precious time to recuperate between attacks.

But they did have one problem. They had taken on so many Warforged constructs that their ship was weighed down. They decided to disable and drop crew at the second ship hoping they would be able to take the ship as the reduced crew on Captain Amanta’s more maneuverable ship moved on to the remaining vessels.

The plan worked, mostly, though they lost one marine to the sea as they passed by. The second was disabled and the heroes moved on to the third.

But by this time the massive black ship at point of the enemy formation had turned towards them. They were running out of time.

It was decided to drop no crew at the third ship, only passing it to disable it with cut-booms. They moved on the fourth and fifth ships, repeating this maneuver but did not make it to the last two ships before the black ship was upon them.

This ship was not like the others they had come across so far looking to be made for war and not cargo as the others were. The heroes decided that it would not change the fact that disabling the ship would leave them helpless if successful.

The cut-booms were prepared once more as they began to pull alongside, avoiding the bow of the enemy ship that had a massive head of a dragon carved out of it. This turned out to be a wise decision as shortly after most of Captain Amanta’s ship got out from in front of this dragon head, a massive deluge of flame and oil erupted from its mouth. The aft of Captain Amanta’s ship was grazed and the crew immediately went to work putting the flame out.

The heroes rushed to aid the crew in their efforts, but Al’ev instead grabbed Warforged Norman and explained he intended on destroying the enemy ship’s rudder much as he had seen Norman destroy a mast earlier.

The two ran to the aft of the ship just as something caught several of the adventurer’s eyes. A metalic barrel shaped object was stuck outside an open window on the side of the enemy ship. And shortly after this, a loud bang accompanied by smoke and the sound of snapping rigging lines on their ship followed.

Whatever this new weapon was, it was not good. Al’ev and Norman reached the aft of Captain Amanta’s ship and, amongst the fires being worked on by the crew, the pair of arcane casters made their motions and said their words and let loose on the enemy ship’s rudder just as it came into view. Two bolts of lighting erupted from their outstretched hands and caught the rudder full on. The rudder erupted into massive wooden splinters as it disintegrated against the arcane onslaught.

The massive enemy ship would have very limited maneuverability without a working rudder. But by this point the two remaining cargo ships had kept sailing.

After a quick discussion the heroes decided it was best to take the remaining ships they had disabled while keeping a weary eye on the massive black ship with the new weapon.

First they returned to the second cargo vessel where they had dropped a healthy complement of marines and found that they had been successful in taking the ship. They had even managed to capture the enemy captain of this ship.

From there the heroes moved on to the third cargo vessel and fought a hard battle against its crew. Several of the heroes were forced to retreat when the enemy captain’s spells proved too much for them. But Neo, Harry, and Al’ev were able to drive off the captain who made his way to the enemy warship via several hastily cast spells.

The heroes had now captured 3 of the 8 remaining ships in the fleet.

Resting for a time, the heroes stalked the final two disabled ships noting that the black warship seemed no longer interested in them as it turned back onto its original heading.

When they finally moved to take the fourth ship, they were surprised when a white flag of surrender was flashed from the enemy deck. Cautiously, they approached and pulled alongside the ship who’s crew tossed its captain and first mate, tied up and disarmed, onto Captain Amanta’s deck.

The heroes negotiated with the enemy crew and informed them that they were going to come back for this ship after finishing up with the final disabled cargo vessel.

Captain Amanta threw the captured first mate and captain into the brig with the other ship captain and placed them under heavier guard. Meanwhile the final ship turned out to have another surprise in store for the heroes.

Pulling up along side of it, they were informed the captain wished to negotiate. The heroes agreed to Board and negotiate. Neo, Al’ev, Harry, Duke, and Blasphemy boarded and were lead into the captain’s quarters, though Duke elected to remain outside where he could keep an eye on things.

After a lengthening negotiation, the heroes heard shouting from outside the captain. Duke busted into the cabin and informed them that Captain Amanta’s ship was pulling away.

Meanwhile, Velius and Stryde had returned to Captain Amanta’s ship to see what was going on and they found an odd situation.

Stryde approached the person behind the wheel of the ship and began asking questions. Velius decided to take a closer look in the captain’s cabin where things turned out to be much worse.

The door was partially blocked by the deceased Captain Amanta’s first mate who lay in his own puddle of blood. Alert, Velius entered the cabin and found it empty for a short time, then after a geyser of heated water nearly caught him he found one of the captured captains firing spells at him. The last thing he saw was the diminutive captain standing over him with a knife, poised to end his life. While this was happening, Stryde too had been attacked. But the evil Kolbold found the attack quite amusing, deciding to cast a hold person spell on this individual who turned out to be the second captured captain. She then proceeded to steer Captain Amanta’s ship by steering the halfling who well held in place by her spell. She did her best to return to the fifth cargo vessel.

Meanwhile on the fifth vessel, combat had broken. None of the heroes were holding back, nor could they afford to as they fought through the entire ship’s crew to regain control. It was rough going, but they managed to take control and guide the ship back to Captain Amanta’s vessel.

There they found Stryde as her spell broke on the second captured captain. The second captured captain did not have a chance to act before Stryde’s second, more powerful spell caught him and he suddenly found himself quite lacking for intelligence.

Harry then punted the halfling off the side of the ship and into the sea where he was sure to drown…

Neo, Al’ev and Harry went to inspect the captain’s quarters and found their friend Velius dead. They fought a quick, and merciless battle with the first captured captain and the captured first mate. Mere seconds later, the heroes stood over their bodies and the bodies of one of their own.

Grim, they went to see where captain Amanta was and found him alive but unconscious in the brig. Taking the fifth ship and Captain Amanta’s ship, they sent the marines in to take the fourth ship.

The marines were successful and, along with the five ships they captured, they made for Basque, anxious to leave the sea and bury their friend.

View
The Gruesome Visions of the Meat-Shield Neo

(For the sake of everyone’s sanity: This post is written from T’lemya’s POV.)

Sit up and stretch – ships’ hull is surprisingly comfortable, and rocking has been good for comfort. Good enough that, apparently, there was large fight… while I slept. Oops.

Up to deck of ship… lots of… con… const-structs… Is difficult to say even in own mind. Const-structs. Connnn…… Not-bodies. One of the not-bodies has the gem of an old wizard… likes tea, a lot. Lots of purple stones everywhere, too… bags of them. And… blood… blood pouring out of the body of my poor, headless Squishy (Velius). I sit on the chest of Squishy… others tell me that head is gone because of ambush, and mace attack. Another lost… another not protected…

Group says to repair ships, return to Basque. Do not like returning to Koshka-control, but must deliver for Sparls and Black Dragon Queen. Meat-Shield (Neo) checks on not-body of wizard, but little knowledge is gained.

Basque dock-master wants gold for docking… Meat-Shield tries to pay. No need – have gold from poor, dead Squishy. Probably would have hated to give up gold for group with no personal gain… but not here to argue, either.

Step onto solid ground, expect joy. Instead, ground is very, very cold. People stop moving… all frozen, except for group. Do not like! One figure in back of crowd… not quite still. Drop to ground, hide in shadows, wait. Point figure out to rest of group… group does not understand. Figures. Shadowy-thing (Stryde), however, is bowing. This… can’t be good.

Tall woman, figure in crowd, starts walking towards group. Very scary looking: long black hair, tattered black dress. Small-things in her way, so she flicks her wrist. Small things go flying. Do not like!

Scary woman approaches group. Is Black Dragon Queen. Acknowledges Shadowy-thing, and surprised by no-respect from others. Fluffy (Harry) scratches ear. Perfect.

Now new thing, Clanky-That-Does-Not-Clank (Duke), opens mouth. Stupid things leave. Too bad. Kind of liked that one. Shadowy-thing is nervous, and says Clanky-That-Does-Not-Clank can be entertaining, if Dark-One likes stupid. Dark-One wants entertainment, and Clanky offers… – gag – bedroom time. Gross. Dark-One is scary… probably feels like a cheese-grater. Dark-One thinks is stupid, too. Instead, she summons baby black drake, commands to kill Clanky. Clanky tries to argue, gets nipped at by dragonling. Thought would be smart… fight, survive, victory! But no. Clanky-that-does-not-clank… pretends to faint. “Oooh, the power of the Black Dragon Clan is too strong for me! I have been defeated!” he says, falling over backwards. Stupid. Gives drake advantage, will be eaten!

But Dark-One seems mildly amused, sends drake away. Prods in ribcage with toes – looks like it feels more like a kick. “Get up. It’s time to be quiet now.” Clanky-that-does-not-clank is quiet. Much smarter.

Dark-One turns to Meat-Shield, says she will take not-bodies and purple stones as her toys, and that agreement has been fulfilled; brings back Shiny-thing (Caramel), who looks dazed. Says will have her support, and support of her underlings. Will maneuver forces into place for us. Says, “The sky will show the sign. Look for green light around the edges. This will be your sign to move so that you will have the support of the black dragon flight, and our allies. At that time, it will be time to move in on the enemy territory.” Also says that this time is imminent. Do not like Dark-One, or that she has control over souls… hope will be ok, but must save world from reds first.

Dark-One then makes Meat-Shield a wager… am nervous about this. Meat-Shield looks nervous, too. Dark-One knows that Meat-Shield has fallen from Cayden’s favor; knows that his has, indeed, made Meat-Shield grumpy. Says that if Meat-Shield can “save the person he needs to save” in time, she will restore another fallen meat-shield to the “path of good”… whatever that means. Holds up sparkly magic thing, with image of Crazy-Man… Meat-Shield recognizes, says name is Captain Morgan. Meat-Shield also thinks he knows who must be saved… apparently had visions – crazy religious-types and their spooky religious hocus pocus – with a series of very dead people: priest hung by own robes with symbols carved into flesh, woman with eyelids cut off and 9 children roasting on spit, and lastly Goat, Tall-Cuddly-Half-Orc, with black sword shoved through back. Thinks must save Cuddly-thing. Nervous about wager, but Meat-Shield thinks is worth it for chance to save Crazy-Man as well. Agrees to bet, so long as Crazy-Man will still be saved, even if Cayden forsakes Meat-Shield for making bet. Dark-One shakes Meat-Shield’s hand, leaves marks with claws, and says will hide Meat-Shield’s action from drunken god. Sends group off, saying, “You’ll find the beginning of your trail where your story began.”

Back to small-thing-Sparls’, to inform of success. Still living with Ipflobz. Ipflobz name still stupid, but agree to give us rooms for resting and cleaning. Shiny-thing is blind from time spent in dark, but know also has great sadness for fallen Ninja-Crim. Can barely get to respond. Clanky-that-does-not-clank begins asking Meat-Shield of group’s background; Meat-Shield obliges. Is fitting – both large, noisy, good for hiding behind – should get along well. But Shiny-thing needs care, and words, and knowledge of events… Must take her to room, explain things, accept punishment if necessary.

Shiny-thing is still not well after discussion, but no longer unresponsive. No longer hopeless. Able to travel. Group goes to Trinity, find Tall-Cuddly-Half-Orc-Goat. Cuddly-one is still fine, but group is worried. Meat-Shield tells of vision. Half-Orc doesn’t believe at first, but Dark-One has confirmed, and so Cuddly-thing takes more seriously. Meat-Shield also joins arbiter’s guild… not sure why, guess was bored. Suppose makes some sense, group does lots of work for guild, but tomes are scary things, dangerous if lost. Meat-Shield also wants special shield, but is afraid will need before returning to Trinity. Was going to send to Varalon… Can’t trust officials, will steal or kill Meat-Shield; after all, Meat-Shield still worth gold for assassination… formerly tempting assassination, but Meat-Shield is useful, maybe eventually friend. If nothing else, mild entertainment and decent company. Have shield sent to Frontie’s instead – John will protect for me. Meat-Shield is worried, so I write letter, trap, have attached to package. Half-Orc-Cuddle-Friend is afraid to touch letter… is smart, is learning.

Ride to Kassadin… horses are weird, but much faster. Stop by Frontie’s, see John still alive. Slap for no response – was worried sick. Slap is blocked… reflexes too good. Will have to find new means of getting stupid out of his brain. Apparently letter saying was alive was intercepted. Punishment enough for opening letter – loss of eyebrows and facial skin should be funny. John promises to protect shield for Meat-Shield, and sends underling to watch Half-Orc-Goat. Hopefully Cuddly-one will live, and will not require sacrifice of watcher…

Ride on towards Kassadin… Kaaaassadinnnn… Do not like the way name feels to say. On road, see small thing with strange hat and magnifying glass… is Not-Quite-Dragon-Small-Thing-Sindri! Jump off horse, pick him up. “Where have you been?!” Am happy to see Small-Thing. Small-Thing-Sindri says has been investigating a murder. Ignores questions about where hat came from… am unhappy about this. Hat seems very odd.

But Not-Quite-Dragon-Sindri is focused on murder. Says elf-woman named Niece was murdered in elf-town Caori during red dragon attack. Do not know this woman, but others in group do… Says stuck-up-too-pretty-elves thought died accidentally – thought had been startled by attack, and had fallen into her own plants… scary plants, if they can kill. Small-thing, however, found strange marks on leaves of plant, looked like end of katana had been poked through. Elf-woman also had plant acid on pressure points. Thinks the katana being used is sword of Lamashtu – also what Meat-Shield thinks we seek. Small-thing also mentions elf-woman had symbol of Iomedae on dresser… Do not like, tail flicks. Meat-shield wonders. Do not respond.

Continue on to Kassadin with Small-Thing-Sindri. There, Meat-Shield finds vision is fulfilled: priest, apparently guard of formerly-poisoned-well, has been hung by own robes, runes carved into chest. Villager-humans say body will not burn on the pyre. Meat-Shield presses hammer against runes on chest, and runes disappear. Evil runes repelled by good hammer. .. Can hammers be good? Is very strange concept…

Find out priest was of Iomedae. Body will now burn on pyre, and Meat-Shield says prayer over body. Do not like, lots of frowning, but will hold tongue for now…

Visions are being fulfilled, Meat-Shield rushes to second scene: Not-Quite-Dragon-Sindri remembers meeting woman with nine children on road from Kassadin to Varalon. Group rides through night to get there… exhausting and dangerous, but for Meat-Shield’s nerves, and Sindri’s happiness, we do this. Efforts are futile, though – woman is already dead, and so are young-things. Meat-Shield requests help for grave-digging, but Small-Thing uses spell to immediately move earth for graves. Dead-things are buried, and Small-Thing-Sindri cries.

Half-Orc-Cuddle-Friend the last one in Meat Shield’s vision… Small-One summons a portal for speed – very little time left to protect Tall-Strong-Goat. Hope is still alive, hope John’s agent successful… hope Shiny-thing is safe from Red-Evil-Soon-To-Be-Gutted-Azar, and from own anger at death of Ninja-Crim… Group steps through portal…

View
Intercepting The Fleet

With the job of putting out the fires nearly complete, the heroes went back to the three dead dragons and several began skinning them for their scales. As they were doing this, they caught the sound of a war cry ringing up from inside the entry tree. Shortly after this, a human man in strange armor that looked to be made of some sort of wood came running out, massive sword raised for combat.

He stopped when he saw that the fighting had ended. The heroes established that this person, who the heroes found out went by the name of Duke, was indeed late to the fight. The man sounded as though this wasn’t the first time he had been late to enter a conflict and though it left many questions in their minds, the man decided that he would stick around the adventurers for a bit.

Al’ev surmised that he may have thought he would see some combat if he did.

As Harry and several others continued to skin his dead kin, Al’ev decided now was a good time for him to check up on Mel. The dragon attack had left him fearful for her as he did not think she were in any danger here. T’lemya caught sight of him heading off to the residential area of the city and silently followed.

Meanwhile, Neo went to warn the townguard of what the final dragon had said before it fell, warning them to expect another attack in the next month.

Meeting back up and spending one more night in Caori, the heroes decided that it would be a good idea to head straight to Basque. If the dragons had already started to attack this far east, it was possible that the supplies would not have to go as far and thus their time was growing shorter.

They rode upon horseback with the stranger, Duke in tow joining them for the journey north. As they continued on North, it grew quickly apparent that the attack on Caori was not an isolated incident. Pillars of smoke were rising in multiple directions and when Al’ev flew up to see what he could, he noted that just about every settlement larger than a simple homestead had to be aflame. Of in the direction of Halar, Trinity, Varalon, even distant Kassadin, massive columns of smoke created thunderstorm like clouds in the sky.

The war was spreading and time was running short.

He informed the others of what he saw as they continued to Basque. They arrived in the Halfling capital after four days of travel. As they approached an area where a large park had once been, they saw dozens of halflings chopping apart pieces of a gigantic red dragon that they learned had been part of the attack on Basque only days earlier.

Asking about the condition of the city and the ships at the dock, they learned that not a lot had actually been damaged and that a group of people had managed to take this particular dragon down with jury rigged harpoons from various ships in the harbor.

The heroes began to move on when a crack of thunder filled the air around them. This was very odd as it was extremely clear outside and there was not a cloud capable of creating lightning anywhere in the sky.

This is when Neo felt something hit his armor. He turned and saw a mug filled with ash laying on the ground. Al’ev had a hunch as to what this mean, but the markings all over the mug were clearly of Cayden Cailean, Neo’s patron god. Al’ev decided it was of more immediate importance for Neo and himself to find out what this message from the gods was while the others went about finding more information on the fleet of ships and looking into chartering their own vessel for an ocean intercept.

They went off to do research using the books that Neo had found during one of their earlier adventures.

Harry, Stryd, Blasphemy, Duke, and Vellius left to find the harbor master. They found the assistant Harbor Master instead. This assistant was clearly young, and infatuated with the idea of naval warfare.

But it was through this halfling that they learned that many of House Sparls ships had gone missing months earlier, causing them to catch on to the fact that it was likely that the fleet of ships they were about to intercept likely included stolen vessels being run by house Kashka. They also learned of someone who may be able to assist them with their coming endeavor, Captain Amanta.

By the time they met back up with Al’ev and Neo, the pair had discovered a story of a similar thing happening to a man who had fallen out of favor with Cayden Cailean. Al’ev’s suspicions were proven correct, Neo’s god was displeased with his actions thus far. With this knowledge, the paladin left the bar without a word.

Al’ev considered going after him briefly before realizing that whatever Neo was about to go do, he needed to do it alone. Instead he asked what information the others had found out. After they shared all that they could, they set out to find Captain Amanta.

A short time later, they were watching a very well organized and disciplined crew pull into port on a skinny but long vessel clearly built for speed. They continued to watch and wait as this crew took all of the cargo off of the ship and placed it on the docks. They were paid by a rich looking man who approached after a short time.

The crew then disembarked and Al’ev decided it was time to go and talk with the captain. They were stopped at the top of the gangplank by a man who confirmed that this was Captain Amanta’s vessel. They explained that they had a business offer and soon Al’ev and Harry found themselves in the captain’s quarters discussing the details of what they were after and why they had come to him.

The man seemed to be a bit skittish when it was mentioned that they were with the Guild of Arbiters and Al’ev suspected that perhaps this man had done a few shady deals in the past.

Harry explained that the assistant harbor master had suggested Captain Amanta as the right person to go to for any job that might involve conflict. They explained they were after a fleet of stolen ships with cargo that they were also interested in. They informed the captain that they would likely be needing extra crew to help capture and subdue multiple vessels.

The price came in at a fair number and little negotiating needed to happen before Al’ev left a deposit with the man and said they’d come back to finalize the deal the following day after he discussed it with the rest of the adventurers who had not been allowed into the captain’s cabin for the meeting.

The following day, the adventurers agreed to a deal and Al’ev handed over the remaining portion of the first half of payment, all told 2500 gold, and the Captain told them they would set sail the following day.

The heroes sought out the Sparls and informed them of what was going on and what they were about to do, emphasizing that they would attempt to bring back as many of the stolen Sparl ships as was possible. The elderly couple looked hopeful, but had little information to assist the heroes with.

The following morning, the adventurers set sail. The crew was extremely disciplined and at twice the normal strength needed for a vessel of this size. All told, 48 individuals were on hand to assist with the mission they were on.

During the first day at sea, the heroes watched as the crews drilled for combat. The second crew the captain had called in filling out most of the combat crew numbers. On the second day the crew repeated their drills and on the third, Al’ev decided to join in feeling like it was second nature after the time he had spent with the dwarven military.

It was a short time after the drills concluded when the heroes began to note the change in weather. Al’ev sought out the captain who explained that there was a good chance they would be seeing the wayward fleet ahead of this storm, using it to speed them along.

He relayed this information to the rest of the adventurers, telling them it was suggested that they head below decks. The ship sailed into the storm and it was not too long before shouts of sails began to ring out on the deck above.

Al’ev carefully made his way back to the captain who pointed out that they had found the fleet. Two ships were currently pealing away from the rest and looked to be in combat.

Al’ev decided they should take a closer look and soon found themselves watching several constructs that they had fought before in tinkton fighting against halflings. One of the constructs appeared to have the ability to cast spells as lightning shot forth from its hands towards the other vessel. But as they neared the conflict, a massive boom shook the ship that all the fighting was happening on and the ship began to go under.

Al’ev made the decision to try and rescue the constructs, tying a rope to himself and flying over to the vessel as it sunk. Fighting against the storm, he was only able to save three constructs with the use of a floating disc spell.

These constructs he brought back to the ship, allowing the wind to take them to the vessel. The constructs and Al’ev were brought back on board and the crew had their weapons drawn and ready for whatever trouble might come from the three metallic bodies.

Al’ev turned to the construct that he recognized as the one shooting lighting from its hand earlier and it spoke.

“Do you have some tea. I’d quite like some.”

The voice was metallic, but instantly recognizable as Norman, the old man who had gone missing during the abduction of Crustakin Hold.

Al’ev stood wide eyed as Captain Amanta’s ship continued to give chase to the remaining ships in the fleet….

View
The War Comes to Caori

Having gathered themselves for another trip through a portal, Sindri cast his spell and soon the heroes found themselves stepping out onto the ledge within the elven tree city of Caori. Had his aim been off by another couple feet, the heroes would have free fallen out of the portal for nearly a thousand feet to the forest floor.

The heroes made their way into the city, T’lemya and Sindri off to get Teyo’s gear appraised, Al’ev and Harry to find information on Tarrant, the guardsmen they had once again come for. The remainder of the group left for the Inn to recuperate from their recent adventures.

After some searching, T’lemya and Sindri found a man who was able to tell them a bit about the daggers and vest they had looted from Teyo. T’lemya found them to be quite advantages after it was displayed that the daggers could be transformed into a throwing chakram of some power. They left this man a small tip for his services in appraising the gear then moved on to try and find someone to tell what protective qualities the vest may have outside the mundane.

Meanwhile Al’ev and Harry had found a guard who turned out to have been recently promoted to captain. The man was quite proud of himself. But his boastful nature turned a bit more quiet when Al’ev mentioned they were searching for the vigilante Tarrant.

The guard told them that he was still at large even after several patrols had been sent after him. Tarrant had killed everyone sent after him as well as numerous bandits and thieves throughout the forests. Eventually the guard mentioned something that caught Al’ev’s attention, the guard captain said Tarrant seemed to have the eyes of a hawk. Al’ev knew elven vision to be quite good, he was blessed with that trait himself, but even hawk-like vision was not quite the way he’d describe it.

He asked if Tarrant ever had a hawk with him as he worked for the royal guard. The captain said after a pause that he had, and Al’ev realized that this was probably why Tarrant had never been captured before.

Taking this information with them, they headed to the inn for a few drinks and to listen in on gossip.

By this point Sindri and T’lemya had found a woman selling exquisite looking rune art, some of which had caught Sindri’s eye as they closely matched patterns found on the vest they had looted. They learned of the person who created the symbols and asked if they could speak with him. They were given directions into the residential area of Caori and soon found themselves speaking with Nesbith Furlow, the elf responsible for creating the runes.

Nesbith was able to decipher some of the glyphs on the vest and it was in this way that Sindri and T’lemya learned that it was quite a powerful vest. With this knowledge, T’lemya dawned the vest and the two adventurers returned to the inn.

By this point Al’ev and Harry had heard mention of several interesting goings on in the world. First was talk of the Guard Patrols going missing. There was talk of land for crops being at a premium. An elven man across the bar was talking about his time spent as a newt. There was talk of increased trade in Orleon. And most disturbing, there was talk of a murder spree taking place on the western side of the continent.

They took this information up to the room and shared what they learned with the others.

The following morning, Al’ev, Harry, Vellius, T’lemya and Sindri left Caori to begin hunting Tarrant. But they had gone no further than the base of the entry tree when a familiar sound caught Harry’s ears.

Fwump…..Fwump…..Fwump…..

This was followed by screaming and the smell of burning wood. The heroes launched into action. Sindri casting fly on T’lemya and attaching himself to her. Al’ev casting fly on himself and taking off for the city in the trees.

Harry and Vellius began the long run back up to the city.

When T’lemya, Sindri and Al’ev arrived back in the market place, there was a red dragon, no more than a young adult, burning buildings down all around him. Dead elven guardsmen were scattered about and more were still in combat with it.

The heroes waded into combat with the beast. Sindri began launching spells and caught the attention of the dragon who then strafed the buildings that the halfling and tiefling were hiding in between. As it passed, T’lemya threw her new daggers, currently in the form of a chakram, at the dragon managing to find a soft spot in its scaled hide.

Fire engulfing his allies, Al’ev let loose a lightning bolt as the dragon passed by him, catching the creature in the side and then another seconds later proving just as effective.

But now he was the target, and before he could get out of the way, the dragon flew wobbly towards Al’ev and simply fell on top of him, grabbing him as it fell.

They landed in the middle of the market place, the guards rushing in and T’lemya doing the same. Sindri was nowhere to be seen.

Harry and Vellius joined in the fray at this point, the dwarf landing the finishing blow on the dragon. And with its dying screams, two more red dragons flew in strafing the area in flames. Several guardsmen were incinerated. Harry and Vellius caught some of the heat as well.

Al’ev was largely protected by the dead dragon’s body. Making his way from under the dragon, he emerged to find Harry, Vellius and T’lemya tearing into one of the two new dragons. The other dragon was occupied with what remained of the marketplace guard.

It was starting to become difficult to make out exact details of surroundings, but Al’ev thought he made out a line of civilians starting a bucket brigade to put out fires around the fringes of the fighting and the hiss of fire meeting with water from behind him told Al’ev that someone else was working on putting out fires there.

He jumped into combat with the next dragon and soon this creature was vanquished as well.

But as it fell, so too did the remaining guardsmen. The heroes turned to face the third dragon. Through the combined efforts of the heroes, including Sindri who had been putting out the fires, felled their third dragon.

And with this one’s dying words, it mocked the heroes saying that in a month, the red dragons would return to finish the job.

With fires raging around them, the heroes went to helping out where they could for the attack had ended…

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.