Tyranny of Dragons

Session 28

I apologize for the illegibility of this entry into this continuing log. My writing hand has become transparent, numb and I’m unable to control it. Which makes writing impossible and really destroys my love life.

No, I meant it’s hard… I mean difficult to play my instrument… Women love music, that’s all and I can’t play.

You know that awkward feeling when an aside you thought was witty completely fails? This is my moment and the ink is indelible.

After binding our wounds and bringing Paelias back, we continued our quest into the Misty Forest. We were met by Delaan Winterhound, requesting aid. Something has happened to the village of Altand, he requests that we investigate a missing priest and the events in Altand. We agreed and began our journey to the Elven village.

We approached Altand and caught the acrid smell of a green dragon’s poison breath. We ready our weapons and heightened our watch for the dragon that we knew would be in the area. Our caution was not necessary as we drew into sight of the village, or what was left of it. The upper works of the village were decimated and poison coated everything in sight. We were amazed to see villagers moving about the ruins, attempting to put their lives back together. From our experience from previous dragon attacks, we had expected no survivors. Yet, here they were.

We stopped a young woman named Dottie to get the story of what had happened here. She confirmed that a green dragon had attacked the village. With him came humans in purple clothing, Cultists, and joined in the massacre. Atop the dragon rode what appeared to be a human in purple armor. However, he seemed to have the fluid motions and grace of one elven bred. Dottie scoffed at that, after all, what elf would consort with evil dragons?

She confirmed our fears, the priest that we’ve been looking for had tried to fight the dragon using his divine arts. However, the dragon simply swallowed the priest whole and the rest of the villagers lost cohesion at his death. Galin, the village’s warden, stepped in and rallied the routed villagers and fought back. He was in the midst of the heaviest fighting. We asked directions to Galin which Dottie provided and moved to her work.

We found Galin in his home in the upper branches of the village. Immediately, our suspicions were aroused. Though we had been told Galin had fought in the middle of the thickest battle, the elf before us bore not a mark or wound. He twitched and glanced about as though he would be heard.

His story echoed what we had heard below. His wife had died in the attack and he was understandably distraught. We didn’t wish to cause him further hurt, but we simply weren’t convinced he was telling us the whole truth of the matter. We pushed him for more details. Galin flushed between anger and what looked like guilt before he insisted that we leave. As we left, we noted Galin’s raven that we had seen upon entering had departed. Elyria had an idea, one that offered us the best chance at success that we could see.

We waited for Galin’s raven to return and intercepted it before it could reenter the home. A simple ritual for Speak with Animals and the raven began to speak with us, giving us the information we asked for.

As a side note, ravens are among the smarter breeds of birds, which is one reason so many are used as wizard familiars. Their intelligence, however, comes at something of a price. They are quite talkative and tend to ramble. They remind me of a gnomish child who had snuck into his mother’s sugar shack. We had to continually bring the bird back to the topic at hand. But, I digress.

Slowly, we pieced the story we had been looking for. Galin has been meeting with the green dragon and its rider. The raven often followed its master deep into the woods and would speak to the rider. By the tone of scene the raven described, I guessed the communication had been one of master dictating instructions to his slave, with Galin being said slave. The bird hadn’t understood the words well enough to give us the instructions that Galin had been provided, after all birds speak very limited humanoid languages, only a few command words. Luckily, Speak with Animals is a relatively long term spell, so we were able to confront Galin, bird in hand.

We decided, first, that we needed the support of the village. We found Dottie and she listened with skepticism while we explained Galin’s apparent treason. The talking bird helped enough that Dottie was willing to listen. She, and a few other villagers, accompanied us back to Galin’s home and we pounded on the door.

The door flew open and Galin’s angry face lost their flush, turning to a bloodless white when he saw the raven we were carrying and the villagers that had accompanied us. We asked the raven to relate what it had witnessed and the bird began to happily implicate its master. Galin’s pale face began turning ashen with each word. He sputtered, denying the whole story and accusing us of being in league with the dragon. He contended that the raven was only speaking those words because of a spell we had planted and not the real story. It was a weak attempt, his face was full of guilt and terror.

We were finally able to break him. He collapsed into abject misery as he admitted to swearing loyalty to the dragon rider. During the combat, Galin had encountered the dragon rider and begged for his life, he would do anything. The rider apparently agreed and broke off the attack. Later, he was summoned in the night to meet with the rider, swear fealty and began to feed information on surrounding villages in exchange for his life and those of the village.

We asked about the location of the dragon’s lair, or any detail that would help us locate the dragon. Galin didn’t know. He only observed the dragon flying off to the southeast and that the rider’s clothes were often wet. When asked if there were any lakes in that direction, he shook his head, instead saying there was a swamp. Green dragons love swamps. We found our best place to look. We left Galin to the discretion of the village and began to move to the southeast and the swamp.

Along the way, a loud crack, like that of a breaking branch caught our attention. It was followed by calls for help. We elected to investigate. An old woman was caught under a tree and called for us to help her. Edward and I returned our weapons to their sheathes and found places on the tree that looked to be the best to lift it.

Initially, the tree was as heavy as we expected it to be. Then the effort became easier and easier still. Without warning, the tree raised itself out of our hands as we stumbled back in shock. The old woman beamed as she stood and dusted off her dress. She was overjoyed at finding travelers that were still willing to help the helpless even in the world that seemed to be doing its best to destroy any kindness.

She began to pluck flowers from her hair and expertly wove garlands for each of us. She hummed as she worked, the tune reminded me of singing birds and the night frogs. Once she had placed each over our heads and around our necks, she admonished us not to remove them before our quest in Neronvain’s lair had been completed. With a warm smile for her nominal heroes, she flashed into an owl and flew away. The tree which had lain across her, and two other trees that we had not seen, shambled after her on foot. We looked at each other after this odd, bizarre, encounter, then shrugged. Who knew what you would see in the Misty Forest.

We could see the miasma and ruins in the distance when we encountered a vast webbing. The sides were impassable and we elected not to backtrack to find a way around them. The entrance to the lair was a mere quarter of a mile beyond the webbing and we could make good time once we were through.

We were about half way through the webbing before the first of the creatures attacked. As a side note, anyone who has not seen an Ettercap, consider yourself lucky. They are rather ugly beasts, resembling the worst of spider and humanoid. If a black widow and a troll had a baby, it would look like an Ettercap.

It was a desperate fight, more due to the sticky webbing than a true challenge. Our visibility was virtually nil and our ability to move even more limited. The cocooned animals and other smaller beasts did little to improve the property value of the location. The Ettercaps are going to have to have a long discussion with their realtor before they decide to move. Fortunately, I know of one. Unfortunately, the contact card was at the bottom of my pack and they, along with their spider minions, appeared more interested in killing us than taking realty advice.

Somehow I became separated from the rest of the party and surrounded by the spidery posse. Bards aren’t known for their toughness and spiders aren’t known for their taste in music, unless it’s a bard in a webbing. I had no intention of becoming a meal, so I cast about in my mind, looking for something, anything that could get me out of this. It was then that I hatched a desperate, almost suicidal plan.

Teiflings are known for their affinity for heat. What the others might call scorching heat, like the desert perhaps, I find a pleasantly warm spring afternoon. However, even with that affinity, this was going to hurt.

So, yeah, I dropped a fireball on myself. Well, not on myself directly, but enough to not include the remainder of my party. Party members appreciate the judicious targeting of things like fireballs or lightning bolt. They tend to get a little annoyed by taking damage.

But, the gambit worked. My lute smoldered where the heat had caught it, but no real damage was done. Around me, the bodies of Ettercaps and spiders lay smoking. A few of the tougher ones stood singed, but badly damaged. We were able to finish them off with little trouble.

The trail we were following ended at the base of a large waterfall. The pool at the bottom would have been picturesque if not for the green miasma and the brackish water. Beyond the fall a cave opened into the lair proper.

This is a good place to stop. My hand is cramping and a bard knows the value of suspense. Tomorrow, I will pick up again and spin a tale of how we assaulted the lair and I poisoned myself.

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Lochnivar

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