After spending some time in the tower of high sorcery to learn its secrets and rest, our heroes split up briefly. Aeruk and Hawkeye made the journey south to Wonder, a little town on the border of the Laughing Lands primarily populated by Kender. Thedan stayed behind in the tower to do more research and create some potions that might aid the group in the task ahead – assauting the fortress of the Bloodwatch.
While in town, Aeruk spent most of his time shaking his axe in the direction of Kender to keep them at bay. Hawkeye bartered and dealed to purchase armor for Fleet (Pointy) the Unicorn whom he’d been spending a great deal of time training with over the weeks and finally seemed confident to do battle with.
Much rope was purchased.
The Laughing Lands
Soon after, Thedan rejoined the group and the three friends made out into the wastes of the Laughing Lands disguised as mercenaries. Quickly they came to a terrible encampment town, full of sheds and hovels masquerading as houses and shops, with the intention of finding a guide. Hawkeye and Fleet remained outside the ‘tavern’ they located while Aeruk and Thedan ventured inside to make inquiries.
The locals were not friendly. After buying some horrible swill that resembled but was not entirely unlike actual ale from a barkeep that spoke half in barks and whines and half in common that was indistinguishable from such, Thedan was accosted by a rather gruff looking flind. Polite as always, Thedan asked the flind if he was interested in work. The flind struck Thedan across the face with his flind-bar and thus started the great tavern brawl in which Aeruk stood around and watched Thedan explode someone’s head.
The bar soon emptied quickly and word began to spread of the vicious war wizard that was killing people with glances and thoughts. Hawkeye decided it might be better if he alone went to the trading grounds to see if he might procure a guide there. After some time of hanging around, a sly and secret voice spoke to him from where no one had been but a moment ago. Someone was interested in the work and might be willing to help them. A meeting was arranged.
Septus, the gnoll who spoke to Hawkeye, eventually agreed to take them to the Bloodwatch, but on the condition that he receive one quarter of all spoils from the journey. After some expert haggling, this term was agreed to outright and the four companions set out into the Laughing Lands.
The Keep of the Bloodwatch
The guide turned out to be very good at leading them and no untoward encounters were chanced upon during the journey. Upon reaching the bloodwatch late in the day, the group gazed out into the misty red tumultuous sky and scowled at the draconians guarding the entrance.
A plan was quickly devised to kill the draconians silently by surprising them. Septus skulked off into the night to murder the draconian closest to the entrance should he try to call out. Thedan’s bird calls gave the signal and in nearly one fell swoop all the draconians had been killed. Triumph! Discovering a cache of draconian weapons in one of the guarded tower ruins, the group offered all of it to Septus if he continued to aid them in their quest.
Worry still held Septus. He knew there were more draconians here somewhere. Somehow the group would have to find a way to enter the underground temple quietly. Thedan changed into a gargoyle to fly along the cliff face and try to find entry way there. But something began to climb the stairs! Swiftly everyone made their way to hiding places while Septus lifted his cloak like wings and did his best draconian impersonation. Incredibly, the draconian guard who peeked his head up from the stairs bought it and went back down!
Another scouting mission by Septus revealed the possibility that the party could get the jump on the remaining draconian guards down below and with careful accuracy that is just what they did. Another cunning attack and many statues later, the group began to look about the first rooms of the temple. Strange frescos and murals made of tile depicted men and dragons together! How strange!
Opening the door to the next hall revealed a shock. A dragon! Everyone took cover, killing the remaining draconians that lingered in the next room but avoiding the dragon’s cruel gaze as best as possible. But it moved not an inch. Carefully, Aeruk stepped up to the dragon to make a killing blow. Perhaps it was asleep! His weapon passed through the dragon like it wasn’t there. An illusion. Safe! For now….
Deeper into the Darkness
Deeper into an opening cavern the party went until they encounted strange doors and walls cutting through the rock itself. Opening them revealed a great open space, a crevass dropping away, and a bridge leading to odd rooms and domed ceilings that could only be the ruined temple of the Solamnic Knights. Some draconians huddled around a fire on the opposite ledge from the bridge and the group made to attack them.
Out of the darkness, a beating of wings. Out of the darkness the snorts and scrapings of heaving lungs and terrible claws. The dragon that appeared was certainly real. Thedan was the first, feeling the sting of spewed acid and falling to the floor on an outcrop of rock not five feet from a gaping chasm…on the other side of the bridge from the group. Next, Septus was raked with claws and teeth, dropping in a bloody heap.
Courageous Aeruk! The dwarf charged the bridge and through the ruined temple to reach and rescue the imperiled Thedan while the cowardly Hawkeye stayed out of the way, hitting the dragon with fire-tipped arrows. When he saw a chance, Hawkeye ran to rescue Septus only to discover that the gnoll had died outright. No rescue for him to be had.
Meanwhile, having saved Thedan from certain death, Aeruk plunged his way deeper into the temple only to find a throne room with a dead skeleton seated with a massive lance. With the dragon bearing down on him, Aeruk took up the lance and turned striking out with it in anger, rage, and fear! The dragon was cut to the bone and made great cries of pain before fleeing into the night, up and out of the crevass into the blood red sky.
Now, with no guide to aid them, the group must return to civilization and rally themselves against the dark forces of the necromancer to save all of Krynn from desolation!
To be continued….