Lord of Shadow & Flame

3/2/11 – Into the Dragon’s Maw

As the adventurers climbed the open sewer tunnel back to the top, Bolder and Obsidian received the following challenge from the demon Ghada, via telepathy… “I know that you two fools will one day return to try and kill me and I welcome it. Know that I shall be here, ready and waiting for you. It is then that I shall deliver on my earlier promise of feeding on your souls! I look forward to your return mortal fools!”

Returning to the surface, the group of adventurers were met by a familiar figure. Tristan Morningstar was waiting for them along with their old companion, the gnome druid Kipah and a human stranger. The newcomer was introduced as Owen Acreman, a human ranger/sorcerer who himself sought to destroy Gothyl for his own reasons.

Tristan explained that he’d received a message from Randal Morn, via Elminster to escort the two new adventurers into Myth Drannor to meet the group to aid in their quest. The pair met Tristan after being teleported several miles from the edge of Myth Drannor by the wizard Keldar.

Following a brief exchange of information, Tristan left. The group then moved to The House of Song to take refuge against the night, which was by now fast approaching. The two new comers also shared some much needed magical healing with the group, restoring several member’s lost life force and vitality.

Cyrien and Kipah decided to break-off from the rest of the group and make a dash for Blackstar Tower, making it there just as the sun set. Within they found the ghost Tyvar. Cyrien questioned the ghost of his ancestor further about how to awaken the Moonblade Shaeveril and also accessed the tower’s library for more information. The two stayed the night there and were awoken during the night to the sounds of fighting outside.

Cyrien and Kipah moved to a window from which they witnessed a large group of goblinoids fleeing down a ruined street. They were quickly set-upon by a trio of vicious, bat-like demons with glowing eyes. The three demons made short work of the weaker goblinoids, their furious red gaze striking down many where they stood. The demons paused only to feed on the fallen. Those goblinoids that had been slain by the demonic gaze attack rose as ghoulish undead creatures.

The adventurers met back up in the morning and decided to head for the lair of the red dragon Narlgathra in the south of the city via the tunnels Ghada had told them about. Thanks to Thorgrimm and Nuzool’s excellent sense of subterranean direction the group traversed the darkened sewer tunnels without getting lost.

The exit of the tunnel network deposited the adventurers in the basement of a dwarven workshop that, sadly, had been looted long ago. As the group climbed the stairs, several of the party heard movement in the ruins to the northwest. Taking a closer look through the windows of the ruins, the group saw a war band of perhaps ten orcs searching a nearby ruin.

The party formulated a plan. They wanted to know more about the dragon and its lair before launching a mission to infiltrate and steal the Crown of Stars. Perhaps one of the leaders of the orc war band could given them the knowledge they sought?

The group prepared an ambush for the orcs. When they were ready, Thorgrimm stepped out into the rubble-strewn street and offered a sharp challenge to the orcs, taunting them into attacking and sure enough the orcs came charging!

The fight was short and fierce, with the adventurers dispatching the green skins with ease. Gaz-Borg managed to grapple an orc shaman to the ground and tie him up, figuring he’d know more than the warriors of the war band.

Dragging their prisoner into a near by ruined house, the party took refuge and interrogated the shaman for information. Woz placed a Geas on him, forcing the shaman, ‘Gnarleye’, to divulge everything he knew. Gnarleye and the rest of his clan, the ‘Burning Talon’ appeared to worship the dragon as their god, believing her to be all-powerful. He gave a rough description of the lair and its two entrances, as well as the trophy column of skulls upon which rested the Crown the adventurers sought. Narlgathra sometimes left her lair to hunt and often slumbered for weeks or months.
The orcs were tasked with searching the ruins for treasure and returning to the lair to add to her massive treasure horde. Gnarleye told of the orc’s shift schedule, which would aid with timing the group’s incursion. Also, the dragon had apparently forged a truce with the demons of the city. Their respective territories were now clearly set, however they had fought in the past.

Thorgrimm executed Gnarleye, then the group set to formulating a plan to get into the lair and get the Crown. After much discussion, the final plan was agreed upon – Nuzool (along with Woz’s scorpion familiar) was to go in to the rear entrance of the lair by stealth, using a combination of invisibility and fly spells/potions. He’d make his way down to the chamber with the dragon, steal the Crown and hopefully the half-orc skull (which Ghada sought) as well, then return to the surface.

The group positioned itself within view of the rear cave entrance to the lair. Mingling around the cave were nine orc warriors who looked quite alert. Nuzool made his final preparations before flying into the cave mouth, cloaked in invisibility.

One of the orcs on watch noticed something was a miss, and, glancing around, took a few wild swings through the air, narrowly missing the orc standing next to him who turned, grunted a complaint and slapped its careless companion. What started as an argument, quickly turned into a brawl as the two orcs set upon one another, giving Nuzool the perfect opportunity to slip inside.

The rough-hewn tunnel was pitch black making progress quite slow as Nuzool was forced to feel his way along as he had no light to go by and didn’t want to give away his location. Half way down Nuzool felt the tunnel curve away from his hand to the right. He used his light magic to look around and found a small sleeping cave off the main tunnel. He made his way deeper and several minutes later, the tunnel opened up into a larger corridor, clearly not of orcish make.

The long corridor led deeper into the earth, several corridors led off to the right and left, all lit by smoky torch sconces on the walls. A group of orcs stood guarding the corridor further down, Nuzool quickly bypassed them by flying up close to the high ceiling. Again, one orc felt the presence of something, but this time managed to alert his friends who set to searching the large, shadowy corridor.

Nazool skirted by the guards and was soon gone, leaving the orcs to search in vain. Nuzool flew deeper, finding himself in a huge, long chamber. To his right was a crude altar around which three shaman’s chanted, to his left, a large forge had been constructed for making steel weapons. Six orcs were at work there. Ahead he could hear the sounds of rushing water. Without pausing he forged onwards, coming across a huge rift that cut across the large chamber from east to west, below an underground river rushed by.

Meanwhile, up above the rest of the group hid within the shell of a ruined building watching the rear entrance. The larger, tough-looking leader of the orc warriors split up his brawling men and sent them back to their posts.

Thanks to the information gained from Gnarleye the shaman, Nuzool had his entrance to the dragon’s lair mapped out in his head. He flew down just below the edge of the chasm and headed westwards, deeper into the darkened lair.

The rift quickly narrowed into a tunnel just ten feet wide and the water was rushing even faster here. Further in Nuzool spotted a small side cave with a sandy bank on one side. Flying deeper still, the chasm finally opened up again, this time into a huge chamber, which was so long Nuzool, couldn’t make out its ends that were cloaked in darkness. To the southeast Nuzool spotted his goal – a thirty-foot tall column of skulls, atop which glowed a powerful magical radiance – the Crown of Stars. Beyond the column was a raised area, on top of which a huge red dragon slept, curled in around it self. However Nuzool didn’t pause to look but he could feel its heat and hear the rhythmic breathing of the great beast.

Using the column as cover, Nuzool flew over. Taking a few moments to look over the skulls, he spotted the bejewelled half-orc skull, but decided to leave it for now – the Crown was his first priority. Ascending the column, Nuzool reached the top. There was the Crown, twelve of the finest quality gems of emerald, ruby, sapphire and diamond, floating in harmony in a tight circlet, glowing with an intense magical aura. Reaching out, Nuzool carefully took the Crown and slipped it quickly into his pack. Descending, he grabbed the half-orc skull and did the same with it.

It was at that moment that Nuzool noticed that the dragon’s steady breathing had fallen silent. The dragon was awake!

Up in the world above, suddenly, everyone felt the pebbles on the ground shudder, as the ground shook slightly. Deep within the earth there could be heard a deep roar…

Nuzool sped through the air, back towards the chasm. The air was filled with a deafening, bestial roar. A wave of heat washed over him. Narlgathra was awake and furious to find her most valuable treasure missing!



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