The party explored the tunnels beneath the green dragon’s lair a bit further. Finding it relatively safe, they took the reprieve as an opportunity to rest and recover from the previous day’s grueling encounters. As her companions rested, Shivra‘s reverie reminded her of her past in the Underdark. The deep tunnels, beneath tons of earth and rock, held an odd comfort for her. But the Lands Below were never truly safe, and the wary drow did not let her guard down, especially so close to a dragon’s lair. As they rested, Shivra occasionally heard faint rumbling and scraping sounds echo down from the dragon’s cavern, but their rest was otherwise undisturbed.
After hours had passed, the rest of the party stirred from their sleep. Despite some aches and sore muscles, they felt greatly refreshed. Crono used his magical sword, Goldenclaw, to radiate light similar to a torch, its pale yellow glow piercing the unyielding gloom.
“So what now?” Malroc asked. The big minotaur sat against the tunnel wall and fished through his pack, eventually finding some cured pork and dried fruit. He began to eat as looked over at his friends.
“We go back. We go back and we kill that damn dragon.” Stravo spoke with a grim determination. The bard was in the middle of sharpening his sword and had paused to talk. “We finish that foul beast before it has a chance to recover from the wounds we gave him!”
Shivra nodded her assent. “The creature was sorely wounded. Perhaps we were close to slaying it?” The drow rogue glanced around at the rest of her party and casually held out her new, magical dagger. “In any case, there are items of magical power in that treasure hoard. Items we could certainly use. This dagger was just one of the many powerful items the green dragon has no doubt collected.”
Stravo nodded in agreement. “Also, we have slain many of the dragon’s allies. We should strike again, before it has an opportunity to replace them!” The other party members looked at each other. Privately, they may have had their doubts about returning to face the dragon so soon, but the bard seemed set.
Their path agreed upon, the party soon worked out a plan. Malroc would take up position at the bottom of the chute and boost the other members up, in hopes to get the entire group into the lair as quickly as possible. Their combined powers would hopefully pin the dragon down and their teamwork would eventually subdue and slay the hated wyrm.
The party cautiously made their way back up the tunnel, looking for the slightest hint of danger. About fifty feet from the tunnel entrance, Shivra held up her hand, gesturing for the party to stop. Her nose wrinkled, as the drow detected the odor of oil. She crouched, running her hand through the water trickling down the tunnel. She rubbed her thumb and forefinger, feeling a slight greasy slickness. The rogue turned to her companions. “Oil,” she whispered. The others nodded, then gestured for her to continue.
The party continued up the tunnel, Shivra wincing at each clank of her friends’ armor as they moved into position. They heard some movement in the cavern above, and an occasional shadow would block the sunlight that streamed down from the cavern entrance far above. After a quick glance and a nod at each other, the adventurers sprang into action.
Malroc quickly moved to the base of the chute, ready to boost his friends up. A shadow and noise above didn’t distract him as first Crono, then Shivra used him as a springboard, their fey teleportation powers stepping them through reality to the cavern above. As the drow seemingly emerged from the swordmage’s shadow, the dark elf and eladrin saw two objects falling through the air: a barrel, followed closely by a lit, burning torch.
The bottom of the chute exploded in a firestorm, with Malroc catching much of the blast. The stalwart minotaur gritted his teeth against the pain, but set his feet within the pool of burning oil, readying to boost his remaining friends up. Stravo nodded grimly at the warden’s determination and the bard charged into the blaze, leaping into Malroc’s hands. The minotaur’s powerful muscles flexed, propelling Stravo up into the cavern above. The half-elf found his footing and stood, pulling his longsword out and into the ready position.
Trinkstein took a deep breath and began his run, but his footing slipped on the oil, and the dwarf was unable to get a proper leap. The invoker tripped and fell into the fire. Malroc instead grabbed at his fallen friend’s clothes and waist and hoisted Trinkstein over his head, heaving the dwarf out of the pit. The warden tried to follow, but slipped amid the burning oil and was unable to clamber out of the hole.
The fight was furious and deadly, with the dragon aloft keeping much of the party out of the fight as it swooped in to attack isolated members, or breath if they bunched up too much. Trinkstein was able to dislodge the dragonspawn who was mounted atop the large green wyrm, and the draconic ally plummeted into the pit.
In the tunnel below, a wounded Malroc battled the fallen dragonspawn, the two massive warriors trading fierce attacks, each inflicting tremendous injury upon the other. The dragonspawn was still stuck within the pool of burning oil, while the minotaur was able to shift out of it. Winning the war of attrition, the mighty warden struck his enemy a resounding blow, flinging his opponent backward into the oil, and the dragonspawn did not rise again.
Above, the dragon continued its hit and run tactics, its relentless assault wearing down the strength and energy of the band of heroes. The party was resolute, determined to see victory, and they continued to fight. Despite their mighty efforts, all were battered and bloodied by the dragon’s constant attacks. Eventually, Trinkstein collapsed, struck down by the wyrm, and the difficult call was made to retreat.
In a show of fantastic bravery, Stravo singlehandedly held the dragon off as his friends gathered the fallen dwarf and slipped back down the pit, into the tunnels beneath the cave. It was only with repeated urging from his allies that Stravo was able to leave combat, as focused and fearless as he was. The bard ducked the dragon’s claw attack and darted for the pit, tumbled into the chute and rejoined his companions.
The green dragon did not follow them below, but they could hear its roars and bellowing. The group moved further down the tunnel for safety, then checked Trinkstein’s injuries. With sadness, they discovered that the dwarf had suffered many horrible wounds and had been killed. Stravo resolved to see their friend restored to life, and the rest of the party voiced their agreement. In the meantime, they rested.
After a number of hours had passed, Shivra had recovered sufficiently, and the drow determined to check on the whereabouts of their draconic enemy. She stealthily made her way back up the tunnel. The fires had burnt itself, and much of the oil off, but the scent of fire and ash clung heavily to this part of the tunnel. As Shivra approached, she could neither see nor hear any movement in the cavern above.
With a swift, acrobatic run up the side of the chute, Shivra flipped, twisted, and landed in the dragon’s cavern, her deadly blades at the ready. It was empty, with only stone, shadow, and silence to greet her. She cautiously made her way around the cave to see that the dragon had departed, taking nearly all of its treasure hoard with it. The drow shook her head in disappointment, still pocketing a few stray, loose coins for her troubles. Shivra returned to her friends and relayed the news.
With no rope to climb out, their way was clear. Follow the tunnel and see where it leads. With Shivra at the lead, the party made their way down, traveling for nearly an hour until they heard the sound like a rushing water. They soon discovered that their tunnel ended in a large cavern, with a subterranean river flowing through it. Three other tunnels exited the cave. Shivra, with her experience in the Underdark, was able to determine that two of the tunnels led further down. One continued up, and was their most probable exit. Additionally, she found a number of tracks crisscrossing the cavern floor. A number of booted humanoids had been here, likely within the last 24 hours. Some had left from all three exiting tunnels. The rest of the party pondered this as they made their way up the ascending tunnel.
They followed this tunnel for what seemed like hours, until they eventually exited upon the surface. The exit opened up to a cave, the stars and the night sky overlooking what could only be the Dragonwater River. Excited to finally get a measure of their bearings, Malroc confidently lead the party back north, certain to eventually reach Hawksbridge. Concern for their fallen invoker drove them, and they continued with very little rest, hurrying to revive the dwarf as soon as possible. In time, they saw the lights of Westfork across the river. Encouraged and knowing their exact location, they spurred on even faster.
They arrived in Hawksbridge exhausted, but they refused to rest yet. The party made their way yet again to Threecoins Chapel, in hopes priestess Serida would be able to restore Trinkstein. It was with disappointment that she informed them that she lacked the ritual components and could not perform the raising. She did enact a minor ritual to preserve the body for a later resurrection. Unable to travel any more, the party left the dwarf’s body in care of the priests. They went to the Sleeping Wizard Inn to find rooms and rest.
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