After some discussion, the party decides that finding the green dragon’s lair is a priority. If the orcs were to discover the dragon was dead, they would be free to loot the treasure horde and make off with all the valuables. After a bit of thought, Malroc remembered that green dragons favored lairs in the woods, often elevated and always well hidden. He warned the others of this, letting them know that it might even make its home in the upper branches of particularly old and large trees.
Discovering the dragon’s lair in the wood would be the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. The party reasoned that it would be easier to track the orcs and hope that they would camp near the dragon’s home. Determined, the party turned around and made their way back deeper into the woods.
Finding their way in the forest, in the dark would have been difficult for most people, but Malroc‘s sense of direction was perfect. The party eventually returned to the site of their previous battle with the orc warband. Once there, it was a small wait before Shivra’s keen eyes found the tracks of the archers who fled the conflict.
The trail proved of little help, as the woods in the area was crisscrossed with the orc raiders’ tracks. There was a moment of indecision, and the party took some time to make their choice and rest. Taking a guess and a leap of faith, Shivra decided to follow the tracks that led deeper into the forest.
The drow scouted and marked the trail for her companions, and the foliage only increased as the group continued further southeast. The canopy of leaves overhead made it difficult to mark the passage of time, but they continued traveling for what seemed like three or four hours.
Amidst the shadows of the forest, Shivra sensed something out of the ordinary. She stopped and the rest of the party halted, instinctively taking up defensive positions. Slowly, she crept forward, her senses sharp and alert. Through the trees and undergrowth before her, Shivra was able to make out the shape of a tent, its olive green blending into the colors of the forest.
The stealthy drow cautiously moved forward and discovered a number of other tents nearby, along with barrels and crates, filled with food, water, wine, ale and oil. The tents were arranged in a cunning manner, so they blended in with their surroundings. But Shivra could find no sign of any inhabitants. Nothing moved or made a sound within the campsite.
Shivra returned to call her companions and they all entered into the well-hidden campsite. They spend some time examining the tents and the surrounding area. There were 3-4 sleeping rolls in each tent, along with some scattered weapons. On some of the crates and barrels, Stravo recognized the mark of the the Firebrand Merchant Guild. And on the farthest edge of the campsite, they discovered claw marks consistent with the dragon they recently killed. Looking up through the canopy, Malroc saw broken branches such as a dragon in flight would have made. “We’re on the right track.” Malroc pointed toward the shattered branches. “This way.”
The party continued on through the forest, until the trees thinned out. Before them lay an enormous rocky protrusion jutting from the surrounding foliage, its sheer walls towering one hundred feet above the forest floor. Even the tallest nearby trees barely reached halfway up the cliff-like edge. The party estimated it was nearly two hundred feet in diameter. Vines and moss clung to spots on the red-brown stone, but wind and rain had worn much of the rock bare. At the top of the ancient butte, the party could make out small trees and other vegetation growing.
After a quick inspection, the party could see that there were no cave openings in the cliff face. Any lair entrances would be at the top of the massive rock. Malroc and Crono were the strongest climbers. They volunteered to make the difficult ascent first. They would carry rope which they would secure at the summit and would aid their companions in the climb.
The minotaur and eladrin began their climb up the side of the butte. Crono‘s keen eyes found handholds up the steep edge and his nimble athleticism served him as well as Malroc’s incredible strength. They had ascended over halfway up the rocky outcrop when they heard a loud shriek nearby. The wind blew freely above the trees and was loud in their ears, but there was no mistaking the shrill cry of a large, predatory animal, nor the second call that answered the first. On the summit of the butte, the climbers saw a draconic shape lumber to cliff edge. Roughly the size of a draft horse, it spread its wings and launched itself into the air. As it took flight, the minotaur noticed the creature’s lack of forelimbs and deadly looking stinger at the end of its tail.
“Up! Quickly!” Malroc‘s voice carried a sense of urgency. "We don’t want to be dangling halfway up this rock when this thing notices us!" Crono nodded and the climbers doubled their efforts, their muscles straining to carry them to the top.
The two defenders pulled themselves to the summit of the butte, in time to see the second creature launch itself into the air. It gave a piercing shriek and lashed its tail stinger at them as it flew by. Its partner returned and the two began circling the minotaur and the eladrin, alternately stinging and clawing with their hind legs.
Malroc and Crono did their best to avoid the wyverns’ attacks, struggling to secure their rope to a nearby tree and tossing it down to their waiting companions. As Shivra, Stravo, and Trinkstein tried to make their ascent, the circling wyverns would dart at them and claw them loose. The drow and dwarf in particular barely escaped a devastating fall, only to grab onto the rope at the last second. Eventually they made their way to the top, and once the group was reunited, they were able to kill one wyvern and drive off the other.
The top of the butte was flat, with small trees and shrubs scattered around. At the center was a large hole, perhaps 20-25 feet in diameter, with a ring of trees around the edge. As they approached, they discovered that it descended for another fifty feet or so, opening into a larger cavern inside. The party took a moment to rest, and decide how to continue.
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