The Great Dragon Hunt

Episode 2: As Pure As the Driven Snow
New Companions For the Party

The large flakes made soft pucking sounds as that hit the window pane. The fire was newly stoked, nothing remained on the plates but grease and crumbs, and the night promised to be cold and long. Three children clutched an old man’s sleeves and begged to hear about Taralak and the Giants again. A smile broke across his broad, bearded face as he took a seat on a stool near the fire. He motioned for them to sit as he fumbled for a pipe on the mantle. Two children sat cross legged, the other propping her head upon her hands with her elbows planted on the floor, a great bear skin between them and the cold dirt floor. Having lit the long pipe and taken a few deep puffs to get the rough tobacco going, the fire casting his form in a long shadow on the wall behind he began the story…

‘Long ago, when Bahamut’s scales were still dusky and shaded, Taralak lived down in the Udoli Horach. He was a mighty lumberjack, who could fell a mighty oak with one blow. Taralak worked hard, but lived alone. One day, while walking through a pine forest, his axe slung over his shoulder, he heard a loud commotion from up ahead. As he got closer he discovered it was two giant clans, met for the spring festival. The giants were tumbling and wrestling, laughing despite the ghastly sport. It was there he caught sight of a young giantess (“Horala!” the children cried, wide-eyed). That’s right (he said laughing), Horala. Perhaps you should tell me the story! (The children protested and begged him to continue). Well, Taralak nearly fell right over when he saw her. He walked right up to those giants, who all stopped their games and watched, amazed, as the man approached. The three strongest giants bared down on him, but Taralak stood tall, swung his mighty axe around, and proclaimed “I am Taralak, the great woodsman. Who is that giantess yonder?” The giants, still in disbelief, answered him, and Horala’s father pushed between the three strongest giants. “And what would you have with her?” He demanded. Taralak said he intended to bring her back to his lodge and make her his woe-man. The giants fell to the ground, laughing. Finally, Horala’s father rose and spoke, “If you can best our three strongest champions in feats of strength, you may ask Horala to return with you.”’

One child jumped up, he chased after the cat, pretending to be Taralak fighting the manticore. The other two children set upon each other, pretending to be Taralak and the giant wrestling. The old man laughed at the shrieking children, puffed his pipe and waited for them to return, which they presently did.

‘That’s right, that’s right. Taralak and the giants were set against manticores, Taralak was the first to subdue his beast. Then Taralak wrestled each of the three giants, proving victorious again and again. Finally, Horala’s father revealed the final test, the first of them to move a mountain would win. The three giants immediately set to the task, trying to push, trying to lift, anything to move their mountains. Taralak set to it as well. After a week, none of them had yet succeeded. Horala’s father declared that when the sun rose on the 8th day, if none of them had succeeded, none of them had won. The giants and Taralak struggled throughout the night. As dawn rose, Horala’s father and the other giants came to see. They looked around the first mountain, no movement. The second and third had not moved either. Then they came to Taralak’s. They were astounded to see a clear impression where the mountain had been, and where it stood now. Taralak had succeeded and Horala was delighted to follow him back to his lodge. And children, Taralak and Horala had 70 children, our great-great ancestors who tamed this valley and gave us the giant’s blood that runs through our veins.’

It was not the last time the children would hear this story

Ellion and I had been in Dolni Hora only a short while when he announced to me that he had received a message from Onia at long last. It had been months since we had last heard from any of our companions, and not it seemed they were on the road north to meet us and help hunt the dragon. I wasn’t sure how they had found out where we were, though I suppose they had known I was headed north in search of a white dragon, but it mattered little. I was pleased to know we’d have their assistance. The powers Verenestra gave to me have been strengthening, but I do not know if just Ellion, Skanda, and myself could kill a dragon on our own. The people here in the northern mountains are predominantly half-giant folk, yet they have been unable to deal with this dragon for twenty years! It must be a fearsome creature indeed, and I must be cautious to not overestimate my abilities.

Dolni Hora is the most-visited city of these half-giants, and as such has a very cosmopolitan population. This is not to say that no one is curious about us, but we have been warned that other settlements in these mountains will rarely see anyone of outside parentage. The traders who hired Ellion for the journey northward were quick to confirm to us the story that people here are mistrustful of magic and any who use it, too, so we have been trying to keep that in mind so as not to cause any additional problems for ourselves.

Just before our companions were to arrive from the south, the traders convinced Ellion to travel with them again, this time farther into the mountains. Ellion felt it was worth his while to agree, especially since their destination would ultimately allow him to rejoin us at some point down the road, long before we expected to have any sightings of the dragon we were stalking. This meant that our companions were disappointed to arrive to Dolni Hora and find him gone, most especially Syoran who had great news to tell us – Desluna was expecting! We celebrated at a tavern that evening, where Erelas and Syoran put the local champion to shame at a game of seeing who could pull a large rock the highest out of a pit dug into the tavern floor.

Syoran had acquired a new companion in his journeys, a Tiefling sorcerer by the name of Damakos. We were uncertain how to think of him, with his hellish appearance and the reputation all children are taught in fables and cautionary tales. Onia most especially was overtly dismayed, but Syoran vouched for Damakos and Skanda also seemed at relative ease. He’s a strange one, that Skanda. He still has not removed his leather mask once in our company, not to mention his frightening propensity to burst into flames, which has kept him barred from most establishments we have come across since meeting him.

Here in the north, they have a time-honoured and greatly-respected group of half-giants who serve the public as Guides, for traveling about in the mountains. Civil society provides everything the Guides need – food, housing, equipment – and the Guides shepherd travelers free of charge, no matter who you are or where you come from. The Father, who is the leader of this mountainous realm, selects those who will serve, and they join the Order of the Silver Moon and volunteer their assistance to any who ask.

Episode 1, Epilogue

The Dragon’s corpse lay on the forest floor bleeding darkly into the earth. Syoran walked along its side, trailing his roughened hand lovingly along the green scales, already envisioning the finely-crafted pieces his wife would craft from its hide. I stood morosely in front of it, uncertain how to feel.

The battle had been an unqualified mess. I was still not even sure of the actual sequence of events – what with the Dragon’s taunting of Erelas with the vision of his father, my companions and I running a merry circle around hedges obstructing the battlefield, trying to pin down spider-monsters and chase off birds and cut wood elves out of cocoons, uncertain whether they’d survive the battle or not, I do not trust my recollections. I only remember that the Dragon had come on us from behind, in the middle of the infuriating chaos, and from there on in I had to fight my mounting impatience and anger at being unable to engage my forsworn enemy. Beset upon by flocks of birds controlled by the hulking green wyrm, needing to help ensure my companions’ survival, for those who faced attack by spider monsters, I had to let the Dragon choose who he would fight and where… and that was maddeningly distant and hidden behind the hedges.

I ground my teeth and could have fused the forest floor at my feet to glass with the heat of the anger in my scowl.

We were lucky that Garret and Ellion’s sure shots winged it, else it would surely have launched itself into the air, laughing at our miserable efforts to best it. My hand strayed to the wand snugged in its belt on my ribs, testing its green crystal tip thoughtfully with my thumb. True, the dragon was dead, by whatever means, and surely that was the important part, but by the gods I had wanted to deliver this Dragon’s death to Verenestra. Instead I’m left uncertain I scratched so much as a scale.

Garret, incensed at Ellion’s claim that his arrow and not Garret’s had dealt the final blow, was continuing to protest the exaggerated details of the story the bard was cooking up to tell Sova’s daughter (and anyone else who’d listen).

I hated them both in that moment.

Eventually I collected myself, more or less, and helped my companions clean up. We sat and rested a while, with the others celebrating their first dragon kill, and sharing what food we had left, and me sitting more quietly, trying to not taint their excitement with my mood. Syoran was nearly beside himself with excitement – I suppose even though this dragon was not the one which had killed his father and leveled his home, he would get some measure of vengeance in the killing of it. He had grand plans to skin the wyrm and craft armour for all of us, and seemed not to be able to hear me tell him that I had never worn scale armour and felt that wearing it would jeopardize my ability to cast. I let the matter drop; I would let him have his excitement unmarred.

After a few hours, a feeling of great restlessness came over me, and I think some of our party felt the same (Syoran not being one of them; he was wholly obsessed over the dragon’s body). The dragon was dead, but there could still be captives in the maze, and cultists we should run down. To that end, we readied ourselves, and pulled Syoran away from his prize. The mist had nearly dissipated, and some of the snarled thorn bushes in the hedges seemed to be withdrawing. We marched determinedly through the maze now that the dragon’s magic was not assaulting our minds and energy, putting an end to any foul creatures we encountered, and helping what victims we found alive.

That night, we slept the first night of good rest since before entering the maze. Verenestra came to me in my dreams, and wearing a grim smile, she stood in front of the dragon’s corpse under a waning moon. Her eyes blazed in time with the stars in her hair. She turned and held her hand out to me commandingly. I approached and was surprised to feel, for the first time, no compulsion to kneel. I drew my Blade and handed it to her as I knew this was what she was asking. Catching my eyes, she nodded once, slowly, and then turned to the dragon and sank the Feyblade into its chest.

When I woke in the morning, I found that much of my anger had disappeared.

With every passing day, the hedges dwindled. On the third day, we found the dragon’s lair. Tucked into the wooded slope of a craggy foothill, it appeared as though it had taken over a tunnel initially hewn from the rock by some other creature. We feared Drow, but saw no traces of them other than the body we had come across after killing the dragon.

Entering, we found only traces of the dragon’s hoard. There were elven artifacts, some longbows which were adorned with small emeralds, minor items of jewelry, but it was not a hoard befitting a dragon of the age this one had been, and there was what Syoran was able to tell us was a fresh cave-in, sealing the tunnel and preventing us from further searching. I was somewhat put out at this, since I had hoped for some small wealth to ensure my ability to continue on with my task, but my disappointment was nothing to Garret’s. The halfling nigh glowed with anger, his face terrible to behold. We all knew he had been counting on the dragon’s hoard to fund the enterprise he planned to establish in Ulosa as a base from which to launch the effort to someday regain his family’s place in Underberg [let me know if we actually didn’t know this, Ork]. If the remainder of the dragon’s hoard could not be found, that plan would be delayed.

The others were also less than pleased by this development, although Syoran less than I would have imagined, for a dwarf. He seemed truly obsessed with the excitement of crafting dragon armour – something which had not been done in centuries [tell me if it’s not that long, Andrew]. He could tell us that the cave-in was not something that should be undertaken without a crew of knowledgeable miners. We collected everything that remained on this side of the cave-in and decided it was time to help Syoran load the dragon corpse onto wagons from the cultist camp and return to Valona. This took quite a lot of time, and once the carts were loaded I was of next to no help in pulling them, but I did what I could.

As we exited the maze, we were surprised to find King Sova and princess Aeliona waiting for us along with the King’s guard! This was of great relief to me, since it had taken us three days by elven horse to travel from Valona to this region, and it would have taken considerably longer for us to return on foot pulling wagons laden with the remains of a dragon. The King made speeches (which I could understand much better than the last time I had seen him) extolling our bravery and valour and thanking us for what we had done for his people. We traveled in relative comfort back to Valona.

Episode 1, Session 3
Dragon's Fall

Just to get something preliminary up for this entry, I’ll type it out in confused note form.

- After leaving the rescued wood elves, the adventurers came to a place where Ellion heard music. It was the same song his mother had sung him when he was little, telling him tht it was a song his father had composed. Ellion grew agitated, and despite his friends’ attempts to restrain him, he slipped through their grasp and dashed around the corner to find the singer. After some incredulous questioning, it appeared that the man was indeed his father.

- Soon after that, Ellion’s father dissipated into the mist, another trick of the dragon, and the party was attacked.

I can’t remember what attack happened at this time. Was it goblins and spider goo monsters? Was this the attack where Syoran wanted to use his water flask to collect goo after we’d killed everything? Or was this the attack where we did damage to the dragon? Actually, I think our first fight with the dragon happened in episode 2, so I’ve definitely messed up the timeline anyway… ugh… my brain is a pile of mush… I was able to run Eric’s ranger for him yesterday, but the effort of trying to get 2 characters to be useful seems to have sapped all good recollection from me, lol!

So yeah, we drove the dragon off once, and we killed some goblins and goo monsters, and Syoran wanted to empty his water flask to collect their goo for craftting experimentation.

Later, we ran into more goo monsters, and probably some more goblins? We cut some wood elves out of goo monster webs. We found an abandoned wood elf village and nearly lost Onia to a fit of cultural archaeology. Luckily he decided to continue onwards with us despite the treasure trove of wood elf artifacts, because around the corner, we found Erelas’ father, appearing in his old elf form. We knew this to be another trick of the dragon.

The elf vanished, and goo monsters attacked us, and we had difficulty fending them off. More birds attacked us s we fought the goo monsters (where did we encounter them first? Back where Garret skewered a few of them as they were attacking me?)

This area of the maze turned out to be a large clearing dotted with hedge obstructions. We were vaguely aware in the recesses of our minds that there were trees, but the goo monsters managed to split our attention and keep several party members stuck in place apart from each other with their goo. We were also attempting to rescue numbers of terrified wood elves from their webbing.

Inthe middle of it all, the dragon landed behind us, and engaged Ellion, who was at the entrance to this particular clearing. Some of us were additionally beset by birds. Some of us were so far removed from Ellion and blocked by obstructions that we didn’t even know the dragon had arrived. It was certainly an uphill battle to gather together as a group, we were so spread out.

Syoran struggled to kill his goo monster, his greatsword cleaving air. Onia had wandered into the vicinity of a tree, and had to fend off spores as well as the dragon seeming to attempt to turn the tree roots against him to hold his feet fast to the ground. He battled against his own goo onster.

Garret was a blur, emerging from the shadows to launch lethal volleys of arrows at whichever target seemed to be the most likely, then vanishing into hiding again. Erelas continued to miss attack after attack, with a caster controlling his actions… Aylani was never in the right place at the right time, and when she did have an action that could be useful, she had birds to deal with. Finally, she managed to Hex the dragon… and then proceeded to miss her atack on it every time she could take n attack. Ellion held his own and must have put a bunch of damage on the dragon, because eventually, with a sickening rending sound, it appeared we had winged the dragon. with it now mired on the ground, we rallied, while still struggling against goo monsters, and before long Garret was dismayed to find that Ellion snuck in the killing blow [… uh.. or was it the other way around? Help, I’m lost… ]

It still took some time to finish off the goo monsters… Onia had to chase his halfway through the maze to run it down, and it nearly cost him his life, but with the dragon dead the mist was lifting and the hedge walls were weakening, and he eventually did get the kill.

We stayed in the maze for the five days it took for the dragon’s magic to dissipate completely, hunting down captives and treasure. No sign was ever found of Ellion’s father nor of Erelas’ father. We recovered some very interetsing items from a small trove hidden in a tunnel [ DM to provide details].

Traveling back to Valona, we found Sova’s great hall in full celebration. As we entered, Sova climbed his throne-oak and sang a song praising our service to the realm of the wood elves. He gave time to each adventurer, describing our valour and might. After he was done, he opened his fern-chest to us and encouraged us to take the item each of us most desired [DM to provide details]. He also declared an invitation to the adventurers of elven descent to stay with him to serve as rangers of the court [can’t remember the title Andrew mentioned, will edit later].

… I promise, I’ll gather some of the information I’m hazy on, and return to re-write the epic dragon battle and ceremony in Sova’s hall! I can’t believe how much it hampered my brain to run a second character at minimal competence, lol…

Episode 1, Session 2
Into the Maze (Aylani's retelling)

“On the morrow, we strapped on our packs and weapons and with excitement but no little trepidation, entered the Dragon’s noxious maze. Immediately, venomous fumes enveloped us, filling our nostrils with acrid stench and unsettling our stomachs. An oppressive mist swirled slowly through the unpleasant, thorn-woven hedges which bore bitter fruit we hoped we wouldn’t be forced to risk consuming for sustenance. I sensed uneasily that the mist was not the cause of the mood which had descended over us and that there was some agency of the Dragon already at work on our spirits. We had felt it while camped at the site of our battle with the Dragon cultists, but inside its maze the mood captured us at a more fundamental level than before.

“Travel was slow despite an easy path. We felt assailed, as though every pace was achieved by mental exertion against some great force. We bolstered each other whenever one among us succumbed to exhaustion and despair, though Ellion’s attempts at song and Garret’s attempts at hilarity to lighten the mood were quickly found by us to be intolerable. I hope they will forgive us for the evil words we threw at them, on the far side of this maze once the Dragon is vanquished.

“In some places the thorns leapt out at us to ensnare and wound us, causing us more underlying stress whenever the Dragon’s living architecture narrowed to loom over us closely on both sides. The Dragon’s creation was a parody of King Sova’s green hall, mocking that which was beautiful and throbbing with life into a greyed prison sapping our spirits and eager to see our demise.

“These attacks wore away at nerves despite not seeming to be much of a threat to our lives.

“It would have been at about midday, if we could have seen the sun, that I heard distant strains of music which immediately brought me back to my Lady’s moonlit forest. Before I could even think to ask if any of the others heard anything the vile odour seemed to ease from my senses, replaced with the unbearably sweet scent of the pomegranate seeds I had been fed from Her hand. The music swelled and I knew the Seelie Court was nearing; any uncertainty that had been tugging at the edges of my mind was immediately forgotten, and my heart sang with delirious joy. The perfume of the pomegranate, now augmented by the endless scent of honeysuckle I had noted in the forest that night, lifted me and bore me on the newly-sweetened mist of the maze. Lady Verenestra had come! She had heard my message the night before, She was here to join us in overcoming the green wyrm with the might of the Seelie Court! Why had our column stopped? Why was Erelas keeping us from joining them?

“I became angry in a swell of emotion, and strode purposefully past Ellion and Garret to find Erelas and Onia cautiously halted at a turning of the hedge wall. Hesitating to advance as though they were concerned that whoever was making this unearthly beautiful music could be of danger to us! I rounded on them to scold them for their stupidity and to push them forward, but in that moment I heard the singing falter and change to sounds of dismay. On the heels of the disruption came sounds of attack, and without hesitation I launched myself between my companions to throw myself at my Lady’s assailants, certain that the Dragon had come upon them perhaps backed by his cultists, from the sound of steel on steel. Erelas and Onia were startled by my aggressive course, but their quick reflexes managed to catch me in my headlong charge, and fought to restrain me but I was a wildcat, kicking and scratching and beating my fists on the links of Onia’s chain armour, spitting and screeching protest and insults.

“As I fought against them, I was able to catch over their shoulders and beyond the hedge horrifying glimpses of slaughter occurring among the fey folk who had marched from their distant home into the maze in response to my summons. My struggles grew even more frantic; I saw satyrs and dryads hewn down by slathering goblins, and I felt inescapable madness frothing upwards through my mind as Lady Verenestra, recognisable only by Her star-filled hair, vanshed under the black shadow of a huge Dragon still hidden from my view by the hedge, and the light from Her stars were extinguished.

“I remember no more until I came back to myself.

“The carnage was gone, the goblins were gone, and there was no Dragon in sight. The six of us stood on ground that should have been soaked in fey blood, and yet was only wet with the venomous mist which was once again oozing into my lungs. My stomach heaved. I felt empty, I felt as though I had spent a hundred nights with no sleep, I felt a yawning void stretch in front of me. I bit back tears of despair that we would ever find our way through this prison, and I bit back tears of loss that Verenestra had not come to help even as my soul cried in relief that She had not fallen to the Dragon. I listened dully to Onia as he told me that there had been nothing here all along, and as Erelas provided what I am sure was enlightening information about green dragons and their ability to inflitrate the mind and twist a person’s thoughts. I was defeated.

“When my companions judged they had given me some time to recover from the experience I had endured alone, we trudged on, they, shooting me concerned glances which I ignored wholesale. The hedges attacked us again, the poisonous berries gleamed evilly under the muted light in the mist, and another of what we by now presumed the Dragon’s minions, those black birds with the red eyes, flew over and perched on a branch above our heads, watching… watching…

“Time passes with no meaning in this maze. Or perhaps time does not pass at all here. We won’t know the answer until we emerge, but when that will be I do not know. The hedges attack, or they stay silent as hedges should. We put one foot in front of the next. We sometimes stop to nibble on rations or take a sip of the water from our flasks. Sleep is not possible; no matter how tired, when we stop to attempt a rest, not one of us can settle and allow it to find us. We shift in and out of anxious, trance-like states which feature disturbing visions, rising frustrated and demoralised before the appointed time. Not even Erelas finds respite.

“At some point, we came across a clearing in the winding corridors of the maze where goblins and scaled folk had been at work over some length of time slaughtering and apparently sacrificing prisoners brought there for that purpose. The stench was unbearable, and a terrible altar stood at the far end of the maze floor, dripping with the thick blood of freshly sacrificed victims. Piles of rotting flesh and bones littered the area. The sight was shocking, and pierced through our senses. For a brief moment, I froze, thinking it was another vision sent to me from the dragon, but Onia let out an enraged roar and barreled across the clearing as fast as the weight of his armour would let him, Erelas screaming alongside, and with their action, my own confidence returned. Ellion and Garret quickly had their bows notched, loosing arrows to rain upon the evil creatures like a hailstorm, and I found Lady’s Verenestra’s Feyblade in my hand, its moonstone blazing against the pulse in my wrist, Her magic surging in my fingertips aching to scour these creatures from the face of the earth.

“Though I was nowhere near the bodies of any enemies for the rapier to quench its thirst, still it felt powerful to hold in battle. Even more than my spellweaving, the Blade seemed to connect me to my Lady. It was something tangible I could hold, and the gem nestled in the centre of a metalworked moonflower summoned enchanted tendrils of living vine to grow and twine around my hand and wrist, blooming glowing flowers to dash away doubt and fear. I felt as though through my Feyblade, Lady Verenestra could guide my hand, and it was a transformative moment, banishing all chance for the Dragon to regain access to my heart and mind.

“Poor Syoran was last in line to enter into the clearing, and was unable to arrive in range of enemies before the rest of us had already put them down; just as he got close enough to hope to take a swing at one, it would die at someone else’s hand and our companions would be urgently drawn off to the next, these cultists sending their own arrows at us to answer Garret and Ellion’s. There was no waiting to include our enraged dwarf, I’m afraid! I believe his greatsword managed to taste goblin blood before all were dispatched, but I am certain he still sulks in private.

“We made gruesomely quick work of these foes, and in so doing, each of us seemed to shake some of the torpor from our minds and rally our spirits; we left that encounter feeling – dare I say it – revitalised, in some measure. Also, Garret [or was it Syoran or Ellion? I can’t remember at the moment] came out of that clearing gibbering about the Dragon having whispered in his ear, which did somewhat unsettle us despite our new resolve. Having experienced the Dragon’s ability to whisper in my ear earlier, so to speak, I put it down to this, and the Dragon’s malicious taunting of my guild brother merely fueled my anger to enact vengeance on it for what it was doing to us.

“Alas, there were no captives left alive for us to rescue, so we wiped the gore from ourselves and grimly continued through the maze, our determination to reach the Dragon and rid the world of its menace renewed. We edged cautiously along the pathway, trying to stay alert for any sign of attack. Rounding another corner, we neglected to find suspicious two trees standing along the path. In hindsight, of course, this was an environmental anomaly, since we had seen nothing like it in the days we had spent in the confines of the maze. As Erelas and Onia led us along, our proximity triggered a soft storm of spores to be breathed from unseen pods in the branches – these spores descended upon us, and I, the only one not wearing armour, felt them immediately upon my skin with a maddening tingle and itch before my eyesight even registered their presence in the mist. My hands leapt to my neck and face and began scrubbing vigorously; I suppose I was lucky in being able to rid myself of them so, because others around me began abruptly to react extremely.

“Onia in particular, stopped following Erelas. As I passed him, he began to yawn and reel as though drugged. I became alarmed as I heard and felt, more than saw, our bard and rogue making movements and sounds which did not match with how we had been progressing along the path just a moment before. I stopped in my tracks to take stock of what was happening and knew immediately that something was wrong and was going more wrong with every breath of hesitation. I heard Onia, now behind me, drop heavily to one knee as I saw Ellion beside me stumble with heavy-lidded eyes. Ahead, Erelas seemed unaffected and continued his cautious way along the path, which was leading us along to another of these damnedly out of place trees.

“I must have made some alarmed noise. I could see etching tracing its way slowly along the armour Syoran and his wife had crafted for Ellion, and the thought flashed through my mind that if these spores were eating through the product of Syoran’s craftmanship, they could quickly prove lethal to my friends’ flesh! I threw down my pack and ripped the water flask from its side, fumbling urgently with its stopper. Ellion was now down on the ground, and I dropped to his side and splashed his face and shoulders with my water, frantically scrubbing his skin with my fingers and muttering some form of "Nooooo, oh no, no no no, Ellion, wake up, help me wash the Dragon’s poison from your skin… "

“Syoran seemed frozen, confused at the events unfolding in front of him. He looked to Erelas for some explanation, but Erelas was just as uncertain of what was transpiring, and looked perhaps to be even a touch annoyed that the group was stopping to rest. Thank the gods, Ellion revived quickly, and I scrambled over my pack in panic for our cleric who was to all casual appearances enjoying the first good sleep any of us had found since entering the maze. Beside him, Garret had succumbed to the effects of the insidious spores as well. I desperately splashed and sloshed water over Onia. We were all done if he was lost. Even through the sickly veil of the Dragon’s hateful fog, I could see his breath sucking spores in and then exhaling those which hadn’t stuck inside of him in an evil fountain of dust. Somewhere to the side I heard Syoran calling out for torches – perhaps he proposed to march over to the trees and set them aflame? His great dwarven constitution certainly didn’t seem to be allowing him to succumb to the effects; perhaps this would be a worthwhile pursuit. I was happy, though, that Ellion who I had been able to revive first contributed to trying to wash Garret clean of the spores instead of lending a hand to the torch endeavour. It was terrifying to watch the work of the spores’ acid cut into strong steel armour, and I shuddered at what it could be doing to their owners’ insides.

“In the end, Erelas, who had ventured into the second tree’s blast radius, found himself being overcome by spores as well, but by now we knew the malady was easily enough overcome if attacked quickly with a vigourous scrubbing. All those affected reported to their dismay that their armour was likely weakened. We backed up, deciding to not risk more exposure to the deadly motes, and chose a different path.

Later we came on some wood elves who had been charmed by the Dragon. They made to attack us, speaking a strange mix of Sova’s wood elf dialect and what Erelas told us was draconic (I suppose his father taught him? He seems to have been a very impressive expert to have mastered that language well enough to have passed it down to his son). Ellion approached them to try to calm them down, and when he mentioned that we had been sent by King Sova, it seemed to break through their enchantment for a moment, so we encouraged our bard to sing for them the song Princess Aliona had shared with us around our campfire the night before we entered the maze, which told the story of Sova’s life. By the end of Ellion’s rendition, which was by all accounts more rousing than Aliona’s more respectful version, the elves had come to their senses and put away all idea of attack. We sat with them and answered their questions about what had been happening in the realm since their capture, and described how easy it would be for them to rejoin the princess for evacuation at the nearby wood elf settlement which had repelled the cultist attack earlier that week. The poor creatures were malnourished and mentally fatigued, but their ordeal was over and you could see in their eyes, and hear in their song, how eagerly they anticipated their reunion with their sovereign’s daughter in the living forest outside of this prison.

We left some distance between ourselves and the elves in order to attempt to rest, lest the Dragon should appear in the night and the elves be caught in the ensuing battle. They would be safer without the presence of an armed guard in the maze.

Episode 1: In the Hall of the Wood Elf King
Session 1 - Our adventurers meet in Valona

In the densely forested valley between the Grygov and Smich Mountains lies a wood elf kingdom. The Grygovian and Smich dwarves rely on the wood elves to transport goods across the valley, the ancient dwarven tunnels below the valley floor have long been infested with drow and accompanying nasty creatures. The wood elves, lead by King Sova, have lived in relative peace for centuries, the dwarves providing protection from the occasionally threatening army of orcs from the north. Sova’s Great Hall was located in a wood elf “city”, Valona, (you wouldn’t know it was a city having just been plopped in it, the dwellings were either underground or in the trees) in the southern part of the valley. Valona attracted wood workers from neighboring kingdoms. The wood elves took great care of the forest, but the few trees they felled were of world class quality and renowned bows, furniture and wood carvings were produced there. The elf settlements beyond Valona relied on the forest for food and shelter and enjoyed a mostly isolated existence.

The last six or seven years, however, have seen a change in the forest. Rumors began to spread through the eastern settlements of the strange behavior of birds and smaller woodland creatures, the elves felt as if they were being watched as they went about their day. Then elves started going missing, children, women, hunters out alone. King Sova dismissed the rumors that reached his hall as the wild imaginations of a convincing story teller traveling the far off settlements, but sent a contingent of his finest hunters to the eastern edge of the forest. Only one returned, beleaguered and lacking weapons and armor, he carried a small basket. The king and his attendants watched in shock as the ranger open the basket and revealed a gristled goblin head. Their concern mounted as he presented them 3 long, sharp teeth that he unbelievably claimed belonged to a dragon! Sova appealed to the dwarves, but they were still more skeptical, and chalked it up to a rogue goblin clan that had made it’s way into the forest. The dwarvish representatives urged Sova to send a greater force and drive the goblins out. As their trade routes were still running without incident, Sova’s appeals for further intervention fell on deaf dwarvish ears.

Sova sent word to nearby cities beyond the forest for champions to help his kingdom.

Six adventurers converge on Sova’s great hall in Valona to help with the matter of the dragon causing problems in the kingdom of the wood elves. All but Ellion are awed by the incredible living hall, and at least somewhat taken aback by the mode of discourse of the wood elves, who sing everything they say.

Those adventurers who speak Elven help translate back and forth to those who do not (the translations vary…) as King Sova sings the story of what has been happening in his realm. Sova indicates that Princess will guide the adventurers through the forest, but is not equipped or trained to help them in combat. After unsuccessful attempts on the part of some adventurers at securing an advance on the reward for killing the dragon, Aliona leads them to the east, riding horses specially bred by the wood elves for forest traveling.

Ellion is quite taken by the princess and spends much effort in attempting to secure her interest (which has so far netted nothing in particular). Aylani Thenosen, realising that she seems to be picking up more Elvish than she would have thought she would, attempts to improve on her linguistic gains by engaging the Princess in conversation, when Ellion’s attention is occasionally elsewhere.

After three days of travel, the group sees smoke and hears distant sounds of yelling. Soon, they find an Elven woman holding two children protectively, and singing to them. It is quickly learned that she has fled the nearby Elven community, which is under attack by goblins. There is a short argument between the travelers and the Princess, who wants to take the adventurers directly to the village; Ellion, Aylani, and Onia insist that she stay with the Elven woman, safely behind the battle, since the location is very close anyway.

Our adventurers arrive on a gruesome scene. Goblins and human-like individuals have set fire to many of the Elven homes here, and are caging the inhabitants they’ve managed to catch and subdue. The party quickly closes with the closest groups of enemies, between Onia, Syoran Silversmith and Erelas Treestrider, while Garret Nimblefeet and Ellion stand back to act as lethal archers, with Aylani wielding her patron’s magic.

Battle is chaotic; the dwarven warrior’s greatsword cleaves through goblin flesh with ease, the human cleric, who towers over everyone else, proves to be very well-armoured indeed, the wood elf ranger is a blur with his two short swords, the halfling rogue’s tactical positioning makes him a lethal adversary, and the single arrow he looses that spears two foes inspires not only his companions, but also some of the inhabitants of the burning village, who thereafter join the battle (… or are able to stop cowering in the house and gain enough courage to flee? I can’t remember). The half elf bard finds himself abruptly beset by more enemies than he had expected at one point, and a goblin attacking with a torch manages to set him aflame. Ellion puts his speed to good use and streaks across the field, launching himself in the mighty river (waist-high stream… ) which flows through the village to quench the flames. Aylani is surprised by the damage her spells, which she has thought of as “simple”, seem to be doing.

As combat on the near side of the stream seems to be wrapping up, Ellion, now on the far side of the stream, is alarmed to discover more goblins and scaled humans loading caged elves onto a cart hitched to a horse. At the same time, Aylani, who is cautiously trying to keep space between herself and the group responsible for setting Ellion alight, hears singing coming from a burning house behind her. She calls out, hoping the elves inside will somehow understand, telling them that help is here, but there is no movement from the structure. Erelas disengages from the almost completely subdued group of enemies he had been helping to battle, bursts through the house’s door, drags the inhabitants outside, and directs them towards the Princess and safety.

Ellion bravely engages multiple enemies in an attempt to keep the cart from hauling off the imprisoned elves, and Garret (or was it Ellion?) shoots the unfortunate horse so the captive elves cannot be abducted. Other party members begin to close the distance to this new area of combat as their adversaries fall on the near side of the river. Onia is the first to arrive, followed by Garret, still employing advantageous positioning to amplify his arching, and then Aylani. It is at this time that the adventurers are able to see a serpent lady closing in on three short sword wielding wood elves either trapped in or defending a pavilion-like structure. Before anyone can take useful actions against this frightening creature, one of the elves in the pavilion calls out to Aylani, and she curses her lack of knowledge of the language. It seems to her that the elf is asking her to choose one of three options, so desperately, she calls back the first option and this seems to satisfy him. A pillar of fire descends on the serpent creature, blowing her back. While our heroes would have liked to close with her, she runs (slithers?) away as soon as she picks herself up after the blast.

The party finishes off the goblins and scaled humans, lets captive elves loose, and helps the community put out fires. A village elder sings a mournful song, which also seems to thank the adventurers for their help, and gives each of them 2 pieces of compressed plant matter which turns out to be healing herbs of some sort. The party leaves in pursuit of the fleeing serpent lady.

Night has fallen, and when the group hears sounds of battle up ahead, they fear they might not be in fighting shape yet. They fall back and rest before proceeding, at which point they find caged elves and another horse and cart, with dead goblins and a dead serpent lady. From the charring on her body, it is decided this must be the same creature which suffered injury from the pillar of flame outside the wood elf pavilion. The dead creatures seem to have been dispatched with fine weapons and practiced technique, and the adventurers come to the uneasy conclusion that perhaps this was a drow attack. They continue onwards, uncertain of what they will find.

A little while later, they hear goblin voices and eventually see some indication of firelight on tents or huts. Creeping in closely, the party sees goblins around a campfire. Three die very quickly, but the fourth runs away to sound the alarm. The adventurers follow, and more combat is rejoined at a nearby second campfire. Again, some of the goblins escape, this time into a fringe of trees. When the party pursues them, they come under arrow fire, though this does not have the effect of stopping their chase. They break through the trees and find multiple targets to engage – goblins, and more scaled humans. There is a strange quality to the air here. Shortly, they hear strange chanting begin, and it grows louder and faster the longer it goes on. As the adventurers fight their way through this part of the enemy camp, the air gets stranger and stranger. Finally, they see the source of the chanting – a goblin shaman – and quickly target him. A strange mood takes Onia, and against his better judgement, he finds himself running away. A minute later, Syoran finds himself strangely compelled to drop his sword. Meanwhile, isolated on the other side of the enemy camp, Erelas finally takes too much damage and realises he has to disengage to save his hide.

The shaman manages to finish his chanting just before he is felled, and moving in closer, the adventurers find a strange dais, or stage, set in front of two lines of dense thickets. The goblins and scaled humans are mopped up, the camp is swept to be sure that there are no more enemies to jump on them… and one line of this dark hedge at the back of the camp swings open, beckoning the adventurers onwards.

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1. Invite your players

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2. Edit your home page

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4. Create some NPCs

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A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.


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