Campaign of the Month: August 2013

Dragons of Autumn

Back across the plains

Session 9

The group breaks camp and continues down the Eastwall Mountains. As day breaks, the group observes large columns of smoke rising from the far west in the direction of Solace. The group descends into the plains. Goldmoon makes her farewells and departs to begin rebuilding the Que-Shu tribe.
As the group crosses the plains, they find it greatly changed; huge scars in the plains where thousands of people and crude, two-wheeled carts passed to the south. Whatever passed through the plains has left no signs of life. Although the plains are typically harsh land to live one, there are no signs of wildlife or plain settlers.
The first sign of life the group encounters are pack of scavenging coyotes trailing the group. A few of the group drop some rations for the small dogs. One coyote is brave enough to approach the group and actually eats from Draigo’s hand. This particular coyote continues to follow the group long after the other coyote’s depart.
Eventually the group spots a horse in the distance. An excited Mora is eager to find a new horse, but as they approach the horse appears to be kicking and rearing in pain. When they get within 100 feet they realize that the horse is actually hovering above the ground. Suddenly, the horse drops and reveals that it was being eaten by a large troll. The troll charges the group as its mortally wounded meal runs off to find a place to die. The group is making short work of the troll when two other trolls approach from the north-east. One troll begins to attack Draigo when the lone coyote from the plains leaps and attacks the troll. The troll swats the small dog away and it is no longer able to fight. The regeneration ability of the trolls make the battle a little more difficult, but Almaia lights a torch and starts to burn the fallen trolls before they can heal. After the battle, an exhausted Draigo collapses and the coyote limps over to lick his hand. The groups’ healers revive Draigo and the coyote.
The group continues on and encounters the ruins of Que-Kiri. The village resembles the ruins of Que-Shu except one of the remaining bodies is still alive. Although the body is burned so badly that it has shriveled into a pugilist stance, but a small patch of unburned beard reveal that the charred being is that of an old man. They hoarse breathing of the old man attracts their attention and he tells them about the fate of Que-Kiri:
" Didn’t you see it? You must have seen it! From the north… they came from the north! From between the mountains. First the terrors that rode the great wyrms… they came into our town and fear filled our breasts. We fought, though. Yes! We fought long and hard, but still more of them came on leather wings… straight out of the old legends they, fire splashing like waves over our homes. Many fled… many died. Those who ran fell among the small demons – man-sized but looking like their larger masters. I don’t know where they took my people… I was too clever for them. I hid! Yes, I hid! When shall my people return? What shall become of my garden? "
The group stares in horror at the retelling of Que-Kiri‘s fate. The old man succumbs to his wounds shortly after speaking with the group.
The group departs Que-Kiri and heads for Solace which also appears to be the source of the smoke they spotted from the Eastwall Mountains. As they leave the plains and enter the forest, they encounter a trio of dire wolves feasting on the remains of a horse (likely the same one from the plains). They decide to go around the beasts and continue to Solace.
Solace is a disaster area. The might vallenwood trees have been hacked, uprooted, and burned. Only a few of the trees remain. The town is severely under-populated and the only remaining townspeople appear to be older men and shopkeepers. The group heads toward the Inn of the Last Home and find that it has been knocked out of its tree and is now at ground level. Patrols of a third breed of draconian wonder the streets of Solace (See Kapak). The group heads to the Inn to avoid the attention of the draconian patrols.
Inside the remains of the Inn, the group finds it empty except for a lone, thin, and cloaked figure sitting by the door and three old men around a table in the back. The kitchen door swings open revealing Tika holding a sizzling frying pan in one hand and a frothing mug in the other. " Sit down! " she orders, her loud voice out of place in the somber town. " Git somethin’ to eat – you look like a pack of starved rats. " As she walks past the group she whispers: "And then we’ve got to talk. "
The group sits and Tika comes by to take their order. She returns with some of Otik‘s spicy potatoes and a round of drinks. She serves them excruciatingly slow and she asks to leave town with them. The group whispers a conversation with Tika. They discuss the attack on Solace and the occupying Draconians. The Draconians only allowed those with useful trades and skills to remain in town and removed all the healthy young men and women away in wagons with big cages. She fears that Otik and her will become useless when they run out of ale and potatoes.
Suddenly, the entry bursts open and six Kapak Draconians come in and sit at a table. The Draconians are a rowdy bunch and they demand quick service. Tika fetches their food and drink. As she returns, the hooded stranger near the door approaches the group. As he passes the Draconians table, one of the Kapak pulls off his cloak and reveals that he is a handsome elf. At once, the draconians begin to shove the unfortunate man around, gleefully bullying him. This is Tika’s breaking point. Sending hot potatoes flying, she slams the hot skillet into a Kapak’s head.
The Kapak attack Tika and the elf, attempting to knock them unconscious. The group leaps to defend their friend and the bullied elf. The Kapak attempt to knock the dwarf companions unconscious as well which proved to be a mistake. The group quickly fells the half-dozen Kapak and discovers that this breed of Draconian dissolves into acid pools when destroyed.
After they kill the Kapak, they hear heavy feet clatter outside the inn amidst flickering torchlight. Suddenly the door splinters inward and a crowd of Draconians bursts into the room. The band is led by a swaggering ugly hobgoblin, the stench of his unwashed body preceding him by several feet. The group is shocked to recognize the resurrected Fewmaster Toede. The hobgoblin sneers and orders the group arrested for brawling and assaulting soldiers of Highlord Verminaard. The group observes dozens of Draconians outside the Inn and has no choice but to submit.
The group is stripped of all their equipment and are unceremoniously tossed into great wheeled cages. They watch their equipment being stored in another wheeled cage. Blz17The prisoners whisper of their future as slaves in the mines of Pax Tharkas. Of the other prisoners sharing the same cage as the group is the formerly hooded elf and a group of Seekers – one of the Seekers appears more noble than the other two.
The group introduces themselves to the elf; his name is Gilthanas. When the group begins to discuss escape, Gilthanas advises against it and tells them: " Things are not always as they seem. Perhaps we should wait until conditions are more… favorable. " When the group presses him for more details, he simply grins and winks.
Toede begins to mobilize the caravan; he is followed around by a gully dwarf servant. Hobgoblins follow and flank the caravan. Draconians lead ahead of Goblins who lead the caravan.
Shortly before departing Solace the group is startled by noises of combat. The noises are quickly silenced and soon after Kapak toss a human into the groups’ cage. Gilthanas recognizes the humans as Theros Ironfeld, elf-friend. He assures the group that Theros was the reason that the dragonmen had not captured him days ago. Theros is gravely injured; he bleeds heavily from the stump that was once his arm.
Donegin and Yelfis attend to the human, healing his wounds. The miraculous wielding of holy magic stuns the occupants of the cage. Gilthanas raises an eyebrow and the Seekers start murmuring about a " miracle. " The noble seeker silences the other two, but continues to stare wide-eyed in astonishment.
The group spends the rest of a long day in the cages, but the caravan does not move out until the next morning. Toede escorts the caravan riding a small, shaggy pony. He taunts the prisoners as he passes with tales of the dungeons at Pax Tharkas and of the Dragon Highlord. His gully dwarf servant follows him around on foot wearing mismatched and over-sized armor and a battle axe of doubtful quality at his side – he is continually tripping and falling in the mud.

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