Wednesday, December 19, 2018

5e: Doom of the Desert

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest, War Mage
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother and Father:

Aside from the holes in the ground, there were a trio of stairs heading down from the amphitheater under the sand and stone surface. Knowing we didn’t have time for a rest, we downed some healing potions, squared our shoulders, and headed down to face the dragon in her lair.

The disturbingly tight quarters were littered with sand mounds making moving a chore, and the sound of chanting coming off from one of the passages heralded something unpleasant. Turning a tight corner, we spotted some Yuan-Ti performing a ritual, and as we watched one promptly tossed itself into a hole. Abyssal voices echoed out of the hole. Knowing that there was absolutely nothing good to come from that, I used one of my precious spells and invoked a Carpet of Radiant Light right over the hole. It neatly divided the room in half, with the cultists primarily on one side and us on the other.

Unfortunately, from our limited point of view, we didn’t see all of the other cultists that were on our side of the Wall of Light. And again, because of the tight quarters, it was difficult to get everyone through the archway in any sort of order or speed. So while Hilda was hacking away at the cultists (and spotting Harshnag tied up), we were all poorly positioned when Iymrith burrowed her head out of the sandstone walls and let loose a lightning bolt that puts any I’ve ever cast to shame. The static energy of it all also blew the sand up, temporarily blinding us.

Thorin, having been stuck in the back, avoided both the sand and the lightning bolt, and shot his crossbow past those of us wiping our eyes, and Bran who had become encased in ice. The bolt flew true, striking Iymrith in the snout. King Hekaton broke off a chunk of the wall and threw it into Iymrith’s face. The stone shattered on her head, and she roared in annoyance. I used the power of the wall to blast her, the radiance blasting her scales. Her majesty and power washed through the chamber like a wave, and we realized the danger we were in. She then slipped back unto the sandy walls and out of sight. The shortened carpet of light opened a path for the cultists to slip through, but Aramil hypnotized them, and they stood dumbly watching the fight.

Hilda was slowly chopping her way through the snakemen, slipping in the sand as she tried to position herself to keep them from slipping away. Bran reached into his bag and tossed a wild boar into the sand, and then ordered it to help Hilda. Harshnag finally had broken out of his binds, and got to his feet. Joda ran up along the walls, kicking cultists as he went. The wall burst open and Joda avoided getting snapped in half. Unfortunately his blows went wide, but Harshnag made up for it, coming around the corner swinging his ax, and biting deep into her shoulder.

Hoping that they could handle it, I tossed a fireball into the corner where Iymrith was battling Joda and Harshnag. They all took it, and no one looked happy about it. “Sorry!” I called lamely as Iymrith again burrowed away.

Thorin, feeling the fear of the dragon, kept out of the corner, but picked a large mound of sand that mostly filled another doorway to give him a clear view of the battle. It also gave him a view of a pile of treasure. Rin, eyes still watering from the sand stumbled toward Thorin’s exclamation of “Treasure!” He crested the mound, and then slipped down the other side, disturbing the treasure’s guardians, air elementals! The coin laiden whirlwinds slammed into Thorin and Rin, buffeting them both. And then Iymrith burst out of the wall, and launched herself at Thorin! Bleeding and bloody from the elementals already, he was clawed and knocked to the ground. Iymrith then hopped over to do the same to Rin.

That she didn’t wait to make sure Thorin was dead is pure luck…

The cultists were finally cut down, and Hilda decided to toss the bag of beans she’s acquired a while back into the abyssal hole. Not the choice I’d have made. I dismissed the carpet of light, and cast mirror image on myself, running toward the sand mound blocking my line of sight. Heckaton cut me off, practically running through the pile of sand, shoving past Thorin, Rin, and the elementals right up into Iymrith’s face. The beans apparently found something worth growing in, and the crown of a great fruit tree popped out of the hole, the trunk basically filling it. Among the branches were a couple dozen large schnozberries.

Cresting what was left of the mound, I caught sight of the dragon, and caused a blast of Synaptic Static to wash over her and one of the elementals. I’m thankful I didn’t have to drop it on the King of the Giants… She spasmed, then shook off the effect, snarled at me, and began to summon an ice storm. Reacting as best I could I countered her spell… only just. Even still, a coating of rime ice formed over my hands. Hekaton used her distraction to hack into her.

Thorin somehow managed to get a second wind, and attacked the air elemental that whirled around him, sending coins flying. Rin, finally getting the sand out of his eyes did the same. Iymrith didn’t stick around to let Hekaton carve her up. She teleported away, and I couldn’t stop her.

Amazingly, she teleported back into the other chamber! She appeared next to Hilda (who had suddenly grown younger) as she was just wiping the juice of the schnozberry from her lips. Dropping the fruit, she flung her blade out at the dragon while Harshnag threw a stone at her. Bran’s shadow weapon stretched out into a hunting pike and he charged right into Iymrith, the shadow sinking in deep.

The shock and anguish of her death howl quickly wheezed out as her lungs collapsed, the shadow energy blackening her blue and gold scales. She tried to grasp at the shadow weapon, but her claw just passed through it as she collapsed to the ground.

Hours later, after we’d passed around the healing potions, dug up the bulk of her hidden treasure, and shared hugs and nervous laughs, King Hekaton teleported us back to the Maelstrom.

Being feasted in honor by the entire court of the giants is something I’m sure Aramil will write songs about, if not an entire epic saga… I’ll make sure he sends a copy to the clan.

But I feel… Melancholy. My urge to celebrate wa quickly sated, and now I long to again walk the halls of our clan steading. I’m going to ask King Hekaton to send Thorin and I home. Well, once I can get Thorin and Aramil to stop collaborating… I’ll have to leave again when everyone decides they’re ready to again face Old Snarl. We do not want him coming to find us, but I think it is not an *urgent* task.

Tell aunt and uncle their son is coming home safe, famous, and rich. They’ll appreciate that. Oh, and your son is also coming home safe and rich, if less famous. See you soon.

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