(This entry refers to Session Summary 8)
So, like, we’re a bit behind schedule getting our butts to the front line.
Things started well, we managed to get back to Kassen’s Hold without any hags or sharks or crazy storms getting in our way. When we got back to his tomb, Kassen (and a much less asshole-ish Vergas) were able to get back to their eternal rest and stuff, but before they sent us on our way they told us we could take a day so that each of us could be taught a lesson. In this case, it wasn’t a euphemism for something terrible, each of us was given one-on-one tutelage to learn a new way to kick butt! Kassen seemed a bit lost for my boon, until he realized he could put a new spin on using one’s head in combat! He put us on the trail for where we might be able to find some tombs and stuff once we get to The Desolation.
Anyway, we got back to the town where our caravan was being assembled (I pitched in extra for reinforced suspensions on every wagon, I think it’ll be handy), and we met some famous people! Ameido Kaijitsu and Shalelu Andosana, adventurers who had traveled with the Pathfinder Elle Konstantinov in Varisia, were heading north to join in the fight against a world-threatening evil, and they were going to get there with US! SO COOL! Maybe then can introduce me some time… you know, once we’re through with an almost certainly suicidal mission. (Just kidding. About the suicidal part, I mean. Elle’s probably going to be published in the next Chronicles, and I totally want to add to my list of signed copies back home.)
Our next stop was Vigil in lastwall. We took the long way around the Fangwood (you know, because we’re not idiots), but we had to cut through a small bit toward the last leg. Of course we ran into bandits, and of course they wanted money, and of course Anselme tried to muster all of his prepubescent face and peach fuzz into a scowl totally failed to scare them off. Maybe if Leone hadn’t been cleaning himself in sort of an undignified way, you know? Anyway, Pandora paid for us to get through, which is nice because I’ve learned I’m really not too fond of having to show idiots that they’re also weak and squishy by cutting their friends in half. No challenge in it. We did send a message ahead to city to let them know about it so they could run them off though.
Oh, and we ran into a knight a bit further on, Sir Ilmonen of the Crimson Swords, who was out hunting a dragon. I’ll get back to him in a sec.
At Vigil, we were met by the Knights of Ozem, and we caught them up on everything that had happened and all the intel we’ve picked up. They were so pleased with Brother Vang’s work they promoted him to a full knight, and assigned him a shield bearer and chronicler, Sister Anya. Everyone’s poking fun about the two of them being an item, pretty much all the time. He seems to be taking it pretty well, but I’m gonna try not to push it too much. Still, who knows what could happen on a journey like this…
Anyway, about Sir Ilmonen. I figure that anyone who can fight and has a pulse is probably better off heading toward Tsar, but if everyone goes then a dragon could pretty run roughshod over the local farms and stuff, so we decided to help out with the dragon (even if he did seem like a bit of a jerk. The knight, I mean.) We found a ruin in the woods, and Pandora and Cassandra went up to talk to elf lady inside. I found out later she told them to lead the knight away.
We spent a night camping out (everyone thinks it’s weird I like to sleep in the snow), and the next morning Anselme was having a lively conversation with an owl. Who turned out to be the elf lady, a druid! He tried to get her to help us sort this whole thing out, but she seemed certain the dragon and knight would have to fight, and told the boy that the dragon wouldn’t be alone. So, on we marched, until we came to a clearing where everything finally came to a head.
I’ve read stories about dragons, about how awesome and terrible it is just to be around them, but they didn’t prepare me at all. Dragons are FUCKING SCARY! I don’t think of myself as a coward, I’m not afraid to take a hit, or to put my life on the line for my buds, but that day I learned that I stutter when I’m scared. I still shudder a little bit, thinking about it.
So the dragon came down, the knight charged, and everything went to hell as the invisible druid (now a wolf) and two invisible jerks took down the knight’s horse and started to wail on him while the dragon made fly-bys. Most of us tried to talk Sir Ilmonen into the fact that the dragon didn’t know where her parents’ hoard (his goal) was; I think I saw Pandora toss a dagger the dragon’s way, but luckily she didn’t manage to piss it off. Finally, he threw down, and we finally had a chance to talk things out.
Brother Vang took off his dragonslayer armor to give to the dragonslayer knight, and also patched up the man’s horse, so even if he doesn’t particularly like us, at least he’ll be better prepared for The Desolation. The dragon’s name is Aurakraul, and she lost her parents at a really young age, hadn’t had much guidance until she met this druid lady, and was just trying to get by in a world that already had preconceptions about her and stuff.
Yeah, I totally empathize with her.
We decided to help her find her parents’ old lair, and with Eagle-Eye Anselme on the hunt (as an eagle, of course), it didn’t take more than a couple of hours. Bad news: those two unsavory fighter types? They’d already found the place, and had started to loot it. Luckily they didn’t realize the value of anything but money, so most of the good stuff still looked to be there. Aurakraul found a message from her parents, about the dragon Verthimirix, who’d tipped off the Crimson Swords as to where they could be found. I told her that if she wanted to get revenge, and make a name for herself as a dragon who could be counted on to fight on the side of good, there was ample opportunity for both if she were to head north toward Tsar. She seemed to give this some thought, as opposed to my totally reasonable request for maybe one quick flight (I’ve had even been willing to just hold on to a talon, so it wouldn’t even count as letting someone ride her or anything.) Hopefully we’ll see her again.
Pandora thought the whole thing was a terrible idea, by the way, but she seemed okay to let it slide for the time being after I gave her an IOU for ten grand, good if Aurakraul ends up being an evil dragon after all. I really hope when we see her again, so won’t prove me wrong, because there’s no way I’ll be able to cover that anytime soon.
If you’re counting, that’s three days of travel lost at this point. Still, I think it’s been worth it for the extra help coming up with us.
That night, back in Vigil, I had another really weird dream. It was another one where I couldn’t talk or move anything, not even look down or away, but this time I wasn’t just in a void with the Man in Metal screaming at me. He was there though, huge this time (a lot bigger than usual, bigger than most giants I’ve heard of), and he was working at an equally big forge. The fire inside was hot, so hot the flames weren’t red but most yellow, with tufts of white and blue sometimes. He was laying out all the tools, working the bellows, doing everything I’ve seen smiths do before working on a really big project… except I couldn’t see what he was going to work on.
So, like, after prepping for a while, he stopped and looked right at me. He didn’t yell, and he didn’t say anything. Well, the Man in Metal doesn’t usually say anything, but sometimes I still hear stuff? It’s hard to explain, but this time has silence was silent. Then, after a moment, I think his head nodded. It was hard to tell, it might have just been the air shimmering around him, but I’m pretty sure about what happened next. He reached out his arm, and a massive gauntlet wrapped around me until all I could see was his palm…
And that’s it. It doesn’t feel like the dream ends there, though. Eh, it’s probably just some random dream. I’m not going to bother anyone else about it, we’ve got more important things to worry about.
Which gets me to the next day. After one last feast, we made our way out of Vigil, and out of Lastwall, into the Hungry Mountains. It was cold and snowy, but I managed to snag this really soft and comfy grey fox fur cloak beforehand, so I didn’t even feel chilly as I spent some time hunting game. Just as I caught back up with the caravan, a guy in robes appeared in front of us, giving greetings from Orcus!
Cassandra managed to get out an awesome spell (remember that one that slowed everything down for me in the golden city? This one does that exact opposite!) before Pandora charged ahead of me, which meant that she was the first one to get walloped by the invisible ettin that stood between us and the Orcus priest! Man, that thing hit hard.
I spent the fight trying the whittle away at the big guy, but luckily Meryk managed to distract him by peppering the priest with some crazy awesome shots. The ettin was even tougher than me, and the arrows that the orcs in the woods sent my way mostly just bounced off when I was tensing up against them, so that’s pretty damn tough. Luckily, even though Pandora and I had a rough time hitting, Cassandra managed to neutralize the winged minotaur that appeared at our rear, and Brother Vang kept us up and going crazy long. I think I would have died from those lost blows if I hadn’t been so pumped up and he didn’t spend a good half a minute patching me up afterward.
Oh, and I’ve got to give props to Anselme for giving the ettin the killing blow. I’m happy with the assist, and that nobody was hurt. Our caravan guys (backed by Shalelu and Ameiko) did great too, and we only had minimal damage to our caravan. Frankly, I think that was the goal all along, just slowing us down. Well, we’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ve got a good time, so, like, I think we can get the job down.
On the bright side, we’d got something fun to look forward to in just a few days’ travel: Zantric’s wedding! I’ve never been to a dwarven wedding before, I wonder what it’ll be like?