Caught in the crossfire of two dueling dragons
On the receiving end of a gulo bite and spear
Raised by Alistair, servant of Helm and aide to Sorrow
The search of the river bank had not provided any further clues despite their assistance by Hooch. Mamul and Rade, having enough of the river, opted to search through the forest. Hooch, Jiantou, Rolen, Sorrow, Vigo, and Bartholomew, the sole survivor from The Pedigree crew, set off in two canoes to follow the tributary westward.
The dense forest on either side of the creek was thick and humid, quickly obscuring the hulking figures of Mamul and Rade. The water was brown and murky and it was difficult to see how deep the river was. As they traveled, Hooch was at the front, sniffing and helping guide the way. After half an hour of steady rowing the Falconiers found themselves facing a sixty foot precipice rising extending as far as they could see to either direction with the creek meeting the sheer cliff.
Rolen sent his falcon familiar to scout above and discovered that the creek continued on the other side of the rock face, running under the precipice. A hidden valley with steep cliffs were on either side and approximately 3 miles up the tributary was a large waterfall with several small thatched structures near the base. Adjacent to the water fall was an ancient looking stone tower built into the cliff face and several caves. Approximately fifty gulo could be seen in and around the structures.
Still under the effect of Rolen’s water breathing spell, the adventurers slipped over the side of the canoes and entered the water. Having tied themselves together with a length of rope, they slowly made their way through the murky water, following the creek through it’s underground tunnel. After several moments, hooch jerked on the rope, having spotted several shadowy figures in the water ahead of the group. Jiantou, being nearest to Hooch, quickly fired a bolt at the closest figure which he’d recognized to be a gulo. Despite the difficulty in seeing, the group quickly overpowered the guards, with Sorrow’s short sword dealing the final death blows to each.
The group continued through the tunnel and surfaced after a quick search by Rolen’s familiar. They found a wooden walkway raised above the swampy ground which wound through the thick vegetation until it lead to a large clearing in the swamp. The wooden plank way they were following spread out into this clearing, creating a circular platform with three additional paths branching from it. Sensing that they were pressing forward into a dangerous situation, Sorrow told Bartholomew to take the left path and find shelter. Jiantou gave him a knife and he went on his way.
As Bartholomew was leaving, Jiantou informed the group that he would scout ahead on the path leading to the village. Distracted by beginning to untie himself from the rope, Jiantou did not see the trigger of a trap and as he stepped into the center of the platform the boards collapsed around him. Unwisely, Sorrow cut the rope to protect himself from being pulled over as well. Jiantou fell thirty feet and landed safely on the thick, moist vegetation that filled the bottom of the pit.
As Jiantou looked for a way to climb up the muddy walls and the rest of the adventurers prepared another piece of rope to throw down, a mound began to rise from the middle of the pit. It’s form was difficult to identify, with long vine-like arms and rotten vegetation covering its surface. As it stood it towered over Jiantou. Without hesitation Jiantou pulled out his crossbows and rushed the creature and sank two bolts into its hide. Vigo threw a rope down and Jiantou reached up for it, tossing his crossbow into the air, planning to catch it as he was pulled to safety.
The shambling mound reared back and hit Jiantou with two punishing blows, engulfing him. The rope pulled taut as Jiantou disappeared from view. Vigo threw a javelin into the pit, but missed the monster. S leaped into the pit, repelling down the rope, landing in front of the creature and making three brutal attacks with his greatsword, Judgement. Hooch followed after S but failed to grab hold of the creature with his bite. After being struck with Rolen’s magic missiles, the creature spit Jiantou out and made several attacks towards S. On the first hit, S cursed the creature in infurnal and called forth hellish flames. The moisture of the vegetation covering it’s form did not catch and the fire caused little damage. The second hit on S saw the creature close in and engulf S as it had Jiantou.
As Jiantou appeared, Vigo sang a song of healing for Jiantou while Jiantou pulled a knife and slashed at the mound. S was also attacking from within and a powerful blow pierced the creature and S severed it’s form in two, emerging from within while the creature crumbled in defeat. S growled “Next time, check for traps” and climbed out of the pit using the rope. Jiantou dispelled Hooch and followed.
With much more caution, Jiantou set off down the path he’d initialyl went to search. The rest of the group quietly followed about forty feet behind him. Jiantou came upon a small gulo child and silently bound the creature before the rest of the adventurers could arrive. They tucked the wriggling child out of sight and continued toward the gulo village.
As they rounded a corner, the Falconiers saw many gulo of all size and shape. Jiantou used his ability to cast minor illusions to fake the call of a gulo in distress. Several of the male gulo rushed to a shallow cave and emerged with spears. They rushed towards the direction of the sound. The remaining gulo also fetched spears but stood guard in the middle of the village. Rolen rushed towards them and cast fear, causing the rest of the gulo to flee in terror.
The adventurers entered the cave where the gulo had fetched weapons and discovered a small store of arms, including several poison-tipped darts and spears. Jiantou, having studied the art of poisons, rubbed several of his bolts on the poison darts and carefully placed them in his crossbows. Vigo stepped on one of the poisonous newts that were used to tip the darts and poison coated the tip of his boot. A large crate in the corner contained a vast store of drow gold coinage and many expensive gems. As the group investigated the treasure they heard a deep growl come from the entrance of the cave. Turning around they saw a large sabertooth tiger standing before them. Over the sound of the growling they heard the fast pitched clicking they’d heard in the bay where they’d been attacked previously by a conjured plesiosaurus.
Jiantou took a swig of the “High Time’s Elixir” granting him the ability to climb on the walls and ceiling. He rushed out of the cave and saw three gulo standing near the stone tower. One was dancing wildly and clicking loudly, the second was larger than any of the other gulo and he carried two spears, and the last was also larger than normal but was wearing an ornate, chiefly headdress and shells. Jiantou recognized the wild dancing and shot two bolts into the dancing gulo. The poison that he’d placed on the bolt caused the gulo to immediately drop to the ground, paralyzed.
As soon as the gulo dropped to the ground, the summoned sabertooth tiger faded away leaving the adventurers free to escape the cave. Rolen pulled out a small pouch of dust and threw it into the air. As soon as it landed on Vigo, Sorrow, and Rolen, the dust caused them each to disappear. Vigo rushed out of the cave and attacked the largest gulo with a javelin but missed with his target. As he threw the javelin he became visible, the invisibility ending on his attack.
While invisible, S held back a moment from the attack and quickly searched the stone tower. Not discovering anything he dashed towards the paralyzed gulo shaman. As he was passing the chief gulo he felt a sickening feeling. The chief gulo caused the same reaction within him that all fiends caused. His attention was immediately focused on the chief and he shifted his rage towards the chief.
With Vigo now visible and close, the largest gulo and the chief gulo lash out and landed brutal blows, nearly knocking Vigo unconscious. Jiantou fired two bolts into the chief as his attention was on Vigo and Rolen launched a barrage of magic missiles. Vigo jumped and kicked the chief gulo. The blow was perfectly accurate and a large amount of the poison on Vigo’s boot was rubbed off on the chief’s face. As Vigol landed after his kick the chief gulo dropped to the ground paralyzed.
Surprised to see the chief fall, the largest gulo roared and lashed out at Jiantou, landing two devastating blows and rendering Jiantou unconscious on the ground, heavily wounded. Vigo had been hiding behind Jiantou and he fell to the ground with Jiantou’s inert body on top of him.
Enraged by the presence of what he believed to be a fiend, S savagely attacked the paralyzed chief. The large gulo, evidently the bodyguard of its chief, took the opportunity to lunge at S, but S reposted the attack and drove the blade of his sword across the large gulo’s face. Shocked by this, it reared back in rage and pain to attack S but tripped over Rolen, who was still invisible and was trying to stabilize Jiantou.
Turning his attention to the chief, S raised his sword and heard the chief mutter a string of curses at him in abysmal. S drove his sword into the chief’s throat, slaying the gulo. Without hesitation he then drew out his sword and slashed the large gulo as it fell to the ground. Vigo, lying under the dying Jiantou, stabbed at the prone Gulo bodyguard with a javelin.
The gulo shaman, recovering from his paralysis, rose and, after seeing S slay the chief, pointed and began a high pitched series of clicks. S saw his greatsword begin to glow as if being heated by a fire and resisted the urge to drop the weapon, only slightly burning his hands.
Jiantou was inching closer to death and began coughing blood. With the large gulo on the ground within striking distance, Rolen turned his attention to him and cast a spray of poison to cover the writhing creature. Rising to his feet, the large gulo’s attention was still on S, who’d killed his chief. With a roar he lashed out with his spear and a gnashing bite. S retaliated with a swing of judgement but missed. Remembering the bracers of burning he received in Chepstow, he pointed at the gulo brute and unleashes a mighty flame that engulfed the gulo. As the flames vanished, the lifeless gulo fell to the ground next to the chief.
S turned towards the gulo shaman and rushed towards him. Too far to attack, S pulled a small vial of red liquid from a pouch on his hip and downed the contents. Erupting from his mouth was a stream of fire, similar to that of a dragonborn. The shaman managed to evade most of the fire and began dancing around, conjuring a bramble of thorn bushes to grow from the earth. With the thick thorns between him and the Falconiers, the shaman retreated around the tower toward the waterfall.
Rolen, tracking the shaman with his falcon, cast a final barrage of magic missiles, each connecting with the retreating gulo - the last one delivering the final death blow. While their attention was on the shaman, Jiantou sputtered a final cough and was then still, his lifeless body on top of Vigo. Unaware of his perished ally, S approached the chief and chopped off his head, lifting it high into the air for any remaining gulo to see.
It was then that Rolen and S discovered that Jiantou had died. Vigo scrambled to his feet. While they looked at Jiantou’s body, the remaining Falconiers heard a loud clapping come from the sky above followed by the distinctive sound of leathery wings beating against the wind.
An enormous green dragon drifted down, landing in the village, and eyed the adventurers. "Well done, gentlemen,” the dragon snarled, “I was just going to eat them, but that was far more entertaining. Would you mind staying? Perhaps for the rest of your natural lives? You could, I don't know, worship me and prepare my meals.”
S hastily replied to the creature, infuriating it with his lack of respect. As the dragon offered a final chance for them to worship it, S grasped the amulet of Helm around his neck and called for aid from Alistair. Not knowing what was coming, Rolen pulled out the magical item he received in chepstow, the “heat seeking missiles of blindness and deafness,” and fired it at the dragon. The last thing the dragon saw before he went blind and deaf was the glowing blue form of Alistair, the deva sent to serve S in times of need.
“What aid do you seek, Sorrow?” Alistair asked upon forming. S quickly said that his party was in great danger, a dragon was before them and one of them had already perished. “What do you seek first: pain or healing?” Alistair replied. Without hesitation S answerd, “Pain.”
With the word, Alistair turned towards the green dragon and polymorphed into a large golden dragon. S grabbed the lifeless form of Jiantou and dragged it around the corner into the cave behind the waterfall. Vigo ran after S, but before Rolen could make a move Alistair, in dragon form, unleashed a mighty spray of fire at the green dragon, who retaliated with a noxious cloud of poisonous breath. Rolen was caught in the cross fire and was immediately killed.
S and Vigo stayed hidden in the cave as the dragon fight raged outside. S felt the presence of fiends while the walls shook around them, and they could see a long dark tunnel disappear in the back of the cave. Outside, they heard growls and screams and could see bursts of flames. After several moments the roars subsided and they again heard the sound of leathery wings beating against the air. They rushed out to see Alistair returning to his angelic form, visibly wounded but not near death. S approached Alistair and they communes together with Helm.
Allowed three yes or no questions, S asked if his journey will take him down the tunnel behind the waterfall. “Yes,” Helm answered. “Will you provide me aid, whoever this tunnel shall lead?” “Yes,” Helm answered. “Can I call on you without your symbol?” “No,”came Helm’s final reply. Following their commune, S asked Alistair if he could raise his fallen allies, Rolen and Jiantou. Alistair informed him that he can raise the dead, but he can only raise one before he must return to Helm. S called for Alistair to raise Rolen from death.
Lifting Rolen’s limp body high into the air, Alistair looked toward the heavens and spoke a deep, guttural word of power. A blue light wrapped itself around Rolen, then faded away. The ashen color faded from his cheeks, and his eyes slowly opened. Setting him down gently, Alistair then spoke a healing word for Rolen, Vigo, and S before returning to Helm.
As they looked around they saw that the gulo were slowly returning from the swamp and were staring in amazement at Rolen. Several approached and throw themselves prostrate toward him, revering the purple skinned drow who could return from the dead. A small gulo pulled the rags he was wearing over his head, mimicking Rolen’s green cloak. Rolen was all too pleased for the attention and worship of the gulo. Exhausted from the pursuit and fight, the adventurers looked for a place to rest, which the gulo villagers were eager to provide.
Each of the adventurers were uneasy as they reflected on the day. S informed the others that he intended to follow the tunnel behind the waterfall wherever it may lead, even if it lead to the heart of the Underdark. Vigo said he would follow, but Rolen had no interest in returning to the place of his ancestors. They pressed him, asking for any advice or council he could give. “Stay away from drow,” came his characteristically tight-lipped reply. They ate the meal of fish provided by the gulo and slept uneasily as they waited to see what tomorrow would bring.