Dragonlance: Dragons of Flame
From the journal of Windrush
We leave the marshes to return to Solace. On route we find that Que Kiri has been burnt to the ground. We see that thousands have passed this way, lots of clawed footprints. In the town square there are many bodies, what atrocity haa happed here? There are several humanoids feasting on some of the bodies. We move to attack. Azun gets mauled and some of us take damage. And by Paladine the stench! Socrates turns several of them and we finish off the rest.
We find an old man on the verge of death. He waffles on about the conquering army, how they came from the North, how his people were taken away, how he cleverly hid and what will become of his garden. Then his breath rattles in his throat and he expires. Perhaps we should have paid more attention to his needs than his words.
We look around and examine the bodies. Hmm, it looks like they were burnt by magical fire rather than being burnt naturally. That's something else to worry about. Then we discuss our next destination and agree on Solace. It will be late when we get there, but we decide we should march on, rather then rest in this town with who knows what foul creatures.
Early in the evening we approach the outskirts of Solace. This doesn't look right. What has happened to the trees? Only a few valenwood trees remain. Then as we press on the damage becomes more apparent, many trees have been burnt or chopped down. The village appears to be under the control of the dragonmen. Subdued villagers help to build a fence toiling under the whips of their occupiers. Mordred is not happy.
We withdraw to the woods to sleep and discuss our options. The night passes uneventfully though there is a fiery glow in the sky to the south. Our plan is to sortie a few outlying buildings for supplies then move on.
We spend the day watching the village. There are at least two hundred goblins, hobgoblins and dragon men including a new type of dragonman. Several familiar faces are also seen. Patrols move in and out of the village down both the east and the south road. Our plan changes. Now we decide to liberate Solace! If we take down a couple of patrols and use their arrows to shoot other groups and cause dissent then maybe we can get some infighting going.
At dusk Azun and Kereth sneak to one of the outlying houses. They take some clothes and then move on. They decide on just one more. In the next house they find a sleeping dragon man who has a chain shirt lying nearby. Sneaking in through the window Azun stands ready over the sleeping figure as Kereth picks up the armor and clinks towards the window. The dragon mans eyes flicker open and Azun immediately impales him killing him outright. They then finish searching the room finding some coins and taking the blankets. They head back to the group and gloat at their hoard. Mordred gratefully takes the chain shirt and the clothes.
At dawn next day we set out to ambush a patrol on the eastern road. Two miles from town we wait for a patrol to pass, then Socrates casts a glyph on the road and we wait for another patrol to pass. We don't have long to wait a patrol of 10 goblins, 6 hobgoblins and 4 dragon men appears. Four goblins drop as the glyph explodes, then another spell finishes off all the hobgoblins and goblins. Arrows fly, and another spell as we run in. Only one dragon man remains standing by the time hand-to-hand combat begins and he drops quickly.
Searching the bodies, damn, there are no missile weapons. However we take a suit of leather goblin armor for Azun, a Javelin for Windrush and others take back-up weapons. We hide the bodies in the forest and feeling flushed with success we decide to do it again straight away!
A mass of goblins approach, in a cloud of dust, so we decide not to spring the trap. They are followed by a column of hobgoblins, then a large solid cage on a cart filled with kit, then another filled with women, and another filled with plainsmen. Following that is another column filled with dragon men (a new type). There are about 300 in all. Amazingly, none of them spot us. Time for a tactical withdrawal.
For safety, we camp in a different place and the next morning scout out Solace to see if the army is still there. It is, and the cages are still occupied. Damn, our plan to liberate Solace is now looking unworkable, perhaps we should head for Haven or Silvanesti? Shall we risk the heavily patrolled roads or Darken wood?
While we decide, Karanon checks out our magic items. The dwarven waraxe has a faint aura, the mace and cloak has a moderate aura, and the mace also shows as a non-standard enchantment. Karanon takes the time to identify them. The cloak is a first order cloak of charisma and is given to Mordred. Socrates' mace is a second order mace of disruption (undead). Windrush's sword is a second order magically enhanced weapon. The dwarven waraxe is a first order enhanced weapon.
From the journal of Mordred Straightlance
As it stands we are camped outside Solace waiting for the convoy to move out. Or are we? Kereth and Azun move closer to Solace with a mind to seeing when the convoy move out, the draconmen drag younger people in to the cages. This causes the blacksmith gets in to a fight and he loses his arm for his sins. He too is bundled into a cart after is stump is crudely cauterized.
We follow the carts and debate sending the two Kender out to act as outriders however we finally decide to send Windrush and Kereth ahead. Socrates tries to teach Azun how to count past ten, to take in to account the need for more fingers. He suggests that using his toes may help. A patrol moves past us, about ten draconians. We start guarding from the rear. The day passes uneventfully and we camp near their camp.
The next day we move on after the convoy, there are several patrols but we avoid them all and again camp nearby. The same happens the next day really but we so see a Red Dragon fly overhead!
Haven is a big city and the capital for the Seekers though the Fortifications seem cosmetic compared to the castles, towns and cities of Solamnia. Haven has spilled out beyond the walls. This area is patrolled by draconmen. Karanon wanted me to go into the city and investigate what was going on. I asked what in formation was worth suicide? So he suggested that the kender should go. I then suggested that anybody who would talk to the Kender without killing or capturing them wouldn't know what was going on. We finally decide against sending someone into Haven.
The caravan stays one day and then moves out towards Qualinesti. There are no longer any patrols on the road. On the Third night however Socrates gets a shock on his watch - we have been surrounded by Qualinesti Elves. We explain why we are following the caravan and ask to be allowed on our way to which the answer is “not for now”. It would seem that the they would like us to help them liberate a fellow Qualinesti elf that was captured. We agree and so we plan. The plan is to have 35 elves at the back the others are with Windrush attacking in the middle of the caravan. Karanon has Socrates, Harad and myself defending him. The two kender are going to take advantage of this diversion and try to let the prisoners free.
Windrush fires first and hits the driver of the first cart and slays him with the second arrow. Ignorance is bliss as nobody notices this attack. She then attacks one of the elks drawing the cart. This causes the elk to run. She finally shoots another hobgoblin driver in the chest. Karanon moves towards the hobgoblins and seems to spit acid at them. This causes some chaos as hell breaks loose at the front. The elves let loose with more arrows as Harad and Socrates move to the rear cart. Azun and Kereth move towards the middle cart. I move to support Karanon. Windrush manages to drop the remaining two drivers and one Elk. Kereth starts trying to open the cart. The Hobgoblins charge Karanon and myself, while Azun tries to open another lock. Several Dragonmen move towards the carts while the others move towards the elves in the forest. Harad and Socrates attack the group of draconmen moving toward the carts. I manage to make short work of two of them. Windrush shoots a dragonman and kills it. In combat Karanon casts in combat and lets himself be attacked because of this, several hobgoblins drop. Kereth opens another lock. The elves attack, all but two of the remaining dragonmen attack Harad and Socrates. I get severely hit by three hobgoblins. Harad misses but Azun hits. I get my revenge - both dragonmen die that are near Azun, though he takes damage from the acid. Karanon gets attacked while he tries to cast a spell. Harad gets hit. Karanon and Azun free the women and children and move to the other cart.. I cleave my way through three more HobGoblins.
From the journal of Mordred Straightlance
Argggg! I hurt! Hack, hack slash, ouch. Windrush's hands are a blur as arrows fly into our enemies. Karanon seems to try to move behind me. Everything seems very busy. I don't have much hope. Several more fall to the floor as I step back. My sword is green with goblin blood. The second cart is opened, freeing the men inside. Karanan is down I can only defend him.
Azun does to investigate the other cart and run's into a group of hobgoblins
Getting cut to ribbons I yell “Get out, leave me, I'll hold them back!” Then I shout “Solamnia! Paladine!”
Kereth is running and Azun is hiding under the cart. Windrush is preparing to leave but looses off some more arrows first.
Fade to black……….
Harad goes to help the retreat, hoping to help Mordred, though this action is probably now in vain. Harad looks to help Karanon. The men from the cart have picked up weapons from theground and intercepted the group heading for the archers, so Windrush decides to stay a while longer. Azun, chased by the Hobgoblins runs out to heal Karanon.
Socrates casts Bulls Strength on himself. More arrows fly into the struggle as Windrush and the other elves keep on drawing arrows. Harad meets with Azun and so the wee little Kender legs it. Socrates approaches Harad and the Hobgoblins. Socrates heals Karanon who then casts a magic missile at a Hobgoblin. Being cautious the elves fire and miss, worried about hitting their allies. Socrates heals Mordred…
I'm Back, Karanon magic missiles three and two drop. Harad can't drop his so I do it for him while Socrates drops the other. Harad, Socrates, Karanon and myself then decide now is a good time to leave as the men and elves start to retreat into the woods.
As we run through the woods Windrush casts entangle to delay our pursuers and we escape. We are rounded up by the elves and brought into a large clearing and meet Porthios and the rescued elf Gilthanas. The elves agree to guide the people of Solace through the woods to the south. We are invited Qualinost. We decide to go.
We travel through the forest and after a while we come to a waterfall. We all cross under the waterfall and we ascend a stair up to the top of the plateau. Then, crossing a chasm we enter the city of the elves.
We attract some attention. We are introduced to the Speaker of the Sun and are taken away by the most beautiful elven lady I have ever seen. She is called Laurana. We are taken back to the speaker. Qualinost is surrounded by the forces of the Dragon Highlord and will shortly be attacked. The only hope for his people is to leave in the face of extreme odds.
The people of Solace, Haven and elsewhere are being held captive in Pax Tharkas where the men are forced to work in the mines with their women and children being held hostage. The elves know of a secret way into Pax Tharkas and ask us to free the hostages and lead the captives in a revolt. We can then escape the South and draw the dragon armies away from Qualinost. Gilthanas will guide us.
From the journal of Windrush
We spend a day in Qualinesti getting ready for our next expedition, re-equipping, sharpening our weapons and discussing our options. Our previous problems with dark places also prompts Socrates to cast continual light on three torches for Azun, Mordred and himself and cover them with leather caps for future use.
We accept the task the Elves give us but are very suspicious of the proposed guide Gilthanas. He was the sole survivor of a previous expedition where he was leader. Past performance is no guide to future behaviour, but the doubt is there. This causes some discussion amongst the group with Mordred supporting Gilthanas. We decide we will follow him, but watch him carefully.
After the meeting Lauarana comes to see us, though her eyes seem to linger on Mordred. She bids us sweet dreams and good night before she heads off to bed,. A few seconds later a woman's scream is heard from the path she took. As we run to investigate a winged shape is seen flying low overhead. We make out the shape of a wyvern ridden by what looks like Fewmaster Toede. A body, that we guess to be Laurana, lies motionless across the saddle.
I move to unhitch my bow and Karanon prepares a spell to take down the Fewmaster from afar when a group of draconians appear from the woods. Karanon sends a spell against them but it fizzles ineffectively against them as we all charge in. Oddly the draconians don't seem too willing to engage and a couple hang back from the fighting at first. They take a while to drop with Mordred taking more than his fair share of heads. The wolf Shadow comes off worst being badly wounded and acid burnt. The elves, of course, arrive just too late to help. Though that is what they are famous for…
The abduction of Laurana leads to more speculation about the trustworthiness of Gilthanas within the party. Was he instrumental in her capture? Will Laurana be used as a pawn to compromise him? It seems we have reason to be watchful of him from all angles.
The next morning we set off at the crack of dawn, following Gilthanas. All day we press on and by early evening we can make out the fortress of Pax Tharkas blocking the pass through the mountains. Suddenly the gates of the fortress swing open and a column of soldiers march out. We watch as thousands more troops pour out heading towards Qualinesti. Gilthanas curses under his breath.
We head up the valley to the east side towards the Sla Mori and set up camp for the night in darkness. During first watch noises are heard from the woods and the remainder of the party are hastily woken by the watch. Just in time too, as three large shapes are seen converging on the camp.
Windrush lets arrows fly at the dark shapes while they are still approaching. The others wait for them to close and to make out what they are. Trolls! We all set to with vigour. Windrush peppers them with arrows, Karanon lets fly spells, and the fighters wade in. We make short work of them finishing them in seconds, much to our amazement. The hail of arrows from Windrush seemed to be the most telling damage against her bitter enemy. Karanon then breathes acid on them to destroy the remains.
The rest of the night passes uneventfully and we sleep in a while to recover our lost sleep. In the morning Gilthanas leads us to a rock face and chants an incantation. A rock slides aside leading us into a crumbling, dark and dusty hole. The main passageway is wide and the way is ahead clear. Gilthanas says that he knows only how to enter but no more of the way. We take the hoods from our torches and proceed into the darkness with Gilthanas and Mordred leading.
We come to a t-junction and decide to take the right way, and again at the next junction until we come to a huge hall filled with pillars and closed iron doors along the walls and double doors at the bottom. After some discussion Azun opens the nearest door to reveal 2 stone biers with 2 warrior figures lying on top. They get up! Seconds later all the doors open and around 50 warriors step out into the hall.
We cower back as Socrates attempts to turn them and five crumble to dust. We back up the corridor. They don't follow so we decide not to press the matter. Backtracking and going right we come to a curved corridor. As we follow something gives underfoot and coming round the corner we realise we are trapped in a circular corridor. After a few minutes desperate searching we find a secret compartment and the way out.
Along the next corridor we encounter something deeply evil. A wraith! Mordred tries to attack but his sword passes straight through it. Then the wraith touches Mordred but he does not seem seriously affected. The creature backs away as Socrates chants and cowers against the back wall. Taking Socrates staff Mordred again attacks the creature and with a wail, it disappears.
From the journal of Socrates
We realise Azun couldn't find a secret door if it came out and bit him. His technique for finding traps consists moving to the front and walking in to them for practice!
We follow the last path to a large decaying room with fallen columns and a large throne flanked by two 18 foot tall granite statues. Each is armed with broadswords. Behind the statues are large bronze double doors. On the throne is a mummified body with a longsword across its lap.
Karanon casts detect magic and looks at throne and guardians. The longsword is strongly magical as is one of the statues. An inscription mentions refers to this as the last resting place of Kith Kanaan.
Unsurprisingly we decide to take the magical sword. I cast sanctuary on myself and then pick up the sword. The statue animates as soon as I do. Karanon attacks it with lightning rays and, I throw the sword to Mordred. He picks it up and battle ensues, though we struggle to make any impression on the large statue and soon realise that this thing is impervious to magic and resistant to other damage. Karanon casts Haste on us. Meanwhile I cast healing every round to keep the group fighting. Gilthanas summons a celestial eagle that attacks the golem.
The battle carries on and it's touch and go for a while whether we'll run out of healing spells before the statue drops but it does eventually fall, narrowly missing Azun.
We return to the room with the zombies and karanon opens door. The zombies aninate and I turn four to dust. Karanon casts two scintillating spheres which destroy the rest.
We explore further, finding a room with nothing in and falling down a pit because we haven't got a rogue! We then find a secret passage beyond which is a circular room with a very long thick chain fastened to the floor. Beyond this is another secret door. This leads upwards and emerges in a semi cleared room with wooden crates. We hear some voices through the wooden door. One of the voices seems to be that of Laurana. We run in to find Laurana tied up and surrounded by Dragonmen. Gilthanas and Mordered attack and I cast acid protection on Mordred. After a short combat we kill the Drtagonmen and free Laurana.
From the journal of Windrush
Battle over we assess our situation. There is a whip on a desk and Laurana is manacled. The two probably aren't related. Gilthanas and Laurana exchange welcomes and then engage in deep conversation. It soon emerges that we are in the basement of one of the guard towers of Pax Tharkas. There are several cells holding women in this tower and the men are currently working in the mines. There is another tower but Laurana knows no more than that.
Exiting the room we are in a long corridor with doors all down one side. On closer examination the doors are locked with small shuttered windows. Looking in the first door there are around 30 women prisoners in the room. Kereth makes quick work of the lock and we enter. The women are at first confused to see us, but a woman steps forward and asks us our business here. She introduces herself as Maritta.
After some discussion it emerges that highlord Verminaard is in residence with his dragon and there is also another dragon guarding the children! In this cell they are caring for a man they call Elistan, a leader of their people, who is unconscious and in a bad way. Socrates steps forward and heals Elistan to everyones amazement.
Maritta gives us details of the daily routine – every evening a group of women are released and prepare food for the children and the men. The men are kept in caves up on the hillside the children in this tower. This is also Dragon Highlord Verminaard's tower.
The kender scout and then return with news of a staircase going up. They are getting bored as we plan our next move. So the kender do yet more exploration which reveals a large storage room with all sorts of provisions in it, and a door from which a series of strange noises can be heard. As we all move to investigate this room a piercing buzzing sound emanates from Mordred's sword. We quickly withdraw to stop the noise, but almost immediately a group of draconians pour down the stairs and we engage.
Azun charges forward and attacks, then Karanon the mage fires a bow and hits, the surprise almost putting Windrush off his aim. Then it is everyone for themselves. The six draconians are only the stone type, but they are no pushovers. Azun takes a lot of punishment and goes down. Combat over and we are in a bad way with three members seriously wounded and the Cleric out of spells. Dissenting voices suggest we turn back and exit the sla-mori though Gilthanas and Windrush want to press on immediately. After a brief argument we decide to scout some more before making up our minds about leaving.
Kereth scouts the stairs and finds a plush room at the top with gold fittings, carpets and tapestries, some crudely defaced. Shortly after we all follow and make our way towards the childrens room through dark passageways and halls. We come across the dragon Flamestrike apparently asleep. Kereth sneaks past and gets into the childrens room, without waking the dragon, as the rest of us withdraw and hide.
There are about 200 kids in the room. Kereth convinces them to follow him out and sneak past the dragon. The first group of about 50 kids sneak past no problem, as do the second, and the third. Then the dragon wakes and protests about stealing his children. Kereth and the remaining children pile out as fast as possible. Mordred stays back to make sure the children all get out safely and is dealt a glancing blow by the dragon for his troubles.
In desperation we make our way through the nearest doors which turns out to be the passage between the towers. We make our way across taking all the women and children with us. Opening the first door we come to we come across a squad of off-duty hobgoblins. Thankfully most of them are dropped with spells almost immediately and Windrush charges in to finish them off quickly.
The next door we take more care over. Listening carefully we hear female voices and so Kereth unlocks the door and lets the women prisoners out quite quickly. There are nearly three hundred of then. Pushing on we make our way out into the courtyard. Seeing us outside the men folk on the mountainside overpower their guards before rushing down to join their families.
Then as we start to make our escape down the valley Flamestrike bursts from a doorway and then highlord Verminaard appears on the curtain wall atop his dragon Ember. It suddenly looks hopeless. Verminaard curses us all and declares that all the women and children will now be killed. Ember leaps into the air only to be enveloped in flame from Flamestrike! He is still protecting his children! While the dragons fight we make good our escape and flee up the pass. By nightfall we are all camped in a side valley wondering how we will now feed the 800.