Dragonlance: Dragons of Hope
From the journal of Mordred Straightlance
Where do we go? How do we feed 800 people? We are not going back to Pax Tharkas. The eventual plan is to have move towards the dwarven kingdom of Thorbardin. The fighting men are to be split into groups of five spread down the column. Windrush, Gilthanas and Karanon form a rear guard. The plan is further refined to 8 hours marching and 8 hours sleeping.
In the first eight hours nobody dies. Several spells are cast including a the creation of food. Windrush starts hunting. We are getting higher and there are sounds of battle in the distance behind us. The rear scouts report Draconians behind us. With this is mind Windrush and Karanon stay behind to defend the rear. There are twenty eight in the first group. Karanon intends to use some powerful magiks to stop these abominations. They are held by the first spell and Karanon then fires a massive destructuve sphere spell a couple of times while Gilthanas and Windrush fire arrows into the enemy. They don't last long.
I've been quite busy making sure the column is coherent and that people are ok. We are asked to attend the council of freedom. The groups are called the Believers, the Seekers, the Free People and two other neutral non descript groups. The new council promise to use us as advisors and will listen to us...maybe.
Windrush and Karanon decide stuff them and leave, it would seem that they don't like formal leadership and politics. Elves don't seem to like human politics and worse still the Kender are bored. Elistan is now a cleric of Paladine and a powerful one at that. And there eight deaths during the nights. There is a large group behind us and are catching us, probably within eight hours. Behind that is the dragon army a couple of days away.
From the journal of Socrates
We set up an ambush for the large group, around 150 hobgoblins and draconians. In preparation I cast Resist Evil, Armour of Faith, Bulls Strength and Bless.
25 of our fighters ascend each side of the canyon with the remaining 50 grouped a short distance behind us.
Karanon casts Scintillating Sphere and I cast Holy Smite as soon as the group appear (the hobgoblins are at the front). The front ranks dies.
The draconian army halts and we wait for a minute. Nothing happens so we advance cautiously. When we go round the corner they throw some javelins and arrows at us. The draconians are climbing the sides of the canyon. We run back and the hobgoblins follow. I turn and cast Knife Spray and Karanon casts another Scintillating Sphere. All the hobgoblins die.
The draconians come round the corner both on the ground and gliding through the air. Some of them attack us while others attack the fighters on the sides of the canyon and those grouped behind us. The battle commences!
We do well, cutting our way through the group that attacks us. Karanon and Kereth are stuck on a ledge. Karanon flies away leaving Kereth to face two draconians. Kereth fights defensively until Karanon returns. Kereth jumps on to him and both descend to the ground.
Unfortunatley the human fighters are overwhelmed and rout. 36 of the original 100 die during the combat and subsequent rout however the casualties we inflicted on the draconian & hobgoblins are worse (54 remain from the original 150). They pursue for a while but then break off to regroup / lick their wounds.
We run back to main group. At the daily council meeting they are not happy with the losses.
We continue along the pass and encounter a fork. Small footsteps lead into one of the forks from the other. We follow the footsteps in the direction they are going. Another 6 people die on route.
From the journal of Mordred Straightlance
At the meeting of the five ways we rest for the night. Karanon and Windrush go scouting and I get the dubious honour of attending the council meeting. Windrush and Karanon find a forest which has a lot of tracks around it. The tracks that we have been following disappear into the trees.
In the morning the Socrates and Elistan try to divine the way to Thorbardin which opens a debate as to the question to be asked. The eventual question, “Will following the creature that made these tracks led us to Thorbardin?” The answer is “NO” Elastan asks “is Thorbardin to the south?” the answer is “Yes”.
We lead the people south to the forest. Windrush and Karanon are out in front by quarter of a mile. Gilthanas and Laurana are at the back. While Socrates and myself are trying to attend to the peoples needs and improve morale. We move around the forest. Karanon and Windrush meet several Dwarves Karanon drops his weapons whilst saying “We mean you no harm” in dwarven. The dwarves don't seem convinced by Karanons prose and Windrush just stands there grinning stupidly. Karanon then asks Windrush to go back and warn the others, she however refuses and just keeps on standing there grinning. The dwarves do however agree to parley.
I try to talk to the dwarves, then Socrates talks and manages to get us an introduction to the elders of the dwarves and we are taken to their village. After a short delay we are introduced. He will let us pass but does not know where Thorbardin is. However he thinks that the information may lie under Skullcap Mountain which lies 25 miles to the southeast. We get some clothes and blankets in return for healing services.
The Dwarves tell us of a possible safe place to leave the refugees while we tackle Skullcap Mountain .
We move on from the village the next day and move on until we come to a bridge across a ravine. Crossing it takes the best part of the day. The bridge fails about three quarters the way through and two people fall to their deaths, the last person makes it across. Various arguments take place but we then decide to fly the remaining refugees across.
We get to the lake but fifteen die on the way. The death toll now is about one hundred and eight. The area around the lake can supply the refugees for some time. So we leave them there.
We make it through the mountains and move through some plains towards Skullcap. We reach the swamp and the next day we walk on water over the swamp. There are sounds of battle andSocrates seems to be tempted to steal from the dead, hmm I'll have to watch him! We walk past ghosts fighting and then we run across some open ground and across some more swamp and into the maw of the skull. Karanon feather falls down the mouth as there is a fair drop off from the mouth into Skullcap. Kereth slides down into the complex past Karanon. Azun slides down as well but carts into Karanon. I slide down followed by shadow and every one follows behind.
There are a number of doors. Kereth tries the southern door. In the last room Kereth finds a tunic, prods it and a ghostly form materialises. It tries to strike Kereth and it misses, Socrates appears to try to rebuke the spirit but fails. I slice it twice and Kereth takes a defensive stance. Karanon casts a lightning ray on the ghost. It looks in a worse state than it did before. It touches me and I feel weaker. I do however bring it down. I suggest to Kereth not to poke things in future. We find some empty rooms however there is a skeleton and next to it is a magical sword. I feel that touching the sword would probably be a bad thing to do but I take it anyway.. We walk into an immense hall which looks to have collapsed at some point.
From the journal of Kereth
There is a central stairwell leading down in poor shape. Three unopened doors lead off the room. In one room there is a load of junk and some rats. Azun searches through the junk and disturbs two giant rats. He moves out of the room and shoots one from a distance. The other falls to a superb shot from myself.
The double doors are opened. Inside are three shadowy humanoid figures, which immediately attack. Wraiths! One reaches out and touches Windrush who pales visibly. Socrates holds his holy symbol and chants causing two of the creatures to flee. Mordred and Windrush smite the remaining one and Keranon uses his magic to defeat it. Windrush passes me a magical sword and takes the great sword from Mordred. At last, I can harm these creatures!
We wait….. I'm feeling bored already……I'm considering wandering off when five of the creatures appear. Socrates uses his symbol to turn three of them. Windrush slays one as it flees. Two of the creatures reach out a touch Mordred and Socrates who blanch and shiver. They are quickly finished off. The two remaining wraiths return. We are quick to react and finish them off before they can attack. Karanon flies us out to rest. Socrates uses a restoration to return Mordred and himself to their former health. We climb up to the eye sockets but they are just hewn out caves. I swap my quiver of Ehlonna for the magical sword.
Karanon featherfalls down the stairwell. After have a look around he flies us down to the bottom. A passageway leads to a door. Opening it we find a skeleton in once fine robes slumped in a chair. A set of rusted keys hang at it's side. Socrates prods the skeleton and it the bones collapse to the floor. Stairs lead down.
At the bottom of the stairs is a room with a grotesque statue of a man with a single eye. Either side of him are two sets of golden doors. As I move towards the doors on the right the statue frowns. I move towards the door on the left and it smiles. I open the “smiling” door. There is an empty room with stone double doors at the end. I try to open the door and the room is engulfed in flames. Azun and I dive out of the way but Mordred is scorched.
Through the “frowny” door is an empty room. The door opens into a corridor. There are mosaic tiles on the floor. There is a statue of Nuitari. Double doors of iron face north. There is an oval room with a tiled floor. There are statues in the room. As we enter the room some of the tiles glow. Windrush and Mordred panic, drop their weapons and flee. Windrush runs into a room we've not previously entered and is engulfed in flame. Eventually the panic wears off and Windrush and Mordred return.
A similar oval room lies ahead. Entering the room some tiles again glow and all but the elves fall asleep. A devil with clawed feet and a glaive appears and attacks Windrush. They trade blows and Windrush eventually defeats it.
The doors from this room lead to a third oval room. Again the tiles on the floor glow and we feel weak and fall to the floor. Socrates, Azun, Windrush are left standing. Another devil appears. Windrush and Azun attack it from either side. Azun fights well using sneak attacks and it is quickly despatched.
From the journal of Windrush
My strength ebbs away once again as the spell wears off and I can hardly stand so I remove everything except my armor and my sword, though this is still a heavy burden. Azun is getting restless which leads to stern words about not opening the new door until we are all ready.
I divert Azun to check the statues and the floor traps and to check out the rest of the complex. This doesn't hold his attention for long so I set myself the arduous task of guarding the door against the Kender's cunning and taunts. He almost gets past me a couple of times. After eight hours of this and in my weakened state I am almost driven to despair.
Fortunately Socrates restores my strength first and I am back to my old physical self though my nerves are shot. Partially restored Karanon and Mordred now help to divert both Kender while I rest.
Another eight hours and we are all back to full strength but we must now wait so our spell casters are up to full capability for the challenge that surely waits behind the next door. Though after 16 hours in a confined space with two bored Kender, I too am beginning to think reckless thoughts. I am going to kill something soon, and it will be a miracle if it isn't a Kender!
Finally we make it through the torment, though the mental scars may never heal. Many protective spells fly just before the Kenders get to fulfil their wish and open the door. Either brave or foolish, Mordred stands by them, whilst Karanon, Socrates and Windrush stand ready to provide ranged assistance from the end of the corridor.
The door opens and the expected spell does not trigger. Have we misjudged and wasted our spells? Then another of the clawed devils appears and a fight is on, but much less than we were expecting. There has to be a catch.
Socrates and I run to help the fight and the devil is soon surrounded and dying fast though it manages to deal a nasty wound to Windrush. Mordred and Socrates are also affected by something that drains their very essences. Another devil appears before we have finished off the first adding to our woes.
Suspecting an invisible foe Karanon starts scanning the room for magic. Then it all comes together at once. The first devil is killed off and the second is immediately decapitated by Windrush's first blow. Karanon identifies a strong aura from the direction of a pile of rubble.
As we all search the area a whirlwind of dust rises and condenses to reveal a solid skull atop a ghostly body. Karanon breathes a spray of acid over the terrible apparition.
From the journal of Socrates
One of the idiot Kender decides to attack Socrates. I cast dispel magic to get rid of the confusion. We all attack the skull which continues to cast spells at us. Fortunately Paladine seems to be with us and we resist the effects of the more powerful spells. Mordred finally despatches the skull.
A number of gems fall out the skull. The kender grab them and refuse to hand them over. They detect as magic. A big argument ensues over the ownership of the 8 gems along with what to do with them but in the end the Kender retain possession.
We find 2 large treasure rooms but when we try to enter the rooms we re-appear at the far side - some kind of teleport mechanism.
From the journal of Kereth
We try various methods to get at the treasure in the treasure room. Karanon uses a spell to bring some of the treasure into his hands. He doesn't share any of it! I search for some way of getting to the treasure but can find none.
We rest for another eight hours. These mages and clerics must get tired easily because they always want a rest! Socrates uses his magic to make holes in the walls. We crawl through to the east room first. Piled around the room is treasure. There are many coins and gems, some jewellery, an old spell book, and three scroll cases. Rich at last!
The west room has many coins, gems, jewellery, some dwarven plate mail and a jewelled dwarven helm. There are also six potions. A belt, a pale blue gem and a book catch the eye. We drag the treasure out of the room and try to identify it. One of the scrolls is a map to Thorbardin.
The potions are:
- Reduce person
- Owls wisdom
- Remove paralysis
- Foxes cunning
- Cats grace
- Magic weapon oil
One scroll has the spells Levitate and See Invisibility on it. The other has the spells Fire Shield and Charm Monster on it.
The dwarven plate and helm also detect as magical.
Azun tries on the dwarven helmet. He bows and starts to speak.
I am Grallen, Prince of the Dwarves, killed by the forces of evil in the Dwartfgate War. By means of this magical helm I have survived these centuries so that may tale and fate may be told......Now I beseech thee, return my sould to the Kindom of the Hylar in Thorbardin and tell my story to the Council of Thanes and give me a proper resting place in the Valley of Kings.
He bows again and we are left with a disoriented Azun
We leave Skullcap and head back to the encampment. Socrates doesn't seem to throw off the effects of the undead creatures life-draining spell but Mordred seems to be back to normal. Elistan hoerver casts a spell that restores Socrates to his normal self.
There is much feasting and celebration. The refugees have been living safely and we have found a way to Thorbardin!