The First Frontier

The Road Less Travelled

Nose Picker turned to Head Cleaver and muttered “Me no believe boss left us behind. We stuck in mud while he gets to fly dere.”

Cleaver nodded in acknowledgement, certain that ‘boss’ was having a much easier time

Luke doubled over in pain as his ring flashed, it’s ebony hue dancing over him as he felt like his skull was split in two. That’s the last time I get discount rings, I don’t care if it does protect me from being dominated

Luke weakly waved forward the constructs as they waded into another room of angels. He commented to Face “Does it not strike you as odd? I mean Angels and Demons working together toward some common goal. And a conspiracy to cover it up, it just seems wrong doesn’t it Face?”

Smasha nodded “Yeah boss, it wrong very wrong.” but his attention was elsewhere as he watched Orgutz getting pounded into the ground. “Dat one stupid Orc, eh boss”. Luke stared at Face for a moment, contemplating a reply about the magnitide of Face’s stupidity and how his common sense seemed to slip with each passing moment, but instead settled for “Yeah… that’s one stupid Orc”.

Nose buried his Pick smack into the center of the Kobold, just as another one lept on him. It was looking like one of those days, up to his knees in mud, a surprise Kobold attack, and worst of all Beatrice was helping with the defense.

Another singing arc of fire criss-crossed the battlefield, this time it hit two Kobolds (and an Orc) leaving all three of them diving into the mud to extinguish themselves.

Pulling his weapon out of his opponents face Nose hollered at Cleaver “Hey! Do I know how to pick ’em or what!?!” then ducked as Cleaver hurled his axe at the Kobold grappling him, or maybe it was at him.

“Alright, we lucked out, this time it’s not a half elemental half undead creature, it’s just a gigantic elemental and lots of walking dead”.

Luke wasn’t sure who had said it, but his sense of security was not improving, he raised up his hands to let loose a bolt of pure power. Instead little sparks of electricity fizzled as he realized he’d pushed himself too far. He watched as Orgutz was (again) pummeled, no wait, that’s electrocuted, no wait, burned to a pulp, err scorch mark, on the ground.

Well, at least I left all my devoted believers behind, they should be having a much easier time of it Luke though.

Cleaver watched Nose get crushed under a giant boulder. The boulder was so big all that could be seen was one twitching hand sticking out from under it at an odd angle.

“Uh oh, boss, I think we in trouble now”. When Beatrice walked up and started addressing the Giants in a tongue that Cleaver couldn’t understand he had a bad feeling he wasn’t going to like this….

Equal opportunity dungeon dwelvers

“So what do these … devices… do?” Asher asked Luke, moving a piece of metal from the last device that Luke’s construct had pounded to destruction.
“Outerplanar plumbing. For when beings such as these get … stopped up.” Luke answered smoothly. Orgutz used one of the pieces of metal to pick his nose.

Luke looked around the room. “We should go that way.” he gestured towards a passage out of the room. The constructs were already storming down the corridor, Michael, Face Smasha, and Orgutz close behind.

Rounding a bend, the group spotted a large demon, leaning against the wall, idly sharpening his claws on the wall. Or playing tick tack toe. It was hard to tell.
“You chaps really do need to stop destroying everything you come across. The alarms alone are enough to give anyone a roaring headache.” the demon stated, with a rather cultured and proper voice. The demon pulls something out of a pouch, pops it in his mouth, then takes a swig from a silvered flask. Putting these away, he pulls a piece of paper out and hands it to Michael. “A cease and desist order.” He paused, to let the laughter die down, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He skipped the formal introductions. These prime material planers would never understand, nor appreciate the details of his firm’s legal victories.

“My clients are very concerned…” another pause as the giggling resumed, “with the damage you have inflicted on the life support system that is in their care. This cease and desist order…” the interruptions were getting really tedious “is aimed to minimize the damage you barbarians are inflicting.” He popped more of the magic pills his latest mistress had give him. While the blue ones had their uses, the ones from Ty’linol really did wonders for his headache.

The tactical officers also believe that what you want is down this hallway. He quickly sketched out the route to the fey, who at least seemed to understand the lawfulness of the legal system that demon law firm he represented followed.

Satisfied that the locals would go bother someone more deserving of their attention, the demoninc process server teleported to his next task. Time to evict some dwarves from their dingy and dank caverns. The day was looking up.

The next group that was encountered were what Sybaris called Incubi. Related to Succubi, apparently. They used their beauty to seduce the unwary. But, like all of the outer planar scum, they fell swiftly to the power of construct supported evil destruction that the heroes were.

They repeated their performance with the next set of Incubi that they encountered. The larger brothers of the first set. While little serious damage was done, (knocking Michael on his butt besides the point) the group was starting to drag their feet. This was tiring work, and something about the last batch of outsiders really tuckered them out. Face Smasha fondled the stuffed teddy bear that Luke’s daughter Beatrice had given him. But he doubted the boss was going to allow them to stop for a snack and nap.

The band entered another chamber, in the heart of the temple. Literally A giant heart was chained at the top of the chamber. And some elemental of a size never seen before (and made out of several different elementals) stood before them. Their usual tactic of charging their opponents to death nullified, they resorted to their back up plan. Swinging their weapons, they engaged the elemental. With a mighty blow, Sybaris broke the elemental into its component parts. Which fared as well as their predecessors did.

Wiping their collective brows, the mighty heroes looked around (and up) the chamber. Only then did they notice the large group of undead, who were stopping their efforts (pumping some fluids into the heart, by the looks of it) and turning their attention to them.

“I thought this was going too well.” Face sidelined to Orgutz.

What goes up must come down (and crash land)

Luke looked up at Michael “You want to fight a Giant… and you want to do it single handedly”. Luke paused for a long moment, he knew he’d been coming up with some ideas that hadn’t panned out exactly as he’d planned, but this was stretching even his imagination. “And let me get this straight, you want to do it because your sword said it’s the right thing to do?”.
Storm giants
Luke motioned to Orgutz. “Can you find us a Giant settlement Orgutz?”. Orgutz hadn’t memorized the right spells today, but after a moment of thought, leaning against a nearby boulder he pointed up the nearby mountain.

“Look Render, we really don’t want to go flying again”

“No boss, boulder come from there” Render said pointing up the mountain.

It was then that Luke realized the deep furrows in the ground from the boulder that had obviously been thrown here. “Gutz! You’re a genius” Luke cried, slapping him on the back. Luke gripped his hand in pain, Orgutz’s back was solid like a rock from all the bone and muscle hardened over by scars and callouses"

The walk up the hill was tiring, but eventually they came to the crest where the blue Giants had made their home.

“Okay Michael, I’ve got a plan, just let me talk to them”

“Ooomaf gishak a shootuu shootuu” Luke hailed them

At first the Giants laughed and pointed, then Luke pulled out a large sack of coin and shook it. This got their attention and soon they were motioned inside to a muddy arena of sorts.
Giants were shouting and pounding the ground cheering on the runt Giant that stepped into the muddy ring. Luke swallowed, as he looked up, and up, and then up some more. His neck straining he said “are you sure this is a good idea?”. Luke reached over to grab Michael by the arm then realized he was holding a shin bone. Michael had grown to a staggering twenty feet tall himself.

Luke watched as the Giant and Michael pounded each other into the mud. Acid and crackling psionic energy lashed back at the Giant each time he struck at Michael. The Orcs were shouting in Orcish, something about blood for the Orc gods, and we’re almost as rowdy as the Giants. Pretty soon the battle came to a close, but instead of throwing the lot of them out they were invited to dinner.

Michael proceeded to drink the young Giant he’d fought under the table, which was impressive given the size of the table (and the mugs of ale).

After a good night’s rest the Giants even helped them find their way. Cresting the top of the mountain a giant half mile deep depression was bracketed by an impenetrable wall of wind whipping about in criss-crossing directions. Face tossed a stone at it only to have it come flying back at them. Michael commented “Can you get us through it? I have a plan”
Falling damage
Luke studied it for a while, then stepped closer. As he concentrated an odd cycling sound like a bee humming could be heard and then a slightly refracting bubble expanded out from him. He moved towards the wall and the winds subsided.

“Okay Michael, I think I can hold the winds down, but you’d better do whatever you’re planning, and fast”

Not long after they were holding onto a rope dangling inside. “Face, do the gas thing” Orgutz said. Instantly everyone regretted the request as Face had been on a steady bean diet the last three days.

Once things were clarified their vaporous, misty forms descended.

Everywhere they looked Demons milled about, there must have been hundreds of them.
Magic sword
Eventually they settled down at the temple in the center. They almost made it by the Huge demon standing guard. He chased after them until they disappeared through cracks in the Temple.

What ensued next was a mad rush with Michael taking bounding steps in his huge form down the hall.

The first demon was huge like the one outside, after a brief fight where he was badly injured he teleported away.

Again they faced a horde of demons, this time screeching and enveloping them in a cloud of spores. In the back a trio chanted, preparing to devastate them with a team spell. Michael cleaved through the center as Face and Orgutz protected the flanks. As the last of them fell they raced onward into what appeared to be a central chamber.
At first Michael thought they’d been surprised as Luke, in a rare burst of speed, sent a thin red blossom of fire into the room. It exploded, clearing the riff raff out of the way. Charging in the group laid low the demons before a few teleported away.
As they continued to move on they found more demons and destroyed several of their hot air mechinations. Not sure what they were it wasn’t until loud alarms started sounding that they gave pause “Uhh boss, this sounds dangerous”. It was Orgutz speaking, which gave pause to both Luke and Michael… for Orgutz to be worried it had to be bad.

Cloud Airlines, now boarding at gate #3

It took some convincing before Michael accepted the plan to use Face’s airwalk spell for travel. Sure, it was faster, but the way things had been going recently…

“Why does this seem awfully familiar, in a never died this way sort of way?” Michael asked Sybaris as Michael pulled him closer to Luke. They were just starting to accelerate into their fall when they were on the ground. Michael moved his jaw around and worked on equalizing the air pressure in his ears. A cloudy figure was next to the mechanical being standing 15 feet away.
With a sigh, he drew Galavrata from it’s sheath. And with a pop, one of the creatures that had appeared (and presumably dispelled their airwalk spell) appeared almost on top of him. Michael’s urgency of his need for size increased, and drawing from within himself, he made it happen.
Galavrata bounced off the armor encasing the mechanical being. If it was not for the acid that encased Galavrata, the creature would not have noticed that he had been hit.

Orgutz was busy applying Orcish logic to one opponent, while Face was facing off against another. Michael winced internally.
Orgutz joined Michael briefly. When a distance thud ended an enraged bellow distracted Michael, Orgutz was once again gone. With all the cross breeding that some wizard had been doing. the idea of an orc crossed with a grasshopper really did not seem that out of line.

The mechanical being toppled over, but was not out of action. Michael was certain he had seen one of Martine’s rays strike the creature moments ago.
Luke started talking to the creature, now that it was mostly neutralized, and its companions were spare parts.
Seems the gods did not like what we were doing. Luke tried to put his own spin on it, but Michael was not buying it. After we were finished talking, Orgutz swatted the outsider and destroyed it. Michael had tried to stop him, but was not quick enough.

With their air travel safely dispelled, they continued on by foot. This should be a safe mode of transport, Michael thought to himself.
And thought it really hard when the multi-legged bug came at them from behind. Michael was just about to swing on the thing, when Luke’s construct killed it. And released a swarm of winged grubs several feet long. Michael could not take anymore and promptly fled.

The group took it’s time reforming. They had been scattered to the four winds at the unpleasant prospect of being bug food. They only walked for another hour or so, when it was decided that the clearing they were passing through was the one to camp at. Mostly decided when Luke fell down and stated he was NOT moving from this spot. All the horseback riding must have gotten him out of shape.
As the group congregated around Luke, Face displayed is great amount of strength by lifting Luke to his feet (a display made less impressive, now that Luke was no longer wearing the plate armor that he used to), Michael made note of the large dog-like creature across the group from him. And really hoped that the popping sound behind him did not mean that there was a second beast there as well.
The rending that Michael then received showed him that maybe things were hopeless. Michael swayed, wondering if pulling Galavrata was wise, or should he just lay down and hoped that he was not noticed. Constructs appeared, followed by this bolt of power from Luke. One that Michael had never seen him use. As Luke resumed his prone position, stressing that he was not moving from that spot, healing was applied and corpses of the Chaotic Evil mutts from hell were removed from the camp.

Michael joined Luke on the ground. And was asleep instantly.

Highway to Hell(ish trouble)

“Flying is the safest way to travel. You look like a cloud, nobody on the ground can reach you, and it’s effortless travel.” Luke counted off the advantages on his fingers as Asher nodded his bird beak in agreement. “We can even cover a whole day’s travel in less than an hour!”

After the magic jelly bean experience Sybaris and Michael didn’t look convinced and Martine was working on a new ditty and staying out of it.

“It safe” Face emphasized “Solid like table” he commented, smashing his fist onto the table they were eating at.

With a sigh the group finally gave in, transforming into mist the group disappeared into the sky, zooming towards their final destination.

As they disappeared on the horizon the table slowly cracked around where Face had hit it, then one leg buckled and the whole thing crashed to the floor in a heap.

Ut Eater looked at their dinner table and turned to Seal Killer “U dink we should tell boss”. Seal Killer thought for a moment then busted out laughing.

A shimmering to either side of the pale ghost white forms flickered into existence, then, all of a sudden Michael, Sybaris, and Luke transformed suddenly from smoke to tangible essence, immediately followed by “Oh …!!!!” with their trailing words disappearing as they plummeted to the earth. Face’s misty form pointed down at the plummeting trio “Boss going to hit ground hard. Use da crystal image thing, make good picture for later”. Orgutz pulled a small crystal from his napsack, wiped off some moldy bread bits from it and prepared for a snap shot, but the picture perfect moment never came. They flashed from sight, then all of a sudden Orgutz could feel himself dropping like a rock. To make matters worse the Troll was just above him. This is not going to feel good was all that Orgutz could think, and then with a flash he was on the ground.

Michael was cleaving through the first one, acid sloshing all over the ground and burning at the mechanical beast. Orgutz staggered to the ground as his life essence was drained from him, and Face cast a spell to strengthen him.

Luke tried to burn one, but failed, and Orgutz and Sybaris criss crossed the battle field closing with great speed as they slash through their opponents. Michael beat the final one into submission, and after a brief interrogation they realized that something was terribly terribly wrong.

“It’s as I’d feared” Luke shook his head in disappointment, turning the mechanical beast over once more to be sure “They carry no treasure”

After spending several hours trudging around on foot, a fact the Troll was not too displeased by after experiencing the plummet of his life. They settled down to rest for a moment. “Okay, so it wasn’t safe, but you have to admit we did get here faster. Besides, how was I supposed to know we’d be facing teleporting, dispelling, creatures that could track us because they were sent by the Gods?”.

It’s at moments like this that Luke was learning to regret his words, as horrible giant dogs from another dimension closed in on them. Michael was torn limb from limb by the first, dropped to the ground in a heap. Sinew, bone, and tendon were exposed from where he’d been hit, but he was unstoppable, heaving a giant swing as his lungs visibly exhaled his giant blade cut deep into the beast. Orgutz moved out, but Face was too slow, he was next to be tossed about, staggering as large gashes bled in a gush onto the ground.

Sybaris slashed at one neatly cleaving through its hind quarters as Martine attempted to heal Michael. Luke’s heart started beating like a bass drum, he knew his delay had almost cost lives. Knowing that another moment like this would spell death to at least one person his mind strained as power poured forth. Two giant constructs popped into being and a bolt of lightening, pure white and arrow straight erupted from his finger tips. He collapsed to the ground, blood dripping from his nose, ears, eyes, and spewing from his mouth. Clutching his chest he dropped to one knee as the beasts fell.

After reattaching most of Michael’s arms, and stuffing Face’s guts back in where they belonged the trek continued through the rough ground until eventually they came upon a more clear area. “Well, at least they can’t sneak up on us here” Luke commented. Michael was getting ready to take a swing at Luke for jinxing them when a giant, centipede like monstrosity came rumbling from out of sight at them. The group charged in smartly slicing through it’s tough exterior in record time, as the beast fell it gripped Sybaris in a death grip, attempting to tear him apart. Even as the beast pulled at him Sybaris body strengthened, mending itself and growing visibly stronger.

Luke however had reached his breaking point, vanishing from sight he disappeared into the distance, and as Sybaris literraly ran straight up a tree to get distance from the swarm of disgusting creatures in its belly the construct, roughly formed from ectoplasm and astral matter squished its way through the beasts. It flew into the tree, but with a mighty swing the giant construct crushed the last of them. At this point he realized he’d also broken the tree. In the contest between the 80’ tall tree and the construct the tree won, or at least came out on top. Sybaris’ jump and roll skills achieved near perfection as he came out on his feat. He paused for a moment, it was oddly silent, in fact as he looked around he found himself curiously alone save for the distant sounds of movement fleeing in the brush.

Shootout at the Fireball Corral

As the turned the corner, they spied a misty wall ahead of them.
Adget moved forward, running a commentary as she went.
“Wall of Fog” class of spells, she stopped and stiffed, then ran her hand through the spell. “Plain old Wall of Fog. Too bad.”

She walked back to her spot in the group. Sybaris took her place, silently moving into the cloud. He returned shortly, making the signs for half Dragon humanoid and Undead, five of them in a star formation. And another fire crystal.
Michael sighed. This was going to be fun.
Adget and Asher Turindyl started casting. Summoned creatures, by the length of the spell. The group prepared. As Orgutz Render went through, he yelled “Incoming hellhounds.” followed by a “Huh?”. From behind me, the Flame Salamanders Asher had summoned chaffed at the bit.
“The Protection from Evil spell. It prevents summoned creatures from passing through the spell.” Adget piped up from the back. “Most summoned creatures that is.” He could hear the smile in her voice. Her celestial bears were edging forward, ignoring the protective spell.

One of the hell hounds was trying to get around the spell. Michael smacked it with the sword.
“We no need protection from critters.” Face Smasha said, moving forward. Michael moved to Face’s side, throwing a strike at a hell hound. Then there was a snarling beast at his side. One of the celestial bears had charge a hell hound, breaking it into tiny fragments as death released it from the spell. A second bear moved past the first, turning to take the line of hell hounds in the flank. The third stopped to claw the flanking hell hound that Michael had force back.

Sybaris moved through the gap in the formation, getting into the enemy backfield. Luke and his posse were out flanking the line to the left. The bears had shattered the right flank of the hell hounds.
Adget moved up, wanting to get into the action.
The crystal released a fireball into the group. Michael closed his eyes as the flames enveloped him. He did not have vigor up, and the fire burned him.
The line of hell hounds shattered under the onslaught. Luke must have energy missile’d some of the undead, two were blocks of ice, while a third wanted to be. A coat of ice was melting from the crystal.
Orgutz moved up, in his usual manner, while Sybaris moved up the opposite flank. The leading undead died, swinging their spiked chains uselessly. Adget walked forward, looking around in interest. She waved her hands, and bolts of magic raced out towards the last undead half dragon, ending its existance. Sybaris was already at the crystal, stopping it from sending any more fireballs our way.
Magic strengthened. All could feel it in one way or another. Satisfied that everything was in order, the group started their withdraw from the complex.

And ran straight into a patrol of Fire Salamanders on Fire Wolves. One Salamander had jumped off his wolf, going after Sybaris. Bad move, as Orgutz lept and cleaved the thing in two.
Asher’s bear got into the mix as well, facing off against both a salamander and a wolf.
Ice and stone fell from the ceiling, pelting the fiery creatures, as Adget weaved a spell.
The battle was over before Face even wandered around the corner. His confusion generated chuckles from the group.

They left to plan what their next step should be.

Mindlink Monster Mash

Luke stared Michael straight in the eye. It strained his neck a bit given he was 10’ tall, nevertheless he said, completely straight faced “Nothing could possibly go wrong”.

Michael mulled it over “And this will really make us work that much better as a team… all linked together like this”

“Absolutely. Sybaris and Asher are already on board with it, and ready to go”

“Hmm, but why is it colored like dirt?”

“Oh, I found some in other colors too. Here try one of the red ones”

Michael stared down at the tiny little sparkling magic item “Why does it have two Ws on it?”

Luke started delving into advanced psychic theory finishing with “because it’s red, it’ll make you go faster”. This seemed to satisfy Michael, who promptly popped it into his mouth.

Luke suddenly felt light headed. Flipping through the ancient tome he’d found he realized he’d gotten it reversed, they weren’t W&W enchantments.

Luke stared forward in a haze, things seemed okay, but it was like he was vaguely disconnected from his body. On the bright side the link seemed to have sped everything up, in fact Face was moving so fast he lost sight of him through the fog. He could sense Asher and Sybaris in the link as well, but he realized the link was working backwards. As they entered the room he passed through a wall of fog before his enhanced senses snapped everything into focus. Ahead of him Sybaris was miming shivering and pointing at the giant crystal, then something about the walking dead… and something flying, no, breathing fire, and scales, yes, that was definitely the sign for scales, that or fresh ice cream, he always got those confused.

That’s when the room engulfed in flame. Luke closed his eyes and just focused using his mind, but then his hand started to rise of it’s own will and point at the Crystal. Luke could hear voices bouncing through his head, like he was stuck in a long echoing tunnel, like the ones he played in the catacombs back home.

It was a lot more fun when it wasn’t his head resonating. First he heard Sybaris “Michael, can you freeze the crystal and the half you know whats behind it?” “Got it” he heard echoing back. Then his hand snapped to the left a bit and ice cold shot down range into the Crystal and three of the nearby half whatevers.

The overgrown dogs summoned to protect the temple were met by glowing celestial creatures, salamanders, and what looked like a small naked woman. Luke was going to look closer, but then his head was forcibly turned back to the crystal as Michael broke through the center like a wave cresting the shore. He watched Sybaris and Orgutz circle in for the kill. Like a soldier crisply snapping his heels together at attention they crisscrossed the two lead guards.

His senses lost sight of them as a sticky mist filled the air. Flames erupted again, but this time Sybaris was already working on the crystal. As bears, salamanders, and a very ticked off looking mute bird closed in on the last half thing his sense fuzzed out again.

Face was finally on the verge of success. He was used to the dry heat of the desert, but the dampness of the dungeon had formed a particularly nasty booger lodged in his nose. He had almost freed it when flames erupted down the corridor. For a moment he saw the outline of a beautiful tiny woman, silhouetted by the flames. Then everyone was racing around the corner, leaping, bounding, and skidding as they turned the tight bend. With his finger stuck up his nose he grabbed his mace with the other hand and slammed his helmet down. About that time he realized the error of this particular sequence as his finger, and nose, erupted in pain.

Giant spears and flame breathing wolf like outlines confronted them, with deft skill Sybaris rolled through their defenses while Michael and the Bear pummeled their way through. At last the remaining Salamander went for the death blow on the bear, swinging weakly as it missed, and again, and again. With heat so intense it burned the stone the bear stood amazed, and unscratched. The Salamander was not so lucky.

Face, finger up his nose, blood running down his helmet, shield and mace clutched on one side like a bundle of clothes came racing around the corner. “What’d I miss?” was all he could get out before everyone busted out laughing.

Luke’s senses finally snapped back together and his right cheek was hurting. Asher was winding up for another smack, when Luke put up his hand to stop him “What the heck happened?”.

Sybaris was looking over the strange tome he’d found, a green magic mint in his hand, half melted, and dripping some brown goo down his fingers. “I don’t think these are W&Ws Luke” he said, flipping another page. “Yep, these are an upgraded version, called M&Ms after their creator”. “Their creator?” Luke inquired, his head still pounding like there was a cacophony of demons trying to claw their way out, and his vision now an odd tint of blue. “Yep, they’re Microsoft Mindlinks. Hey, did you read the side effects section? It says that in a small number of cases in can cause the Blue Screams of Death. Oh, but they’ve got a cure, you just have to go into battle using one of their preferred tools, which you can buy separately.”

Luke’s head was still pounding, and he doubted he’d ever have one of those stupid W&W, or M&Ms, or whatever they were again, but just to sate his curiosity he had to ask “And what type of tool is that?”

Sybaris flipped another page, “Umm, looks like they have Service Picks”

Luke shrugged, another useless tome of knowledge, he tossed it on the fire and fed the remaining M&Ms to the Orcs. At least there’d be some entertainment with drugged out Orcs at the campfire tonight.

Thar be Dragon(burgers) here!

There are certainly plenty of dragons to be found here.
As we traveled, we came across a burned out village of halflings. Burned out using dragon acid. No survivors except a child.
Bringing the child with us, we moved on to find a halfling caravan, similarly burned out. There was one survivor here as well, but an adult this time. He knew the child. One of the dead halflings was the parent of the child, it seems.

We did not have time to do much other than heal the halfling. A black dragon showed up, flying overhead. Little Adget immediately unleashed a spell of lightning on the beast, while Sybaris went to ground and beyond (he can dig quite well) and prepared to use missile weapons on the dragon. Asher did what he does best, and started summoning griffons to harry the dragon.

Seeing as I had little in the way of ranged attacks, I grabbed Adget and provided her with increased mobility, since the dragon had breathed on her. She was able to cast spells at the dragon while I ran.

It took only moments for the dragon to decide that this was too much for it. It started to fly away. I reversed direction and we started to pursue it. Between Adget’s spells and Asher’s flying horde, the dragon did not last long, even in flight.

The halflings came back (they disappeared fast when the dragon showed up, which was good) with another halfling in tow. They were able to impart to us the location of another halfling town that may be in trouble soon (the dragon we brought down was the baby) and the location of the lair. So we set off to convince mom that further attacks were unwise.

It turned out that there was a deep pool, at the bottom of which was the dragon’s lair. We had some water breathing potions that we found, so we were able to get down to the lair easily. Asher summoned giant sharks while Adget summoned crocodiles, then we went in.

There was some sort of warding spell on the entrance. A sonic burst later, along with outwards rushing water, we were deafened, but still able to fight. Most of us were able to get up to the dragon, but Adget’s crocodiles were having a hard time with the dragon’s ward. The passage was narrow, so we were limited in how many could attack the beast. Asher’s lead shark went head to head with the dragon. I moved to the side of the dragon, while Sybaris went through the ground to attack the dragon. The beast was well armored. I could barely stike it effectively. The fact that the beast was frightful to look at as well did not help. We were able to do some damage to it, and we whittled it down, but it was a tough fight.

Fortunately, there were no serious casualties in the entire fight. We went to the halfling village to recover and rest before moving on.


The Halfling Problem

Harryfoot ran up to the ridge of the low hill. Perspiration beaded on his forehead as he stared down into the valley.

A small hut, partially buried into the hillside sat in a comfortable stretch of shade as the sun rose. Harryfoot didn’t pause, panting heavily he ran down the hill.

Smoke curled slowly up from the chimney of the humble abode, and all serene to Harryfoot. He almost slammed into the door, leaning heavily on it for a moment before pounding on the door. “Quickfoot! Quickfoot!! Where are you!!!”.

Harryfoot kicked at the door, then instantly regretted it. Hobbling around on one leg he smelled something most distressing. Food, wonderfully prepared, left to spoil.

He scrambled over to a window and forced his way up to the opening, his legs dangling in the air as he tumbled inside. His worst fears were confirmed. Quickfoot must have been captured, killed, or who knows what. His abode sat untouched, a comfortable rocking chair almost begging to be used. Harryfoot’s vision was starting to cloud, the stress of the preparations, and now for Quickfoot to disappear at the worst possible moment.

He leaned against the stove staring at the food, what would have been Quickfoot’s last meal, wondering where things went wrong. He thought back to the start of it all.

Harryfoot shook his head “No Quickfoot, this is crazy, why on earth would we ever want to be noticed by anyone, especially dragons?”

Quickfoot smiled broadly “It’s all about opportunity, think about it. No one trusts a dragon, but their greed is legendary. They have unwanted magical trinkets, and in return for a cut of the treasure we become their salesman. BAM we’re instantly rich. And dragons never stop acquiring magic items. Pretty much guaranteed income”

Harryfoot sighed, he knew when he might as well give up. Quickfoot had somehow managed to convince the rest of the elders that this was somehow a good idea. The recent drought hadn’t helped matters much, but Harryfoot was confident the river would rise again and the Lake would get back to normal. The seers in the town had different ideas though.

A small speck circled in the sky above, as its shadow grew larger Harryfoot had a sinking feeling about this.

Harryfoot was almost back to the village. Somehow he’d just have to explain Quickfoots sudden disappearance. He at least had all the magic items they were supposed to have sold for Black Beauty, the incredible large, and dangerous dragon that Quickfoot had struck a deal with. Now he just had to be as eloquent as Quickfoot.

He crested the hill and his heart sank. Ahead he saw eaten away buildings, pools of acid everywhere and looters, already making their way through the buildings picking them clean of everything. Hiding behind the hill Harryfoot was sobbing, he’d known this was a bad idea. They should’ve just waited for the Lake to rise again.

Quickfoot felt oddly distracted, but he knew the feeling would pass. Amy, the Blink Dog had just arrived with a fresh delivery of goods, and his new employer kept him busy doing exactly what he’d always wanted, buying and selling quality goods. He looked over the latest batch, which included some fine potion bottles and exquisite art pieces. The potion bottles had a familiar feel to them somehow. Not to be distracted Quickfoot stepped into the busy bazaar “Witness the fine work of Ohnalik the swimmer. Thought to have died in the River of the black lizard, now his legacy of fine works is available for sale again!”. The noise enveloped him and he was happy, his new employer was both kind and generous, he was looking forward to spending his hard earned five copper this evening.

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Luke looked closely into the distance, peering at the twin pillars. His acute senses strained at the distance, his own psionic senses wavering in power as he tried to make out what looked like a glitter of crystals in the distance. He should’ve known something was happening when everyone dove out of the way, leaving him standing at the center of a cauldron of heat.

All of a sudden a huge pillar of living fire erupted from the ground behind him. He felt like he was moving in slow motion as he turned to peer at the mammoth beast. Unfortunately for him it did not move so slowly. It’s giant tendrils of flame erupted outwards striking and burning everywhere. It left giant burn marks in the ground, and seared, melted bits of deformed metal armor dripped onto the sand.

There was a burst of activity and the beast fell. Blades flashed, and steel met the bare soul of the Elemental as Michael and Sybaris released its spirit manifestation from this plane.

Asher deftly rolled out of the way, somewhat assisted by the flames pursuing him. Another flash of light erupted, but this time Luke was ready, ice, cold as the planes of Izendar, flowed outward as the freshly spawned elemental appeared right next to Asher. Transforming into a bird of flight Asher strategically repositioned himself. As he flew over Luke a large white droplet fell onto his scorched, burning armor, smelling like burning bird berries (from yesterday).

Face and Orgutz joined the fray this time, attempting to help Sybaris and Michael end the elemental before another could appear. Luke decided it was time to examine the great structure up close. As the Orcs screamed in pain, running around on fire, a horde of Griffins began to descend upon the scene. More elementals spawned, and in desperation Luke stared at two crystals one red, one green, unsure which one to pull. Reaching in with both hands he pulled them both out at the same time. Flames erupted around him, and all he could see was orange and blue tendrils of flame, then a wash of blasting wind rolled over him. As he cleared the dust and sand from his eyes, his own flame extinguished by the rush of air he watched Sybaris walking up to the pillars as a great mass of Griffins beat the air with their wings. Not an elemental was in sight.

Luke breathed a sigh of relief as Sybaris approached. With a broad smile Luke held up the crystals “Don’t worry, I didn’t break either of them, we should get full value on these!”


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