Beyond the guard room we found a throne room. The ogre on the throne died immediately, however, thanks to Tanka’s arrows.
Hawthorne and Nuan Shu strode out boldly to meet the other half dozen ogres, while Jalen ran around to find exposed flanks to exploit. However, the room was large, and our front line was too thin to keep the brutes away from our more vulnerable rear guard, so I called upon a divine version of the creature that had once swallowed me whole in Mortimer’s pocket world to help hold off the advancing enemies. It was a thing of beauty, despite it’s comically short upper limbs, and my dinosaur managed to occupy and eventually kill almost half of the king’s guards.
Meanwhile, Hawthorne and Nuan Shu were also cutting through the others easily. Jalen had boldly gotten behind several ogres and was able to pick his targets with deadly effect. Something seemed wrong to me, however. We still hadn’t faced anything that could have challenged the Gold Dragon, Gornax, that we had come to find. I suspected that somewhere in the room an invisible dragon was waiting for the right moment to pounce. So, I called upon Diakris’ power to call into light any hidden evils and strode into the throne room…just in time to reveal the real ogre king sneaking in behind Jalen. Unfortunately, in the moments that it took our warriors to come to his aid, Jalen was struck several times with brutal power. It was only by divine power that our scout’s life was spared again.
Once the king was dead we had time to take stock and look around. There was still virtually no coin to be found, but the ogre leader was impressively attired. I don’t know what we’ll be able to do with ogre sized enchanted plate mail, but someone is bound to pay well for it back in the city.
The only other thing of note was an altar along one of the walls. A crude depiction of a dragon covered in spikes had been drawn above the altar. Also, one of the dead ogres appeared to be a priest. It took a while to search the room, but eventually someone found a concealed door behind the altar. This led to a long passage the stretched out into the darkness. A foul odor wafted out as the door was breached. It was the sour stink of bad breath mixed with rot. None of us had ever smell dragon before, but we assumed that this meant we were getting close.
Jalen led the way and soon found a series of trip wires attached to noise makers. Additionally the smell grew stronger the further we went. Eventually the hall opened up into a vast, dark cavern. Stone spikes covered the floor and cut through Tanka’s boots as he now took up the lead. After a moment of discussion, Faelyn concealed Tanka with invisibility and I gave my brother the power to walk above the sharp stones on the ground. After a short time of waiting near the entrance to the cavern we heard Tanka shout and start racing back toward the tunnel. However, before he could reach the waiting group, a wall of force appeared, blocking his exit. Fortunately, Jalen and Faelyn were able to think quickly and circumvent the wall of force in order to rescue Tanka from a grim fate.
Later, Tanka described the dragon as enormous and covered in sharp spines like the ones in the ogre’s drawings. We decided to fall back and wait til morning when we’d be stronger before attempting the attack again.
I suppose it went well. I mean, we made some deadly mistakes, but in the end we achieved our goal.
The attack on the spined dragon went sideways from the start. Faelyn and I carefully coordinated our spells to get in quickly and shield the group from the acid that we assumed the dragon would employ. Everything about the dragon suggested a connection to ‘Earth’, and Faelyn was confident that such dragons breathed acid.
This one didn’t.
When we appeared in the middle of the room we were mere feet from the beast, and despite the invisibility that Faelyn had provided, it knew exactly where we were. Our protections were also of no use against the sonic force it projected. Within seconds, our battle plan was useless and several of us were gravely injured.
We fought on, as we had to, and found that at least some of our preparations had been effective. Having seen it the day before, Faelyn was able to disintegrate the wall of force that the dragon used to split the group. Also, while the dragon hadn’t summoned stone spikes to cover the floor, our fly and air walk spells enabled the warriors to close on the creature every time it tried to get away. However, it was still a very near thing. I spent all of my time healing my companions, but in the end, I was unable to save Nuan Shu from the dragon’s maw. I will need to raise her in the morning.
Toward the back of the cavern we discovered a deep pit that led down to another, slightly smaller cavern far below. Here we found a dragon’s hoard, and a magical force cage that held a human man. The man appeared unconscious and in poor health. Faelyn reminded us that some dragons, Gold Dragons in particular, could take on the forms of other races. It seemed likely that this human was actually the dragon, Gornax, that we had come to rescue.
After finding no mechanism to turn off the force cage, Jalen mentioned that he had found a gem attached to the spined dragon that looked like it would fit the odd indentation at the cage’s base. Sure enough, when he pressed the gem into the hole, the cage shimmered and faded.
After I revived the man and explained the situation, he confirmed that he was indeed Gornax. He was confused as to why we had sought him out, however. When I explained the orb we had found, he immediately understood and knew that it was Imbrix’ soul within the orb. At my request, he eagerly shifted back into dragon form and breathed fire onto the orb, barely waiting for me to get out of the way.
As the flames engulfed the orb it glowed brightly for a few moments and then a pulse of magic seemed to be flung from the sphere and passed through us and into the rock walls of the cavern. We could all sense the immense power that had been released. After that, the orb dissolved quickly, the smoke coalescing briefly into the shape of an enormous dragon. As the form also began to break apart we all felt a profound sense of joy and relief that could only have come from the freeing of Ibrix’ soul.
Afterwards we all were silent, no one willing the be the first to disrupt the magic of the moment we had all just experienced, until finally Gornax simply said ‘thank you’.
With the deed done, we were able to take some time to answer the young dragon’s questions about how we came to possess the orb and the trials that we went through to learn it’s secrets and to find a relative of the mighty Imbrix after so much time. For his part, Gornax was deeply thankful and promised to help us in the future, should we need it. He will be returning to his home in Mount Gorall for now, however. He also noted that, though they were few now, each of the remaining dragons of his kind already knew what had just happened, and that he would spread the word of our actions to good dragons everywhere.