Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Duendewood: Here Be Dragons

We have left Zorga and continued South and southwest, through this horrible dense forest along a path that Eva knows from having been captured along it. (But at least the Treants don't attack us.) We continue for another seven days (bringing our total to fifteen) before we reach the point where Eva stops and says that this is where she was captured.

Ruin checks for tracks, and we continue along, following our map and the trail of the other wagon. The woods are unpleasant and also spooky. They're also getting damper as we go: the mosses are clearly trying to take over the trees, and the dampness is actualy worse. Our attempts to patch the roof are... barely passable, and it's getting a bit *funky* in the wagon.

Geddy is taking advantage of the trave time to draw Eva out; at one point she mentions her sister, Rita -- and then covers her mouth. Geddy plays it off, and Eva moves on to another topic.

A few days later she confesses to Geddy that her sister was taken on the other wagon. He thinks she's genuinely a child, just... not a typical one.

Ruin's been reading a book on the history of Titan's Reach... which had old ruins sized for huge creatures. The halfling author clearly had a very large stick up his butt; he's insistent that the ruins were Elvish, and built large to "house their imaginary gods". Ruin is making corrections in the margins; Azrael is writing gothic poetry, and Martini is staring out the windows and wishing she weren't trapped in a wagon with her brother.

Martini notices something outside the window and calls our attention to it. It looks like a tree until it reaches out and whacks Geddy. Other plant-monsters come shambling towards us.

Ruin shoots arrows out the window next to him, and calls for Eva to make the horses go faster. Neither of his arrows does any damage. Martini puts an arrow in another in another one, but to minimal effect.

Azrael, predictably, drops a fireball over on the enemy-heavy side of the wagon. The shamblers are resistant to the fire, but still injured by it; the treant is severely damaged.

The shambler on the other side tries to attack Ruin through the window slit, but misses; another attacks Geddy but misses. The treant is injured and angry and tries to rip through the side of the carriage, and yanks a fair chunk of the wall off.

Ruin steps over to the opening and finishes off one of the shambling mounds, then Martini stab-stab-stab-stab-stabs the other one on that side, injuring it badly.

Azrael drifts up through the roof and finishes the treant with a scorching ray before striking a shambler with the other one.

The shambler next to Martini attacks her but misses; the one on the other side of the rips off more of the wall. Geddy finishes the shambler on that side with a crossbow bolt. Ruin crosses over to the newly-opened section of wall, and slices into the remaining shambler. Martini moves over beside him and stabs it a lot, finishing it off.

We make what repairs we can to the wagon, and continue moving along. Eva continues along until we... come to some dead bodies on the ground. Eva stops the carriage a ways back, and she and Ruin go forward to investigate.

Step One: look around for things getting ready to jump out of the trees and try to murder us.  

We've reached the edge of a sort of swampy pond, and there are dead people strewn around the edges of the pond. There's dried blood everywhere, and dried green goop everywhere as well. There's also a couple of chests at the bottom of the swampy water.

Ruin: "Eva, can you keep watch while I check the bodies?"

Eva, bending over the body: "This is one of those mean wizards who captured me from the other wagon." She heads back to the carriage.

Azrael is drawn to the presence of death, and Geddy followed Eva; so Martini comes along as well. She checks the bodies and Ruin stands watch; Azrael contemplates the futility of mortal existence.

Ruin moves to put himself between the water and everyone else; he's heard something bubbling at the far edge of the water, with a cadence that sounds like speech.

Geddy begins to sing; he can hear it too, now. Azrael doesn't hear it, but take the hint and goes to hover over the lake, well above the water. He can see the bubbles now, at least. Martini says the dead people were injured with teeth and claws, and broke some limbs; the people left here seem to have been pickled, so whatever did this may be coming back for them.

Geddy casts Haste.

And then a big green dragon heaves up out of the swamp, and flaps up to about forty feet in the air. Then it drops a fireball on us.

Martini is unscathed; Ruin and Geddy take a bit of damage but aren't particularly injured. Ruin switches weapons and fires off an arrow; the dragon twists slightly, and the arrow glances off an invisible surface. Azrael concludes that it's probably using Mage Armor and Shield, and tags it with ennervation. It's weakened, and he follows up with a quickened Scorching Ray and catches it right in the face.

Also, dragons are terrifying; Ruin, at least, is shaken by its sudden appearance.

Martini turns herself invisible. Then she says, "Kindest Sir or Madam, can you stop attacking us?"

"Shut up puny human! I've got kids to feed!"

Ruin: "Who you calling human, asshole?"

The dragon flies over and lands on Geddy and Ruin, damaging them and pinning them down. "Where are you, invisible lady? If you come out now I'll eat you last."

Ruin tries to shove him off, but fails. Azrael attempts Ray of Enfeeblement and Ray of Exhaustion.

Martini tries to negotiate, to see if there's anything we can do to leave without further fighting.

Dragon: "I'm just going to kill you and take all your stuff."

Martini sneaks to a new position. Geddy attempts magic from under his claw, but the dragon shakes it off.

The battle is interrupted by a second dragon, which flies in and drops a cone of weakening gas over his head. (Geddy: "Eva's a gold dragon. Cool.")

The green dragon turns its head and hits Azrael with its breath weapon, then squishes Ruin and Geddy a bit; Azrael tries another spell but doesn't get through its resistance. Martini tries to negotiate again ("Now we have our own dragon!") but Drood the Dragon is not impressed.

Geddy casts Tasha's Hideous Laughter, but again the dragon shakes it off. The gold dragon leaps in and bites Drood badly, then claws him as well.

At this point the dragon takes his claws off Geddy and Ruin and turns to attack the gold dragon. He attacks and hits several times, but he's been weakened and doesn't do too much damage.

Ruin attacks but misses; Azrael tries Glitterdust, but fails to blind him. Martini continues her attempts to scare the dragon into backing down.

The two dragon tangle, and Geddy Enlarges Ruin. Ruin attacks again and actually manages to get through. Martini makes one more try at negotiating, but Drood is not impressed and starts looking around to see where she is.

Geddy slips back and drops a Cure Serious Wounds on himself. Eva attacks again (still as a dragon) and damages Drood some more. Drood fights back, ripping into her, but Azrael uses another spell to weaken him further.

Ruin slices him with his sword again, but the dragon ignores him and attacks Eva.

The dragon turns invisible and tries to fly away, but Ruin calls him a misshapen newt with delusions of grandeur and hears the flapping sound slow and start to circle back. Martini adds her own insults.

Azrael casts Mirror Image on himself, and Eva flies down to protect Geddy.

The dragon lands beside Martini and spits acid all over us; Ruin charges him, ducks under a bite, and finishes him off.

Ruin, still large, wades out to retrieve the chests and hauls them back to shore; they're mostly empty, with 19 GP worth of mixed coins in them. The corpses on the shore have already been picked clean.

We check the lake and find a cave opening. Martini is unwilling to go into the boggy lake water, but Azrael promises to keep her dry with magic. She swims in, still invisible, and after some *considerable* effort emerges in a cavern, in the dark. She tugs twice on the rope to tell us she's okay, which we... um... okay, sure, clearly that means she's okay.

She tries to sneak forward through the water. There's a very dim illumination coming from up ahead. A little dragon flies up, looks around, and then flies away. Martini continues sneaking...

...And steps on a stick. There are a bunch of baby dragons up here, and about half of them are moving over to investigate the sound.

Martini makes a silent, invisible withdrawal, apparently unnoticed. She tugs on the rope again and we haul her back out. We consider the situation and go back in.

Next week: Drood's Brood.

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