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This is a High Fantasy campaign set on our existing continent in the realm known as Durkin (Map #5).

Character Creation

All but one of the PCs will generate their characters based on the following guidelines:


You are all humans in your late teens / early 20s in Durkin. You may know each other or be complete strangers hundreds of miles apart. You may be the daughter of a wealthy merchant or politician or sorcerer, or a rapscallion or trollop, or a humble peasant or laborer or fisherman (just choose Status and Wealth levels appropriately). The GM needs at least a few sentences about your home town and your station in life in order to prepare the kickoff of the campaign. Feel free to invent villages not on the map (add to wiki and say what they're near). Here's a list of potential village names.

Each of you has always had a nagging sensation that you were destined for greater things, but you go through the motions of your regular daily life without significant complaint. The more ambitious among you may have begun voluntary training in anticipation of living out your grand destiny, such as combat, magic, survival skills, etc, though this is not required. If your only skills are Fishing and Gardening, that is fine. These characters' lives and skills will all change drastically very soon.


As potential heroes, you each have 100 points to spend:

  • Up to 60 on primary attributes
  • Up to 40 on disadvantages
  • Up to 15 on skills

One character will have different guidelines for character creation and backstory.


What Happened


Wu Sau, weary from his distant travels, arrives in Camlin. There, he found the estate of Charles Cavendish where his first goal resided. After being spurned by the lady of the house, he convinced Lily and Tango to come with him. They left in the night.

A week later, after some riding lessons, meals of rice and fish, and convivial conversation, they arrived in Saffron Stop, where Jeni proved more difficult to approach and persuade. In the tavern, Brutus caused twin thugs to try and throw the pair out (for mere entertainment), but Wu Sau quickly made his expertise known, and defused the situation after the thugs suffered some broken ribs.

Wu Sau later infiltrated young Jeni's home, and knocked her senseless while she bathed, all warm and wet and slippery. He rolled her lissome form into Lily's cloak, and made off with the girl.

The next morning, at the gates of Argyle, the party opted not to enter, because the blue-robed, shaven-headed inspectors demanded too much access. The party took a rural route south of Argyle, to connect with the coast road and head south for their next goal.

After trading a handful of flower blossoms for some ill-fitting lady's clothes at a rural trading post, they carried on, through Lowenport and on to Serenton a week later.

There, serendipitously, they stayed at the very inn at which Gunther Oakhearth worked. While Jeni entertained the boisterous crowd with giggling and wriggling downstairs, Wu Sau prevailed upon the boy to accompany them on the quest.

All three had the mark that Wu Sau sought, though their mettle was yet to be tested.

Two days later, the group arrived at the Oakhearth farm, where young Gunther told his surly father and fawning mother of the quest. Mother quickly identified the girls as potential wives, and father turned over Gunther's grandfather's adventuring gear, before heading out to the front porch to solemnly smoke his pipe.

In the morning, the party forged east, to find the next Companion.


Days later, at one of the roadhouses along the Serenflow, the party encounters a log jam of merchant wagons. One oversized cart is piled high with nondescript crates, casks and barrels, fancy boxes, and many small cages containing fur-bearing critters. As they pass, the mules attached to the vehicle flinch, a collision occurs, and boxes and cages tumble down upon the party.

Jeni (the Weirdness Magnet) in particular is surprised when a luxurious long blonde wig lands perfectly upon her head, and an escaped young female stoat delves into her generous cleavage for cover.

The owner of the toppled cart, nine-foot-tall Murdock staggers out of the tavern with a pitcher of ale in his hand, and finds the disaster hilarious. He and Gunther have the mess cleaned up in no time, and the two sit down for a meal inside.

As the sun sets, Wu Sau, Lily, Tango and Lilu sit outside and eat rice and fish while young Jeni cavorts with merchants and Gunther continues nibbling his steak while listening to Murdock's winding tale of giant stag-hunting in the mountains.

Gunther also learns of the reason for the logjam: a bridge two miles east is receiving needed repairs by a crew of dwarven workers, who were likely to complete the task the next day. Hearing of ongoing engineering and carpentry work, Gunther consults Wu Sau, detaches the wagon-horse, and rides to the job site to check it out.

There he finds dwarven foreman Yurzik Werbek and his crew, some of whom are wrestling nude alongside a huge bonfire. On approach though, two bored armored guards of Cormire accost the lad, and after a few short words from Yurzik, young Gunther is advised to go away, but that if wants to check out the construction gear, it's right over there.

Gunther sits down to inspect the tangled mass of industrial-strength pulleys, wedges, files, drill-presses, and sledges, and notes a sudden brightening of the moonlight. It's Jinx, sitting atop a 14' timber right above him, clutching her newly-replenished jar of moonflies. Once she hears that Gunter is on a quest to save the world, she of course tags along back to the barn next to the roadhouse.

Jeni opts to preserve her honor this night, and joins the party in the barn in the wee hours of the night. In the morning, Wu Sau ceremonially makes rice while the rest of the crew raid the tavern's kitchen for oatmeal, sugar, and cocktails.

Pressing eastward, days pass through brilliant wildflower meadow, and the finally the great Lake Cormire is spotted. Gunther, who for days has been trudging alongside the wagon in his grandpa's armor is near collapse when Lily announces that Tango wants a drink of water from the farmhouse to the south, over the hill.

Ever-enthusiastic Jinx scurries up the flower-covered faint wagon tracks with Lily close behind, while the rest of the party takes a breather. Jinx crests the hill, and sees a verdant bowl, with a pond, grove of oak trees, a barn, and modest farmhouse. Lily waves to the party to follow.

In the barn is young Jonny Humboldt, a family friend of the elderly Jorgensons who live here. Introductions are made, and Wu Sau spots the birthmark, and knows he's located the final Companion. Destiny is explained, and Jonny sees the wisdom of the words. Meanwhile, Jinx splashes in the pond.

The group moves on together towards Cormire, and two days later, on a blustery gray day, is moving through the unwashed masses who live in makeshift shelters outside the 40' walls of the great city. At one point, an 80-lb, 80-year-old dark-skinned woman with her eye sockets sewn shut and 3" fingernails claws at Jeni, wailing "You have come..."

Wu Sau covers the 1-silver entry tax, and the party emerges in the bustling city. After stopping in at the nearby Blowing Bean tavern for drinks and an exotic meal of tortillas, cheese, tomatoes and beans, the party splits up and explores the thriving city after an admonition from Wu Sau to be back to the tavern before dark.

A fickle lass, Lily alone fails to return, and wanders after dark looking for sweet treats. Wu Sau organizes a search party, and as they hit the streets, they note the inhabitants have changed from mostly merchants and laborers to mostly drunks, mercenaries, bandits, and ladies of ill repute.

Lovely Jeni accosts one lusty barbarian and prevails upon him to help. He leads the group to a nearby bakery, where sure enough, Lily is sampling one of every dessert. An aggravated Wu Sau knocks her senseless, stuffs the remaining treats in Lily's pillowcase of treasures, and carries her back to the rented rooms above the Blowing Bean.

Kaldor succeeds in charming Miss Jeni with his bawdy banter, and the two spend acrobatic quality time together until near dawn.

The next morning, the party packs up and heads north for Aylesford, reaching the turnoff late in the afternoon. At a creek crossing beset by tangled underbrush, they encounter a group of backwoods bandits. Jonny is shot in the chest with a crossbow bolt, but soon Wu Sau's arrows have them either dead or on the run. During the melee, Jeni executes a wrestling takedown, and Lily runs her father's rapier through a bandit's thigh. Items of value are plucked from the slain criminals' packs before their bodies are pushed into the underbrush to be devoured by ants and birds.

Upon reaching town, the boys sell the old wagon (the bandits canvas-covered wagon being preferable) while the girls investigate the community bakery and Wu Sau marches to the residence of Mayor Constance Gutherford for answers about the Well of Wishes. The Mayor's father and son team of guards don't question Wu Sau's urgency and step aside to allow him to speak with the Mayor as she gardens.

Constance explains the story of the Well and provides directions. Satisfied, Wu Sau rounds up the party and the ride higher into the foothills.

Eventually, the terrain is too rough, and the party proceeds on foot. They arrive at the ruins of an old outpost tower, surrounded by a mostly-crumbled mossy stone wall. The "Well" is an improved spring, from which cold clear water spills gently.

They approach, but a ghost emerges from the tower, hissing breathily, "Alfred, is that you? Speak to me, please! Give me a sign, my love. I am so cold and lonely Alfred, where are you?"

The otherworldly nature of the apparition causes mass fainting, retching, and consternation.

Inspired, young Jonny races back to Aylesford and inquires about this "Alfred" character. He learns that Alfred died many years ago, and is buried in the community cemetery nearby. With the help of some townsfolk, Jonny makes a stencil of the gravestone, and races back to the tower.

There, he presents the stencil to the ghost. A second ghost emerges from the stencil, the two embrace, and disappear.

The haunting laid to rest, Wu Sau gathers the party in a circle surrounding the Well and conducts a chanting ritual.

A Quest Undertaken

Wu Sau's monotone chanting goes on for a few minutes. There are flashes of light deep within the well, the birds and insects and the very breeze goes silent, and Gunther, Jonny, Jeni, and Lily drop to the ground, unconscious.

As they awaken moments later, fatigued but imbued with new powers, they sense that their quest is real. Lily, in particular, knows that she is The Dragonslayer, and that she must retrieve the Pike of Heroes from Rogan Soltath in the Bandit Wastes.


Though Jonny lolls in a coma-like trance, the party heads down the mountain back to Aylesford for supplies, and then on to Cormire to acquire armor for Lily.


After passing through the great northern gate of the fine city, Jeni (the Weirdness Magnet) hears a familiar voice. Virgil, her first boyfriend from back in Saffron Stop, is approaching the wagon. He looks different though: he wears a crude leather prosthetic nose, as he later explains the one he was born with was snapped off by a cantankerous donkey.


In the middle of this awkward reunion, Kaldor walks up and proposes another bout of lovemaking. Jeni agrees to meet him in the nearby Wilted Flower later, and the party follows Virgil back to the armoury in which he serendipitously works.

There, the dwarven master Blackmoor shouts at Virgil for dawdling, and proceeds to fit a suit of scale armor for young Lily.

With that work underway, the party goes back to the Wilted Flower for warm meal and a drink. Kaldor joins them and proceeds to dominate the conversation with boastful tales, leading Wu Sau and Gunther to take a seat elsewhere. Jeni endures, drinking pint after pint of strong ale as Lily quietly sips her first honey mead.

Later, Virgil arrives to dance with Jeni, Kaldor takes an interest in the impressive charms of the blonde barmaid, while tipsy Lily wanders out into the streets, chatting with strangers and introducing them to Tango. Lily nearly takes a job with Maximilian the Mage when Wu Sau and Gunther catch up with her and report that Jeni left the bar with Virgil some time ago, and they don't know where she is.

Despite the missing nose, Virgil's other charms stir old memories deep in Jeni, and she's accompanied him back to his tiny third-floor apartment for some private time.

After depositing Lily back in the hotel and some asking around on the street, Wu Sau kicks in Virgil's door and drags a half-dressed Jeni back to the hotel.

The next morning, the party loads up the wagon with supplies and leaves the city en route to the Bandit Wastes.

After a couple days, they encounter Brugocious and his crew, a rag-tag multi-racial group of ruffians. Brugocious confirms the existence of Rogan Soltath, but the conversation is cut short when his attention turns to "renting" Jeni and Lily for a few hours. Wu Sau declines to do so, and bids farewell.

However, as the parties pass each other on the road, a goblin henchman with his arm in a sling shares some rumors:

Watch for ambushes. I hear he has a minotaur on one of his raiding parties, but it may be just a rumor. Supposedly he's built a city in the mountains somewhere not far from the Road, with a brothel and everything, for raiders, murderers, and thieves. Supposedly he's raising an army, and the bugbears and mountain giants of the Ozgarns have pledged their loyalty.

A few days and chilly nights later, whilst travelling across the arid high country among rocky precipices and scattered boulders, the party spots another caravan of 6 camel-drawn wagons. It is merchant Muhammad Akbar, with his wife and a dozen Eastern fighting men, many with injuries. He explains that he lost four men, two camels, two wagons, two wives, and a child in a tangle with bandits two days previously.

The party presses on through the rocky moonscape of the Bandit Wastes, and sure enough, two days later, as they come over a rise, they spot two wagons and eight men in the distance. Coming closer, they can see that several of the men are injured, and one of the wagons is partially overturned.

The bandits make a feeble attempt at salesmanship, explaining the benefits of the the rare Eastern perfumes for sale by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. The party expresses some skepticism, inspiring the portly leader to order his men to attack.

The party is outnumbered, but Wu Sau's arrows are devastating. Lily bloodies her fine blade, but sustains a cut to her abdomen and withdraws. Gunther loses his temper and goes on a bloody rampage, leaving no survivors in the immediate area.

Wu Sau rides down an attempted escapee and knocks him senseless for later questioning.

A Weapon Seized

The team followed the little bandit Sayed Mustafa into the wild country to the north of the road eventually being forced to abandon their wagon and proceed with horses. They arrived in a narrow sandy canyon at a T-intersection. To the right, a thornbush-enclosed "corral" in a box canyon with a slow drip from the orchid-covered cliff above. A few camels and horses and flies.

But at the base of the T, a bunch of sage, and within, a throat-slit girl. The party tries to help the near-dead girl while Lily munches an edible mushroom.

Which makes her hallucinate, hard. Eventually, her antics are too much for Wu Sau, who knocks her unconscious and ties her up. She awakens quickly, and a fight begins.

Time passes, and the conflict abates. In the morning, the team scales the steep switchbacks to the ridge above and stares down at the wasteland camp of Rogan Soltath as a couple dozen men emerge from a barracks to greet a returning hunter on the far side of the broad sandy bowl, surrounded by steep ridgeline on three sides.

The team walks directly into the camp.

Gunther and Wu Sau take the lead, while the ladies and nervous Sayed hang back.

Wu Sau assassinates the guard outside the brothel building, and after another kill, moments later he and Gunther have both infiltrated Rogan's primitive sandstone residence.

As a crowd of bestial bandits accumulates outside, Rogan begins bargaining with the infiltrators. He points out, if you harm me, you'll be torn limb from limb by the mob outside.

Wu Sau and Gunther negotiate a peace in which Rogan will take no action on the two kills, but will sell the party the Pike of Heroes at a fair price as long as Lily fights his champion in the pit.

Meanwhile, Jeni and Sayed approach, pretending that Sayed has captured the young beauty. The distraction pulls most of the mob away from the bosses house, and the remaining party is allowed to rummage through the stone storage building for the fabled pike.

After being distracted by all manner of exotic curiosities, Gunther and Lily identify the pike. On the way out, Gunther breaks a cylinder of amber in which a tiny sprite is imprisoned. She emerges, flutters her wings, and hides out in Gunther's pocket to escape.

Wu Sau pays Rogan 300 sp for the pike, and then it's time to do battle. Lily, in full armor, and wielding her new pike for the first time, scampers down the steep wall of the fighting pit, buoyed by the flying potion she guzzled just beforehand.

Rogan's champion, Urlich, is ready. He's 9' tall and weighs 600 lbs. He wields two battle axes. And Lily skewers him like a baby pig, and then flies away.

In the astonished confusion, the party is allowed to make their way out of the camp, even stopping by the brothel to free the women and children and beasts present.

Over the ridge they go, collecting poor Kira Akbar on the way, and making their way south towards the road.

And The Points.

Serpents and Sand

Leaving bandit 'citadel', party ventures across badlands eastward at the direction of the dragon slayer.

One night she got bitten by snakes.

Following nights, snake attacks were warded off by Wu Sau's precise aim and Gunther 'ready' with the Pike of Heroes with which he'd been practicing in case Lily perished due to snake venom.

Gunther practiced with his crossbow and the pike while Wu Sau underwent morning rituals and the fevered Lily slept.

Out of water, the rescued sprite guided the group to a mountainside pool of rainwater and their temporary salvation.

Continuing on into a sandy bowl, the party met an old man who gave Jeni a lucky budha charm.

The party could never reach the seemingly near edge of the sandy bowl no matter what was tried and eventually gave up and camped.

The next morning after Gunther tried a few more tactics, such as walking out of the bowl backwards and failing, Wu Sau buried Jeni's 'lucky' charm and the party left the sand uninhibited by curse.

Upon exiting the bowl the small ant-eater was encountered and he was supposedly leading the party to his queen when we ended the evening.

Clickity-click for points


Attack of the Mongrel-men

Little gimpy Grackle led the party down a narrow, steep walled canyon, single file. Upon emerging in an open treed valley, Wu Sau immediately noted the living heads on the ground, covered in ants. Apparently the residents bury to the neck those who break the rules.

But then, a cantaloupe-sized rock was hurled from above, thwacking Wu Sau's bald pate, and knocking him unconscious.

Alarmed, Jeni rode forward, only to be captured in a net by a huge and hungry ogre.

Lily moved in to help, skewering several hostile mongrel half-breed demi-humans before stumbling into a hidden pit trap.

Gunther Oakhearth went berserk, hacking and slashing crippling wounds in a dozen attackers before finally succumbing when a hurled stone aimed true.

Kira Akbar slunk away from the combat as soon as it started.

The party subdued, Queen Leeza revealed herself and her power over the assorted mongrel-men.

Minutes later, the party had been hurled into a 30' deep sink hole with 3' of water at the bottom -- except the Pitiable Lily, who negotiated with the Queen to stay above (but later lost the Pike).

Queen Leeza summoned her minions and made a grand announcement -- in Orcish. Grotus was assigned some sort of question, and stalked off up-valley with six powerful warriors.

Grackle would later reveal to the prisoners that Queen Leeza has visions, knew of the Dragonslayer's approach, and wants to maneuver Lily like a chess piece in her negotiations with a dragon who lives at the head of the valley.

While Grotus and his men trek north, Lily and Leeza bond as they look over various caravan booty, including a red satin dress that Lily spends hours altering so that it fits the statuesque Leeza properly.

Meanwhile, Wu Sau and Jeni hatch ill-fated schemes to escape the pit, while Gunther tries to invent an engineering solution.

The next day, Lily prevails upon the queen to allow the 'old man' out of the pit, and Wu Sau is hauled forth.

Late that afternoon, a horrible roar is heard, and it is assumed that the dragon approaches.

A Queen and Dragon Vanquished

Lily's first flesh and blood dragon-slaying.

While Gunther works on an engineering project in the pit (involving distilled mead, ripped up bandages, flint and steel), Wu Sau marches in the direction of the dragon to reclaim his horse. Lily retrieves her pike and Wu-Sau's bow, and soon the two are mostly equipped.

Despite a mass exodus away from the flying copper-hued dragon, Queen Leeza summons her frightened remaining henchman and insists she's still in charge.

The beast lands, sniffs at the pit (to Jeni's horror, advances a few steps towards the now-armed Lily, and then the Queen addresses it.

She makes a pitch for the dragon and she to be allies, since, after all, she has delivered the Dragonslayer.

Perhaps an objection, perhaps a response, the dragon roars in the Queen's face, causing her to faint, and the remaining mongrelmen to scatter into the forest.

Meanwhile, Wu Sau has reclaimed his horse (with a bit of assistance from Grackle), and circled around the pit to try and help Gunther and Jeni.

Just then, Gunther's experiment mostly works, and the mini-keg of distilled mead rockets up out of the pit, hits the edge, and explodes in a loud puff of blue flame. The rope, trailing behind, sails through the flame, and flops in the sand, before the little sprite flits in to grab at it. Soon, Wu Sau is there to help.

The dragon then takes an interest in Lily, and the two stalk toward each other. Then, the dragon pounces, and Lily's waiting pike point skewers its lower abdomen. Two follow-up thrusts, and the beast is dead.

Wu Sau rolls Leeza into the pit, Jeni and Lily swipe a few things from the Queen's booty, horses and rice are provisioned, and the party rides on. Kira Akbar is nowhere to be found.

Days pass, and the little sprite leads the party to water. She also gives Gunther a flower.

Late one afternoon, approaching Landdrop, the party encounters Sir Richard Stout and his merry men alongside a rushing river north of Sempredium Jungle.

Sir Richard of course takes a liking to lovely Jeni, and the two bond throughout the evening to the jolly flute-playing of the henchmen. After skewering a 2' trout, Wu Sau and Sir Richard compare warrior's notes, and Wu Sau divulges the nature of the quest.

Interested, Sir Richard provides a box of alchemist's fire to Gunther, and an ever-flowing wineskin to Wu Sau.

Later in the evening, amid the frolicking and dancing, Sir Richard summons the men to alert status, as two crocodiles approach in the dark. It seems they're coming to eat Lily. Wu Sau and Gunther skewer them with projectiles, and the merry-making continues.

The night passes without further issue, and in the morning, the party looks up at the great cliff and wonders what adventures lay beyond.

Blood, Trees

After a brief farewell with Sir Richard Stout and his crew, the party trekked up Landdrop and into the forested mountains above.

Sadly, Jeni's bowels were in an uproar, and spent most of the next week in gut-gurgling misery.

After five days of gradual uphill travel along a rocky river through huge old growth pines, the little sprite offered what seemed to be a warning about something in the path ahead.

She led a stealthy Gunther forward a hundred yards, where a dozen armored soldiers seemed to be camping out along the side of the road. Gunther briefed the party, and they rode forward to greet the soldiers. Wu Sau would later recognize their black and red cloaks as being city guards of Heidelberg.

Upon approach, one of them, apparently the leader, stepped forward with a bag of coins, while others furtively grabbed crossbows. The leader explained that Azmar the Red would pay a hefty sum for the delivery of a particular teenage girl with the long spear.

Wu Sau immediately took control of the negotiations, with bow and arrow in hand, while the party slowly approached closer. The mustached soldier jingled the coins and urged Wu Sau to consider the offer, and while the parley was in progress, Wu Sau expertly loosed an arrow and pierced the man's lung, felling him.

Most of the soldiers gawked in disbelief, but a few aimed and fired their crossbows at Wu Sau, injuring him badly. Seconds later, the shock and blood loss overcame him, and he slumped against his horse's neck.

Gunther lost his temper and spurred his horse to trample the group, but the horse refused to collide, leaving Gunther to charge down the middle of two columns of broadsword-wielding soldiers. The flurry of blades hacked deeply into both the horse and Gunther's legs, and the horse went down hard, throwing young Gunther to the forest floor.

Lily, at first thinking to stay out of the combat altogether, rethinks her position, and approaches the mêlée. She's soon surrounded by four cautious brutes, two of whom she quickly skewers, scaring off the other two.

Enraged and blood-covered, Gunther hacks and slashes at the remaining soldiers, and after felling a few more with vicious blows to the arms and legs, including the leader, several others grab their horses and run off. Crippled, Gunther then collapses.

With the rest of the party down, Lily takes charge, performs first aid, gathers firewood, horses, gear, and gathers the entire party together in a defensible ring next the the fire. Wu Sau regains consciousness, but his foot is crippled.

As the sun goes down, Gunther spots a hideous green humanoid deep in the trees, and the party builds up the bonfire braces for a troll attack. Minutes later, two of the soldiers run in from the woods and beg for mercy.

Inevitably, it comes. They charge in from different directions, at different times, and Wu Sau's "clothesline" of rope between trees only trips one of them up. One of them is over twelve feet tall.

Gritty battle by firelight ensues, and the party sustains yet more grievous injuries. Gunther is grappled and thrown into the fire while frantically stabbing the giant troll with his dragon's tooth. He emerged blackened and bloody with his flesh of his head and neck sliced to ribbons, just as Lily finishes off the last of the beasts. The two frightened soldiers are demolished during the combat.

Lily drags the twitching corpses into the bonfire, and sickly sweet smoke emerges as the creatures dissolve into bubbling black goo.

The party camps for an extra day, tending to their multiple ragged wounds, and hoping to avoid another attack.

Forbidden City

The party arranges the dead guards near the remains of their fire, and Gunther places silver coins on their eyes. Next, they don the guards' helms and cloaks, and trek further east, leading six spare horses behind them. A week's more of ascent into the mountains brings the party near the Pass of the Forbidden City, and first snow flurries of fall.

Noting the horses' dehydration, Jeni suggests a stop at the lake first thing in the morning. The group wanders through the ancient crumbling city to the lake's edge, where everyone takes a break while Lily scouts the ruins nearby, holding her ribboned-bedecked pike point high.

Then, a fur-clad man stumbles into view. He is emaciated, hatless and shoeless in the light snow. Once he gets close enough, it is clear from his skeletal facial features that he could not be alive. Leathery skin is drawn tight against his skull, and mere tufts of ratty hair emerge from the taut skull.

Meanwhile, Lily hears ominous whispering nearby.

The creature introduces himself as Weldon Spur, one of the original inhabitants of this city in its glory. He was able to inhabit the body of a deceased mountain scout some years ago. His voice sounds like dry twigs scraping a barrel.

The slavering zombie, upset at having his cellar invaded

He requests the party's assistance, and in return will help young Lily with her "watcher". He further explains that a man in red hovers above her, watching her every move. In return, he asks that the the party break into the cellar of a merchant who cheated him and possesses his wedding ring.

The deal is done, the old man leads the group to a pile of rubble, and the girls begin moving huge rocks aside while Gunther wrangles horses to do the heaviest lifting. Wu Sau, still limping from his crossbow wound, stands by and watches the scene suspiciously, bow in hand.

Suddenly, the remaining rubble collapses inward. Lily leaps away to grab onto a ledge before falling, but Jeni drops into the hole with a ton of debris, miraculously escaping any serious injury. However, a slavering zombie awaits her, and its horrible visage overcomes her.

Luckily, Wu Sau's vigilance pays off, and he quickly skewers the back of thing's head with a war arrow. As Gunther helps Lily to her feet, the creature leaps up out of the pit, to be met with a second arrow in the face, parallel to the first. That drops it, though its taloned fingers continue to twitch disturbingly.

The old man watches quietly while the merchant's ancient cellar is looted of various magic items, and finally the wedding ring is found. He places the ring on his fleshless thumb as the sounds of children whispering drifts into the area.

The party bids farewell to the city and walks beneath the great statues through the snow, over the pass, and on to further adventures in the East.

A Hunter Aflight

Beyond the pass, the party treks two weeks through increasingly arid mountains. The river grows over the days from a tricking creek to a difficult-to-cross river, and is out of site from time to time as it and the road occasionally diverge when the river drops into a chasm. Meals of rice and fish and wild mushroom are had, and training exercises punctuate the morning and evening routines.

One morning the group is passing by a clear pool fed by a steaming trickle of a waterfall. Jeni tests the water, finds it much warmer than river water (though not exactly warm), strips, and bathes. The rest of the party dismounts reluctantly and waits for her.

Aquia, water elemental

Just then, the water coalesces into a serpentine neck topped by a beautiful face. As Jeni starts to panic, it speaks to her in a soothing female voice.

Jeni, my dear, welcome. We did not expect to see you so soon. The prophecy says you shall be a crone before arriving. Would you like to try to fulfill your destiny?

Intrigued, Jeni answers in the affirmative and is given directions to the source of the steaming waterfall, where she will find The Mechanism. Of course this inspires Gunther to participate, and soon the party is clamoring up the cliffside behind Jeni (who scampers up like a gecko, rope-free).

A mere half mile from the cliff is a steaming aquamarine pool with an island in the middle. On the island is a 5' tall egg-shaped boulder standing upright, and an iron lever protrudes from it. Jeni again strips naked, and enters the warm pool (which cures her of any lingering infections) while the party gawks.

She grabs the lever and freezes for a moment, before returning to the party shaken, and with a bump on her forehead. She doesn't want to talk about it.

After trekking onwards a few more days, the party is startled by movement in the rocks above, and spots Ursula, who immediately admonishes them: "Human Fools, take cover! The drake is aloft! Do not attract it to us!"

Ursula, giant of the mountains

With ten horses and little in the way of trees or caves nearby, the party begins watching the sky. Lily walks up the road to tie her horse to a tree, and Jeni the animal handler tries to keep seven horses under control in the center of the road.

Then the creature is spotted. It's massive, red, scaled, and descending at a disturbingly fast pace, seemingly directly at Lily.

But, it swoops ten yards above her, and then unleashes a torrent of splashing, explosive fire on Jeni and the horses. The equines emit horrifying screams before keeling over, charred. Jeni is shaken, but miraculously unharmed.

Gunther fires a crossbow bolt at the beast, but it careens off its hardened scales as it swoops overheard and ascends to prepare for another divebomb attack.

Jeni steps over blackened horse parts to descend towards the river and cover, while the rest of the party steels their nerves and readies their weapons.

This time, on approach, Gunther's bolt strikes true, burying itself in the creatures eyeball. Blinded, stunned, and enraged, the creature lands awkwardly and roars, sending stones flying. It claws at its eye to rip the bolt clear.

Lily takes the opportunity to rush in and skewer the beast with her pike, which punctures huge chest scales with ease. The creature turns to destroy her, giving Wu Sau an opportunity to send a war arrow deep into its other eye.

Gunther rushes in with his broadsword to hack at the beast, and Wu Sau lodges two more arrows in its neck and face.

Blind and furious, the beast lashes out, knocking Lily to the ground, and nearly ripping Gunther's arm from his body.

Lily rises and again rushes in, delivering a pair of lethal puncture wounds to the great reptile's lungs, and it collapses, defeated.

Gunther immediately goes to work harvesting a massive fang and sturdy scales from the carcass.

Shocked at the outcome of the battle, Ursula emerges from the shallow cave above with her twin adolescent daughters and thanks the party for their heroism. She offers shelter (at the giant village 15 miles north) or assistance. She spots the various magic items looted from the Pass of the Forbidden City and helpfully identifies them. The party declines to visit the village, but Jeni asks whether the giants could send two warriors with some ale or mead to rendezvous with the party further down the road, and Ursula agrees to do so.

The party bids the statuesque giantess farewell, and treks onwards.

Into the Desert

Left with one horse each, the party mounts up and continues their descent. In these high peaks in October, days are cool and nights downright chilly.

The next day, a flock of sparrows decides that Jeni (the Weirdness Magnet) is the best possible tree to congregate upon, and they remain with her for 24 hours before flying south for warmer climes.

Another day of travel passes, and the party arrives at a bend in the river where Fafnir and Bran await them with 20lbs of elk jerky, 10lbs of hard cheese, and five gallons of strong brandy (as per Jeni's negotiations with Ursula). The huge brothers travel with the party for two days, warning them of bandits in the lower elevations, and then make their way back towards their home in the peaks north of the Spice Road.

Two weeks of travel later, Jeni has improved her skill with the blowpipe, and, with the aid of Lily's seamstress skills, Gunther Oakhearth has fashioned a serviceable dragonscale cuirass.

Bandit leader Gurak

The mountains are giving way to a broad and dusty desert as the party reaches Travelers' Rest, where a standoff is occurring. Gurak and his "dark ones" have surrounded Prince Badrak Deven and his bodyguards and seem intent on robbing them of their valuables.

The party rides in and calls out to the bandit leader, who responds by telling his horde of ruffians to "kill them all!"

Lily quickly skewers the first two bandits who approach as Gunther begins the fight from horseback and Jeni blasts darts unsuccessfully to and fro. Seconds later, Gunther's horse is eviscerated and he falls to the hard sandy ground as Lily continues to puncture bandit vitals with impunity.

Wu Sau circles around to the mêlée to keep an eye on the Prince.

As combat ensues, the Prince and his men begin getting their belongings together to escape in their gilded wagon, inspiring Wu Sau to consider running them down.

Gurak quickly sees that his men are no match for Lily's deadly pike, and withdraws, calling out to an aggressive Wu Sau to try and turn the tables and forge an alliance against the wealth-burdened Prince. Wu Sau considers a moment, and then decides to send one of his deadly war arrows into Gurak's skull. However, in a spate of bad luck, he drops his bow!

Gurak is allowed to withdraw with two shaken henchmen, as the party regroups and Lily negotiates a trade of expensive ruby earrings for five honeycomb candy bars with Danesh, the Prince's tall and portly attendant. The obnoxious little prince sees no reason to thank the party, and in fact nearly commands his soldiers to attack when Wu Sau announces that they're taking one of the royal horses (to replace Gunther's). Danesh smooths things over, and the party fills waterskins and rides east.

The party rides along the dusty wagon track across the desert for two more weeks, into November, eating hard rations and the occasional fresh antelope along the way.

Then, in the middle of a bright fall desert day north of the Scorched Hills, a mysterious nomad is encountered sitting in the shade of a lean-to between a pair of scrubby desert palms. He introduces himself as Ashalar Shalaya, and he addresses Jeni by name, explaining that certain spirits told him the party would be coming along, and that they were on an important quest.

He invites the party to the hills south of the road for fresh fruit and cool water, and his charms and benevolent demeanor convince the group to follow.

Sure enough, in a saddle between two rugged desert hills, a spring-fed pond thrives, surrounded by groves of pomegranate, date, and fig trees. The party dines, drinks, and rests. Wu Sau is pleasantly surprised to find that the little pond harbors large trout, and he takes a pair with Ashalar's blessing.

The sun goes down, the temperature drops quickly, and Lily and Wu Sau cuddle under a blanket while Jeni and Ashalar sip brandy and bask in each other's charisma. Once Gunther begins a dutiful patrol around the camp, Ashalar invites Jeni to join him out of sight, over the crest of the hill.

Jeni flutters her eyelashes and agrees, and the two walk quietly under the desert sky, arm in arm.

Once out of sight, Ashalar briefly divulges to Jeni his true form -- an 80' long gold dragon! He explains that he could not share the truth with the rest of the party, due to Lily's particular focus on slaying dragons. He then gives Jeni a gift of a simple silver ring that "will save the wearer, once", and some advice: that the party must visit the Temple of Dalva-Nar for a blessing, or they will not be successful.

Meanwhile, Gunther has noticed that the campsite is missing two people, and has alerted Wu Sau and Lily. As a search party is organized, the missing pair walks back into the firelight and announces that all is well.

Jeni stretches out her bearskin blanket to share with Ashalar, who joins her, but lies flat on his back, and promptly goes to sleep.

In the morning, he departs to the south, and Jeni shares the remarkable story with the rest of the group.

To Dalva-Nar

A week's travel across the Scorched Plains leads everyone to be pleased to see the endless sea of green of the Nesratu Basin.

The party descends over several days into thickening jungle populated by feces-hurling baboons, howling gibbons, jungle stag, water buffalo, 12" dragonflies (who harass the little sprite), brightly-colored parrots, 2" brown ants, snakes, and crocodiles, one of which aggressively attacks Lily as the party arrives at the great river. She of course skewers the 1200 lb dinosaur like a chunk of fruit at a cocktail party.

Debate has ensued about whether to follow Lily's instincts and turn northeast, or whether to seek a blessing at the Temple of Dalva-Nar, which Ashalar described as critical to the quest, and which Wu Sau acknowledges has a potential role, according to legend.

At the riverside, a rider is spotted coming from the north, galloping dangerously fast. Gunther Oakhearth and Jeni ride out to greet him, but it soon becomes clear he intends to go past or through them, so they step aside.

A moment later, his horse steps in a hole and it and rider catapult down the muddy road violently. The horse stays down, thrashing and snorting. The man ends up flat on his back, clutching his chest.

High Priest Vogesh

Gunther and Jeni approach and hear his last painful words.

Many snakebites, as if the jungle is angry. Farmers of the hills 
say a great dragon has emerged, to rain fire and death upon the city 
and peaceful people everywhere, regardless of caste or creed...
The Emperor says that the priests of Dalva-Nar will know what to do....
to the south, beyond the village of Kalangpur. Auugh....

The party considers their options, Gunther ritualistically places silver coins on the rider's eyes and a blanket over his body as hyenas and buzzards approach, and Lily takes the difficult action of putting the injured horse down.

Priestess Delphinius

Believing the Temple to be nearby to the south, the party mounts up and heads down the road into the jungle, while the great muddy river slides silently past.

Sure enough, just a few miles south of the junction with the Spice Road, the muddy trail leads them to the tiny village of Kalangpur, a community of 800 peaceful souls. There they are greeted by Haji, who welcomes them and offers shelter from the nightly November rains in his mother's hut.

Fish stew and rice from friendly neighbors is doled out, and in time the matriarch Mahandra arrives to hear the party's questions. They learn that the Temple of Dalva-Nar was once a place to be revered, but in the last fifty years or so, the matriarch claims it has become degenerate, a cult, and she forbids her people to speak of it, let alone visit.

During the encounter, Wu Sau is repeatedly annoyed by his companions' irreverence and callous interrogation, and silences them on more than one occasion.

Priestess Sabarra

After some additional talk of rains and crops and the bounty of the forest, a quick scorpion clearing check is conducted, and the party beds down in the tiny hut for the night. Gunther takes a midnight stroll to gain familiarity with the layout of the village, and spots a group of young men congregating around a bonfire on the edge of town, but does not approach them.

High Priest Waman

The next morning, the group rides south, and two miles later, encounters a young woman walking despondently along the muddy track. This is Sashi, and she laments that she's been chosen by Dalva-Nar for sacrifice tonight, and she was thinking of fleeing back to the village, but.. no, she must go back and do her duty, or else Dalva-Nar could send the dragon, and many could die. The party tries to ask her questions, but she is a distraught teenager, and heads into the jungle towards the nearby river. The party follows.

At the riverside a few hundred yards from the road, a great and ancient stone bridge foundation is discovered -- however, it extends a mere ten yards across the hundred-yard expanse of the muddy river. A rope bridge has been fashioned to bridge the gap, and the girl traverses it with aplomb.

The party resolves to stow their horses and gear safely, attempting to avoid the huge and hungry brown ants that seem to infest the area, and then crosses the rope bridge with some awkward difficulties.

On the far side, abandoned stone huts are discovered. The jungle has claimed them.

They wander through what seems to be the abandoned and overgrown community until they reach a muddy clearing with a stone temple in the middle. A handful of locals loll about, scarcely noticing the party's arrival, near naked and glassy-eyed. Some cute honey-colored monkeys hang from their feet on a vine strung between huts, throats slit and dripping into the mud while a skinny barefoot balding shirtless hunter with bad teeth sleeps open-mouthed below, leaning against a stone wall, dark blood-slick across his legs.

Meanwhile, red-gowned priestesses gaze down at the party alertly from the second-story balcony of the temple, and soon, a priest and priestess emerge and approach the outsiders with a calm smile. They offer a warm welcome, and assure the party that they will research this "blessing" in the temple library, but Wu Sau is suspicious, and the party withdraws for the night.

The next morning, they return, and are again greeted by the priest and priestess. The party reluctantly agrees to rest in a nearby hut (once it is cleared of a foot-long scorpion), and priestess Sabarra is assigned to attend to their needs.

Sabarra spots the little sprite, and excitedly explains her history in Vishnu and a legend she has heard of sprites and faeries in enchanted forests, and asks to speak with her. Perplexed, Gunther agrees, Sabarra casts a charm, and a conversation occurs. The sprite's name and history are made known, and, once the sprite flutters out blushing, Sabarra says that Tiana has "bonded" to him, and, if the pair were to return to her home in Glimmorwood, a ritual could be conducted that were make her human, and his, forever. Everyone beams.

An emotional bond formed between Sabarra and the party, attention turns to the mission. Sabarra admits that she has become more and more concerned over the years that Dalva-Nar seems to take, and take, and take, and rarely give, and that the worshipers have dwindled over the years. Precious stones and food she can understand, but beautiful young girls as well? She's also concerned that one of the functions of the temple is to produce a sap-infused mango juice that is, while nutritious, produced debilitating intoxication and addiction. And, she wonders why Dalva-Nar's burial chamber, once an important site for seasonal rituals, is now off-limits. Finally, Sabarra divulges that there is a prophecy: when an archer and a girl with a long spear visit the temple, the sect's end is near!

Wu Sau can stomach no more, grabs a morose Sabarra, and leads Gunther to the temple doors as naked skinnies languish in the mud nearby. Lily babysits Jeni, who has taken a liking to the bedeviled mango juice.

Sabarra indicates the direction to the library, and they encounter a locked door, which Gunther begins to destroy while Red Priestesses observe from a gallery above.

Then the door opens, and High Priest Waman emerges....

A Prophecy Realized

Waman and Sabarra quickly withdraw into the inner sanctum of the temple after assuring Wu Sau that they'll be right back. Some minutes pass and a priestess pays them a visit. The encounter doesn't go well, and Wu Sau ends her young life with a barbed war-arrow. Gunther helps him deposit the body behind the pile of rocks in one corner of the worship area.

Next, they decide to follow Waman. They discover that the uninhabited "library" consists of mildew-coated ceramic scroll cases. Nobody has done any research here in decades.

Waman returns with a contingent of priestesses, but Sabarra is not among them. He urges Gunther and Wu Sau to leave immediately. When Wu Sau suddenly draws and strings an arrow, the fey priest steps back and begins chanting, OM-MANI-PAD-ME-UM, over and over.

High Priest Tilak

Wu Sau lets the arrow fly, the priest topples, and is dead in seconds. Some of the priestesses attack, and Wu Sau ends the lives of two of them.

The party re-groups outside the temple in the mud. Gunther and Lily go back inside, climb up a rope to the gallery overhead, exit to the balcony, and ascend the stairs into the tower. However, Tilak and three priestesses meet them at the top of the stairs, and politely escort them outside.

Tilak has a certain sad-old-man look on his face, and agrees to give the intoxicated Jeni and Lily a tour of the village, wherein he recounts tales of the temple's former peaceful glory, introduces the girls to shriveled old addicts who were once the priest's friends. The tour ends at the back of the temple, where the girls convince the elder to let them enter.

Minutes later, the party is reunited in the main worship area, where they begin moving the pile of rocks. Below is a trap door, which they descend and step gingerly through clinging mud and crunching beetles and eyeless snakes to arrive in the burial chamber of Dalva-Nar. The mosaic-decorated sarcophagus is bound on either side by a statue of a dancing elephant-faced god, and stone engraving in some cryptic tongue emboss tiles in the walls.

On a hunch, Gunther decides to read aloud a scroll acquired near the Pass of the Forbidden City, and all are surprised when a massive 800 lb white tiger appears and seems ready to serve Gunther. He calls the feline "Old Boy" and it seems to understand his speech.

Sabarra arrives and reports that Sashi, the girl intended to be sacrificed, is still alive. The party agrees to help, as soon as the blessing for the Pike of Heroes is complete. Gunther has already begin work to tear the lid off the sarcophagus, but Sabarra objects and walks over to the holy enclosure. She then appears transfixed, turns, and says with a strange accent and tone to Lily, "Welcome, Dragonslayer. Is that The Weapon?"

Moments later, the brief blessing has been conducted, Sabarra is allowed to re-inhabit her body, and the group marches up the stairs to save the girl.

Demon Lord Baphomet

The interior of the top level of the tower is painted black, and lit only by a pale blue skylight in the ceiling. A pentagram has been sketched out in red chalk on the floor, at the center of which a wooden pole has been erected. Sashi is chained up here, drugged and abused. In front of the pentagram is a statue of a horrible beast, 10' tall, with wings of a bat, breasts of a woman, hindquarters and head of a billy-goat, and a fire burning atop its head.

High Priest Vogesh is here, as is Priestess Delphinius and her giant spider.

Vogesh, startled by the party's arrival, calls to the statue, "Baphomet, master, please help us!"

As Gunther rushes the priest, Baphomet instantiates in front of his own likeness, and his horrible visage casts a wave of fear across the party. Jeni faints, and Wu Sau is stunned by the horror.

Gunther manages to bash a rod of bronze from the High Priest's hands before the old man is able to activate some sort of magic. Weaponless, Vogesh leans against the wall and chants, physically and spiritually defeated.

Lily moves in to deal with the demon lord, quickly succeeding in delivering multiple puncture wounds to its horrible body. The demon lord summons a deadly halberd to his hands, and raises it to hack young Lily into pieces, but she is too fast, and pierces his black heart twice, felling him. As demons do, he immediately begins to dissolve into acrid black slime.

Lily turns her attention next to Delphinius, but with a wave of her black-tipped hand, the evil priestess dazes Lily with a spell, and then places a slender blade against young Lily's white neck, leading her towards the exit. There, the priestess unhands Lily, and escapes with the scuttling huge spider.

The sect defeated, the demon destroyed, and the blessing secured, the party leaves the vanquished temple in the hands of Sabarra to rebuild, and heads north to bring Sashi back to her family in Kalangpur, where tales are told, a feast shared, and rest taken before the trek northeast, to the Ur-Dragon.

To Kali-shaza

The party treks through cool winter rains for days, and then comes to the small village of Hatta, straddling the Nesratu River. A brown-skinned, white-haired old man requests a copper piece for passage, as a donation to a nearby temple to Sobek.

Gunther flips him a silver piece, and the old man volunteers some information about a gathering of two hundred villagers on the far side of the great muddy river. It seems that some families recently arrived in the village from Kali-Shaza, telling a shared tale of a massive dragon raining fire upon the great city.

The village elders are debating two theories; one holds that the dragon is Sobek himself, returned to the world with great anger, here to punish humanity for worshiping different gods and letting his temples fall into disrepair. The other theory is that this is mere superstition, and that this is just a malevolent dragon attacking a faraway city, and that the Emperor will soon summon armies and heroes to destroy it.

Jeni and Lily decide to explore the village, and soon find flatbreads and honey, to their great delight. Wu Sau sits on his horse, stricken with a jungle bug.

Gunther walks his horse among the crowd, Old Boy at his side, to find out more. The astonished crowd parts willingly, and soon he reaches the elders. After hearing some more details and learning that no one present is an eyewitness to the attack, he collects the party and they ride on.

Days later, beyond the jungle and into sprawling grasslands and fields of sugarcane, the group arrives at an established village with an inn and bathhouse. Jeni immediately takes a liking to the local booze, a distilled brown sugar concoction. Later, she and Lily wander across the street to the bathhouse while Gunther waits for his rice to be prepared.

The bathhouse is sex-segregated, but communal. The girls slip into the 20'x20' steaming pool and are surprised when a good looking male attendant walks in, strips, and approaches them with soap and washcloth. Lily demurely makes her exit. Jeni's flexibility, stamina, and capacity for ecstasy are tested over the next several hours.

Eventually, Gunther too takes a bath, and is somewhat awkwardly washed by an attractive female attendant. Marveling over the warm clean waters, he later wanders out back to see the pumping mechanism and intuitively advises the maintenance worker about a completely superfluous pressure release valve.

The next day, the party falls ill, and it is theorized that someone in the village poisoned them.

Days of travel later, the party reaches Suijeng Jungle, and tracks the great Suijeng River north, occasionally spotting families in small boats headed downstream.


A few more days, and they reach Suijeng Rock and the source of the boats. Two brothers are running a crew of laborers and hastily building boats for what seems to be a stead stream of people arriving from the northeast, all telling of two attacks by a great dragon on the grand city of Kali-shaza.

The entrepreneurial brothers offer to build the party a boat, but a boat won't get them where they're headed.

Onwards for a few more days, passing more pilgrims fleeing Kali-shaza, some of whom mention the child prince and his father the Emperor. At last the party reaches the formidable gates of the great city. The sixty-foot walls are topped with dragon-headed towers, and mustached guards with jagged halberds and jade-tinted plate mail move among the crowds. Evidence of a great fire outside the walls is apparent, and beggars pick over charred remains of shanty shacks, but rush over to the party with outstretched hands when they are spotted.

Gunther quizzed Ari, a self-proclaimed thief, about the recent attacks. He told of awaking drunk on his back one night to see the stars blotted out, then a rain of fire. They then discussed the loss of magic in the inner city. Gunther had Ari retrieve for him an beggar-wizard. He was old and commented on the cycle of religions falling in and out of favor. Gunther tried to gather intel regarding their old god Sobek and heard that there are temples to many gods in the city. He also learned that outsiders are invited into a courtyard to be judged by the emperor and his son before being murdered by the green-clad guards, whom the beggar-wizard reports are honorable but dutiful and committed, having undergone strict and rigorous training. When he mentioned he and his untouchable friends would ponder the slayers noble quest, Gunther said to be prepared as their powers may yet be needed.

The following morning, the party pauses outside the gates, deciding whether to go within and seek an audience with the Emperor, or follow Lily's internal compass.

A Cycle Renewed

It is learned that Wu Sau's illness is serious, and that he needs a distillation of red lotus from an herbalist. The girls head into the grand city of Kali-Shaza, and see all manner of wonders.

A beggar assassin attacks Lily, but is quickly disarmed by Jeni, and killed by a mustached guard seconds later. The guard provides efficient directions to an herbalist/alchemist district dozens of blocks away.

In a crusty old herbalists' shop, a deal is struck for the distillation, and Jeni's charms reduce the price significantly.

The girls drop off the medicine with the old wizard, and the three youngsters trek north to seek out the Ur-Dragon.

Soon, they catch up with a troupe of refugees on their way north away from the city, and they join up. A night's rest is had, and some provisions shared.

The next day, they arrive at a farmer's ranch on a windswept bluff. The old farmer starts a great kettle of turnip & parsnip stew for the assembled mass, and the party learns that he has seen the great beast on the afternoon of all three attacks on the city. The attacks are increasing in frequency and vigor, and he says the beast resides in an arid valley just a few miles away.

The party recruits a surly musclebound warrior, who does not seem to know anyone else in the group, to watch over the crowd and keep them at the farm for a day.

Along the way to the valley, Jeni hears a baby crying, and finds an abandoned pair of head-conjoined twins not far off the road, perhaps discarded at birth by previous refugees. The infants are delivered back to the refugees, with a message of hope.

Hours later, the party crests the ridge, and gazes down upon a dusty valley with a vast sinkhole at its center. Within, a mile or more away, the Mother of All Dragons can be seen. She is immense, ruddy, the color of earth and rock, with gaps in her decrepit leathery wings, and she is dining on a smaller white dragon.

The group proceeds to the edge of the sinkhole and assesses options. The cliff is nearly 100', and ropes are required. Old Boy wanders off to find his own descent.

During the climb, a great storm forms, and the sky undulates with weird green and yellow hues.

The trio trudges through powdery open sands, waiting for the great Mother to turn and acknowledge their approach. Inevitably, she does, and lurches towards them, gradually taking flight and preparing a deadly conflagration.

Knowing this, Gunther wisely instructs the girls to spread out across the dusty plain, and as serendipity would have it, the great drake chooses Jeni as a target; her magical ring allows the sticky fire to slide past her harmlessly.

The beast swoops, turns, and approaches Gunther.

He waits until the last possible moment, and fires a crossbow bolt into the dragon's eye, enraging her. She crashes awkwardly into the smokey earth, sending a cloud of find dust into the air.

A battle ensues, with Lily driving the Pike of Heroes through the beasts rocky scales numerous times, Gunther hacking at its ruddy carapace with some success before being bitten and hurled away.

Bleeding black and desperate, then the beast breathes fire again, and this time Lily is the unlucky target. She is set ablaze, and collapses to the charred dust.

Jeni rush in and picks up the pike, and Gunther rushes in for yet another berserk attack. The creature collapses, and begins a process of rapid desiccation and disintegration.

The undulating skies suddenly produce rain, cleansing combatants and turning the ground to slimy mud. Walls of the great sinkhole collapse dramatically under the downpour.

As Jeni applies magic blue salve to Lily's blackened face, Old Boy wanders up and gives her a lick. He then looks over his great silvery shoulder to the east, and spots the full moon rising over the ridge. He blinks, looks at Gunther for a moment, and fades as if a ghost.

Shortly thereafter, Lily begins breathing, and Gunther builds a simply travois from an intact wing of the mostly devoured white dragon, and the party makes their way back to the refugees. White dragon scales are provided to the surly warrior before the party continues on to the city.

Wu Sau's health has improved, and he brusquely congratulates the party for a deed well done. He then announces he'll be headed back to Chun-Ki to continue his work.

The party enters the grand city, and secures passage to Vishnu en route to lands West.