Rise of the Manticore's End

Split Loyalties

Here's what went down today.

The party moved forward with their current goal, evict the whatsits from the one place for the other dude. You may wonder, "Hey man, if you're going to fight a Medusa, what should your first step be?" I'll tell you what, if you follow the group's example the first and maybe most important step is to make a kick-ass team mantra. Although a piece of advice would be to not use "Yes to life!" there's just something weird and anti-abortiony to it, makes you sound like you're protesting something.

Next step in fighting a Medusa, find the damn thing. The party moved forward and the tunnel narrowed, but no Medusa. Next they found a flight of stairs descending into the abyss, in fact the aesthetic significance of this area was so high it is almost like the omnipotent force had something else planned for it but changed it's mind as the last second. Yet still, no Medusa. After the stairs they cam upon a ledge set into the inner wall of the mountain. This place was just one huge mess, someone had dropped their broken pillars and stonework all over this place and really just needed to clean it up, honestly it's safety hazard. Come to think of it, that stairway should have railing, these guys easily could have just fell right off into the abyss. Before they evict the Medusa they should really send them to an OSHA training about workplace safety as this cave is not up to code.

After the ledge, they entered a very large room, it's hard to detail the size of the room but this room was way cooler than the rest of the cave. Not only because it had a bad-ass fountain and the best water you have ever heard of, but above the fountain guess what there was. A damn skylight! Like, how cool is that! They soon had to ignore the cool as they had found the Medusa.

After a short chat with her and her beautiful gorgeousness, they party was all like "Shit she's attacking, oh god oh god oh god, please help us!" For a short spurt it almost seemed as though this god they were talking to turned into a six year old girl who wanted the Medusa to attack H.P. but didn't want to roll.

The fight went on for quite some time, party members were all like "oh no I'm freezing this sucks!" and "oh wait never mind I'm OK" and Tristan was all like "Guys I'm just gonna look at her." then he was like "oh that's why we avert our eyes." Then Zovak, Jorn, and Lerissa are all like "Oh snap we're actually turning to stone, this is rather inconvenient!" Then H.P. was all like "Nuhuh, not I'm my watch!" and mumbled words from his scroll of nope and shooed that stone stuff right out of existence. 

Finally Shadow, sick of this entire ordeal, ran the Medusa through using her rapier. In anger, Shadow began rage stabbing the body with her rapier and shouting "Take that Arry! Can't take this kill!" Meanwhile Jorn was laying on the ground like, "Bro i'm dying please help."

They took a short rest, looted what they could find and moved on through the tunnel on the other side of the cave. As they continued they soon saw a light…at the end of the tunnel. As they approached what they perceived to be the cave exit, they were suddenly in a familiar looking shop with a small and wildly entertained gnome. After purchasing some some potions and other such things the group then proceeded to bicker just outside of the cave.

As the argument wound down, H.P. looked to the sky and saw shapes circling the peak of the mountain.

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Such Sweet Sorrow

Shadow came down the steps with news for her fellow mercenaries. Skree had entrusted her as his Second, a rank that came with moderate prestige and a lot more responsibilities. The group was to spend a few days resting up then talk to Skree to get their new orders.

After a few days recuperating, the party sought to reassemble itself. Gathering what members they could, they moved forward with Skree's order. They were to return to the mountain and begin travelling along its base, investing it for any sign of evil tidings. They reached the former entrance to the dragon's lair and found it to have a box. They remember from helping back up camp that there was not a box left behind near the cave or anywhere close to the cave.

Upon opening the box they found an old nemesis. The elegant silver mirror erupted in a storm of psychic attacks. Most of the party became incapacitated by the onslaught and were even driven away by fear. Those who resisted tried to cover the mirror once more but were unable. During these attempts, Tristan was grabbed by a snow white hand which reached from within the mirror. As he felt his strength begin to leave him he quickly recoiled from the mirror and retreated. The party regrouped a fair distance from the mirror and decided it best not to trifle with it any further and move on.

Their second day of travel Jorn's observant eye spied a cave far up the mountain side. The rogues did their best to sneakily scale the peak but Lerissa soon found herself outmatched by the angle of ascend and slide back down the mountain. Continuing alone, Shadow climbed the mountain to the cave. Upon reaching the ledge she looked over and saw a ladder built into the opposite side of the ledge going down towards the base of the mountain.

"Silly humans, needing ladders" Shadow thought, although this did seem a little racist to just call out humans as many races utilize climbing aides akin to ladders.

After amusing herself she climbed atop the ledge. However, much like an unfortunate contestant on a strange game show, a large creature popped out of the cave and knocked her down the mountain side. Shadow managed to catch herself on a convenient handhold…also known as the ladder she was previously mocking.

She quickly scurried down the mountain and told her friends that the creature she saw was a manticore, the strange cross of human, dragon, and lion. The vanguard of the group, Jorn and Tristan, having never seen a manticore quickly began scaling the ladder. Shortly after their ascent, they began descending…quickly. Lucky saved by H.P.'s feather fall. It was so fun the first time Tristan decided he wanted to go again and found similar results.

After wasting two of his spells and what appeared to be a rather strange and unpleasant carnival ride, the group moved on and into another night.

The next day they found a cave. Unlike the previous entrance into the mountain, this cave was unworked. Stalagmites and stalactites were numerous and it was obvious that time and erosion had fabricated its existence. The rogues once again moved ahead of the party and after about twenty feet they disappeared. Not into the darkness did they disappear, but somewhere else entirely.

Lerissa and Shadow found themselves in a shop. The room and its furniture all made with beautifully polished, stained, and engraved wood. The shop was full of all sorts of different items, from armor and weapons, to scrolls and books. Behind the counter stood a small figure, a gnome to be precise.

Before they could get a better look at things, their companions initiated an entertaining series of events before they were able to calm them down and gather in the store.

The gnome appears to be early into his middle years and has been wearing a large grin while watching the party's dysfunctions. His hair light brown and unkempt yet his beard has been styled so that it curls back up toward his face.

Conversing with the shop keep, Venzor they found his name to be, they discovered that he wound, upon the completion of a couple odd jobs, bestow them with some magic artifacts. Venzor though, appears to be a large fan of mysteries as he would not directly answer questions pertaining to the power(s) held within these items.

The group agreed to do these tasks. Task the first, serve an…"eviction notice" to a "rather nasty somebody" so that Venzor may acquire another shop location. Task the second, return to the manticore's cave and lay a coin as far into the cave as possible.

Seeking to first serve the eviction notice, Venzor opened a door allowing the party to use the cave passage through the mountain. During their travel they found what appears to be a petrified man, who Tristan promptly fondled…for strategic purposes? The party knows not whether to expect a gorgon, a basilisk, or any other terror from the Underdark.

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Moving Forward

The dread morning has come to pass. Each party carried with it some hazard from the night before. Some tribulations are more easily overcome than others however.

Lerissa, Aeron, and Liana were able to deal with their illness and issues quickly and set upon getting back to camp and seeing what they could do to retrieve their spelunking allies. 

Those in the depths awoke to a more solemn fate. They lifted the fallen Shadow onto H.P.'s floating disc and made their way out of the cave. To further their emotional trauma, the cave brought them to the epicenter of last nights slaughter. The bodies of thousands of goblins lay before them. Their bodies mangled and strewn across the landscape in some twisted tapestry of gore. Steeling their nerve, the party moved through the sea of the slain and made their way back to camp.

Upon reaching camp they quickly rejoined with their allies and sought clerics for Shadow. Jorn put up the money for a resurrection and they waited.

While most waited near the medic tent, H.P. sought out Fredrick to anally… to meticulously brush and care for his donkey, seeking to distract himself from last nights events. The stables had different plans in mind, as when he entered, Fredrick already had a visitor. Wearing a dark cloak and his signature grin, H.P.'s stalker had decided to stop flirting with the shadows and come to light.

Shadow emerged from the tent awkwardly, seeming not used to being alive again. They then went and found H.P. and the unfortunate fate of the stable boy.

They watched and attempted to acquire some explosives that were being delivered into the cave but were unable to attain possession. They assisted in the camp's disassembly and went to the goblin fields to invest the strange statement that a good portion of the goblins were unarmed. It seems that what was left of the goblins was picked clean and the headed back to Toran.

They celebrated and drank a few too many before retiring for the night (some took a more winding and flirtatious path but that is neither here nor there). In the morning they sought assignment to which there were none. Skree called Shadow to his office for words and now the group waits, alert for what may come next.

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Inevitabilities

The party continues on after their fight with the shambling mound. Anxious to end their task so that they may return to the encampment and rest, they actively search for their next objective.

Scouring the dungeon in its entirety (at least what they can access) they determined that their next course of action is to investigate the well. Using all of their rope, they still could not reach nor even see the bottom.

Using a bit of magic, H.P. was able to relocate a few of the team down into the waters below. However, the party chose its delvers poorly and as soon as some of their…denser allies touched the water they sank like stones. Tiring of watching his teammates nearly drowning, H.P. summoned a floating disc which they were able to hold onto and swim about with.

The ones left above decided to spend their time searching the dungeon once more. They came upon a room that the rest of the party seemed to ignore. The room was colorful and the myriad of mushrooms which lived there lit it with a soft blue/purple hue. Aaron spied a body amid the mushrooms and quickly went to acquire any assets it may have held. Walking through the mushrooms proved to be a rough decision however as shortly after he began to throw up and his limbs went limp. Quickly Liana worked to get him out of there and back to fighting shape.

In the depths things were not so easy. The need to find an exit was soon becoming dire and the group had still seen no glimpse of shore. Fortunately H.P.'s owl companion saw light below the surface of the water and an end to their watery prison. The path to the light was long and the delvers were not so good at swimming. Jorn, Vovoc, and Shadow all passed out from lack of oxygen. Tristan, mighty warrior that he is was able to dive in and retrieve his comrades. Shadow did not wake up.

Is this Shadow's inevitable end? Is this tunnel the parties salvation or just another death sentence? Will the group complete their task? Do they even remember what it is?

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Arry vs. The Party

Rested and recovered from their encounter with the currently undefeated door, the party runs a few errands before heading off in search of their quarry.

As they approach the cave entrance they find an encamped army surrounding it, the army drafted by Captain Skree. After being backed by an old….friend?.. they are permitted into the camp to discuss plans with Skree.

While Jorn solely attends the planning meeting, the rest of the group tried their best to get in some form of trouble, excluding Lerissa and Arry who decided it would be way more fun to play with Mr. Nibbles.

Dovhakiin went in search of Wolf due do his recent obsession with acquiring one of his own. During their brief talk the dragonborn made a rather large creep of himself, had his life threatened, then handed out some money and left. Truly a tale for the ages.

The party regrouped and Jorn relayed Skree's battle plans, the group was to infiltrate the cave during the night, kill anything they found inside, then seal it once and for all.

As they entered the cave, they noted some small differences from the last time they were hear, doors smashed open, bodies plastering the walls and ceilings, you know…just small things.

They entered the alchemist's workshop which had been torn to pieces, the shelves and table destroyed, but an old nemesis awaited them. The mirror from Hell stood unmarred on the wall of the room. The woman's laughter penetrated the minds of those she recognized, H.P. and Jorn. The party attempted to move on past her when three of their members were taken from their own minds. They were able to snap Tristan, the giant, and Shadow out of their trance. Little Arry however, proved a greater challenge.

As though she was hellbent on making her way into that mirror she persevered ever forward. Her mind completely captivated by the mirror's call, she deftly eluded and outmaneuvered her teammates, Even Tristan and Jorn could not contain her for long. Eventually Tristan, growing tired of playing "catch the halfling" punched her right in the face attempting to shake her trance. Coming to, Arry scowled at Tristan and kept her distance.

Following a rather distinct blood trail, the group moved deeper into the cave, heading straight toward the dragon's previous lair. Upon entering, they found no dragon and the blood trail lead to a large well, the party could track no more.

While discussing rope quantities, Lerissa became aware of something approaching. Shushing the party, the turned and watched the creature approach. The size of it was larger than even Tristan, towering above the giant it was slightly larger than the dragon itself. It slowly moved closer to the party as they tried to decide what to do. Its body looked to be made of some dark and dense ooze. The party, unable to make a timely decision, was attacked by the shambling mound, making their decision for them.

The battle was long and arduous. The monster appeared to be unaffected by the spells H.P. threw into it and it even swallowed Tristan into itself crushing him repeatedly. The creature was even seen to regenerate its wounds when in contact with electricity. Finally, a last shot from Arry broke the magic that held the ooze together and it fell harmlessly to the ground, freeing Tristan.

The party now sits exhausted in the caves, pondering their next move.

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The Chaos in Mystery

Our crew welcomes a new member into its ranks while celebrating the return of an old friend.

After their debacle with the mayor and guards of Dragon's Breath the previous night, the company gathered together for a regrouping breakfast.

Walking down the stairs, surprising each other, the group rejoiced in the appearance of their wizard. They spent some time saying catching H.P. up on their latest encounter with the hill gianttrolldragon and goblins. Having heard rumors of trouble along the east road, H.P. was glad to hear the group was solving the issue, not causing it.

A halfling happened to be dropping some eaves (shout out to any LOTR fans) and saw a chance to sate her wanderlust. Arry approached the party, excited at not only the aspect of seeing new and wonderful places and creatures, but also maybe getting some money out of it. The group, not knowing how to say no to a new face, welcomed her into their growing entourage.

While the members of the group were conversing and sharing stories, Dovahkiin The Yellow-Panted, sought his prey. Courageously staying at the table within clear sight of his target, he shifted into a small blue mouse to sneak back and earn some free food. But alas, the bartender's keen eye saw the blatant display and spent no time removing the mouse from the establishment. Unpleased, he scurried off to seek indirect vengeance and maybe even a paycheck. After creeping into the mayors office he returned to his true form and demanded a job! The mayor, unimpressed by the lackluster display, demanded that he take his leave. Sir Yellow-Pants would not suffer this affront unopposed and changed again, but now into a blue wolf. Remember kids, if you're going to do anything, do it with a theme. Staring the mayor in the eye, he tried his hardest to vomit on the rug. Yet, much like any other dog hacking on the carpet, he was thrown outside.

The group decided it would be best to return to Toran and The Manticore's End to find work and to check in. Along the way, H.P. tried without success to identify a glass orb shown to him by Shadow. Jorn also took some time with H.P. to discuss his absence and to make sure they were on the right page.

Upon entry into Toran, H.P. was met with an unwelcome sight. Not eighty feet past The End stood a cloaked figure sparking fear into his otherwise fearless persona.

Shadow experienced some fear herself as she was met with the wrathful gaze of Captain Skree. Enduring his lecture the party moved on to discover that an 'old' enemy had returned angrily. The black dragon from their very first dungeon was assailing Toran and from the note it sounds as though it may have rallied goblins to its aid.

As evening fell they decided it best to head out in the morning when they were better rested and prepared. Lerissa however, decided that this was a good time to toss her bedding around and wake everyone back up. When they settled down again she triggered a trap and they awoke to her smoldering (though still alive) body at the foot of the stairs. Seeing this as a prime time to upshow her, Aeron ran up to Captain Skree's door with his theive's tools only to be sent flying down the same set of stairs in the same fashion.

After an extended rest to allow their rogues to fully recover, they prepare for what the new day will bring them.

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Some Roads Charge a Giant Toll

Our ever changing crew of adventurers faced a new challenge.

After their encounter with the wizard and the tunnel collapse, they returned to Dragon's Breath for the night to rest. In the morning they lost track of the drunken duo, slightly thinning their ranks.

While on a shopping trip, some of the members were greeted by an exceptionally cheery face. Liana, an elven cleric, had left her home in the woods to pursue adventure to be a heroine to those in need. While tending to those who aided in the rescue efforts, she heard rumors about a mysterious group that arrived and drastically sped up progress. Excited that this was her start to the world of heroics she sought them out immediately.

Shadow, not yet ready to give up her skills as a street urchin, spent the morning seeing how her hand felt in other peoples' pockets. On her quest to find the Everfull Coinpurse, she overheard that the west road was experiences some difficulties. Gathering themselves and their new friend, they set off to find out how they could make money off this disturbance, truly the most noble of intentions.

After some undesirable conversations with the militia and the mayor's office, they decided to handle the problem then see what money could be made.

The disturbance that they found turned out to be a large pile of wood, broken carts, barrels, wagons, and the like. Standing guard and demanding a toll was a hill giant and a few goblins. After a very brief talk, the group initiated warfare.

The goblins were quickly dealt with, but the giant proved to be superior prey. Members of the party were knocked unconscious repeatedly, Liana was truly their saving grace. Hurling boulders and swinging his tree, the giant fought the group to his bitter end. The party was fortunate enough to still be standing when the dust settled.

After some rage was let out (primarily to the giants neck region) the group freed a couple captives and earned themselves a healthy paycheck from some non-threatening burlap sacks.

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Strange New Faces

Taking the wheel this Saturday was Doug, our second DM so far.

With Doug's role change, Marukar decided it was time to travel, see new places, beat new and interesting people, and he set forth from Toran. Curious about his sudden wanderlust, several members of The Manticore's End set off after him. Jorn, H.P., and Lerissa were all tagging along for some new adventure. These acquaintances of old were joined by some interesting characters on their way out of town.

Shadow and Aeron, two shady members of the End showed keen interest in joining the party, though their intentions have not yet been revealed. One likes to look you in the eye with a devilish grin while she spins sweet words. While the other seems bent on more monetary matters, preferring subtlety and darkness.

Where ale flows you are sure to find Fàngqì and Alron. An old drinking buddy of Marukar's, Fàngqì is quite the little sight. Standing only four and half feet tall, this wood elf is never without his trusty ale jug. Aside from his size and manner, his face is noticeable, two brands scar his cheeks, an X on one and an O on the other. The archer Alron, another member of the End, a fighter with unknown and undiscerning intent. Does he seek riches, women, glory, or merely some cheap ale?

(I apologize for this one as I have forgotten our druid's name) The final addition to group was one brought along by H.P. Manchester. After his near death experience, H.P. has taken great interest in nature and to aid his new approach to life he sought out someone capable and willing to join on his quest. He soon found a dragonborn druid who seemed to fit the bill. A fairly quiet member so far, the blueborn has not shy'd away from the group just yet.

Upon reaching the port town of Dragons Breath (if i recall the name correctly) Marukar bid his farewell to the group. Without their point of commonality, division happened suddenly. Some of the group followed H.P. as he ventured into the city, the rest followed Fàngqì to a local tavern to…resupply.

By the Gods if something divine didn't strike to steer the wayward wanderers back together! Just as though there were some great mastermind weaving a tale, both groups were informed of a money making opportunity. 

After speaking with the mayor (and an unforeseeable incident involving the guide) the group set off to help civilians trapped by a cave-in. Upon reaching the site, they were greeted and informed of the situation by a young child.

VIP at the site was a wizard (whose name I do not know how to spell) with whom H.P. sought words and potentially a magical opportunity. While they talked H.P. became suspicious, the wizard's eyes darted and body fidgeted, clearly uncomfortable with any uncommon questions or prying thoughts. It seems that the wizard had hidden intentions, for which he would pay the group to aid him with.

Excited by the thought of further riches, the group agreed. They helped rescue the villagers in order to satisfy their deal with the mayor. In doing so they discovered that one was injured, the rest had been eaten. Using this as a bargaining point, they got the wizard to offer an additional stipend for dealing with whatever creature delved below.

Once the villagers were gone and mayoral money paid, they slept the night away (in varying definitions) rested for the work the next day.

While digging in search for the wizard's coveted artifact, they discovered a small hole. Inside was a large sculpted room with none other than a Biter laying inside. The group then fought the Biter and its brood, the battle not terribly dangerous but a fight none the same.

Checking in with the wizard, they discovered that this room was even better than the artifact itself! He paid them for their services and they left the ordeal with plenty of well-earned ale money.

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The Onus of Naivete

The group experienced some great difficulties this week as their forward progress slowed to the clearing of a single room.

On his trip in the forest, Marukar became quite lost. Rather amused with the predicament he put himself in, he made a game of it, sneaking up on trees and quickly looking behind them, as though the cave entrance were playing a twisted game of peek-a-boo. Upon jumping out and yelling boo, he frightened a tiefling so bad she fell on her back. After helping her up (amid a fit of laughter) Marukar learned her name was Lerissa and the guild had sent her to check on them. With her guidance they found their way into the late gnomes lair.

Marukar decided he wanted to attempt a shortcut, Lerissa not knowing the caves had no choice but to follow his lead. They entered an old and dusty room in which two suits of immaculate full-plate armor rested on stands. Marukar instantly was amazed at his good fortune went up to claim this unexpected prize. As his hands came to grasp the shining helmet, the armor's gauntlet struck him in the abdomen and the two engaged a most amusing game of fisticuffs. 

Meanwhile the rest of the party was recovering from a small cave-in. They moved towards their next door, through which they could hear sounds of combat. Wolf strode forward and began beating it with his sledgehammer. once through they aided their lost friend in his fight. Afterwards the other suit of armor arose from its stand and engaged the party. The fights were not incredibly straining to the party, a few bruises and cuts but nothing serious. Once defeated the armor rusted, aged, and fell to pieces.

While searching the room, H.P. found a curious yarding of burlap on the floor. This discovery was nearly the unfortunate downfall of the Manticore's End's new recruits (and Wolf). First the burlap baffled them by acting like nothing other than a yarding of burlap, but upon being dealt damage it struck back. It crushed H.P.'s small and fragile hands, the pain was so intense that he fell to the ground and had to fight to stay alive. The party scrambled to defeat the burlap as it lunged at their limbs and faces crushing bones, blinding eyes, and crippling joints. In the end they had finally defeated it.

After the fight they worked to stabilize their fallen comrades to which they were successful…save one. The entrepreneurial wizard H.P. succumbed to his wounds. As his spirit floated towards the plane beyond the Material, it was greeted by a silhouette of the deity Ehlonna. She spoke to him offering him another chance. H.P. agreed and his spirit was returned to his body.

The group decided they needed to rest and set up for the night. During second watch, Wolf saw the movement of another piece of burlap which stopped abruptly. Wolf engaged the burlap and when the tides seemed to turn against him he called for aid. The party was soon at arms against another fearsome yarding, defending their faces and trying to stay alive. In the end they were successful, but their victory was costly. They ventured out into the woods to try resting one more time, dragging their unconscious members with them.

Will the woods be more gracious than the Underdark?

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The Aftermath

Jorn, Flint, and Wolf began the adventure today by setting out into the woods above to collect food and water so that they wouldn't have to spend rations.

Returning to the tomb, our mercenaries decided to discover the contents of the sarcophagi. The first one revealed the body of a human warrior so well preserved it was as though the man lay there sleeping as opposed to dead but upon touch he fell to ash leaving his coffin barren. When they opened the next coffin they got an unwelcome surprise as a skeleton warrior stood and attacked. While they were preoccupied with this skeleton, another one emerged from the two remaining coffins and ran Jorn through, leaving him on the ground bleeding out. The party quickly dealt with the remaining warrior and stabilized their fallen friend.

Before they continued deeper into the monster infested cavern, they needed to rest and recover their strength. H.P. and Wolf spent more time above ground in the woods gathering supplies while Flint watched over an unconscious Jorn and tending to his sundered armor. When H.P. and Wolf returned they set up watches and recuperated.

The choice of three doors, two perfectly silent, and one carried the growls of great beasts and the deep, ominous chant of unheard tongue. Quite unnerved by that last one, they went through a quiet one.

The room was empty and only upon H.P. casting detect magic did they discover that the there was a lot of magic through the noisy door, but also some magic runes in this room. H.P. attempted to figure out what the runes meant but was unable to fully discern their purpose.

Growing impatient, they burst through the next door to find the source of the growls and chanting. Yet they found nothing. As they entered the room, they were surrounded by the noise yet they didn't seem to be affected by the magic they found in the room.

They set up in front of the next room, everyone at weapons ready. Wolf raised his sledge and began beating the door down. First hit bounced off the door, the second destroyed it. 

Waiting upon a mound of thousands of coins was a young but large black dragon. Fresh acid dripped from long teeth, its wings and neck spines raised, its eyes intent on the those who just broke its door. Its laugh penetrated the silence.

The dragon spat acid and clawed and bit at the wavering warriors as they were getting beaten and thrown about. It charged through their ranks attempting to reach the soft wizard in the back ranks. Thanks to a hit from H.P. and a lucky strike from Wolf, they were able to drive the dragon away and claim its hoard.

They began to backtrack their path, checking out paths they had not tread. The kobolds and skeletal dogs were nothing compared to power of the dragon.

The mercenaries seek and end to their quest wanting nothing more that a safe night back in the village.

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