Codex IV-Chapter 1

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Amara’s feet constantly hurt from walking. It was annoying that Rynn kept such a fast pace. The ranger’s energy seemed boundless out under the open sky and with the wind in his hair. The ranger spent many hours away from the group, mostly in the mornings, training his companion Ranna, and wandering the countryside as they scouted ahead.

Khaska’s mood had been sour as they left Hammerdine, for what purpose she could not understand. But as the trip had progressed, she had noticed he and Rynn speaking late at night, and Jenika and Khaska seemed to gravitate towards each other during their travels during the day, leaving Amara to speak with Akle, the wise-cracking gnome, or one of the other Kletheira Merchant House’s employees. There were a smattering of other guards, not nearly as many as on their aborted trip south to catch their enemies in a trap, and a few merchants and carriage drivers. There was actually another sorcerer among the guards, but it was an older gentleman and his spells were, in her opinion, lacking. Being honest with herself, she pitied the man. More interesting was a half-elf bard who traveled with them, a woman by the name of Emily. The woman was quite happy most of the days, and kept them all entertained at night. This, of course, reminded Amara of Elial back in the Niktean Wastes. The bard had turned out to be a rogue sorcerer, one hunted by the Knights of the Silver Dragons for many years, and had escaped.

Truth be told, she enjoyed talking with Akle. The gnome seemed a little goofy as he had on their first trip, where he gleefully had attacked their enemies with his crossbow, but as she spoke with him she saw another side of him. The gnome was actually wise beyond his years, and a good conversationalist. He spoke of his many adventures, and was almost as good a storyteller as Emily was. Amara got the impression that he was a genuinely nice person, and whose stints as a guard were just to pass the time and to stay on the move, possessed as he was by the wanderlust of his race.

What was more interesting than her companions, though, was the situation at the crossroads. Marking the borders between Hammerdine’s influence and the largely defunct Tlerian Empire, the setup was quite amusing. Two forts sat just a few miles from each other, each manned by troops from their respective empires. However, even from a distance, the Tlerian fort was run-down and in more need of repair than the Hammerdinian one. Also, the roads traveled through and around the Hammerdinian fort, leaving the Tlerians sitting out largely on their own. She got the impression that they must be a stubborn lot, still maintaining the fort and the small city around it as if it still mattered. As far as she knew, relationships between Hammerdine and the empire were not hostile at the moment, meaning the forts were mostly upheld out of tradition. Stupid. They spent a single night in the city at a waystation of the Kletheira Merchant House, the most northern outpost of their organization (though the sorceress suspected that would change with their new influx of customers), and then pressed on. With the pace Rynn was setting, even as away from the caravan as he was most mornings, they were making very good time, at least according to Emily, who had run this route before for the Kletheirans. It helped that the summer weather was quite good. The rainy season in this part of the world was in the late summer and early fall, so that helped, as they enjoyed partly cloudy weather most days, interspersed with some very hot sunny days, and occasionally a rain storm that would last only an hour or two.

The journey was long, but at the end of July they were only about a week from the city of Laishtek. Amara and Khaska had discussed things that they might do, and it seemed that both of them were very much interested in visiting the Great Library of Laishtek, originally established by Tebbins Ferrick, the famed halfling explorer. It was rumored to be the best in the world, rivaling even the ancient elven libraries of Dreqorun.

Late one night, Amara was speaking of the library and its uses in general terms to Akle, who had visited the library on several occasions, by his own account. She did not want to reveal secrets that were not hers to reveal, especially pertaining to Tawru, but was probing the gnome for what kinds of things were there. Rynn, Khaska, and Jenika were further back in the caravan, at the other campfire. The sorcerer and the gnome were along, for the moment, the closest person one of the lookouts smoking a pipe on one of the wagons a few yards away.

“Well, if it’s stuff for a folk hero, I bet you might could find things there. They’ve got an awful lots of things on heroes, legends, ancient cities, things like that. I hear the elves libraries are much more boring. If you want stories, go to Laishtek! That’s the word! Sometimes they even read the old scrolls containing the legends of Markus himself!” He grew a little quiet. “I was at one reading, when I was a very young lad. To hear the tales of the great Markus, astride Hyrmaphridion, vanquishing the general of the evil forces of Arkenos, well …” He sighed. “It was a great day for a young gnome. Made me want to adventure! And, well, here I am!” His smile waned a little. “I’m no Markus, though. And there are no more Hyrmaphridions left."

“Hyrmaphridion?"

"You haven't heard his name before? Oh, he was the mightiest of the silver dragons. An ancient, noble being, who was the friend of Markus and one of the wisest beings on the planet. All good dragons strove to be like him." He sighed again. "But now we have just the evil dragons and the Knights that control them.” He grew wistful. “There will be no more such tales sung from our little moon. Ever.”

You seem particularly sad about that,” she ventured.

“Don’t you wish to see a silver dragon, riding through the sky on wings of light, shining in the sun? Or to hear the wisdom of a golden dragon?” He looked up at her. “Those stories, well, they’re gone now, aren’t they. And we just have to make do.”

He was whittling something with a small dagger, a piece of wood that he had been working on for about a week now. He held it up so she could see it in the firelight mixed with the greenish moonlight from one of Pressen’s other moons. Amara could make out that the top was a sinuous neck capped with a reptilian head. “Been trying to carve a silver dragon for a long time, but I can never get the little frill on its head right. Too difficult for someone as inexperienced at carving as I am.”

“Let me see,” she said. He handed the rough carving over. “I think you’ve got a good start. But how do you know what a silver dragon looks like?” She handed it back. “The frill looks too thin to me.”
He shrugged. “Not in the pictures I seen. Looks more for decoration than anything else. Not like the horns of a black dragon or the ridges of a blue.” Then he dropped the carving to the ground and glanced up. One of the other guards, an unfriendly dwarf, was on watch duty. “Hey, Leorry, you see anything?”

The dwarf looked at him, an unfriendly stare. “No. There’s nothing out there.”

“Yes there is.” The gnome ran over and clambered up on the cart. He grinned, and it was a grim look. “Get up!” he yelled. “Displacer beasts!” He pointed at Amara. “Get to the back and help your friends,” he said as he twisted his crossbow from where it rested on his hip and aimed a bit towards the back.

Now that he had pointed them out, Amara could indeed see a pair of creatures approaching the back of the caravan. She pointed at them. “There they are!”

Their cover blown, the creatures roared and began to charge towards the camp.

Eryx (DM)
Welcome to Codex IV! With this Codex, I will begin enforcing the rule that you must post within 5 days of my posts going up. So here we go!

First, as with the last Codex, I would like you all, as part of your first post here, to do one piece of world creation. There were some really interesting ones last time, and I hope that I can encourage you all to keep building the world bit by bit. I’ve got some great ideas coming up to use some of the ones you’ve made—the library of Tebbins Ferrick is in Laishtek after all!—and hope to use whatever else you can generate as well.

Second, if you wanted to find out things back in the crossroads area, give me your Gather Info checks here. I’ll just give you information here in the gray box.

Third, and most importantly, you are under attack! Akle, presciently, it seems, was able to detect the approaching pair if displacer beasts. As you stand and prepare, you are able to see that there are two of them approaching from the back of the caravan, more towards where the other three in the party are. You’ll have one round to prepare, then they will be on you.

Please roll initiative and give me 3 rounds of actions.

Thevarou
Initiative: 19 (Darn, if only I’d gotten that on my Gather Info ones.)

  • Shortbow: 17 = 15 + 2, Damage: 5
  • Shortbow: 3 = 1 + 2, Damage: 3

*Shortbow: 18 = 16 + 2, Damage: 5

(And if they get into melee range, he’ll switch to scimitar, with these amounts of damage, respectively: 4, 6, 6)

Eryx (DM)
Because I keep dropping messages during some IM conversations, I thought I had obtained permission from Thev to have Khaska share the story and document about Tawru with Amara and Jenika. I had not obtained permission. Rynn knows about it, but the other two do not. Please try to continue to play your characters according to their knowledge, not your metagame knowledge. I've edited the narration above to reflect that.

Thevarou
Here's my worldbuilding: http://salvationofjenoa.wikidot.com/the-pass-of-athed-tav

BlackWolf
First off, here are my rolls for training Ranna:

  • Teach "Defend": 23 (rolled 11 + 12 bonus) vs. DC 20 = success!
  • Teach "Stay": 32 (rolled 20 + 12 bonus) vs. DC 15 = success!
  • Teach "Seek": 24 (rolled 12 + 12 bonus) vs. DC 15 = success!

As the alarm is sounded, Rynn will get up, quick draw his bow and immediately begin to fire. He'll use 5-foot steps to move slowly away from the beasts, wanting to avoid melee.

Round 1:

  • Longbow attack: 14 (rolled 6 + 4 base + 3 DEX + 1 mwk), damage: 8 (rolled 6 + 2 STR)

Round 2:

  • Rapid shot: 18 (rolled 10 + 8 bonuses), damage: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 STR)
  • Rapid shot: 14 (rolled 6 + 8 bonuses), damage: 8 (rolled 6 + 2 STR)

Round 3:

  • Rapid shot: 25 (rolled 17 + 8 bonuses), damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR)
  • Rapid shot: 17 (rolled 9 + 8 bonuses), damage: 5 (rolled 3 + 2 STR)

He'll also command Ranna to defend. Here are three attack rolls for her (if she even gets in any):

  • Bite: 9 (rolled 6 + 3 bonus), damage: 4 (3 + 1 bonus)
  • Bite: 6 (rolled 3 + 3 bonus), damage: 7 (6 + 1 bonus)
  • Bite: 22 (rolled 19 + 3 bonus), damage: 5 (4 + 1 bonus)

I'll skip any Gather Info checks regarding the crossroads… details on the wars between nations isn't something that Rynn cares about too much. As for world building, I'll post something soon. I just can't work on it at the moment.

DeltaWolf
*Initiative: 13 (8+5)
Round 1:
Moves in to help defend her teamates
Round 2:
Flurry of Blows
*To hit: 16 (10+6) *Damage: 11 (8+3)
*To hit: 19 (13+6) *Damage: 8 (5+3)
Round 3:
Flurry of Blows
*To hit: 24 (18+6) *Damage: 10 (7+3)
*To hit: 7 (1+6) *Damage: 9 (6+3)

BlackWolf
For my world building offering, I present to you: Bailey's Demon.

Rynn and Khaska both managed to get shots off, but they went wide. Rynn blinked. He could have sworn that his shot actually passed through the one he was targeting. Amara had more luck, though, and an acid arrow sped through the air and landed on one, coating it’s face with acid, which began to smoke. Ranna howled and began to growl as Rynn ordered her to “defend” him. Then the creatures were on them. They rushed into the light of the campfire, long, emaciated black creatures out of some nightmare. Tentacles grew from their shoulders, long, sinewy things with spiked pads on the end. One growled as it leapt at Jenika, who had positioned herself in front. The other charged straight at Khaska.

Jenika punched the thing in the side and it cried out in pain. Khaska drew his sword while the other creature’s attack grated against his armor. The cleric hammered the beast hard with his scimitar as two of the guards ran into the fray with him.

“Akle, where are you going?” came a voice. Leorry was yelling after the gnome, but the dwarf had grabbed his battleaxe and was approaching where the fighting was happening, towards the back of the carvan. Rynn had time to spare just a glance to see the gnome rushing fearlessly into the dark, firing crossbow bolts as he went, screaming bloody murder. But then the ranger turned back to the combat near him. The creatures were so huge that the ranger was able to continue to fire at them even as they grappled with his friends. One shot buried itself deep in the flank of one, but another went wide. The 4 tentacles lashed out, hitting and this time they were successful. Jenika was hit hard in the face, the sharp barbs tearing at the skin around her face and neck as Khaska took a blow in a gap in his armor. Two of the guards were also attacked, one ducking at the last second but another taking a hit to his side.

Amara’s magic missiles arced unerringly through the air, dodging the melee combatants to hit one of the creatures. Jenika tried to land a kick the face of the beast attacking her, but it was if the creature jumped one foot to the side suddenly, and the attack failed to connect as the creature bit down on one of the guards, latching onto his arm. But the guards attacking with Khaska managed to stab that creature a few times. It howled in pain and lashed out at them, but missed. Another of Rynn’s arrows hit it, and the creature snapped forward, blood-stained teeth snapping shut at the guard to its left. Rynn guessed that it was bleeding internally. The creature looked pretty haggard as two more magic missiles hit it, causing it to drop closer to the ground, clearly quite injured. The other displacer beast hissed malevolently and began to move closer to its companion.

“There are more!” shouted one of the guards. And sure enough, just coming into the firelight were two more of the creatures. One of them, however, was clearly a juvenile, and was much smaller. Still, the creature was a good 5 or 6 feet long, and its tentacles looked just as deadly as it raced to join the combat.

Khaska glanced over to where Akle had now vanished, disappearing into the darkness around the other campfire. “Crazy gnome. Going to get himself killed!”

Eryx (DM)
There are two displacer beasts currently engaged in melee combat with you, but they are about to be joined by two more. One of them is looking quite haggard. The beasts are big enough that they can be shot at by ranged weapons without incurring the -4 penalty, but one of them did attack Khaska, so the cleric is now in melee combat.

The hitpoint situation is as follows:

Rynn: 24/24
Khaska: 17/32
Jenika: 12/27
Amara: 17/17

Khaska is in melee combat the severely wounded one. Jenika is in combat with the other, if that will help specify which ones you would target.

Please give me 3 more rounds of actions.

BlackWolf
Rynn will continue to fire his bow and will target the most injured enemy in sight. Now that the battle is joined he'll also send Ranna to attack.

For all 3 rounds, Rynn will use Rapid shot, so the following rolls are grouped in twos:

  • Rapid shot: 8 (rolled 2 + 4 base + 3 DEX + 1 mwk - 2 rapid shot), damage 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR)
  • Rapid shot: 16 (rolled 10 + 6 as above), damage 5 (rolled 3 + 2 STR)
  • Rapid shot: 18 (rolled 12 + 6 as above), damage 5 (rolled 3 + 2 STR)
  • Rapid shot: 24 (rolled 18 + 6 as above), damage 8 (rolled 6 + 2 STR)
  • Rapid shot: 22 (rolled 16 + 6 as above), damage 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR)
  • Rapid shot: 25 (rolled 19 + 6 as above), damage 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR)

Ranna:

  • Bite: 20 (rolled 17 + 3 bonus), damage: 4 (rolled 3 + 1 bonus)
  • Bite: miss! (rolled natural 1)
  • Bite: 13 (rolled 10 + 3 bonus), damage: 3 (rolled 2 + 1 bonus)

Hopefully we can take out the one Khaska is fighting so that he can be freed up for some healing.

DeltaWolf
Round 1: Stunning Fist (VS Fort save)

  • To Hit: 9 (1+8) *Damage: 9 (6+3)

Round 2: Stunning Fist (again)

  • To Hit: 13 (5+8) *Damage: 5 (2+3)

Round 3: Flurry of blows

  • To Hit: 17 (11+6) *Damage: 6 (3+3)
  • To Hit: 20 (14+6) *Damage: 8 (5+3)

Arg! I have yet to stun someone!

Thevarou

Initiative: 19

(ALSO, I just realized that the "To Hit" rolls in the previous post should've been +4 if Khaska was using his scimitar. Don't know if that'd make a difference.)

  • To Hit: 6 = 2 + 4, Damage = 3 = 1 + 2
  • To Hit: 5 = 1 + 4, Damage = 3 = 1 + 2
  • To Hit: 6 = 2 + 4, Damage = 4 = 2 + 2

Don't die, Khaska! Given his now-dire straits, he'll probably call out for help, especially from that healing wand (forgot the technical term) that the party acquired.

BlackWolf
We'll have to see how things go, but I'm not sure that failing to hit your enemy equates to "dire straits". Khaska has good armor (AC 21) and is (so far) still as 53% health. Really, I think that Jenika is the one in bigger trouble with 44% health, lower AC (15), and a less-injured enemy.

Rynn won't hesitate to pull out the wand of Cure Light Wounds if it comes to that, but tactically, it may make more sense for him to keep attacking (as long as no one goes down). The wand only cures 1d8+1 HP (min 2, max 9, avg 5.5) per turn. For our level, that's still pretty good, but using up a whole round just to heal ~5 HP might not be very effective. Taking down enemies (and thus preventing damage) is almost always more effective than healing mid-battle.

In contrast, Khaska can cast the same spell to heal 1d8+4 HP (min 5, max 12, avg 8.5), or the more powerful Cure Moderate Wounds to heal 2d8+4 HP (min 6, max 20, avg 13). Because of the Cleric's "Spontaneous Casting" ability, he doesn't even have to prepare any of these spells — he can trade any prepared 1st or 2nd level spell (respectively) to cast them.

(Also, when I looked at your character sheet, it appears that you haven't accounted for the "bonus spells" that Khaska should have for his Wisdom of 16. So that's one extra 1st and 2nd level spell for now, and an extra 3rd level spell later when you reach level 5.)

When we get more money (4,500 gp), we may want to buy a Wand of Cure Moderate Wounds which would be more effective during battle. The "smaller" (or weaker) wand is more suited for healing in breaks between fighting. Again, that's not to say that we shouldn't use it in battle if needed… it's just that Khaska's own healing is much more potent.

So I guess this is the long way of saying, "Khaska, don't forget that you are the healer in our group!" Or perhaps more to the point, "Physician, heal thyself!" :)

“Ranna! Attack!” Rynn ordered, pointing at the beast snarling at Khaska. The wolf barked once and growled a low growl as she sprang towards the other creature. She snapped her jaws shut on empty air, though, clearly frustrated as the leg she thought she was attacking was not where it appeared to her. However, another arrow from Rynn and a casting of Magic Missiles dropped the creature to the ground. Khaska took a deep breath and a sigh of relief, but just momentary, as the other creatures were fast approaching, and Jenika was still in combat with her original combatant. The cleric ran over and cast Heal Moderate Wounds on the monk, who immediately looked better, though her attempt to stun her opponent was unsuccessful. The other guards also attacked the creature, but failed to land blows. Ranna’s jaw snapped shut again on empty air, but Rynn buried an arrow in its side.

The creature lunged at one of the guards and crushed his hand in its jaws. The man cried out as it worried his arm, but then another set of Amara’s Magic Missiles smashed into it, and the creature also dropped to the ground. That was just in time, for one of the other beasts arrived at melee range. Rynn immediately shifted targets as the creature landed in the middle of the guards, lashing out at them with its tentacles. One of the guards was caught right in the face, the tentacle latching on, lifting him up, then slamming him into the ground. The man staggered up, and Khaska reached a hand out and also healed him.

Rynn’s arrows went wide, and Jenika missed with her flurry of blows. Amara pulled out her crossbow, her good spells spent. Her shot also flew off into the darkness. One of the guards connected with his sword, though all three of the others failed. The creature hissed, a kind of laughing heh heh heh as it attacked Leorry. However, it had no better luck than any of them. The juvenile, rushing into the fray, also missed with both of its tentacles, Jenika nimbly dodging out of the way of both of them.

There was a huge roar from off to the side, from where Akle had run off. It was followed by a bloodcurdling shriek, clearly from some animal. Khaska’s ears flattened. Whatever it was, it was big.

Eryx (DM)
The hitpoint situation is as follows:

Rynn: 24/24
Khaska: 17/32
Jenika: 26/32
Amara: 17/17

Khaska used up, as per conversation with him over text, some of his spells to heal Jenika and the guard (who was clearly staggered and at 0 hitpoints).

Also, I show, at least according to my read of the rules, that all Khaska’s spells are accounted for. Am I missing something?

You handily finished off the two displacer beasts who first showed up, but the other two, including the juvenile, have entered melee range. One of the guards looks pretty bloody, but overall your group seems to be doing pretty well. It looks like it was a pack of 3 adults, a juvenile …

… and whatever is going on over just out of range of the other fire. Something big has just made a shrieking noise.

What do you want to do? Please give me the next three rounds of your actions. Also, I should say the guards will obey your orders. If you wanted to focus fire one of them, you could do that. There are 4 guards (including Leorry) in combat.

BlackWolf
I say we focus fire on the adult displacer beast that just joined combat, then handle the juvenile. If we can take them out quickly then we can see what's going on with the roaring and shrieking. I don't see any point in investigating that while we've got active combat going on… hopefully whatever it is will be on our side — an Akle ally, perhaps? If not, I'd rather have fewer enemies at once.

Rynn will continue his attacks using rapid shot:

  • Attack: 18 (rolled 12 + 6 bonus), damage: 9 (rolled 7 + 2 STR)
  • Attack: 15 (rolled 9 + 6 bonus), damage: 9 (rolled 7 + 2 STR)
  • Attack: 26, crit! (rolled 20 + 6 bonus), damage: 15 (8 max + rolled 5 + 2 STR)
  • Attack: miss! (rolled natural 1)
  • Attack: 17 (rolled 11 + 6 bonus), damage: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 STR)
  • Attack: 14 (rolled 8 + 6 bonus), damage: 9 (rolled 7 + 2 STR)

Ranna:

  • Bite: 6 (rolled 3 + 3 bonus), damage: 6 (rolled 5 + 1 bonus)
  • Bite: 14 (rolled 11 + 3 bonus), damage: 5 (rolled 4 + 1 bonus)
  • Bite: 10 (rolled 7 + 3 bonus), damage: 2 (rolled 1 + 1 bonus)

As for Khaska, I was just going off what his character sheet says. But I might be wrong… it does show him still at level 3 on the main page, after all. In any case, a level 4 cleric should have spells per day of: 5, 3+1, 2+1 as the base. Then for a WIS of 16, that adds bonus spells. So his total (including the domain spells) should be: 5, 4+1, 3+1. That's not reflected on his sheet (at least at the time of this post). I just want to make sure he's got all of the spells he deserves!

DeltaWolf

Flurry of Blows:
*To Hit: 7 (1+6) *Damage: 9 (6+3)
*To Hit: 17 (11+6) *Damage: 4 (1+3)
Flurry of Blows:
*To Hit: 16 (10+6) *Damage: 9 (6+3)
*To Hit: 23 (17+6) *Damage: 5 (2+3)
Flurry of Blows:
*To Hit: 20 (14+6) *Damage: 10 (7+3)
*To Hit: 23 (17+6) *Damage: 8 (5+3)

Sayyadina
Amara would cast Melf's Acid Arrow first at the adult, then at the juvenile (ranged touch attack to hit, 2d4 damage for two rounds if it hits). In the third round she'd use magic missile to finish off whatever needs it, if any (assuming she still has one left of her seven 1st-level spells).

EDIT: updating my attack rolls, forgot to include Dex.

Round 1:
To hit adult: 21 (17+4) to touch AC, initial damage: 5 (2+3)

Round 2:
Acid damage to adult: 4 (3+1)
To hit juvenile: 22 (18+4) to touch AC, initial damage: 6 (4+2)

Round 3:
Missile 1 damage: 3 (2+1), missile 2 damage: 5 (4+1)
Acid damage to juvenile: 5 (2+3)

“Kill the big one!” Rynn shouted. First things first. Whatever was going on over there … hopefully Akle was okay … they had to deal with what was in front of them first. But just as that happened a wave of fear washed over all of them. They found their attacks stymied and their courage blunted. Each of them felt unsettled from the crown of their head to their very toes.

“What’s happening?” asked one of the guards. He fell and began to weep, as Leorry and the others simply dropped their weapons and ran. Amara noticed Emily jumping from the back of one of the carts—had she been hiding?—and also fleeing.

“Keep attacking,” Amara yelled. “It’s just a spell!” What was more interesting, noticed Rynn, was that the displacer beasts also were affected. The juvenile howled and looked into the night, clearly shaken. Whatever the spell was, it wasn’t picky with what it influenced.

“Courage, my friends!” said Khaska. But he too was affected. Still, he continued to fight.

Nobody had hit the adult displacer beast in the few seconds it had been in the camp, and that worried Rynn. He loosed more arrows as Ranna moved in to attack. Again, luck seemed to favor this beast. Khaska and Jenika both completely missed with their attacks, as did all of the guards. Rynn grimaced before loosing another pair of arrows. Only one hit, but Amara launched another Acid Arrow which began to burn the creature’s side. The creature gave much better than it got, lashing out with its tentacles. One of them smashed into the cowering guard who, with a shriek, dropped to the ground, blood pooling around him. Another tentacle slapped Khaska upside the head, also drawing blood, and the creature wheeled and clamped down with its jaws on Ranna, who howled with pain and snarled, attempting to bit back. There was more shrieking from the other side of the camp, followed by a wet tearing sound.

The juvenile, taking a look at all of them surrounding the adult, lunged towards Amara. The sorceress reflexively cast another pair of Magic Missiles at it, and they both struck home as it clamped down onto her arm and tore away, teeth shredding through her as she cried out in pain. Khaska grimaced, blood pouring down his face, and he slashed viciously at the adult beast in front of him. He succeeded in striking again, sending a spray of blood into the darkness. Jenika finally managed to strike the creature in the face. Twice. It hissed at her as the acid from Amara continued to eat away at its flank. Both of its tentacles lashed towards the monk, but Jenika again dodged one attack, smartly blocking the other just below the spiked pad that was aimed at her face. It went for her again with its jaws, she had clearly angered it, but it missed as an arrow from Rynn buried itself all the way to the fletching in the creature’s eye. Without a sound, it dropped to the ground, dead.

Only the juvenile remained. As the entire group whirled on it, it knew that it was in trouble and hissed. But, undeterred, it jumped into the fray. Jenika intercepted it and with a vicious kick that knocked its head up and a follow up uppercut to its throat, the monk dropped the creature unceremoniously before anybody else could even reach them.

There had been no sounds from the other side of the camp, and they couldn’t see what was going on. Despite his fear from that spell, Rynn grabbed up a fallen torch and began to run in that direction as Khaska moved to heal the fallen guard. Rynn was ahead of the others and was the only one who heard a great, slow throbbing. It almost sounded like wings beating? Suddenly the spell left all of them, and the ranger found himself able to breath easily again. The guards stopped their mad panic as they were running away full-tilt from the camp.

All of the sudden two objects came flying into the light. One of them was quite large, helping Rynn dodge it as it landed on the ground. The other careened across the ground before slamming into one of the carts with a crunch.

Rynn stared at the huge thing lying in front of him. It was the head of a displacer beast, and it had been torn cleanly off. But this wasn’t like any of the four that had attacked them. It was enormous. Twice the size of any of the three adults. Its eyes were glazed over, one slightly shut, and its tongue lolled out, saliva dripping to mix with blood on the ground. The ranger whistled. “A displacer beast lord!”

“Akle!” shouted Amara. “Quick, come heal him!”

“By Markus!” gasped Leorry, returning to the firelight. The gnome had been hurtled clear across the camp. His broken gnomish body lay now in a heap by the cart he had smashed into.

Eryx (DM)
Thev is on the road and unable to access the internet, so he texted me with general instructions and I felt comfortable going ahead. For the record, something like that counts for purposes of the "striking out" rule we implemented with this Codex.

You successfully killed all of the displacer beasts. Focus firing worked very well. The juvenile went down more easily than I thought it would, given Jenika’s exceptional rolling to hit it accurately. (With these beasts, you have a 50% miss chance, and she hit all of the last 4 attacks she rolled.)

Your hitpoints are as follows:

Rynn: 24/24

Khaska: 7/32

Jenika: 26/32

Amara: 6/17
Ranna: 5/15

Whatever happened over where Akle ran off to is currently a bit of a mystery. A huge displacer beast was slain, it appears, and Akle was thrown (with the beast’s head) into the camp. Now the gnome lies broken and bleeding by one of the carts. Also, one of the guards is bleeding out. The other three ran away, but they are coming back now, though a bit sheepish.

What will you do next?

Thevarou
Thanks for posting for me! I made it safe to California, thank goodness :)

Okay, if I understand it correctly, Khaska has exhausted his two "Heal Moderate Wounds" spells and one "Heal Light Wounds" spell, and has two more "Heal Light Wounds" remaining. Is that correct? If so, Khaska will immediately attempt to heal Akle and the guard who's bleeding out, asking for the Heal wand if it's needed. If he manages to stabilize them, he'll go with whoever's willing to investigate the scene from which Akle was thrown.

Heal Rolls:

  • 11 = 8 + 3 (caster level?)
  • 7 = 4 + 3

BlackWolf
Sounds like Khaska is on the same page as Rynn. The ranger will rush over to help, pulling out the wand to make sure everyone is stabilized and at has at least 10 HP (including Ranna). Here are some rolls for healing:

  • 5 (rolled 4 + 1)
  • 4 (rolled 3 + 1)
  • 5 (rolled 4 + 1)
  • 2 (rolled 1 + 1)
  • 6 (rolled 5 + 1)
  • 4 (rolled 3 + 1)

Hopefully Akle will be able to tell us about what happened. After learning what they can, Rynn will help investigate the area.

DeltaWolf
Jenika feels like investigating is like jumping from the pan into the fire, so she will suggest that they try to be as sneaky as they can while approaching.
*Move Silently: 19 (13+6)
*Hide: 9 (4+5)
the Hide is in the hopes of being able to find cover and not be seen by the whatever
*Listen: 8 (1+7)
*Spot: 8 (1+7)
Dang!

With a speed that surprised even him, Khaska bounded over to the cart and reached down to touch the little man. Akle instantly revived, sucking in a deep, yet still wet and rattling, breath and then spitting out some blood. “By the dark moon! What was that thing?”

“That thing?” asked Khaska.

“There’s another over here! He’s bleeding out!” cried Leorry. Sure now that the gnome would not die from his wounds, Khaska left Akle with a glance and also came over to heal the guard. The man also revived as the magic knitted his wounds together, but he was still quite injured. The cleric cast another healing spell just for good measure.

Rynn was approaching, still staring at the displacer beast lord’s decapitated head, but the ranger reached into his pack and pulled out a healing wand. “I can help.”

The flow of magic from the wand seemed natural to Rynn. He had known that he would be able to use it, but still, it was a new sensation for him to be channeling such energy, even through a tool. His skills as a ranger were growing, but the magic that came with his connection to nature was still fairly new to him. Akle waved him off. “I’m fine,” the gnome said, standing up. “See to the others.” The gnome was limping a little. Amara reached over for him, to support him, but he slapped her hand away. “I can walk, thank you very much!”

Rynn used the wand to heal all of the others up a bit as well, including Ranna, whose tongue lolled out as her master healed her. “What happened on your side of the camp?”

“I saw the displacer beasts coming, at least, I saw that big one. Couldn’t miss it. Decided to attack it.”

“You decided to attack a displacer beast lord on your own?” Khaska’s ears perked up. He was clearly surprised.

“Yeah, well, had to try to hold ‘im off while you dealt with the others.” Akle was walking past the lord’s head, the others following.

“I think quiet would be the best,” said Jenika, trying to hide herself behind the fallen head. The thing was large enough that she could get some cover from it—it came up just past her waist. Rynn nodded as he put the wand away and nocked an arrow, moving towards where the sounds had been coming from slowly. Jenika slunk alongside him.

“She’s not kidding,” said Emily, swallowing, where she was walking back from the other side of one of the carts. “What was that?”

“A spell of some kind,” said Amara. “I’m not sure from what.”

“Scared me half to death!” the bard said.

“Well, you weren’t exactly helping with the combat anyway,” said Amara. “Not even a bardic Inspire Courage?” Emily looked away sheepishly.

“Bring a torch,” said Rynn. Leorry grabbed a torch and lit it in one of the campfires, following, but clearly following at the back. The light didn’t give much illumination, but Rynn was able to see Akle’s tracks running off from the clearing, the tell-tale sign of brush and broken twigs and branches from the shrubs he had run through. “And then what happened?” the ranger asked.

“I was fighting the thing when suddenly something hit the two of us. Seemed to come from above. There was this awful smell, and then I couldn’t move. I got knocked out, and next thing I know I’m being healed by Khaska.”

Jenika looked like she was ready to bolt as they came upon the displacer beast lord’s body. Blood pooled all around it. The creature had gashes in it; they looked like they were made by claws of some sort. Ranna sniffed at the air. Rynn himself was able to detect a faint, dissipating odor of something. He took a deep breath. Rain. It smelled like rain. “Don’t come any closer,” he said. “I want to look at the ground without all your tracks interfering.” He grabbed the torch from Leorry, confident now that whatever had killed this beast was at least not in sight anymore. Everybody with a bow had it out and ready, though, and there was an air of wariness about the gathered group.

Rynn carefully walked around the site several times until he was sure of what he was seeing. Akle’s tracks ran directly towards the displacer beast lord’s, but then something else had entered combat with them, but whatever it was, it hadn’t come from the ground. There were no other tracks leading towards the site, just Akle’s and the displacer beast’s. There were, however, other tracks at the site itself. Large ones. There was a particularly well-defined track moving towards where they had been fighting the rest of the pack. The look of the thing was vaguely reptilian. That was one of the advantages of looking at these tracks. There were clearly three kinds—Akle’s boots, the pawprints of the displacer beast lord, and then these mysterious third ones. They were three-toed and had a long claw at the end of each toe. The blood trail from the decapitated head led to the edge of the combat zone, which was a disaster with uprooted dirt and shrubs and rocks strewn everywhere, where it then trailed off to where the head now lay. The mysterious footprints moved in that direction, but then abruptly stopped after the one well-defined one.

The ranger beckoned them over to look at it. “I’ve gotten what I can from the tracks. Come and look at this.” He pointed at the ground as Akle approached. The gnome gave a whistle. “And whatever hit me, made that! Wow.” He grinned. “I’s lucky to be alive, no?” Then he grinned. “So, we gonna follow the trail of the beasts? Go raid their lair? I bet they’ve got some good stuff for us there!”

Eryx (DM)
Rynn used 3 charges of the wand to get Khaska to 12 hitpoints, and both Amara and Ranna to 10, and Khaska used up his remaining spells to get the guard and Akle back up.

You are all standing now around the dead body of the displacer beast lord. I’ve described the scenario that seems most likely given Rynn’s investigation of the scene. Akle and the beast arrived together, and then some … thing … intervened, killed the beast, and threw its head (and Akle) towards where you were fighting the rest of the pack. Then it disappeared. Jenika did not spot or hear anything with her rolls.

What do you all want to do next? Akle has suggested following the tracks back to the displacer beast pack’s lair. Would you like to do a more thorough search of the area once the sun has come up? It’s still late evening, about 11 pm. The sun goes down pretty late these days, so you hadn’t even all gone to sleep yet. Just press on? Get out of here because there might be more displacer beasts (or other things in the night that kill displacer beast lords for fun)?

Thevarou
Based on the footprint, Khaska is under suspicion that it might be a dragon… or something else draconic-footed, with wings. To be sure, I'll just attempt a Knowledge - Nature check:

  • 20 = 12 + 8

If it does indeed seem to be a dragon, that would be incredibly odd; aren't all the dragons under control of the Knights at present? While it could be futile to speculate, this could either mean that the Knights don't have the control they profess or -perhaps- are even clandestinely watching over the party for some reason.

It might be good to see whether something more is out there, or if there is useful stuff in the beasts' lair; however, due to the possibility that there might still be others around, Khaska will suggest that the most stealthy members of the party - Jenika and Rynn - investigate.

BlackWolf
As a player, I agree that a dragon seems likely. And Amara is even "friends" with a blue dragon which would fit the description: Ziranethsrana. More generally, the group knows her rider, Gerald Reitman. But that's just a wild guess at this point.

As for Rynn, he doesn't know much about dragons, so he won't actually speculate about it. He's happy to go search out the displacer beast lair. He'll suggest that those that don't want to join him could get the caravan ready to move — we might want to drive forward another hour or so to put some distance between our camp and the corpses. They can even get a start before Rynn comes back — he shouldn't have trouble following their big trail w/ carts and all.

Here's a check for Rynn to do some tracking and follow the trail:

  • Survival: 26 (rolled 15 + 11 bonus)

Ranna might also be able to help out:

  • Survival: 7 (rolled 2 + 5 bonus)

(or not, given that roll…)

Edit: I guess I should specify that Rynn will want to be careful as he investigates (per Khaska's wisdom). He'll follow the tracks and try to find their lair, all the while keeping an eye out for trouble. Here are some checks, if needed:

  • Rynn Listen: 20 (rolled 14 + 6 bonus)
  • Rynn Move Silently: 25 (rolled 20 + 5 bonus)
  • Rynn Spot: 27 (rolled 20 + 7 bonus)
  • Ranna Listen: 4 (rolled 1 + 3 bonus)
  • Ranna Move Silently: 8 (rolled 5 + 3 bonus)
  • Ranna Spot: 7 (rolled 4 + 3 bonus)

I guess Ranna is still nursing her wounds. Now if I could just get these kinds of rolls for Rynn during combat!

DeltaWolf
Jenika is in favor of moving along, She will do what she can to help the caravan move. She will keep an eye out for a possible attack.

*Spot: 10 (3+7)
*Listen: 24 (17+7)

“You’re not even worried about other things out there?” asked Rynn.

“Oh bah. Whatever it was, it seemed to me to save my hide and then vanished! I bet we’re in the clear.” Akle seemed much more confident about this than anybody else, even as Rynn explained what he had found in more detail to the rest of them.

“So, a reptilian creature appears to have flown in, killed the displacer beast lord, then threw the head towards us …” Khaska began.

“And me!” Akle said.

“And Akle,” the cleric said, a small smile stealing across his face. “Then flew off?”

“Dragon,” said Amara. She was staring down at the large track.

Khaska thought for a moment, but could think of nothing he had heard of that fit the description. “If it were true, that would be disturbing,” said the cleric. “Either the Knights are not in control of all the dragons, as they profess, or they are clandestinely following our movements. I know of no other thing it could be. ”

“You mean a Knight of the Silver Dragons saved me!” said Akle. “Wow. My lucky day! But,” he paused, “then why didn’t he stay around to help with the others?”

“It might have been a Yrthak,” Amara said. “They are quite large and reptilian, as well. But … They attack with sonic abilities. They detect by sound. We would have heard it. And it would be hunting to eat, not to just kill like what happened here.

“It had to have been a dragon. What we felt earlier, that was the frightful presence that adult dragons have. But … if it was one of the Knights, why would they not stay and help is with the others?”

“Do any kind of dragons smell like rain?” asked Rynn.

“Rain?” the sorceress queried.

“That’s what it smelled like over here. Ranna and I both smelled it.”

A darkening suspicion stole over Amara’s mind. Her brow furrowed and her mouth grew tight as her eyes widened.

“What?” asked Jenika. “What is it?”

“Amara, what kind of dragons smell like rain?” asked Khaska.

“Silver dragons.”

The entire group grew quiet. Akle was the first to speak up.

“A silver dragon? Balderdash! There hasn’t been one on our moon for hundreds of years. That’s absurd! Where has he been all this time? Hiding? Then for no reason he appears to save me and then runs away!” He snorted. The gnome turned to Rynn. “Are you goin’ to come with me to find this lair or what?”

Khaska suggested that the more stealthy members of the party should go, and Rynn said that perhaps they should move the camp a mile or so, to avoid the scavengers that would undoubtedly be attracted to the corpses. Jenika, however, declined to go with the ranger, despite Khaska’s admonition. In the end, Rynn and Akle found themselves alone, the rest of the group helping to move the caravan away from the battle site. The ranger found the tracks easy to follow, and a few miles away they came upon a depression in the earth, a bowl-like area surrounded by dense trees— the displacer beast lair. Rynn was able to search out the area and determine that there were no other tracks than those that belonged to the five dead beasts, so the lair would be clear. And it was a good thing too.

“Well well well!” said Akle, rubbing his hands together. “We should have brought more people! We can’t carry all of this stuff ourselves!”

Indeed, strewn through out the lair itself was the detritus of many fallen caravans, dragged back here after a successful attack, including the bodies of some livestock. Rynn was looking at a quiver he had found. “We can bring them back in the morning. I don’t think any of this is going anywhere.”

Eryx (DM)
I asked Sayya for permission to roll a Knowledge (Arcana) check. It doesn’t count as her post, but for the record she rolled 14 + 10 (bonuses) for a total of 24. Between the tracks, the sound of flapping wings Rynn heard (he’s pretty sure now that’s what he heard), and the fact that you were all hit by a frightful presence, you are pretty sure that it was a dragon. The one mystery here is that Rynn distinctly smelled rain, and only Silver Dragons were known to smell like that.

In the displacer beast lair, you find the following loot. I’ll assume that you would take the time to search thoroughly, cast Detect Magic and all that, because you’re pretty darn sure that the displacer beasts are all dead, so there’s really no reason not to:
1. A Bag of Holding full of coins and gems. When it’s all counted (which Akle gleefully helps with) you have 6664 gold for your party.
2. Five different potions.
3. A Painting.
4. Darkwood buckler.
5. 2 Tanglefoot bags.
6. Masterwork rapier.
7. Half-plate set of armor.
8. Composite shortbow. It feels to Rynn about the same as his longbow. Looks to be a +2 one.
9. Light crossbow with 8 arrows.
10. Two scrolls of Obscuring Mist.
11. Composite longbow. Rynn can easily use it. It appears to be a +1 STR variety.
12. Heavy crossbow with 50 arrows.
13. A magic quiver of some kind. (Detect Magic: Moderate conjuration.)
14. A ring. (Detect Magic: Faint transmutation.)

It appears the displacer beasts have been picking off caravans and travelers for a while now. There’s nothing really special in the loot, but there’s a lot of it.

You do have your wand of Identify, if you want to use it on the two magic items you found, you may do so immediately. Just let me know and I’ll update this list.

The caravan was moved about half a mile from the battle site. Anything else you want to do in the area when the sun comes up (aside from more thoroughly searching the displacer beast lair)? Or will you all just move on to Laishtek? You should be about a week from the city.

Thevarou
Khaska thinks it would be a good idea to use the wand of Identify on the items we've found, if just to determine whether they're safe and perhaps their sale value if we decide to sell them in Laishtek.

Before leaving the area, Khaska will be sure to mark the location on a map, as well as offer a prayer; a silver dragon sighting (smelling?) would not merely be mythological to him, but religious. He would also like to search around for any other evidence of a draconic visitation:

  • Spot: 23 = 18 + 5
  • Search: 14 = 10 + 4

He would also counsel the others that know of the dragon to be careful to whom they mention it. While it could be a source of hope for some, the last thing that Khaska would want (and others, presumably) would be to give anyone a possible target.

BlackWolf
I agree that we should go ahead and use the wand of identify on the two magic items. Rynn is interested in the magic quiver, so it would be nice to know what it is. Since neither bow is magic, he probably won't use either. If no one wants them, he'll take them though — might be nice to have a backup composite shortbow.

As for the rest of the items, Rynn doesn't care what we do with them. He'll gladly take a share of the money… speaking of which, should we be sharing this with the other guards as well? They did help with the fight after all.

On the dragon front, I've been suspecting Akle of strange behavior ever since this chapter began. As I re-read it now, it's very possible that Akle himself is the silver dragon! He's wise and well traveled, and very passionate about silver dragons. Plus he saw danger coming and ran out to meet it. If he's not the dragon, then he's suicidal.

But once again, this isn't something that Rynn would know… Maybe Amara is more likely to figure it out based on her conversations with Akle. But Rynn is a little worried that the gnome rushed off so quickly into battle like that. He'll chat with the gnome off and on, see if he can discover any more detail about why Akle acted the way he did.

Once we are done with the loot, Rynn will be ready to continue on to Laishtek. He's not in any hurry though; he's not anxious to leave the wild for another big city. Urban environments aren't really his thing. There's nothing specific he'll try to do in that week; he'll just spend time exploring this new area of the world and generally help the caravan on its way as before.

Thevarou
Human-me had forgotten about dragons taking on humanoid forms, but it's very possible that Khaska would come up with the notion that Akle is the dragon, especially while he's wandering about looking for signs and mulling over the night's timeline of events. After all, dragons taking on humanoid form is actually an integral part of the Maha'i creation myth!

Eryx
For the fight between you and the displacer beasts, you all earn 733 XP.

Using up two castings of the wand of Identify, you discover that the two items are:

Efficient Quiver
Ring of Feather Falling

Sense Motive checks are the purview of the DM. Would you like me to roll one for you on Akle, BlackWolf? (Or anybody else?) I'd post the results in the next gray box.

And everybody in the party knows that Dragons can change into humanoid form. After all, you were all present when Keldarian did so, and you all know about the conversation between him, Amara, and Ziranesthrana when they were both in humanoid form (halfling and elven, respectively). The thought that a silver dragon could be masquerading as a humanoid would indeed occur to Khaska.

Thevarou
The realization that Akle and the dragon could be one and the same would still take some reflection on his part. Midway through his search for evidence, he'll remember the sequence of events and return to camp after praying for guidance in his words. When he finds Akle -which he will try to do alone- he will say, "I have a matter that I wish to discuss with you, but I do not think it wise to do so in the camp." Hopefully, Akle will assent to walking a little way off and discussing; if not, Khaska will be forward while remaining cryptic: "It is regarding the large winged reptile that defeated the displacer beast lord."

Once they are alone together, Khaska will cut to the chase and say, "Judging by the evidence from the scene last night, I have reason to suspect that there was a silver dragon that aided us against the displacer beasts. Furthermore, I suspect that you might be that dragon. If you are, and desire your identity and nature to remain secret, I swear on my mother's name that I will not reveal you to any other living soul, save you permit it." Depending on how the conversation unfolds, Khaska will express his honor at meeting a member of the supposedly extinct metallic dragons, his renewed hope that Arkenos would be defeated, and his reverence and respect for Akle - though he will ask, if possible, to learn his true draconic name. Before going, he will ask Akle what advice he would have for Khaska and the party in their quests.

BlackWolf
At this point, Rynn isn't suspicious about Akle, just worried. So he won't necessarily be trying to Sense Motive — depends on what he has to say for himself. So I'll wait and see.

DeltaWolf
I don't have anything to add at this point, but I am following along.

Sayyadina
Spellcraft rolls to identify the potions:

  • 22 = 10 + 12
  • 27 = 15 + 12
  • 26 = 14 + 12
  • 31 = 19 + 12
  • 26 = 14 + 12

Again with the rolls that would be super-handy in combat. Alas.

Amara also has her suspicions about Akle, but she's not going to push him for any more information than he cares to divulge. She would try to find some time to talk with him about the displacer beasts, though, and whatever else he's interested in. After examining the footprints, she'd voice her own theory that the dragon likely took off, given the depth of the last footprint. She'd also shout up into the clouds in Draconic.


Back at the camp Khaska was examining the site of the battle. The site was taking on an almost religious significance to him now. A sighting of a metallic dragon! His mind reeled with possibilities. The rest of the group was preparing to move the caravan, but he had kept the torch and was slowly going over the site. Though he was not as skilled as Rynn, he knew enough woodcraft to be able to follow the signs after the ranger had pointed them out.

He mentally reviewed the events of the night. Akle had seen the displacer beasts, and then run off. The battle. The screams and roaring from Akle’s location. Well, he assumed it was Akle’s location. They couldn’t actually see over there, the firelight didn’t extend that far. Then the gnome and the head had flown into the camp right after they finished their combat with the rest of the displacer beast pack. The poor little guy had been pretty bloodied up and bruised. Why had he gone off like that? And now that Rynn had pointed the tracks out, he could read them quite clearly in the damp earth. Akle’s boots, the displacer beast lord’s padded tracks, and the large imprints of the dragon. He paused, again. “Was it truly a silver dragon?” he asked aloud.

“That seems to follow,” came Amara’s soft voice. He jumped and looked at her. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you. We’re about ready to move.” He nodded, casting about with the torch one more time. She followed the light over to where the one very well-formed track was. “I’ll bet it took off from here,” she said. “Headed towards us. They can cloudwalk, you know. Silver dragons.”

He glanced up towards the sky. It had been mostly cloudy all night. “So he could still be up there, watching us?”

“Or she.”

The cleric smiled. “Yes, of course.” Amara took a few steps forward, then cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted a phrase in draconic before bowing deferentially to the sky. Khaska looked at her quizzically. “What did you say?”

“A greeting to my kin.”

“Kin?”

“Do not forget that both Ziranethsrana and Keldarian said it was I who tripped the wards back in Hammerdine, at that the chapterhouse of the Knights. I am of draconic descent from … somewhere back in my ancestry. It may even be a silver dragon.”

“And you trusted what they had to say? Two evil dragons?”

“Rider Reitman said they could not do anything he did not want them to, and I do not think he wanted them to lie to me or give me false ideas about where my power comes from.” With that, she turned to walk back to the caravan, where Kirza could be seen flying circles around the gathering wagons. “Looks like they’re ready to move.”

Khaska swung back and circled the site of the battle one more time. He was searching for more clues about what happened, but he could find nothing else aside from the tracks of the three figures. Slightly dejected, he walked back to where the caravan was beginning to recede into the light. He could follow them by the bobbing and weaving of their torches. As he passed by the head of the displacer beast lord, a thought occurred to him. Glancing at the beast’s mouth, he pulled it open. Glancing around inside it, he felt a twinge of excitement as something caught in its teeth reflected the torchlight brightly. He reached in and with a little effort, worked it loose.

His breath caught as he held up the blood-stained object. This was it. Irrefutable evidence. Almost reverentially, he wiped it off using a rag, holding gently as if it were a bubble.

A silver dragon scale.

It glistened in the torchlight, a beacon of hope shining in his mind as well as in his eyes. Strong as metal, the scale was about the size of his hand.

He knelt in the grass, not caring that his armor was getting gore on it from the cooled blood pooled around the head. He raised the scale up to the heavens, tilting his head back after the manner of Maha’i prayer, and said a prayer to Teresh, thanking him for this experience, and swearing that he would treasure it and remember it, and keep this good omen safe.

Once more, again, he went through the events in his mind. Refreshed by Amara’s brief conversation, and the experiences he had had with Zira and Keldarian. It had been an unusual thing, to see such a small Halfling morph into a huge ancient dragon. Keldarian was even more impressive than Ziranesthrana was …

A suspicion settled over him, and he felt a chill of excitement run up and down his back, his hairs standing on end. What if Akle had been the silver dragon? It fit the facts. He would run away from the light sources, morph into his true form, fight and kill the displacer beast lord, then throw the head towards the camp while changing back to his humanoid form. The cleric glanced over to where the little gnome and Rynn had vanished. It was a good thing he was alone. His shock and surprise would have been evident to any of the party or the guards. It took him a few minutes to gather his composure, but then he tucked the scale away in his backpack and followed the disappearing lights of the caravan.


It was about two hours later when Rynn and Akle came back into camp. The gnome was holding a bag which he promptly dumped partially out in front of the rest of them. Coins and jewels spilled out over the ground. “And there’s a bunch a stuff back there we couldn’t carry!”

The gnome cheerily sat down to begin counting as Rynn detailed the rest of what they had found to the lair of the displacer beast pack. Amara volunteered to go tomorrow with her Detect Magic and Leorry was most interested in whatever loot they could find.
With trepidation in his heart, while the others were discussing going to the lair in the morning, Khaska approached Akle. “Akle.” The gnome looked up from the money, where several neat stacks had appeared. “I have a matter that I wish to discuss with you, but I do not think it wise to do so in the camp.” The gnome looked at him quizzically for a moment, then finished counting out another stack and stood, wiping his hands on his trousers and following along.

Khaska walked a good forty or fifty yards away from the caravan, outside the firelight. Ears flat against his head, he was unsure how to begin.

“What’s on your mind, Khaska?” Akle asked.

The cleric took a deep breath, then plunged right to the heart of his questions. “Judging by the evidence from the scene, I have reason to suspect that there was a silver dragon that aided us against the displacer beasts.”

Akle responded immediately. “Nonsense! Why would a silver dragon have helped us? Helped me? And why now? Why hide all these … centuries?” He looked right at Khaska. “I’s not buying it.”

In response, Khaska pulled out the silver scale. “I know there was a silver dragon there. I found this.”

Akle’s breath left him in a rush and his eyes widened. He took a step forward, shock evident on his face. It was several moments before he could speak. “By all that is holy!” he breathed.

“Furthermore,” continued Khaska, “I suspect that you might be that dragon. If you are, and desire your identity and nature to remain secret, I swear on my mother’s name that I will not reveal you to any other living soul, save you permit it.”

Akle’s face became unreadable for a moment, the normal joviality now completely absent. “Khaska, my friend, I wish it were so. But I’s not a dragon. Just a gnome filled with wanderlust.” He closed Khaska’s hand over the scale. “You keep it. But, my Maha’i friend, thank you for showing it to me. It give me hope.” He looked down at the closed hand, then took a deep breath and smiled as he turned to go back. Then he paused, and once again turned to face Khaska. His face had grown serious. “Maybe it does not give me hope, though. That is not the scale of a small dragon. But what do I know of such things? That means its owner is older.” He paused again, frowning. “Likes I say before, theres no sightings of metallic dragons for hundreds of years. Why? What does a silver dragon need hiding from?”

Khaska looked troubled. “I have no answer to that question.”

“Well, perhaps Amara can. Her familiar been spying on us this whole time. Right, Kirza?”

The familiar squawked from where it was hiding in the bushes and flew away, heading back towards the camp and Amara.

Khaska’s eyes narrowed.


Rynn was helping carry the last set of the spoils from the displacer beast lair in the morning. As Rynn came striding out of the lair, carrying a magic quiver and a shortbow and longbow, Akle was waiting, his arms also laden with a few spoils, including a rather nice painting of some skyships sailing in front of one of Pressen’s moons. “That it?” asked the gnome.

“It is. We’ve got it all.”

“Good. We should get moving. We get the rights to such finds, but still, no sense in hanging around more than we gots to.”

As they walked, Rynn wondered if he should ask Akle about the previous night’s events. The gnome’s actions had worried Rynn. The situation could very easily have gone differently and gotten him killed.

“Akle, I wanted to ask you about last night?”

“You too?”

Rynn stared at him blankly. The gnome rolled his eyes. “Khaska thought that I a silver dragon. Ha!” He clearly thought it was ridiculous idea.

“Oh. Well, are you?”

“No! Anything else?”

“I just wondered why you ran off alone last night. That was pretty dangerous.”
The gnome sniffed. “It was. But you know, I can handle myself. Wasn’t expecting a displacer beast lord, but, well, apparently I have a guardian of some kind watching over me. Still, I would have gave a good accounting of myself.”

Rynn wasn’t sure what to make of this statement. “You would? Against a displacer beast lord?”

Akle smirked at him. “Let’s just say I’s working a little under my pay grade as far as my fighting skills is concerned. I’m in it for the journeying and the wandering, not the money. The Kletheirans pay well enough for these kind of jobs, but, well.” He smiled. “I could get higher paying jobs if I wanted. If you ever want to spar, Rynn, I’s be happy to put you on your butt. I do favor the crossbow, but I can hold my own with my sword, too.”

Eryx (DM)
I asked Thev if he wanted to “take a 20” on his search check, and he did. Hence, he found the scale of the silver dragon. In another little metagame moment, Khaska has not decided to share the existence of the silver dragon scale with the others, at least not yet. However, Amara’s familiar was spying on that conversation, and Khaska didn’t catch Kirza, so she knows. The Wolf Brothers will have to continue to play their characters as though they do not know about it, unless he decides to share it.

To be clear, the loot I specified was for you. There was other stuff for the guards and the other Kletheira employees, so they’re not feeling left out or cheated. What you have is yours.

As per Amara’s spellcraft checks, she can identify 4 of the 5 potions. They are: Potion of Shield of Faith +2, Potion of Resist Electrical Energy +10, Potion of Jump, Potion of Mage Armor, and one mystery potion.

Akle has stated that he is not a silver dragon, and is probably a higher level fighter than might be expected for someone taking jobs like this one. He’s also said that he would like to spar with anybody to prove it, and Rynn got the impression that he’s serious about that challenge.

Anything else, or would you like to just head on to Laishtek?

I’d also like to know specifically what you want to do with the loot once you get to Laishtek? What are you going to keep? Sell? Etc.

Also, Sayya and DeltaWolf, you two still owe me a piece of worldbuilding. Please come up with something and post it.

Thevarou
Ah, alas! I was all geared up to have Khaska have an epic conversation, but I guess it's not meant to be. Yet. He still suspects that Akle might be the dragon, though, and is just being extremely cautious (perhaps with Khaska, or perhaps even just due to Kirza's presence); Khaska will still unwittingly treat him with a slightly higher degree of deference. However, Khaska no longer feels a compunction to hide his discovery from the party, especially since Akle seems rather open with Khaska's suspicions. He will suggest that they not mention the silver dragon sighting or scale loosely, though, to avoid unwanted attention and keep the dragon hidden.

What's more, Khaska has been somewhat wary of Amara ever since the unexpected revelation that she is somehow evil. In fact, this mixed with insinuations of draconic ancestry might actually increase Khaska's wariness; he could not conceive of a metallic dragon being evil, and chromatic ones wouldn't have the sort of moral ambiguity that engaged Khaska about Tawru's story. Even so, as she knows about the conversation between him and Akle, Khaska might ask her about Akle's question - what could threaten a dragon? For Khaska's part, his mind could easily go to evildoers who would wish to exterminate the metallic dragons, or maybe even a fear of being dominated by the Knights' orbs.

And with that, Khaska would be ready to continue to Laishtek, where he would move to sell the loot that no one else would want. (Could he take the composite shortbow? That might be nice. If so, he'll sell his old one.) He'd also want to divide up the gold among the party.

Eryx
Looks like all the characters are aware of the dragon scale, as per Thev's post.

BlackWolf
"I see," replies Rynn with a smile. "My appologies then; I won't second guess your battle strategy. Just do me a favor and don't get yourself killed."

As for the scale, Rynn will let out a low whistle of astonishment. If offered, he'll inspect it briefly. He doesn't have much to say about it; he likewise thinks it is a good omen (though not in the same religious context as Khaska) and is surprised to discover that silver dragons may not be extinct. He's curious as to why any dragon would take an interest in our party though.

Rynn will eagerly take the Efficient Quiver. He'll also take his share of the coin (6664 gp / 4 party members = 1666 gp). I've taken the liberty of adding these things to my character sheet inventory.

As for the rest of the loot, I think we should sell off anything that people don't want to use. Khaska is by all means welcome to the composite shortbow… but if it is a +2 STR one, he'd take a penalty in using it since his STR modifier is only +1. Rynn isn't really interested in keeping anything else, but somebody should take that bag of holding. Those are just really useful; Rynn already has 2 magic holding items (haversack and quiver) so he's set.

Thevarou
Oh, thanks for pointing that out about the shortbow. I didn't realize that that was the meaning of the +2! They can sell it, then. And Khaska could take the bag of holding.

Eryx
Keep in mind the group already has a Type I bag of holding. This one is heavier though, by quite a bit. More than double the weight of the one you already have. Not 4x as much, though. Aw heck, I'll just tell you. It's a Type III. So now you have a Type I, Type III, and Rynn's haversack. So you, as a group are totally fine on luggage space. Heh.

DeltaWolf
Jenika is ready to get moving. She will feel much more comfortable when they group has left this place far behind. There will be time to speculate later.

“I see,” replied Rynn with a smile. “My apologies then. I won’t second guess your battle strategy. Just do me a favor and don’t get yourself killed.”

“Heh. I’s no desire to die, Rynn.”


It was later that night that Khaska decided to share his discovery with the rest of the party. After dinner, as the guards were spreading out to sleep, the cleric pulled his friends aside.

“I wanted to show you all this. I discovered it last night, lodged in the teeth of the displacer beast lord.” And with that, he pulled out the handkerchief from which he gently pulled out the silver dragon’s scale.

“Wow,” said Rynn. “So there really was a silver dragon last night. Akle said that you thought it was him.”

“It fit the facts, but he denys it. Just a well-traveled gnome,” said Khaska.

“And a good fighter,” said Rynn. “He claims he could have held his own, more or less, against the displacer beast lord. May I?” He held his hand out towards the scale, which Khaska passed over to him. The ranger briefly inspected it. “It looks like the scale of a large dragon. Not a young one, or anything like that.”

“Wyrmling,” said Amara. “Young dragons are called wyrmlings.”

“A good omen, I would think,” said Rynn. But why would a silver dragon take an interest in our group?”

“I cannot presume to know the mind of such a being,” said Khaska. “What worries me more is your observation that it is an old dragon. That means likely it has been alive for many many years. Akle wondered what such a dragon would have need to hide from.”

“Adult dragons aren’t that difficult to kill,” said Amara.

“You must be joking,” said Jenika. “Dragons are extremely difficult to kill.”

“I said adult dragons,” Amara shot back. “Older dragons are the ones from legend. The ones that can lay waste to entire armies and have lived for centuries. All of the dragons enslaved by the Knights are at least old dragons, probably more. I think Keldarian is a Great Wyrm. They don’t get more powerful than he is.”

“So is this an adult dragon scale?” asked Rynn. “I don’t know much about such things.”

Amara furrowed her brow. “I would think at least a mature adult, maybe larger.”

“So hard to kill, like I said” said Jenika.

“Yes, yes.”

“So the question remains,” said Khaska, cutting the two women off. “Why would a silver dragon of such power have been hiding all these years? Centuries, even? Are there evildoers who threaten him, who would hunt him down and slay him?”

“Perhaps they fear being dominated by one of the Knight’s dragon orbs,” Amara ventured.

“Would the Knights do that?” asked Jenika. “I thought the orbs were out of necessity to control the evil dragons. Wouldn’t such a silver dragon naturally be allied with, you know, the Knights of the Silver Dragons?”

“Keldarian and Ziranethsrana were both worried about the forthcoming Dark Times, and whether they would survive,” said Amara. “Desperate for resources, the Knights might do so. Also, perhaps others would wish to steal the orbs for their own uses.”

“Whatever the reason,” Khaska said, “I think it prudent to not mention this to anybody. This dragon obviously wishes to remain hidden, and we should honor that wish.”

“Small price to pay for saving our lives,” said Rynn.

The party talked for a few more minutes, speculating and thinking about the ramifications of Khaska’s discovery. In the end, though, speculation, myth, and legend were really all they had. It had been well over six centuries since the remaining chromatic dragons had been enslaved, so information on how that all happened was scanty and second or third-hand. Khaska spoke with Amara more about it the remainder of their journey to Laishtek, but in the end were right back where they began. There was at least one silver dragon on the moon, and it had rescued them. Where it was, why it had been hidden, and its motivation for saving them, all these questions were mysteries. Khaska still harbored suspicions that Akle might have known more than he was letting on, and that he may very well be the silver dragon. But neither he nor Amara, who also watched the little gnome, found any reason to confirm their suspicions. Khaska still, subconsciously, treated Akle with an extra measure of respect. The gnome seemed to appreciate this genuinely, but didn’t venture any further comment about the silver dragon on the rest of their trip.

Eryx (DM)
That will end this chapter. We’ll pick it up in Laishtek.

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