Having completed their business in the goblin city of Ratrinken, the adventurers determine to depart in search of the devil Match came to Stormguard pursuing. He has heard a rumor of a destroyed town to the South. The party is:
- Hilbrent Firebrand: Human Magic-user, Level 5
- Don “Juan” Ashe, Human Soldier henchman, Level 2
- Benquil Barrison Del’Armgo: Half-Drow Thief, Level 5
- Mickey Heron, Human Padfoot henchman, Level 2
- Lamila Umdril: Half-Orc, Half-Elf Fighter, Level 5
- Matchitihew: Half-Lizardfolk, Half-Ospryte Cleric, Level 5
After a few days of travel in the caves, Benquil comes to a gate across the tunnel. He sees no guards at the gate and finds it unlocked. He quietly moves through the gate but hears resounding footsteps down the right side of the fork beyond it. He goes back to inform the others of the enemy ahead.
Match assumes it is the Shedu he unleashed on the world so long ago and rushes flies into the cave ahead, flying away from the sound to cut around the far side, carrying the lantern to draw attention. As he doubles back toward the others, a hail of sharp spines whistle through the air, one of them striking him as he flies. He lands near the stables, safe from further attack. Having seen the expanse of the cavern was too much for the feeble lantern, he lights some of the hay on fire and soon the whole stable goes up, the bonfire lighting the area.
He then moves to the opposite wall, scythe at the ready to cut down the enemy as it rounds the corner. Its steps have gone silent, but a creeping darkness starts to overwhelm the lantern and even the stable bonfire. Unsettled, he retreats to behind a guard house while Lamila and Hilbrent charge in past him.
Benquil meanwhile has been circling around behind. He barely glimpses a tail, covered in spines, and gives swift but stealthy pursuit. He gets in position to fire an encharged crossbow bolt as Lamila comes head to head with a dragon on the other end, cutting viciously. The dragon begins to prepare a breath weapon and Benquil takes his shot, dealing significant damage. The dragon responds with a flick of the tail, throwing a wild cloud of spines toward Benquil and striking him twice.
Hilbrent quickly casts a spell, producing a brilliant light before the dragon’s face, driving away its aura of darkness. He then turns and runs, just in time to greatly reduce the damage taken from the dragon’s breath. Lamila, diving under the dragon, takes much more damage from the spreading cone of death. Benquil’s fast hands loose another poisoned bolt into its hide and Lamila finishes it with a powerful blow.
After assuring that the dragon is dead, they spread out to search the destroyed village. Dead goblins are everywhere, women and children as well as men. Lamila is distraught at so much loss of life and goes looking for survivors while the others raid the young dragon’s feeble horde.
She finds a small alcove hidden in the back of the cave village. In the alcove, several goblins huddle, mostly women. The alcove houses an ancient altar of Craith and behind it a great carved mural showing goblins and orcs living in nature:
The mural seems to suggest that goblins and orcs once lived together and she asks the goblins why they distanced themselves from the orcs. The eldest says that it was before his life, but that the elves pushed the orcs back and separated them. She is intrigued and determined to find out more about this change.
She assures the goblins that the dragon is dead and they mean them no harm, sending them to gather mushrooms from their mushroom farm to eat, since they have been hiding from the dragon for days. She continues to study the altar area, finding a number of jars of earth in a cubby under the altar. She compares the dirt to that they took from a temple of Craith earlier and finds a few matches, realizing that there must be a pool of earth nearby to used for teleportation. She calls Hilbrent to help look for it, but they find nothing.
Match meanwhile goes up to the surface up a wide ramp, looking out over the open prairies to the South. He has a feeling that the devil he speaks is out there somewhere, but he doesn’t know where. Having gathered all the treasure, Benquil joins him. He can tell that Match is troubled and racks his brain for a spell to seek out the devil. The best he can come up with is a spell to sense death in a wide range. He casts at and looks out, seeing animals dying across the countryside, some seemingly from hunters, others from animals. The massacre expected from a devil does not come within his vision.
Done with the destroyed village, they go down to speak with the orcs living in the valleys to the South. They arrive outside the village proper to find a funeral going on. One of the guards stops them, recognizing Lamila from her visit there in the past. They learn from him that the orcs have lost several hunting parties to the dragon. They inform him that the dragon is dead and ask if there have been any other powerful creatures causing problems. He doesn’t think so, but they decide to speak to the chief after the funeral is over.
The chief is elated to see Lamila again and repeats his marriage proposal, and is again rejected. He doesn’t know of anything sinister going on in the area, but is very interested in Lamila’s questions about the elves dividing the orcs and goblins. He’s always had a good relationship with the elves and doesn’t remember them ever being together. Upon hearing about the altar to Craith and the mural, he asks them to lead one of his druids there to look at it in the morning.
The rest with the orcs and in the morning Lamila begins training with some of their game trackers. Benquil leads the druid up to the cave. Hilbrent preps new encharges ahead of the hunt for the Shedu. Match prays to his deity, Prometheus, seeking for knowledge of the Shedu’s whereabouts.
Up at the cave, the druid notices a seam where the mural can open. He calls Benquil over and shows him and soon Lamila and Hilbrent rush there to help with the mural (called over the Sensory Extension radios Lamila and Benquil carry). On closer observation they notice several of the indents are filled in with clay, while others are not. Lamila prays to Craith for guidance, but Craith rebukes her for choosing Rukarah and challenges her to solve the puzzle if she is really a faithful follower of Craith. They eventually work out which holes are supposed to be clayed in and are able to open the hidden door. Beyond it is a pool of water and Lamila climbs in to cleanse herself in preparation. She vanishes, finding herself in the woods.
She recognizes the area from her tracking training and makes it back to the pool. Now knowing it to be a pool of earth, they experiment a little. Hilbrent creates a magical piece of earth and Lamila throws it in. There is a tense moment before Craith’s voice whispers to Lamila “that was very foolish. Do not do it again.” With little else to do with pool, they head back to the town, leaving the druid to continue learning about his long lost deity.
Back in town, Matchitihew has had a vision in which he saw the Shedu flying along the Western coast, flying away from a destroyed ship. It is headed North. Match is adamant that they must go to fight it. They set out to the South, eyes on the sky.