On September 12th, Year 6, Randall and Stephen have conversed, sharing their separate intelligence on a dragon attack on a gnomish traveler on the north road. Stephen had interviewed the traveler and believed he had encountered a drake while under the influence. The birds had informed Randall of the incident, calling it a dragon as well. Ragnvaldr joins them hoping to end the attacks.
- Ragnvaldr (TrS): Level 10 Human Fighter
- Neville, Level 4 Toad Familiar
- Stephen (EnS): Level 9 Human Thief
- Animus, Level 1 Hawk Companion
- Randall (HuS): Level 8 Human Druid (Level 3 Grove)
While they discuss, a cry goes up from the norther walls and they rush there to see a dwarf and a halfling fleeing from the woods as a dragon swoops down on them. The herdsmen in the fields flee toward the city as the dragon catches the hunters and the grass starts to burn.
Ragnvaldr is already on his way to help the hunters and arrives first to fight the fires, leading others to the same effort as the dragon withdraws. Meanwhile, Randall pursues the dragon in falcon form but as he does, it vanishes clean away before his eyes. Stephen brings a second wave of fire fighters and within an hour they have stopped the blaze from spreading.
Inspecting the area, Stephen finds no remains, but he does find tracks into and out of the burnt area from and to the woods. This combined with the disappearing dragon makes them suspect some kind of trickery at play. Stephen leads the way following the tracks to the North.
As they go, they are met by a force of kobolds whose leader says they have entered Vale lands in search of a halfling and a dwarf seen murdering kobolds in West Hill March lands not far from the hill fort they have restored. He reminds them that their treaty with the March stipulates that such fugitives shall be rendered unto Ellizari for judgement. They inform the kobolds that they are pursuing criminals matching that description and that these seem to be coordinated efforts to start a war between the Vale and the West Hill March. The kobolds express interest in this lead, but decide to push on the Citadel to express their grievance and seek help finding the criminals if they are not those already pursued by the party.
Continuing on, the party soon comes upon a hill with arrow slits cut in it. They notice it early enough to move around it at a distance and soon find a door on the back side. With Randall flying overhead to spot anyone escaping, Ragnvaldr and Stephen approach the door. Stephen indicates arrow slits on either side as they enter the corridor leading to it, and when Ragnvaldr uses his massive shields to block the slits, he remembers having done this before in this exact location early in the year when snow made the woods look different to him.
This time, however, crossbow bolts strike his shields as he does so. Leaving his shields propped against the slits, Ragnvaldr starts to break down the door. Stephen hears gnomish being spoken within and understands they are alerting others to their attack.
As they break through the door, the gnomes shooting out through it retreat behind other doors. They burst through to pursue and Ragnvaldr continues straight into the door ahead where most of them retreated to, again starting to batter it down. Stephen meanwhile pursues an enemy to the right and hears him informing someone that they’re under attack.
As he listens, two men of fire emerge from the room and he destroys them with an exhale of 2 ounce arcandid draught that freezes his vocal cords. A third fire man rushes past him into the front room and a gnomes follow to engage him. While Ragnvaldr turns to attack the fire man with little effect, Stephen uses more arcandid draught to break off from the gnomes and rushes to use it on the fire man to little effect (and catching Ragnvaldr in the spray).
While the fire man trembles as if ready to explode, the gnomes behind two of the other doors open and fire crossbows as their leaders engage Ragnvaldr and Stephen hand-to-hand. Finding himself badly wounded, Stephen rushes to the the lone gnome and cuts him down, slamming the door behind him. While Ragnvaldr continues to fight outside and the fire man continues to tremble, Stephen finds his explosives purchased from Earl.
Stephen open the door and hurls the bombs, clearing the room of all but Ragnvaldr (and, of course, the fire man who continues to tremble). While Ragnvaldr rushes to where the remaining gnomes are, Randall enters and Stephen works his way around the facility to avoid the trembling fire man (at this point TrS was confident it was an illusion, but EnS wasn’t so sure). Randall and Stephen arrive to help Ragnvaldr finish the last of the soldiers, but a gnomish caster remains.
Her fire magic is endangering Ragnvaldr like none of her soldiers could and she uses her poisonous familiar to disable Ragnvaldr and a darkness spell to try to escape the room. Ragnvaldr and Randall manage to trap her in the next room (under Ragnvaldr’s shield bubble) but as they struggle in the dark, Ragnvaldr can’t be sure which is which (the gnome uses disguise and throw voice to sow confusion) and Randall is forced to fight alone for a while.
Once she and the snake are captured, Randall flies to Citadel to inform the kobolds that they have captured the murderers they were seeking. They learn a great deal about the remaining Ar-a-mach extremists and the location of Luath Draoidh’s tomb before accompanying the prisoners (except Randall who leaves to attend to business in his demesne) to Edsserish to prevail upon Ellizari to not hold the crimes of these gnomes against the gnomes in general.
At the trial, the gnomish illusionist (Goir) convinces Ellizari to take her on as a counselor while executing her soldiers. They are dismayed by this development and counsel Ellizari to be wary of her before returning.
I wasn’t intent on keeping Goir alive through this (she was maybe the toughest humanoid they have ever met and almost killed Ragnvaldr despite having used most of her SP on illusions). In fact, I had the intention of Ellizari selling her body to Rovert, but having her be a recurring villain sounds good, too.