After breaking up a growing ring of thieves in Edsserish, Gorg and Victor linger there and study an itinerary to reach a small village where Teldissha has heard a “wonderful bearded dragon” is being worshipped. The soldiers he sent to check it out didn’t return, so he is now concerned. On January 16th, they set out along the hill tracks, arriving near sunset at the small village:
- Gorg (HuS): Level 5 Orc Thief
- Victor (TrS): Level 2 Elf Thief
From the hill overlooking the village, they can see a hut far larger and finer than the other 20ish huts in the village pressed against the steep hill behind the village. Victor looks to a chimney to serve as a covert entrance to what they assume is a shrine to the bearded dragon. He sees wisps of smoke on the hill behind the shrine, presumably an outlet from a cave behind the building.
With Gorg’s expertise, they arrive at the bushes from which the smoke snakes, smelling an acrid chemical odor as they get near and soon feeling the warmth of the smoke in the cold winter air. Digging through the brush, they fail to discover the chimney and surmise that it is too small for their use in any case.
They scramble down the hill to the building and look through a window, seeing a fine carved dragon with a full beard and a kobold sitting beside it. They like their chances of getting in unseen through the window on the far side better, so they climb over the building, making enough noise that soldiers are called to check it out. They get away and hide among some boulders on the far side while the soldiers climb up on the roof to look for the source of the sound.
Once the soldiers move off, they approach and climb in through the window. Victor notices a seam indicating a door connected to the statue and Gorg climbs over it to stealthily take position to knock the watching monk unconscious. His infiltrator’s intuition warns him that a blow with the flat of his axe will not be sufficient, so he switches to his aerial crossbow and makes a sneak strike, incapacitating the kobold.
Victor tends the fallen kobold’s wound and makes sure he is stable and soon they start trying to open the hidden door. A voice from the behind the statue addresses them in Dragon Empire (which neither of them speak) and Gorg feels compelled to answer the kind person in elvish. The voice indicates it speaks only a little elvish but tries to get them to respond in Ensignal. Gorg doesn’t understand Ensignal, and Victor is still resisting the voice’s influence.
Victor goes to close and bar the temple doors while Gorg tries to disable the latch on the other side of the door. The bearded dragon tells him to stop and he listens. Victor, seeing he can’t convince Gorg to keep going, tries himself but is driven away from the statue by a cone of fire blowing from it. They soon hear people beating on the door and not able to convince Gorg to open the door, Victor grabs him and pulls him out through the window as kobolds arrive.
No longer under the influence of the bearded dragon, Gorg leads the way to climb the hill face in the dark as kobolds throw stones, shoot arrows, and climb up behind them. An arrow grazes Gorg and two strike Victor squarely (he’s only lucky he reached level 2 last session). They manage to lose their pursuers and make a hidden camp in the bush. Victor has a nagging feeling that he heard a story of adventurers dealing with something like this before and suspects they need a stronger willed adventurer to deal with this. Gorg suggests Ragnvaldr of Shield Keep.
On the 17th in the morning, they head back to Edsserish where they report their findings and inform Teldissha that they didn’t necessarily see his soldier there, but they are going to get help. On the 18th, they take their bounty from the thief ring to Shield Keep where Ragnvaldr remembers well an encounter similar to what they describe with a dwarf named Sherman. He suggests they get Randall’s help and they proceed to his grove, arriving by evening.
- Ragnvaldr (TrS): Level 13 Human Fighter (Level 3 Keep)
- Randall (HuS): Level 10 Human Druid (Level 3 Grove)
- Gerald, Level 2 Ogre Alchemist
Randall and Gerald spend the 19th and 20th reviewing the recipe for a Will potion and producing some while Ragnvaldr, Gorg, and Victor hike back to the village. In the evening on the 20th, Randall flies to meet them at the village with the potions. On the 21st, Ragnvaldr and Randall go into the village, walking directly to the shrine and addressing the kobold there.
He calls himself the Voice of Shermanshess and insists that he speaks for his dragon god. They try to convince him that the dragon is using an alchemical potion to win their worship through magic. The voice refuses to believe this and they insist that they will not leave until they have seen Shermanshess in person. When the Voice asks them to wait for the bearded dragon to prepare himself, Ragnvaldr rushes forward and uses his dragon soul hammer (Solusond, who incidentally is very happy to serve in this capacity) to shatter the statue to pieces. A sheepish dwarf stands behind it and tells Ragnvaldr he’s happy to see him; he would have visited sooner if he’d known Ragnvaldr wanted to see him.
Sherman complies and Ragnvaldr drags him from the shrine, saying he will return him, in three days and see how they feel about him. Randall attempts to assure them that “the bearded dragon” will be returned, but also explains that they will suffer withdrawal in his absence before realizing they have been manipulated. Randall goes to help make sure Sherman is bound far enough from the village and that Ragnvaldr is keeping sufficient distance while guarding him. He returns to find the village in mourning and in the shrine the Voice of Shermanshess meditating. He assures Randall that he will be faithful through this suffering.
Randall passes by him into Sherman’s lab where he finds and destroys a multiple month supply of the influence potion. He also finds fire breath and scale skin potions and money and fine goods. He takes these, but as he leaves, the Voice insists that he leave the presents the people gave to Shermanshess. He agrees, receiving assurances that they will be properly distributed when the people come their senses.
On the 24th, the village awakes from days of sorrow and there is a commotion as they take up arms. They return with Sherman as promised, but haver to protect him when the villagers want revenge. They take him away, returning with Teldissha’s kobolds to Edsserish, where they return to serves with Teldissha. On the 25th, they return to Confluence where Sherman is taken into custody and turned over to the justice system Verdis has put in place.
It was a pleasure for me to reprise Sherman, especially as a “bearded dragon.” Unfortunately, their intention in the courts is definitely to make sure he doesn’t make a third appearance. This was the comedic session I needed to fully recover from the intensity of the break. Find the prep for this session over on Patreon.