We broke camp early, one day’s travel from the accursed cottage of the leiperwolves. Our travel was unimpeded, praises upon Freo. By the end of the day we had reached a small roadhouse, some two days distance from our current destination of Elfmeet. We were welcomed by the proprietor, and I made no small number of new friends with my purchase of what was surely the road house’s meager store of ale, which I shared with the other patrons. Sometimes twenty-five gold shields is a small price to pay to win friends and loosen the lips of my drinking partners.
The other patrons in the road house were merchants, headed south, on their way from Elfmeet. I inquired about the roads ahead, and they gave good account. They said they were making haste at the twelfth bell to continue their journey.
We (minus the dwarf Crom) continued our revels until the merchant’s appointed hour. I do hope they were not so impaired as to endanger themselves. Freo watch over them.
Bron seemed to be brooding as well while were at the roadhouse. I’m not sure if it’s related to the incident two nights ago when we were forced to slay the young girl and her grandmother when we discovered they were leiperwolves. He says he wasn’t smitten with her, but I think otherwise. A couple of more months in our company and I’m sure we’ll have hardened his heart, and made a man of him. Note to self, I need to exert more effort to find this lad some female companionship.
When we awoke in the morning, our party once again reached the number five, with the return of Allana. She regaled us with an astounding tale of the week she had spent apart from us. She had traveled with the cult of Scaetha back to the tomb we had discovered, and begged them to let her assist them, but was rebuked.
Dejected, she sought to find us on the road when she encountered a most horrible discovery. The dread necromancer, whose evil plot we had thwarted some months earlier was making haste with a host of undead under his control. (She does amaze me sometimes. Such bravery.)
She kept her wits about her, and hatched a plot to gain the confidence of the necromancer. She spent two days with him, where she was able to befuddle the fool into thinking that she wished to learn his fell arts. After making an accurate account of his plans and strength of numbers, she convinced him that she wished to scout the area for him, and the fool agreed, even going so far as to lend her the use of two of his unholy minions. She left their camp, ordered the walking dead under her command to march to the bottom of a lake and await further orders, rode back to the cult of Scaetha’s camp, and relayed all of the information she’d discovered. Amazing! This is heroism at it’s finest.
Allana met Lark for the first time, and I think they hit it off well.
Crom worries me. His grasp of reality continues to loosen, and the signs of paranoia are growing. I cannot tell if his new found belief that Allana is a fledgling necromancer is what he believes, or if he is still sore about the cruel trick that Allana played on him by tying ribbons in his beard while he slept his cursed sleep. Perhaps this paranoia is yet another manifestation of the curse we’ve been afflicted with. Only time will tell.
After a light morning meal, we set off on the road north to Elfmeet. It took us several hours to catch up to Crom who had stormed out of the roadhouse some time before us because of some perceived problem with Allana. Some time after noon Bron, Lark, and Allana spied a caravan upon the road, some distance ahead of us. There appeared to be no sign of movement along the caravan line, and the wagons seemed have broken formation. Fearing that this might be the plague caravan that had carried the redpox, myself, Lark, and Bron scouted forward to ascertain what we could.
As we crept up on the disarrayed line of wagons, we could tell something was amiss. As we got closer, the problem became apparent. Charred remains of horses, and teamsters. Realizing this was not the plague caravan, we approached cautiously.
From the sense of smell alone, we could tell that these attacks had occurred very recently. Ruling out bandits because of the dead horses, and wagons still laden with goods, we were about to make haste to the other two party members back on the road when we heard it.
I’ve never heard such a sound. A screeching, almost deafening roar, from somewhere in the misty air above us. Before the word ‘dragon’ had reached my lips, I instinctively reached for my bow, and nocked a weighty, and very pointy arrow, devised to penetrate the stoutest of armor. Bron, shouted a warning back to our companions on the road whilst running for cover under a nearby copse of trees. Lark, in her surprisingly nimble style, and already readied her stout Engro spear, and dove under a nearby wagon, waiting to spring upon the beast should he appear.
Before Allana and Crom had time to reach us, the most astounding thing occurred. From the grey mists above our heads, a wagon appeared, and crashed upon the ground in front of us. This beast knew we were here, and planned to murder us all.
“I swear to you, my companions, that on this day, I, Fin ap-Lars will drive an arrow deep into the eye of this beast”, I boasted. I squared my shoulders, drew back my bowstring, and looked toward the heavens, taking no heed of my personal safety.
No sooner had I finished my boastful claim, the beast appeared from the mists overhead. It’s eyesight was keen, as it had ascertained our location, and was bearing down upon us, intent it seemed, on burning us with it’s foul breath as it had done the caravan that we were in the midst of.
As it began it’s steep descent, I took careful aim at its cold, black eye. I let my arrow fly. It sailed true as I could have wished, but an unexpected gust of wind knocked it off it’s intended target, and it glanced harmlessly off the beast’s scaly brow ridge. Exposed, and vulnerable, I reacted instinctively as I saw the monster begin its deep inhalation in preparation for its deadly attack, and dove to the side, dodging a cone of blue frostfire, that surely would have killed any man. The creature ascended into the mists, and readied itself for another pass. By this time, Crom and Allana had joined my side.
When next the dragon appeared, I had another arrow nocked, and my bowstring drawn. Allana, the best skald I’ve ever heard, began singing a song to bolster our spirits, and focus our minds on the task at hand. The dragon dove on us, this time intent upon snatching me in his terrible claws. Before I had time to loose my arrow, I found myself within the creature’s grasp, and being lifted from the ground. The event’s surrounding me being drawn aloft are muddled, but I remember seeing Crom swinging a five shield stone above his head in his sling, which he used with amazing accuracy to strike the dragon, but with no effect. I remember brave Lark hurling her spear with all her might at the dragon as we lifted off the ground, but the shot sailed wide. I remember Bron the Tame summoning the forces of the wind to strike the dragon, but unable to alter its path. But above all, I remember hearing Allana, and her inspiring song fade into the distance, and the dragon carried me higher.
The dragon and I fought in the skies. Me, grasped firmly in its claws, and it beginning to wheel around for another attack on my friends. I swung wildly at the beast with my axe, hoping to bring it down in flight and spare my companions another attack, but was unable to penetrate it’s cold, scaly hide. The dragon grasped me tighter in its claws, hurting me mightily. I tried striking back, but because of the blinding pain, my exertion caused me to drop my axe. The only artifact I’d found since leaving the Reliqus. Seemingly lost forever. I struggled to free myself from his grasp but failed.
The dragon landed on the ground in front of Crom, its intent clearly was to swallow the dwarf whole. It must have thought I was dead, and turned it’s attention fully on the dwarf. The brave Allana, giving no concern to her well being ran to my side where the dragon had dropped me, and laid her healing hands upon me, reviving my senses.
When I regained my faculties, I saw Crom and the dragon locked in mortal combat. Crom delivered a mighty blow to the dragon, which it miraculously shook off, but delivered back in kind to the dwarf. I had not thought dwarves capable of flight, but this dwarf, I did see fly. Knocked unconscious by the blow delivered by the dragon, Crom lay in a heap by one of the destroyed wagons.
I rose to my feet, drew my bow, nocked another arrow, drew the bowstring, and hurled a string of profanity at the beast that would make a seasoned sailor blush. As the beast turned it’s scaly head to face me, I let loose the arrow. It flew true, and making good on my boast, sunk deep into the dragon’s eye, blinding him, and sending him into a paroxysm of pain, but not delivering a fatal blow.
Before the coward had time to flee, the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen happened. Springing upon the dragon from a flanking position, the Engro, Lark appeared, short sword held aloft. In the most unbelievable act of bravery I have ever been witness to, this girl, no more than two axe handles high, charged the beast, and plunged her blade deep into its breast, and in a heartbeat, it fell over dead.
We made camp that afternoon amidst the carnage. Exhausted and beaten, we rested whilst Allana performed her healing arts upon us. Luckily my axe was recovered not too far away, so I still have something to give to the Reliquary upon my return from the wilds. Nimble Lark, surprised us all with the eagerness she exhibited in beheading and skinning the felled dragon (Engro are an amazing breed). Crom, steadfast and singledmindedly dug graves for, and buried every single one of the caravan members who were victims of the dragon. Not a complaint out of him. He is truly honor and duty bound.
The next morning, we continued north towards Elfmeet, hoping to reach it before nightfall. Upon the road we met an agitated rider headed north to Elfmeet to give an account of the dragon attack. A lengthy discussion occurred when he asked us the name of our group. After no small time had passed, we had agreed to let him relay that ‘The Hellfrost Five’ were the responsible party in the dragon slaying incident. We seemed pretty pleased with that name. I have to admit that I seem to like it as well.
We reached Elfmeet that evening (that’s where I am writing this journal, and I apologize for not having committed our prior deeds to parchment earlier). After locating a tanner that would be able to make some use of the newly acquired dragon hide, we sought out the nearest (and as far as I know, the only) tavern in Elfmeet.
Allana regaled the throngs of people in the tavern with the tale of our journey, and we left the dragon’s head as a gift to the proprietor in return for food and lodging whilst we were in Elfmeet.
I will always cherish this dragon claw necklace I wear around my neck as a memory of the time I flew with, and helped slay, a dragon in the company of friends.