Scene: Dandelion as an old man walks into the center of a small Gyri village. A group of children rush to greet him, shouting his name, welcoming him, and hugging him. He hands out treats to the youngsters as they swarm him, dragging him toward the large fire pit in the center of town.
Adults have noticed and they start coming out of their houses and fields toward the center of town as well. Dandelion gives a wink to a few of the ladies and they blush. Even in his old age he is well known for certain…habits.
The children drag him into a seat by the fire that is now being stoked by some townsfolk. Young and old have gathered and started to sit down around the fire. Someone hands Dandelion a large mug of apple wine.
“Tell us a story! Tell us a story!” the children chant in unison. The older kids and adults try not to look too excited but even they are anticipating Dandelion’s story.
“Ok, ok! Everyone sit down like good kids.”
The children quickly settle into a semi-circle in front of Dandlion and one raises his hand.
“Tell us about tricking the giants! Or the grawn march in Hochoch!”
Another speaks up.
“No, tell us about the Aberglain again!”
“We want one with monsters, and battles, and beautiful princesses!”
“Just relax; I’ve got a special treat for you today. This is a story I rarely tell and has dragons, and knights, and sorcerers, and even, the Brenin Rhys!”
“It was just after the Battle for Aberglain. I’d gotten the information from an evil doppelganger that my parents had been captured by the terrible Sssarung the Ambitious!
So naturally I had to go to their rescue! I gathered a crew of adventurers with me that included my friends Ben, Morrick, Xilvyre, and the amazing Mazer. We also added a gnome ranger named Biglee (one of the Za’boom clan) hoping he’d know how to get into Moundgnomery.
We traveled uneventfully to the area and decided that the old steading of the Hill Giants might be a good way in. We had some old notes from some adventurers that had previously come up from Moundgnomery into the steading.
As we approached we met up with a Monk, Tunottoo, who’s monastery had been recently destroyed by a terrible dragon. So he happily joined us when we mentioned that this same dragon may be the target of our quest. Well, not so much the dragon himself but taking his stuff and freeing his prisoners.
The steading was in pretty bad shape; overgrown and clearly not kept up. However, there were clear tracks and signs that someone was still using this as a campsite on the way in and out of the underground area. Garbage, stacked logs, fire pits, and other such things made it clear that this was a resting point before heading down into the dungeons below.
We made a point to stay on the well-traveled path, and that was pretty clear and easy to follow. We had a goal here and straying off of the path would only distract us from that.
The path seemed to match up with the spotty instructions we had received from others that had travelled this route. That helped us even further as we noted landmarks along the way confirming our route.
When were well underground we noted a gnome statue with some strange runes. They were an arcane message to me from my mother warning me of the dangers of the dragon and kobold allies. It was a bit cryptic though; was she warning me off or guiding me.
Turns out she knew me too well.
We continued along some stone arches over a deep chasm and onto the other side where the natural caverns were changing into worked stone. There were clear signs where people had traveled, including store rooms and well-used doors. So we followed these and avoided the cobweb and dust-filled corridors.
I noted two other arcane messages from my mom, Nicole, which only I could read. Each seemed to indicate an increasing level of danger but also that perhaps her and my father were not actually captives. This confused me a bit but we pressed on.
There had been a bit of banter between the members of the group along the way, but more and more we were noticing the Gnome was not really…gnome-like. I pressed him on it a couple times but he just shrugged it off, saying that he was just a quite type.
Then we found the final message from my mom. It seemed that perhaps we might have Sssarung in disguise, in our midst. Great!
So we pushed the Gnome a bit more and he must have known the jig was up. He transformed into Sssarung and gave us the count of ten to run. He was just playing with us, enjoying the chase before he devoured us in the end.
We chose to see if we could lose him in the narrow corridors where he would have to squeeze to get through. Of course he was blocking the way up so we were just running deeper into his lair.
It was only a short distance before we came upon a group of humans. Very, very familiar humans…
My parents, some of their friends (who I had considered aunts and uncles growing up) and one addition to the group; a regal-looking gentleman – Rhys, the Brenin!!!
We halted and had a quick conversation. My mother hugged me, apologizing for making me “bait” and asking which one the dragon was. Well the dragon had already revealed himself so we told them where he was.
This is where the real excitement started, but we stayed out of the way, knowing that we’d only be a distraction. So I had to paraphrase the fight against the dragon using eye witness accounts.
The Dragon Battle:
After a few quick spells the party broke up to hit the dragon from multiple sides. Besides the Brenin the party included Nicole, Mordelin, Dimitri, Strongswing, Hoskuld, Darius, and William Lea.
Rhys stepped into the room and Sssarung’s eyes got big. He had a chance to get his revenge on the Brenin (for whatever it was he wanted revenge)!
Combat started quickly and Rhys tore some scales off of the dragon with his spiked chain while the dragon failed with his tail, claws, and teeth, barely scratching the nimble Brenin.
The rest of the team moved into position but some were shaken by the sight of the mighty dragon. Thorny masses burst from the ground, damaging several with the spikes and the ground itself wrapped around the Brenin, holding him in place. Sssarung took advantage of this and beat down on him with claw, tail, and tooth.
The others finally started to add some damage to the mix with weapon and spell while the Brenin broke free of the earthen grasp.
Sssarung boasted and taunted the Brenin, claiming he had arranged the death of his wife and children as well as the ruin of Gyruff. Then breathed poisonous gas upon several of the collected heroes.
Fortunately a spell of poison resistance protected them partially (and Rhys wears a ring that protects him completely). The heroes returned attacks; clearly starting to wear down the mighty dragon. Gaping holes in the scaly armor had appeared, leaking the dragon’s lifeblood.
But Sssarung had more tricks, and polymorphed into a huge black dragon, removing all traces of wounds. The heroes shuddered at this transformation, fearing that they did not have the time or firepower to cut down another form. But Nicole had the solution and dispelled the transformation, returning Sssarung to his wounded Green Dragon form!
Angered he struck the Brenin with a powerful flurry of blows, causing him to stagger, but he kept coming back, ripping scales from Sssarung with the spiked chain, drawing blood.
Down the hallway came a noise; another, smaller Green Dragon burst in with the Brenin’s Griffon Guard in tow.
Esvaress, the adopted son of Sssarung was joining the fight but there was still some question about whose side he was on.
As Sssarung berated the younger dragon Rhys used a friendlier tactic and convinced Esvaress to join the heroes. Esvaress slashed at Sssarung as the other heroes piled on! The end was clearly near for Sssarung but he stopped and begged for mercy.
All present were surprised when the Brenin, clearly not his old self, tore into Sssarung yelling something about his suffering and killing his wife and how he could possibly expect mercy.
Then, as Sssarung lay there bleeding, barely alive, Rhys drew Dusk out and neatly cut off the head of the dragon. And that was the end of Sssarung the Ambitious.
We had traveled farther down into the depths to help the poor slaves. We came across a magical trap that could not be disabled but Ben bravely bolted through getting blasted by a large ball of fire. Though a bit toasty he survived and was quickly healed by Morrick.
We noted that the trap was resetting so quickly gathered up the weak and wounded slaves and ushered them back up the stairs. We heard the battle raging as we approached, and sent Xilvyre to investigate.
The scene was one of carnage; The Brenin, wounded and bleeding, was just bringing Dusk down on the neck of the felled dragon Sssarung. Another Green Dragon, Esvaress was there along with the Brenin’s personal guard (who the dragon had apparently brought along with him to help Rhys).
The other heroes were all wounded to some degree but none the worse for wear and were cleaning up the battle site.
Several of them came to help the poor captives that we’d just freed, who were generally dirty, malnourished, and unhealthy.”
The scene returns to Dandelion sitting at the fire surrounded by the entire town.
“And that was the end of the threat of Sssarung the Ambitious. But even after death his nasty deeds and followers had long-ranging impact on Gyruff!”
He sits back and takes a long slow sip of wine.
“Tell us more, tell us more!” The children shout nearly in unison. Even many of the adults seem anxious to hear more of the tale.
“Oh, I don’t know. There were a lot of exciting things that happened soon after that. Killing and coups, murder and weddings, monsters and nobles…”
He seems about to go into another story when a beautiful voice seems to almost sing out of the darkness.
“Dandelion, it is getting late, and I don’t want the bed to be cold.”
Dandelion sits up straight and a smile crosses his face.
“It seems like a special someone has said it is past bedtime for me. So further stories will have to wait until tomorrow. So put out treats for the Fey and get off to bed. There’ll be chores for you in the morning.”
He sends the children off to their parents and all are pretending to be characters in his story.
He stretches and rubs his back, then starts softly playing his lute as he walks slowly out of the firelight. There, a shapely female figure stands, barely visible in the shadows.
“Your timing is impeccable as always my love.” He says to the figure.
“As usual, I’ve gotten the messages to the right people and taken care of all of the business while you were goofing around telling tales.” She retorts in a playful manner, finishing with; “Well, there is one more bit of business we have to attend to…” As they walk off into the night.