>>> Chapter 17 <<<
>>> Prelude <<<
*Title may be misleading...
So... ... ... there we were, with a (near) artifact and a set of dragon fangs. Not exactly the worst positions to be in, mind you. But a conundrum never-the-less. We really didn’t have many other leads, other than what we knew of the Regent, but even considering that we didn’t have much.
Remember The Princess Bride? Remember when they’re trying to storm the gate? And after discussing their options, more options suddenly started coming out of nowhere? The wheel barrel. The apocalypse cloak.
“Why didn’t you list that among our assets in the first place?”
Took us a minute, but we remembered that we almost forgot about the skulls of the honor guard. Like I said, our Bloodrager is a headhunter.
But before that!
The Druid and I (the Thief) went further up to the dragon’s lair to see what we could see. Sure enough, we saw ballista bolts stuck into the ground everywhere. The smell of burnt flesh. And remains that may have been a dragon’s, and by remains, I mean basically ashes in the wind, at best. The army was clearly and ridiculously successful, they obviously ambushed the red dragon, hard. After a few looks around, informative purposes only, we headed back for our one on one with the skulls.
So, one by one, we had our Cleric use Speak with Dead on the skulls. After, of course, we were teleported to our draconic ambassador’s “guest cave.” We found we had to ask questions that could be answered with only a yes or a no, or questions that we already knew the answer too, in order to determine whether or not the skull had resisted the spell. Fortunately, two of the skulls gave nearly identical answers to identical questions, so we were able to gather some SUPER important information about the situation.
First of all, we did learn that the Sorcerer among the honor guard was a servant of the green dragon (this was originally suspected by a draconic token we found among his things, that our dragon confirmed to be that of the green’s).
Most importantly!, we also found out that the honor guard weren’t anywhere near as important as we thought they were. The Templar order is so large (it’s basically the human kingdom’s army) that few of the middle and lower ranks are known by anything other than their name. Thus, no one at the military encampment would recognize the honor guard on sight. And neither would the Regent.
Now that’s a lucky break.
We also learned the honor guard was to teleport back to the elven nation to present the mace & teeth to the regent. And we found out where this was to take place.
The dragon was there for the “interrogation,” and decided he would discuss the situation with his fellows. We were later informed that the Dragon Council decided the green dragon’s life was forfeit. And if we were willing to do the dirty deed of finding & killing him, we would be rewarded. The reward, you ask?
Only the entire green dragon’s hoard. Just that, you know. Not much.
No, not *just* that. Actually, that’s the fringe benefit.
The REAL reward? Why, only the resurrection and/or restoration of flesh and life to everyone slain in the kids’ village.
Man... dragons sure know how to play on your heart’s strings, right?
Obviously we wouldn’t say no to being on the receiving end of 50+ Miracle or Wish spells. So, a dragon slaying we shall go.
But first thing’s first. We had to deal with the Regent as we didn’t know where to find the green dragon or any details concerning his operations. Thankfully, the interrogation of the skulls gave us all the information we needed.
Next things we know, we’re getting into the honor guard’s gear (as best we can), I (the Thief) am disguising the entire party to at least be of similar style as the honor guard, and we’re riding into the military encampment at the edge of dwarven territory where the dragon’s loot is being hauled to. And sure as shit, we rode right into the encampment, completely unaccousted.
Why the fuck doesn’t this happen more often?! Plans aren’t supposed to work out this well! I am immediately suspicious! There’s no way it’s going to remain THIS easy.
Yeah, but it totally worked out. We ate at the mess hall. Scheduled a teleportation to the elven capital. And generally minded our own business. A few hours later, we were teleported to the elven capital & were immediately put into queue to see the Regent.
While we’re waiting, in some grand waiting room filled with the usual upper class grape, wine & cheese bull, I (the Thief) start looking around. Annnnnnnnnnd, there’s obviously magical scrying stones in several corners of the room. And suddenly, dealing with the Regent got a lot harder. I point out eh stones to the others, and we discuss our options. Eventually, it is begrudgingly accepted (it really wasn’t, actually, the Bloodrager still wanted to throw down, then and there) that we really can’t ambush the Regent in the castle as we’re being watched, and there’s no way he also doesn’t have guards on top of that.
Before we can come up with a plan, a page informs us that we’re to see the Regent.
We’re shown into a library, and there he is. Unarmed and in ceremonial armor and attire. Nice. Annnnnnnd, he’s got five guards, all armed with weapons bared, in tactical superior positions, and not even slightly slacking off. Not nice.
As the only member of the party with any measurable amount of Charisma skills, I (the Thief) have to half-truth and bullshit my way through the conversation. Fortunately, the first part of the conversation? Totally true. We lay out the teeth and the mace. And give a report on what we saw. Trust earned. Step one. Then we start talking about unseen factors and the involvement of those above both of us, at which point I show the green dragon token. I convince him that we need to speak privately on the matter of “our lord.” And he accepts. But invites only me. Boo. And two of his guards. Triple boo.
Fortunately, once we’re outside, along the railing of the castle walls, I further convince him that what I have to say concerns the existence of another dragon and that what we have to discuss is only for the ears of those who report directly to the green dragon.
Insert critical Bluff roll.
He waives his guards away, and ushers me into a privately balcony whereupon he slips on a Ring of Non-Detection.
Victory in Europe!
One thing I didn’t mention. By the by. Our Druid is currently hiding among my cloak, as a chameleon. *Eye waggle*
At first, I’m thinking of how I can somehow get him to tell me where the green dragon is, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to do so without arousing instant suspicion. So... I put a knife to his throat and spill some beans.
The Druid? She wood warps his chair into a cage-like stool of sorts, so he can’t even move at this point. Nice.
He tries to counter-intimidate me right off the bat, but I say he’ll be dead before his guards round the corner & with a set of magical blades set to his throat and gut, I’m not lying. He then tries to bribe me with land and lordship, which I immediately throw back in his face.
In the meantime, I ask the Druid to send an Animal Messenger to the rest of the party, who’re chilling in the waiting room, telling them to GTFO.
Eventually I tell him that if he agrees to tell me everything I want to know about the green dregon, without a fight, I’ll let him live [which, given that he doesn’t know who any of the party members are (Disguise!), I’m perfectly fine with that arrangement]. He agrees.
So, I tell him where we’re at is too hot for such a discussion. And I tell him to hold his breath, then I shove him into my Bag of Holding. I ask the Druid to go with him, and ask her, loudly enough for the Regent to hear, to shapeshift into a dire whale or something and crush him if he tries anything funny.
And then down the castle wall, via Slippers if Spider Climb and Ring of Chameleon Power + Hellcat Stealth I go. I slip out of sight, and over the first wall without a hitch. The second wall was a bit tight, as it was covered in an Anti-Magic barrier, but fortunately, I’m a Burglar, so traps are child’s play (mostly).
We meet up with the rest of the party on the road & hightail it into the woods, the whole time, I’m counting seconds. At around the nine minute mark, I dump the Regent (and Druid) from the bag like a cat in a hat, and say “surprise!”
Hoo-boy, did the kids just want to split him in twain right then and there. I give them the scoop on the deal, grab the Druid, and tell them to interrogate him while we go back for the mace & fangs.
I actually have no idea what specifically happened with I was gone (by the way, mace & fangs were a no-go), but the questioning didn’t go as agreed. Apparently he tried to convince them to let him go. He tried to take off his magic ring. He also tried to counter-intimidate them. Basically all sorts of not-answering-the-questions. Sigh...
So the Druid and I return... just in time to hear the Regent insult the memory of the villagers of our village.
The Cleric loses it and starts to bare knuckle best him. The Bloodrager loses it and, well, rages. All the while the Regent is still giving lip. We pull off the Cleric, and I ask Brugo (the Fighter) to “corral” the Bloodrager.
In the meantime, I turn to the Regent & he continues to refuse to answer our questions. We’re so done with this, obviously, so I tell him that we’ll just get our answers from his skull. And I bury a knife in his chest.
Around that time, Brugo is moving to distract the Bloodrager from killing anyone. And how does he do it, so you ask? By basically screaming LEEROY JENKINS, tossing down his shield, leaping at the Crossblooded Demon-Dragon, large size raging Bloodrager & swinging full force with Power Attack.
Don’t get me wrong. He actually did really well against her. But she’s built to be a quasi-paper tiger. He’s built to be a tank. It’s close, but she topples him first.
When she eventually comes out of rage, she just sits over his unconscious body looking a bit insecure.
After being the healbot that he is, the Cleric’s primary concern turns to “I could have punched him more, you know.”
Next time, on The Chronicles of "Of Course Brugo Did," The Necromancer, The Maids, and The Skull.