This leg of my journey in this constantly wet and dreary land started out like most others I’ve had here; full of apprehension and uncertainty. Our meeting with the Bowman lieutenant went as smoothly as expected. My own attempts at trying to show the horrors I witnessed at Three Cedars were were quashed by my own allies. Though thinking back on it, I did not see the tension in the Bowman woman. Had I cast that spell, it surely would have devolved into a brawl that we were not equipped to handle.
Following that, we received the disappointing news that our potential allies, within what I had hoped were an honorable faction within the Bowmen, would not be aiding us in removing the blight on the Wildlands known as Ivar Trask. The best we got from the lame sods was the promise that MAYBE they wouldn’t interfere if we were winning the fight with Trask and his men. After a tense moment between our hardheaded leader and Meiko Sama, we went our separate ways.
Even with this disappointing news, we decided to take the flying vessel of the Ironclad to the Cascades in hopes of finding Trask on the roads, where he and his men would be spread out and vulnerable. Sadly, that was not to be. We arrived at what we believed to be the Cascades in the dead of night. The darkness was oppressive and the rain soaked us to the bone. We were unable to find Trask and his men on the open roads due to this groups inability to see clearly in the darkness; An advantage that Trask and his men have over us. With the fear of having the skiff shot out of the sky before we even found our target, we made our way back to Temple Rise, our blades clean of blood and our hearts heavy with a sense of missed opportunity and failure.
After our return to Temple Rise I once again made it my mission to study the soul gem artifact that I am convinced houses the soul of a great wyrm silver dragon, one who voluntarily chose to reside within the gem. Sadly, my comrades scoffed at the idea. They assumed that whatever the creature was, it was probably lying to me and that I was not to be trusted with gem. The damn monk made that point very clear when she waltzed into my attempts at communing with the dragon inside, decided that such magics were not to be trifled with, and beat me into unconsciousness and absconding with the gem to bring to Exelar. But this was some time ago and I believed I had now proven my self much more capable a mage than the group initially thought me to be. I felt that I had proven this several times over. So, I went to Exelar once more to ask him to live up to his end of the agreement we made when I finally decided to become an official member of the watchmen under his command. I had asked for his trust, I was told i would have it, and with that in mind, I asked him for permission to take and study the gem again, this time under the watchful eye of Ser Seifer and the monk. That door was once again closed to me as I was told to continue waiting for my chance at getting my hands on the gem. I still think that it is the key to unlocking the mystery of the lost empire in the Wildlands. Exelar then proceeded to walk off and take care of other matters.
It was later in the day that Exelar, Sorscha, Ser Seifer, Caleb, Wulfgar, and myself decided to pay a visit to the reformed Spire that was inhabited by the other drow, Xar’eth. Exelar decided that we could possibly use the scrying device in the spire to locate Trask and so plan a strike against him. It seemed like a sound plan, though I was not aware that he had figured out how to get the thing operational.
Upon entering the spire, we were greeted by Xar’eth, who wore an uneasy look upon his face, despite his efforts to hide it. We made our way to the main chamber that housed the magical scrying device deep underground. Sometimes I forget how stifling underground abodes can be. This place seemed to have a weight to it as well. It was as if I could almost feel the thousands of tons of dirt and stone above me. As I watched Exelar approach the scrying device, I saw him pull out the very gem I had petitioned him to study. It was the one that I was told time and again was too dangerous to work with alone. He then proceeded to say what looked like a small prayer over the gem before inserting it into a slot at the base of the device. It fit perfectly. At that moment, I was appalled by his decision to just go ahead and install a gem I thought he knew nothing about after touting to me about its possible dangers. At that moment, I realized that he had hypocritically denied me my chance to study it and opted to do so on his own without my help. My anger was short lived though, as what happened next will live with me for the rest of my days.
The gem seemed to meld with the device. It seemed to have made a connection with Exelar for a brief moment. Then our leader opened his eyes and told us that there was a dragon within the Spire, a deep dragon disguised as a drow. Moments later, what appeared to be a drow came walking down the corridor towards us. I assumed it was the one that Hershel had told us about earlier, the supposed “cousin” of Xar’eth. This drow seemed to be surrounded by a preternatural darkness, one that would swallow you whole without a sound. It was then that the drow laughed. Not a laugh you would expect to hear from the elven kind, but a deep, rumbling, and sharp pitch all at once. We had encountered this dragon before, deep within the goblin caves. It was the one that had taunted Sorscha and Hershel while they had snuck about. It was the one that had kept an aboleth as company.
A moment later, I watched as two arrows seemed to suddenly sprout from Xar’eth’s side as he fell into a crumpled heap. I was stunned by the unfolding events and didn’t notice as the new drow began to change forms. I could only describe it as an abomination made from dark elf flesh, snake, and something ….wrong. As I regained my wits, the monk was already acting to fend off this new threat. Working adeptly with her shadow magic, she somehow produced a garrote of darkness about the creatures neck, though it proved to be ineffective. She then moved quickly to the side, out of direct line with the dragon. It was only after then that I realized that many of us, myself and Caleb included, were directly in line with what could only be a devastating breath weapon that dragons of all types are famous for. I began preparing for a spell to help fend off the creature. Those preparations were halted by the sight of Ser Seifer, charging towards the dragon, Thyatian sword in hand, bellowing a war cry.
As he drew closer to his intended target, the dragon unleashed his breath weapon upon us. A massive cone of caustic, deadly acid erupted from its maw, nearly engulfing Seifer. His blade seemed to somewhat protect him from the deadly attack, but the rest of us we not so lucky. As I stared wide eyed at what was surely to be my imminent death, my view was suddenly blocked by my cousin Caleb. In our home, the phrase “I am my brothers keeper, and he is mine” was drilled into our heads growing up. It was an important lesson on the importance and value of family that our fathers taught us. During this moment, our entire childhood flashed before my eyes. There was us running around as small boys, chasing one another with wooden swords or sneaking peeks at the maids in their chambers and hoping to get a glimpse of things we shouldn’t; the many nights and days spent talking about our futures as warriors in service to our homeland; how we would make our fathers proud. Then there was the day he looked at me proudly when I managed to cast my first cantrip. He was always at my side. To me we weren’t cousins, but brothers in the truest sense of the word. I then saw the flesh melt from my brothers skull as he put himself in the way to protect me from the dragons acid. He truly was my keeper. I failed my duty to be his.
I was pulled from my shock by the sound of the dragons screams as Seifer cleaved into it with his sword. My mind was swirling with emotions: rage, despair, and hopelessness. And with them, the driving urge to unleash destruction with one of the waves of destruction spells I had learned. I then regained my wits enough to instead launch a lighting bolt towards the vile creature that was responsible for best friends death. It struck home not once, but twice, as it bounced off of the surface of the corridor and hit home again. Regretfully, Seifer was once again in the way of the spell and took minor damage. At this moment, I felt a wondrous sensation as the gem resting under Exelars hand created a healing wave that cured me of most of my wounds from the acid. I took a moment to look down in the outrageous hope that somehow my cousin had been healed as well. Sadly, that was not the case.
My eyes were drawn towards the battle once again after hearing a cry to Heironeous. Exlear charged the dragon, with Wulfgar at his side, his sword aglow with a holy light. The attack struck home and finished the damnable monster off. I watched in horror as its body fell into a mass of abomination flesh. It was then that the creature’s body ripped open and what would be described as a kobold climbed forth. It emitted a shrill laugh before rising through the ceiling and out of our sight.