Rise of the Runelords

Fire and Blood

Fortress of the Stone Giants, Interlude

Fireday, 9 Pharast, 4734

When the alien hounds had torn into her, in complete silence, Lea sank into darkness. She drifted down, down, in total quiet. Then, out of the corner of her eye she glimpsed something hanging in the darkness.

It looked like an enormous shard of glass, but through it she could see a yellow alien sky overlooking a flat wasteland littered with strange ruins. There were figures there, strange creatures in turbans and veils with blue-gray skin. They were using magic to battle giant spiders, and seemed oblivious to her. All in silence.

Then a pair of the alien hounds loped into view, looking at home in the strange realm. They sniffed the air, then turned and stared right at the sinking paladin. Flailing her arms against nothingness, Lea tried to get as far away as possible from the floating shard as she drifted past it, continuing her quiet descent.

Another shard rose into view, this one a window into the splendor and terror of Karzoug’s Thassilon. She saw slaves and giants building an enormous monument to the Runelord, as lamia overseers swaggered among them and a vast army of Shoanti soldiers assembled. All of it under the watchful gaze of a cadre of green-robed wizards.

Lea drifted deeper and glimpsed another shard, this one showcasing a terrible roiling landscape stalked by demons.

Finally, she found herself sinking towards an endpoint, another window at the bottom of this featureless black void. She saw tombstones and immediately tried to swim out of the way, to no avail. She realized that it is her force of will rather than the strength of her arms that counted in this strange nether realm.

She tried to will herself from sinking into the Boneway below, but only slowed her descent. Head-first, she began to transition into Pharasma’s realm, a long line of souls stretching out before her waiting to be judged. Then she felt something grasp and tug at both her legs.

Her bonded spirit Ell-Hayzar and the trumpet archon Ilmiring were pulling her up. The two celestials yanked her free of the Boneway and together carried her higher and higher, rushing towards a brilliant bring light.

Lea gasps into wakefulness, realizing that she can hear again. She is wrapped comfortably in a bedroll, a folded blanket cushioning her head. Her freshly polished and mended armor is stowed nearby. She sits up, realizing that she is still in Mokmurian’s lair.

The knightly lamia Seleval, still in human, is seated beside her and quickly brings her up to speed: Mokmurian is defeated and most of the party has gone above with his head to disband the army of giants he assembled. Marcus remains in the chamber with them, poring through the stone giant’s spellbooks. Seleval explains that she rescued Lea’s body from the alien hounds and brought it to Zavian, then assisted the aasimar in breathing life back into the paladin.

Seleval also alerts Lea to another change: her left eye has lost its purple hue and is now blue like her fathers. The lamia assures her heterochromia is very fashionable, but Lea feels like she left a peace of herself behind when she came back. Seleval admits that the spell should not have worked and it is a minor miracle she was raised. The lamia also quietly confesses that she said a silent prayer to Iomedae on Lea’s behalf—that being the paladin’s goddess, after all.

Marcus finally notices that Lea is awake and takes some time to examine her. He has a particular interest in her strange eyes, which he had last examined up close while she was paralyzed in the Grauls’ basement several months ago.

The two of them concoct a plan to strike out on their own to eliminate the red dragon Longtooth before he flees the area. Marcus reasons the dragon hasn’t left yet because it would take time to pack up his hoard. The half-elf wants to destroy the dragon to avenge its attack on Sandpoint, while Lea had promised its head to Ameiko. She figures that slaying a dragon would be just the thing to improve her mood. Seleval invites herself along, as she has some experience in that department.

While strapping Lea into her armor, the lamia asks for a boon as a reward for helping saving the princess’ life. She wants Lea to use her connections to arrange for her slain sister, Zaelsar, to be resurrected. Lea expresses reservations and says she will pray on the question. Seleval makes it clear this is her top priority. Marcus manages to miss out on this conversation, having gone off to take a bathroom break.

The trio manage to make their way back up to the surface, where they find that the weather has turned and a snow storm now blows down out of the north. Marcus takes the time to harvest scales and other items from the red dragon corpse in the Jorgenfist courtyard. Outside the fortress, the giant army is beginning to disband.

The trio treks across the snowy valley towards the eastern mountain where Longtooth makes his lair. Seleval explains that the dragon slew several lamias before Mokmurian defeated it and compelled it to swear allegiance. The two developed a gridging friendship, and Longtooth helped the stone giant capture other dragons for use as sacrifices.

But when Longtooth returned from the failed attack on Sandpoint, Mokmurian ordered Seleval and Zaelsar not to cure the dragon’s wounds as punishment. Longtooth then retreated to his lair to sulk. Seleval has no idea what spurred the dragon to attack the giants’ camp.

Longtooth’s lair is in a cave 450 feet up a nearly vertical cliff. At the foot of the cave entrance is an enormous piled of gnawed bones, including wyvern, aurochs, and even a roc. To ascend to the lair, Marcus casts fly and invisibility on himself and Lea. Seleval uses air walk to follow behind them.

The cave stinks of dragon, and twists around in a vague u-shape. There is no immediate sign of Longtooth. Lea peers through a hole in the thin cavern wall to see around the bend in the tunnel. She spies the red dragon just as Seleval messages Marcus with a warning.

Longtooth bursts through the thin stone wall and breathes fire on Marcus and Lea, who had thankfully magically shielded themselves against it. A small gang of kobolds emerges from small holes in the floor and begin to swarm Seleval, pulling her down to the ground.

Lea, still invisible, manages to sneak around behind the dragon, who focuses his ire on Marcus. The wizard is further stymied by the dragon’s lair, which has taken on volcanic qualities. Geysers of magma and miasmas of volcanic gas soon clutter the battlefield.

Finally in position, Lea reveals herself to charge the dragon and lands a vicious blow. Longtooth savages her in kind with tooth and claw. Seleval manages to break clear of the growing army of kobolds and Marcus messages her to leave the cave if she doesn’t want to get fried. The lamia hastily follows his advice.

Bleeding profusely, Lea lands the killing blow on Longtooth, snapping his neck. Floating high up in the corner of the room, Marcus hurls a maximized fireball at the cluster of kobolds. The spell ignites the volcanic gas, which incinerates the kobolds in a mini firestorm and eats up all the oxygen in the cave. The adventurers are buffeted about as more air rushes in to fill the vacuum.

Seleval hastily rushes over to Lea and dumps several cure serious wounds into her, then heals Marcus as well. The paladin hacks off the red dragon’s head and hangs her Sihedron medallion on it to create a gentle repose effect. Marcus takes stock of the dragons treasure hoard, which is short on magic items but high on cash and valuable objects.

The trio eventually realizes they don’t have sufficient magic to get out of the cave.They decide to just spend the night. Seleval uses sending to give Zavian a heads up on their situation and then casts stone shape to carve out a secure niche for them to rest. Marcus casts alarm on the entrance to guard against any surviving kobolds.

The lamia offers to shift into her true form so the adventurers can lean up against the soft warm fur of her flanks. She explains that she and her sister Zaelsar used to always sleep cuddled up against one another and she is now frightened to sleep alone. Lea takes her up on the offer, and Marcus eventually follows suit, grudgingly.

While they chat, Lea and Marcus tell Seleval that she is not bound to follow them if she does not want to, and can leave when she wishes so long as she promises not to harm innocents and to continue upholding her knightly vows. Seleval tells them she will think on this.

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