Sometimes I wonder why I travel with these fools. How far have I fallen, to wander in the company of an elven thief, a halfling priest-witch of the thief god, and a foppish bard who doesn't even carry a weapon. At least the bard, Adam, has a little sense; he advocated caution while we planned our attack on the black wyrm. The priest and Alonso, the thief, were for running straight into the beast's gullet, citing the example of Lurgorath of Yunkinsdelve, the dwarven adventurer known to them as "Leroy Jenkins." He is more commonly known among my people as Lurgorath the Reckless. For all they tell the stories of his triumph, the surface races never seem to tell the story of Lurgorath's death...
We sheltered the night in an abandoned shrine of Fharlanghn to keep out of the rain. Of the human gods, he is probably the one I favor most, since the gods of my fathers abandoned me and my days are spent on his roads. Adam thought it ill luck to sleep at a crossroads, but I think it good luck to sleep in a temple. I suppose we shall see.
We departed the temple in the mid-morning for a long slog along a muddy, abandoned road. To our north lay a thick jungle, and to the south a swath of fallow fields and abandoned farmsteads. Reminded me of the Northern March after the Goblin Wars, but a damn sight warmer, and with more giant four-armed apes. For all their bravado earlier, the thief and the hobbit fought with commendable caution... I hope their wits do not desert them when the dragonfear hits.
We reached the abandoned town where the dragon makes its lair in the afternoon, and began a search for it. We found instead one of its vile hybrid children, a skilled warrior with a two-bladed sword. He charged and gravely wounded our priest, who disappeared in a cowardly fashion, leaving us to deal with him. His hide was unnaturally thick, and he proved a worthy foe, injuring both the thief and I with his acid spittle before being felled by my axes Tooth and Claw, as well as a barrage of magic missiles from Adam. Alonso was terribly ineffective; he could not pierce the creature's hide, but provided a useful distraction which allowed me to strike more easily. We attempted to interrogate the beast, but it refused to speak, and so Alonso slew it and stripped the body. Hardly the best possible outcome; more information on the lair of the wyrm could be crucial, lest our expedition end like that of Captain Ingmar to recover Tyrok's Deep from the goblin warhosts. The goblins had dug a maze of tunnels beneath the plains south of the ruined city, and Ignmar and his army marched into the midst of it and were surrounded and slain to a man. I hope we are not so blind.
We took shelter in a crumbling inn (though by all the Old Gods, what kind of inn has no cellar for its ale?!), and resolved to continue our search in the morning. I thought our choice of campsite imprudent, since the dragon might notice the absence of one of its offspring and attack us in the night, but reports of zombies in the woods deterred my companions from resting there. As it happened, my fears were borne out, though not in the manner expected. In the late evening, the zombies of which we had heard shambled forth from the wilds. The halfling and the thief hid in the rafters, while I resolved to hold the doorway and Adam sang a fast-paced song to stir the blood (but no proper battle chant, since he had neither horn nor drums nor pipe). Though the sorcerer rained fire down upon them, the zombies were undeterred, and zombie wyverns brought down the roof of the inn with their weight. We escaped out the windows while the remaining zombies tried to tear down the walls to get to us. The wyverns attempted to crush us with their bulk, but we made mincemeat of them with our blades, and then the rest of the undead fell easily. The zombies had tripped the Stone of Alarm which I had placed on the door of the inn, though, and as I went to retrieve it, we were ambushed by four more dragonspawn who had heard its shrieking. I took an arrow, and then a blast of acidic bile while I engaged one of their archers, and narrowly avoided a brutal swing from one with a greatsword. Our priest summoned a great lion, who rushed to my aid, and with its assistance I slew both the archer and the swordsman. Meanwhile, the thief slew the second archer, though he was badly burned by its acid (for a thief, he is terrible at dodging... he would not survive the first room of the Gauntlet of the Vaults), and the bard and the priest let the final swordsman escape down the cliffs... Can only expect so much from magicians, I suppose. At this point, exhausted and with the enemy alerted to our presence, my companions finally heeded my advice, and we headed for the hills to lay low for the night. All told, not a bad day, since we had no casualties, but not the best strategic position for the morrow.
-Journal of Fjolkir the Beardless, Fourth Day of Firefast.
( To Part 2 )