We get the impression, from Briar, that Nerissa has some few main underlings and that killing them might be a good idea. So instead of simply heading to where we think her castle is, we are taking side trips, and periodically returning to prime for much-needed recuperation.
We took down the enormous crow (or whatever it was) that seemed to be linked to the dreams that had been besetting our people. It was shrouded in shadows and hard to hit – I burned a Limited Wish and a 1500gp diamond to duplicate the effect of a Farie Fire spell, after which it was easy meat for his majesty.
We were attacked by frost giants in a frozen graveyard – one of them being particularly enormous and four-armed. It was a straight-up fight, that one: I didn’t get involved.
We visited some sort of iron beehive thing, and were attacked by trolls. One particularly big one had a necklace made of soul cages, which we had enountered before – any harm done to the wearer is transferred to the pixies trapped within. While Jope and Rainor dealt with the other trolls, Kalos fumbled about, attempting to get the necklace off the troll with his lance. Not the right tool for the job. Happily, Gruyere cast a spell on it, forbidding it to attack, and it retreated indoors. I asked Kalos to kindly bugger off and Dimension Doored inside its home – chasing it about until I could grab the necklace, then Dimension Doored out again and freed the pixies. Always prepare two castings of Dimension Door – one to get you into trouble, and one to get you out again.
And while I was busy doing that, the boys beat it up, and we stacked the trolls outside and set fire to them. [We just assumed this - didn't actually do the "making sure they were actually dead" bit IIRC.]
At which point, we headed to the big tower thing that we had been leaving till last. As we suspected, it was the same as the tower that appeared breifly on out plane, disgorging an army of fey. On this plane, it is surrounded by statues of fey – all broken. We surmise that each statue is one of the fey that came to our plane and was killed.
Rainor heard deep, very slow breathing within, and we surmised “dragon” – the great blue dragon that we had seen earlier. So we cast protections from lighning and his majesty insisted on attacking through the air, from the top. I thought that was a bit pointless, but it turns out that it was the right thing to do.
Inside the tower was an enormous pile of treasure, moving as the dragon beneath it breathed. I blatted it with my most powerful offensive spell and we were attacked. From above. With acid.
Completely fooled. It was invisible, and completely the wrong colour. The attack popped the Phantom Steeds that Gruyere and I were using, and the acid formed a pool at the base of the tower into which we were dropping. I cast Feather Fall and was lucky enough to fall on the pile of treasure. I spent ages casting Fly, and when I finally attacked it with a Disintegrate it dodged the blow. Double damn.
Next thing I know, I was on the floor with Kalos was applying a paste – Stone Salve. I had been petrified. Another few precious seconds to cast See Invisible and Glitterdust, and then I flew up to give Gruyere a Resist Energy. The damn dragon nearly got me.
And no-one wants Zack Jackson back.
I finally dropped a Greater Dispel Magic into it, targetting any See Invisible or True Sight spells it might have. Now I was ready to lay down some hurt! But Rainor, who had been calmly firing arrow after dragon-bane arrow into the thing got his final shot and felled it. Deservedly so, and it’s unbecoming to be grumpy about it I suppose.
So. A dead dragon – an elder black dragon, in fact. We took its head for the trophy room (Naturally. Perhaps His Majesty might like to make it into a throne? Or a towel rack for the turtle-shell bath?) and then we fell to sorting through its hoard. Quite a bit of copper and silver – the acid not doing that any good whatsoever. I suggested that if Gruyere could Create Water, we could flush the worst of it away. There were sundry bits and pieces, plenty of diamonds (I shall Shatter some at next opportunity – I am fresh out of dust for Stoneskin).
There was an Apparatus of The Crab under all that coin. I’m fairly sure that that’s what the dragon had placed his illusion on, to make us think that he was beneath it all. An enchanted starknife, which I have claimed, a gem of seeing, a Manual of Bodily Health (for Kalos, whose companions keep getting confused and using him as a practice dummy), Cloak of the Bat (for Jope, I think, who often needs to fly at things to beat them up), some armour, a pair of (very powerful) bracers of armour, and – Sweet Desna! Oh my god! A Rod of Quicken Spell, and not just any, but a Greater Rod of Quicken Spell! There’s not a mage on Golarion but would seriously consider selling their soul for such! Never in my wildest – well, actually, several times in my wildest dreams. But now – how many of these can there be in the whole world?
We rode the Apparatus of the Crab back to the portal to prime, and I’m sure the royal navy will welcome the addition to their amphibious division. I might add some illusions to it, when we have leisure to do so, and King Jope – master armourer that he is – has some ideas too.
After passing through the portal, we found that several days had passed, and the dreams had ceased as we had hoped they would with the death of the giant raven in the other world. Nerissa knows that we are coming for her, Briar in hand. I think the people need to see their victorious king, dragon-head in tow. We oughn’t dally, but I think we need some time off. There’s a spell: Forcecage, which I have been working on, and we have more than enough ruby from the dragon hoard for a few castings.
And, if we succeed, after that? I don’t know. Perhaps I should return home, or at least visit. I cannot stay with the annuals forever, as some of us have. But it says a great deal that I can think of a future beyond this war.