We travel eastward, and in the distance see a winged creature circling. The decision is quickly made to head straight towards it. We are not here to avoid trouble, there would be little sense leaving enemies behind us, particularly not one that can spy on us from the sky. And we saw giant bodies earlier with clear marks of acidic dragon breath. The enemy of our enemy is our friend, no? I must say that I am very pleased that this group seems to favour the direct approach.
Nevertheless, preparations are made in case it should come down to a fight. I had earlier replaced Secure Shelter in my ring with Charm Monster, something more likely to be useful – a fortunate choice as it transpired.
We came to a wooded area and a cave mouth, currently barricded from within and being assailed by some sort of dragon. I, Vik, and Aeona proceeded forward in hopes that the creature might be able to be reasoned with. The rest of us dispersed into the woods, on the chance that it might not.
We approached ready to make parley, but too late I recognised the dragon as a mere forest drake – barely more than a beast. Of course, it turned and attacked us.
After a few seconds it was clear that we six were more than a match for them. I resigned myself to mostly sitting out the combat. As we had scattered earlier, I could not even usefully Haste my allies. The human warrior, in addition to being enlarged also has armour that permits him to fly – although he has little skill at it.
A few seconds into the combat, more dragon kin appeared – a large one which appeared to be an Umbral dragon (it, like me, from the plane of shadow). Crossbow bolts were shot at us from the cave mouth. After a second more, we were assailed by spells. The area in which we were standing was affected by a Spike Growth spell, and a pair of large scorpions appeared, possibly summoned.
We had walked into a trap. Dragons, and at least one spellcaster (it transpired there were two – a sorcerer and a druid).
But, we have Gauthak. And Aeona. And Vik’s summoned dinosaurs. The lesser dragons and the scorpions were dealt with. I gave a Resist Energy (communal) [acid] to the people immediately around me. Unhappily, this is a touch range spell and we needed to be in a group. We were targeted by a Lightning Bolt, and I took a precious few seconds to cast Greater Invisibility. A good move, the follow up Chain Lightning would probably have killed me.
(In retrospect, using my Metamagic Rod of Reach Spell would have been the correct thing to do.)
Protected by invisibility, I commenced to lob Fireballs at the Umbral Dragon, whom Aeona had slowed by some means. (an odd effect that I have never seen before).
Of course, arrows were being shot (haven’t gotten New Andrew’s characters name, yet), and Vik herself seemed to be attempting to make parley with the people in the cave. There was battle on top of the small hill over the cave too – Zoran and I believe one of the spellcasters – the sorcerer who shot the Lighning Bolt – was there. There was, simply, rather a lot of things going on.
Eventually the creatures were dealt with, and all that remained were the casters. After loudly requesting Aeona to drop the strange wall that lay between me and where the casters made their stand (an odd thing that obscured vision), I prepared for caster battle – having made some study of the countering of spells.
The caster’s first spell was Black Tentacles, a useful conjuration to keep warriors at bay. I had nothing specific to counter it with, and attempted a Dispel Magic. But my counterpart was somewhat quicker than I, and managed to cast sucessfully. Next, the caster used some other ability rather than casting a spell, and so I ventured a Fireball of my own, modifying the spell to not burn my allies.
And then the caster attempted to ensorcell Gauthak with a Charm Monster! Happily, I had placed exactly that spell into my Ring of Spell Knowledge IV earlier, and the power of my wondrous headband permitted me to counterspell reactively. The spell failed, and in a trice Gauthak and the archer between them ended the final foe.
The inhabitants of the cave turned out to be a small group of escaped slaves. We suspect that they were simply bait, we being deliberately lured here. Gauthak skinned the Umbral Dragon, leaving a small piece for me to cast Create Treasure Map using my Mnemonic Robe and my spell book of useful spells that you aren’t going to build a sorcerer as having permanently, but which come in handy when you really need them.
The pelt of the dragon will make a very fine suit of armour for the more stealthy types, I wager. Zoran and the archer might wish to sort it out between themselves. There were sundry mix of other items, more or less at random.
As for the map, it revealed that the dragon’s lair was at or near the giant’s redoubt, where we are heading anyway. The slaves continue their journey to the west, and we ours to the east.