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Session 109 - The Heroes We Deserve

posted Jan 10, 2014, 8:54 AM by Will McCain
Reluctantly, the Maladroits left the prison and the newly fond Lollipop. Though tired from research and battle, they journeyed through the tunnels of the mountain and decided to rest for the evening once they were in sight of the opening. Renewed and recuperated, they set out the next day for the ruins of the ziggurat. Hopefully they would run into Dram before then.

Their hopes were answered when Dram swooped down from the sky and landed before them on a rock outcropping. He immediately demanded the phylactery, which Callon bade Alera do after verifying Dram's intent to destroy it. Alera stepped forward and placed the trinket into the enormous claw of the gargantuan blue dragon. "Now for your rewards," Dram spoke and snapped his fingers. Behind him, a portal opened in midair. Through the portal, the party saw a vast horde of wealth. Dram drew a trunk from the horde and placed it before the adventurers and bid them chose a item from within for each of them. The trunk itself was impressive, with magicked compartments not unlike bags of holding. Of the items within, Callon chose Boots of Flying, Lucas a Sword Sword of Subtlety, Alera some rather nice incense, Knox a Ring of X-Ray Vision, and Boken some fine cutlery and Sustaining Spoon. Dram then closed the trunk and tossed it over his shoulder and back through the portal. 

Surveying the adventurers, Dram declared their business concluded and turned to his portal. He tossed the phylactery onto a stand with an available hook. Seeing this, two things impressed themselves on Callon and Alera. First, the realization that Dram had no intention of destroying the phylactery and had been lying about his intentions the whole time. Second, that in the stand upon which the phylactery now hung was the unmistakable form of a Shard. Having only a few moments before Dram closed the portal and robbed them of their chance to retrieve it, Callon weighed their options. They could call out to Dram and negotiate with him for the Shard. There was a chance he didn't know what it was, and perhaps would be willing to accept the return of the many gifts they chose for a single item they fancied. If not, then perhaps they could broker another deal and perform some other task for the wyrm. The risk was that Dram knew exactly what he possessed, and that no quest or trade would be worth giving it up. Also, now that he saw the Maladroit's desire, he would retreat and deny them access to his horde. The dragon had dealt fairly with them, and even had his back turned. It chafed the fighter as a cowardly act, but they were desperate and could not afford to lose this opportunity. Cursing himself under his breath, he loosened Desangriev and signaled for the Maladroits to attack.

Lucas was aghast and furious at the underhanded tactic, but knowing that the party would falter or perish without his help, he pressed the attack. Dram summoned an illusory double and took to the air. Knox's Mass Fly stole that advantage from the dragon as Callon and Lucas rose in the air to meet him. Considering he was an obviously mature and powerful dragon, the spellcasters were disappointed but not surprised when many of the best spells failed against him. He landed several vicious attacks against Lucas, but his Resiliency and Alera's practiced remedies helped to maintain the melee assault that felled the mighty beast. Surprisingly quickly, actually.

As Callon watched the dragon fall to the ground, he caught Lucas in the corner of his eye flying towards him. Not uttering a word, the rogue raked his sword across the front of Callon's armor, carving a gash across the armor's Morendi heraldry. The young Maladroit glared with rage at his leader, who returned the look with sad eyes. Callon called out for Knox to gather the Shard from Dram's horde before gathering his thoughts. He quietly apologized to Lucas for having him do something so unsavory and explained how it had been the only viable option for obtaining the Shard. Lucas, in turn, railed against how they attacked someone who had been honorable, and how he had faith in their chances with more peaceful options. Callon laughed bitterly then. After seeing how Lucas had lead off their efforts with Lollipop, perhaps the rogue had a point. It had been impressive, but the fighter couldn't stop wishing that they had been able to do the same with Beletsirana. They had done their best in that situation, but it hadn't been enough. Now, his sister was gone forever. One thing he had learned from her, though, was that you must focus on your duty. True, she had shirked the duties of her office, but in the grander scheme involving the Shards, she had done what was needed. If that's what he and the Maladroits were capable of, then that would guide him. 

Taken back by the inner turmoil of his friend, the fire of Lucas' rage died. He put his arm around the fighter's shoulders and suggested that they see what their battle had wrought. Knox was delighted to find that they had found the Shard of Transmutation. Watching his physiology constantly shifting while he held it was a bit disconcerting, though. The group soon realized that not only would Dram have never destroyed the phylactery, he would have let Magus reform just enough so that he could use him. They also realized that there was no ritual for destroying the phylactery as Dram had claimed. A few righteous strikes from Alera's scimitar broke the phylactery and ended the threat of Magus for good. Lucas was now even more conflicted, as it seemed that killing Dram had been.. the right thing? 

It was a frustrating situation, but not all bad. After all, they had just won a dragon's horde.