Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Seven: Vale of the Mage - Chapter 4

It was about midday on Sunday, the 23rd day of Planting, in the Common Year of 580, when the Righteous Vanguard fought and killed the green dragon known as Sylvandeth. Following the battle, the group tended to their injuries and while doing so, it occurred to them that casting a Speak with Dead spell on the dragon might reveal to them some information about the location of the necromancers. This was because before attacking, the dragon had mentioned something about having been tricked by someone else. The group assumed that the dragon was referring to the necromancers here since it seemed unlikely to them that the dragon could have been speaking about anyone else. With this thought in mind, they discussed for a while a number of questions that they might ask the dead dragon. Then Gildor cast the spell. Fortunately, the spell appeared to work, and when the spirit of the dragon was called back to its body, these were the questions that Gildor asked it:

1)Who was it that tricked you? The dragon’s answer: Despicable humans.

2) How did you learn you had been tricked? The dragon’s answer: The Black One told me.

3) Were these humans headed towards or away from the Citadel? The dragon’s answer: Towards the Citadel

4) What exactly did the Black One tell you about these humans? The dragon’s answer: He said that they were intruders in the valley and that I had let them slip past me.

From these four questions and the answers provided from the dragon, the band came to the conclusion that the Black One was already aware of the presence of the necromancers. If this was truly the case, then a number of things could be surmised. First of all, the Righteous Vanguard would still need to determine the fate of the necromancers and, assuming that the Black One had not already killed them, determine their purpose. It also meant that the Black One was most likely keeping an eye on the necromancers or in the process of trying to locate them himself, again assuming that the necromancers were still alive. Considering the Black One’s apparent concern about agents from the Great Kingdom coming after him, it seemed very unlikely that he would allow the necromancers to move about the valley unobserved. It also meant that, if the Black One knew about the necromancers, it appeared doubtful that the necromancers would be able to take him by surprise. But all of this was based on the assumption that the Black One knew the nature and purpose of the necromancers, but there was always the possibility that he did not.

As the band pondered over these and many other questions, they decided to skin the dragon for its hide and cut off its head to be kept as a trophy. This took the remainder of the day and when they were done they placed the dragon parts in Nero’s portable hole. Then they moved a short distance from the carcass of the dragon and set up camp.

Later that night, they could hear the sound of wolves, feeding on the carcass of the dragon for some time. But at one point, Nicholas and his wolf Whistler, heard the wolves suddenly being frightened away by something else. Nicholas ordered the valley elf Fleetfoot, who was also on watch with him at that time, to wake the others, while he scouted the edge of the campsite. He soon discovered that a half dozen trolls were approaching them and quickly cast an Entangle spell, greatly slowing some of them down. A battle then erupted as the other members of the band ran from their tents and engaged the trolls. It was a fairly lengthy battle, and Nicholas was pretty badly beaten up by the time it was over, despite the fact that trolls were a favored enemy of his. But eventually the band was able to beat them down and burn their bodies, thereby preventing them from regenerating and retuning to life.

The next day, Moonday the 24th day of Planting, the group resumed their travels through the valley and along the way beside the Javan River towards the Black One’s citadel. At about midday however, they came upon what at first appeared to be a group of valley elves that emerged from the trees around them. The group’s guides, Fleetfoot and Cutter did not recognize them though and some members of the band grew very suspicious of their appearance and mannerisms. The supposed valley elves offered to escort the group through their territory, but suddenly attacked them soon afterwards. Several Entangle spells were centered on the group, but only Fleetfoot and Cutter had any real difficulty with them. Cutter in fact never did emerge from the entangled area, for what turned out to be a very bloody and seemingly lengthy battle. Eventually, the band realized that the supposed valley elves were actually a mixed band of yuan-ti consisting of 10 purebloods, 4 half-bloods and 3 abominations which gradually revealed themselves as the battle got under way.

They attacked with bows and arrows and switched to scimitars and their natural attack forms as the band members were able to close with them. Nero killed several of them with Fireball spells that he launched on two sides of the group. But when the yaun-ti then cast darkness spells around the whole area, the tide of the battle suddenly turned against the band. The yuan-ti were more effective at fighting in the darkness and at one point both Nicholas and Nero were caught in the acid-covered and constricting coils of two of the abominations. The battle got ugly at that point and twice Nero very nearly died. In desperation, Nero cast a third Fireball spell centered on himself and his companions, hoping it would cause more harm to their enemies than to themselves. It did not however, due in some part to the yuan-tis’ resistance to spells, but also because Nicholas and Gildor were unable to avoid taking the brunt of the spell.

As a result, some of the possessions of Nicholas and Gildor were either badly damaged or destroyed altogether and the group was in worse shape than they were before Nero had cast the Fireball spell. Fortunately, Gildor was then able to dispel the darkness and the tide of the battle then swung back in favor of the Righteous Vanguard. Eventually, they were able to take down enough of the yuan-ti to cause the two remaining half-bloods and one remaining abomination to flee from the battle. Unfortunately, when it was all over, they found that Fleetfoot had not survived the battle and much of the forest around them was now engulfed in flames.

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Czarn

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