We rode hard for Friula, in an effort to head the idiots that were marching to besiege it before we were really ready for them to be besieged. When we got to the area where Friula is located, it was foggy, and smelled like smoke. Miaako heard something that sounded like Mharoti being spoken, in a deep rumble. We rode a little farther, just in time for a wash of flame to burn off the fog to the side. A little closer, and we saw another fire that had nearly burned itself off.
There were also three figures that turned out to be badly charred undead.
Terrific. Undead and a probable. This is going to be a good day.
Reeshka, of course, introduced herself in her customary fashion, promptly popping all three undead with a wave of positive energy. Naturally, there were more, but they didn’t seem to be too bright, some of them walking through the fire.
Reeshka heard what was probably a Magic Missile going off in the mist. More undead showed up, but they are seriously not a problem. I’m more concerned with whatever’s going on that we can’t see.
As we got closer, we saw more of the undead shamblers. One meandered up to Miaako, who prompty stabbed it down. They’re really unsettling, actually. They’re incredibly fresh, still bleeding. Which, while possible, is usually not something you see in such numbers. Generally, to get a zombie immediately after killing the person you’re raising, it takes a ritual sacrifice.
WHY DO I KNOW THIS? Fucking shit, man.
We heard another tremendous ‘woosh’ of flame to the southeast. We’re on the other side of the valley of Friula, probably ten or fifteen miles out. Which is either a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know which yet.
We were putting them down so fast that it was hard to tell much about them, but it looked like one that was unaccountably still standing was wearing the tattered remains of the so-called ‘Army of Mavros.’ Which is probably for the best, at least. Ceor then casually backhanded it, actually killing it before he even realized it was there.
Also, things are on fire and I didn’t make them that way. This is somewhat troubling.
We got closer to find out that there were a group of soldiers that had been behind a burning tree attacking a large reptilian shape we could barely see… and were currently booking it in the other direction.
Can’t blame them.
It was a dragon, of course, and currently eating one of the soldiers it had put down. Small dragon, only about the size of a horse, but definitely a dragon.
I’m sort of inclined to try negotiating.
Fortunately, I speak Mharoti, so do the kobolds. Once we got close enough, I asked what was going on, and the dragon responded he was dealing with the fools that disturbed it.
As it killed another soldier, it staggered back to its feet as a zombie. The dragon was disgusted. I got the idea that it didn’t like the undead… and had to do this depressingly often. I’m not sure what this is, it doesn’t seem like part of the same infernal pact we’d seen before.
Whatever the effect is, it’s necromantic, and it’s coming from the dragon. It plainly regards this as a curse, and I can’t really blame it. But it puzzles me.
I don’t know where the hell Miaako’s gotten off to.
I got it. Something has given the dragon a very powerful negative energy aura… worse than you’d see at the worst desecrated shrines. It might be able to get rid of it, if it could bleed off that power. Not sure it would want to do that. I explained as much to the dragon.
Which might not have been the best idea, because it turned to glare at me. But it didn’t attack. Just demanded how I expected him to bleed off that power. There are three ways that I can guess. With the assistance of a god… and I don’t know any. The dragon thought it amusing. Or, if you could find the right place in the planes you could coax the power out. And if you found a particularly powerful confluence of leylines, a ritual that would probably take hours could transfer it to another thing.
The ruins of Taltreni in the Goblin Wastes sit on exactly such a twisted nexus, and the crystal there might be able to hold it. Though the dragon said that the god of death himself said it was a curse that could be borne only by the living. He had some rather unkind things to say about said god.
I think I like this dragon.
Reeshka was worshipfully obsequious, of course. It’s a kobold thing. But the dragon was amused and gave her a wand. I think he was pleased that she didn’t immediately proclaim him something that needed to be destroyed. After some discussion, it was worked out that the dragon didn’t particularly care if he barbecued the remaining troops of the company or if we handled it and ‘negotiated’ the return of his hoard.
Oh, right. The idiots stole the dragon’s hoard.
The remaining soldiers were grouped by the river. Ceor being the Champion of Mavros rode out first and gently asked them to return what didn’t belong to them. They did, after some uncomfortable looks, and dropped everything they’d taken. The dragon, Sanguine, ascertained that his entire hoard was still there and swallowed it, then indicated that the troops could go. Ceor, being Ceor, offered them citizenship in Feymott. They accepted, since they weren’t really inclined to be chased by dragons… or other beasts.
The description of the beasts could have been anything from a bear to a hellhound, but it got my attention. As we started making our way back to Feymott, they actually guided us to the corpse of one of them… so it’s not a hellhound. But it was an enormous bear with some sort of fungal infection… or what looked like it. Might have to do some more research on that later. The leader of the troops said they first showed up a day or two after they left the fort. Reeshka said there was something unnatural about them… and that made me realize where I’d seen that fungal infection before. The first time we approached the fort, at the beginning of the campaign season, we were attacked by rats with the same sort of infection. Same general area.
Need to look closer at that area. Fortunately, none of the survivors seem to be infected. But that definitely bears looking into. Extra-planar fungal infections, great… I took a sample back for study, and burned the fuck out of the rest.
I fully expect the dragon to show up at Feymott at some point, and the city guard was duly informed. Last thing we need is them to open fire on him when he shows up… it would end badly for everyone. But I do need to start researching the ritual that would be necessary to bleed off that necromantic power and what we could shove it into instead. I don’t really want to put that into someone we like… and I want to put it into someone we don’t like even less.
So that’s another trip out to the Goblin Wastes we need to make at some point. While we still have the ‘Oracle of Mavros’ (still convinced that it’s That Bitch) and Cindersong running around, I’m not sure the dragon would be inclined to be patient, and it would be good to have a dragon at least sort of on our side.
There’s also one of the soldiers that is almost as sneaky as Miaako himself who has been skulking around. We’ll see how that turns out.