Abderaz

Adventure 29: Dragon Hunt

As the three heroes and Aelessa Tholfringr crouch behind a hill looking out at the dragon’s lair, they wonder at what to do next. Aelessa scouts the cave and reports that there are Arai in a large cavern space where a ramp of stone leads to the nest and a second cave entrance higher up on the cliff-face. As they contemplate their next move, a female voice says behind them, “Fools walking blindly into the mouth of the dragon.” Shir stubbornly ignores the voice, while Kur-Dan turns and sees Haradina standing behind them.

She guides them to a hole in one of the nearby hills with the walls of the interior being held aloft by what appear to be large petrified ribs. She comments that they are in a hollow created by the corpse of the stone dragon Belsabis, and relates the tale of his demise. She also briefs them on dragon lore and lets them know that Malathraxis mate Senethrax, a smaller frost dragon, lay within the nest. After the remainder of the group arrives, the heroes decide to slay Senethrax in the cave before Malathraxis returns. Chari and Aelessa are sent to Fort Dreigar to enlist the aid of the soldiers their, in particular their Scorpions (ballistae) in order to bring Malathraxis down out of the sky.

Charging into the cave the heroes are met by the Arai, who appear to be thralls of the dragons, and a dragonkin wizard. Senethrax chooses to remain on high protecting the whelps while raining down magic upon them. Spells fly back-and-forth and the wizard summons another dragon, but Rasha dominates it and turns it against the thralls. The Thralls are defeated in short order, forcing Senethrax to descend and confront the heroes directly. Kur-Dan and Kaz ascend onto Senethrax’s back, but after the are slammed into the cave roof, Kur-Dan decides to remain on the ground. Eventually, Senethrax falls as Kaz plunges his Dazi into the back of his head, leading from the neck onto the ground as Senethrax collapses to the ground.

Having defeated Senethrax, the heroes set up mounds in an open field surrounded by hills in order to conceal themselves. Hidden in the brush in the hills are the Scorpions and their crew. When Malathraxis arrives, she discovers her made and children slain and butchered. With a roar filled with rage and sorrow, she streaks out of the cave to hunt the heroes.

As she crosses over the field, Rasha and the Scorpions begin to attack her left wing. Kur-Dan stands defiantly in the middle of the field while Kaz hides under the body of one of her whelps nearby. She unleashes a torrent of fire that sends both scrambling for cover. After Rasha was nearly crushed under a mound, and the destruction of three of the Scorpions, Malathraxis finally comes crashing to the ground, her left wing impaled by numerous large bolts and rotted by necrotic magic.

The battle rages on the ground as the heroes come to grips with the enormous beast, their weapons and shield useless against the might of her attacks. The heroes scramble to avoid breath attacks and maneuver to engage the beast who moves about the field with relative impunity. Their attacks inflict small wounds, so this is a battle of attrition. The heroes each suffer grievous wounds and Nacu is hard pressed to keep his companions alive, riding Utog in dire bren form into the fray. Rasha sets up on a distant hill and attacks like artillery, while Shir and Kur-Dan strike at her underbelly and flanks. Meanwhile, Kaz does his best to stab between the scales on Malathraxis’ back. The fight is long and brutal, with Kaz being bitten in half and Kur-Dan being bitten and incinerated by the dragon’s breath, but eventually Kur-Dan finishes her off with a hay-maker to the temple.

As the heroes tend their wounds, Haradina appears and makes gifts for the heroes. Some come from the dragon herself, others from a satchel at her side. When Shir balks at his gift and goes on one of his tirades, the air goes cold and Haradina freezes him in ice. Kur-Dan thinks he momentarily saw her face change to that of an Arai women with snow-white hair and eyes a glacial blue.

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