Having discovered and subsequently defeated the Justicar assassin onboard the Luxury’s Eye, the party disembarks to sort out payment for their rendered services. Anzula and Stormfury, being paid for completion of their contract, become separated from the remainder of the party. Unfortunately for the others, they learn they can’t get paid from this business office!
Not without a little more work ahead of them, first.
Gjalund, Lyndir, Eldcor and Scara learn from the branch manager of Luxury Affairs, that all of the available discretionary gold was recently removed from the branch by the head executives, who have recently become paranoid it would be stolen from the secure vaults. The manager tells them the executives then went to perform an in-person inspection on a nearby mine the company has recently opened, and haven’t been heard from in nearly a week. Without any funds to pay, and without any guarantee that the executives weren’t murdered and the gold stolen, he hasn’t been able to contract anyone to locate the execs.
The group thinks it over, and decides that since the Luxury’s Eye will be in port for several more days at least, and if the branch manager will pay them more afterward, they’d rather hunt down the executives rather than wait until they make port again in the Radaman Islands to get paid. After exacting a payment contract from the manager and signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement regarding the mine, the party receives directions to its location and heads out.
Despite Gjalund spotting several signs of active Lith in the area, the party is largely unmolested until they reach the mining camp. Upon arrival, they find the entire camp in massive disarray, with signs of the camp having been overrun by Lith. The party doesn’t have long to investigate before they spot a huge Lith raiding party near the edge of the camp. Realizing they are overmatched, hugely outnumbered and trapped on the edge of the gorge, the party makes preparations to flee using the mine carts and tracks down into the mine itself. Using Scara’s brute strength, carts are righted and started down the tracks as Gjalund uses his bow to hold off the lead marauders.
The flight in the mine carts took the four on a twisting turning high-speed race through the Ajjataran Gorge, with Lith attempting to cut them off as the mine cart tracks turned back and forth on themselves taking the party deeper into the gorge. The party started to feel like they had it under control between Lyndir’s control of the carts using the handbrakes, with Scara’s sword, Eldcor’s massive hammer, and Gjalunds quick arrows keeping the worst of the heat off them, when things took a turn for the worse.
Unbeknownst to the party, a very large dragon had taken up roost in the side of the gorge, and the sounds of the combat and yelling disturbed it from it’s slumber. While the dragon scared away the Lith, the party then had to worry about it roasting them alive in the carts, or even knocking the carts from the tracks to fall to their death hundreds of meters below. Pushing the carts to their limits, with a couple close calls in some turns, the party barely managed to stay ahead of the dragon until desperation finally overtook them.
Seeing an unsteady rock outcropping coming up ahead, Eldcor yelled for the party to distract the flying beast, readying to swing his hammer and dislodge the stack of stone down upon it. Scara tore his tent from his pack, opening it like a giant parachute sheet and releasing it into the path of the dragon just as one of Gjalund’s seemingly endless stream of arrows finally struck a hole in the dragon’s armor: its eye. Reeling with pain, the dragon failed to avoid the giant tarpaulin released by Scara, effectively blinding it completely from the danger ahead as Eldcor’s hammer struck true, and a cascade of boulders rained down upon the massive creature, blocking off the entrance into the mine itself behind them.
For the first time in nearly 15 minutes, the party wasn’t fleeing for their lives, and the sudden release of that stress caused them to nearly break down into a fit of laughter as the carts pulled into the central loading area of the mines. Their laughter was cut short when they saw this area was as decimated as the camp above had been, and there were many holes from burrowing Lith scattered across the whole area.
Regretting their earlier joviality, the party stealthily began poking through the wreckage, looking for any signs of where the executives may have gone, hoping the Lith hadn’t dragged away the bodies to feast on later. After fighting off two small bands of stragglers from the attack, the party began traversing the mines following what Gjalund believed were the most recent set of prints. After a short time, they discovered a hastily constructed barricade blocking a tunnel, and found the missing miners, executives, and most importantly: the gold. After explaining about driving off the Lith and their contract (leaving out the dragon), the party convinced their rescuees to leave the mines and return to Darujhistan.
The return was largely uneventful, with no further Lith assaulting the large group. The party tensed for a fight when the miners began unblocking the mine entrance, but their fears were unfounded. It appeared the dragon, if not killed by the rockslide and knocked into the heart of the Gorge, had left following it’s injuries.
Not until they had passed where the dragon had originally attacked them from, did they determine the dragon had survived, and had a grudge against them.
The party urged the miners on, as the dragon attacked. Despite broken wings, one eye lost, and many scales shattered on the beast, it’s breath remained as potent as ever, spewing flaming napalm death over those miners closest to the rear of the column.
Scara, seeing that they wouldn’t be able to outrun the beast, even injured as it was, saw with a moment of perfect clarity his purpose. Telling everyone he would buy them the time they needed to escape, he leaped from one of the carts over the heads of the miners pushing it, rushing the dragon bellowing his war cry while chomping down on his last dose of bramblekin root.
Gjalund took the buayan’s advice, and rushed out ahead of the fleeing group, using his superior speed to try to scout ahead and cut off any Lith that might be attracted by the sounds of the battle. Eldcor and Lyndir, did not.
Urging the fleeing miners onward, the two rushed back to the brawl as Scara and the dragon faced off, exchanging blows of fists and teeth. Even wounded, however, the dragon proved a formidable foe, and the party was hard-set to give as good as they were getting. Curses and judgements from gods and magic were called down upon the creature, hammer blows and sword strikes were leveled at any vulnerable appearing area, and the creature returned the attacks with sharp sword-like claws, massive gnashing teeth, hard armored scales, and that dreaded napalm breath.
Realizing his companions hadn’t followed the buayan’s instructions, Gjalund raced back once securing the safety of the miners, arriving in time to find Scara’s broken body laying at the feet of the beast, Eldcor knocked from the cliff behind the dragon by it’s powerful tail, and the Judge, valiantly standing tall despite his wounds, calling down a judgement on the beast as it struck him down with one final sweep of it’s massive clawed paws. Gjalund barely made it to hiding before the dragon, hurt but still clearly battle worthy, began devouring the corpses of his two fleshy companions before retiring to it’s lair.
Gjalund was unable to recover any part of Scara’s body, and the Judge was so badly mangled that only his helmet and sword survived intact. Gathering these two reminders of those he had travelled with the past 8 months, he decided not to risk the treacherous climb down the 400 feet of sharp cliff to where Eldcor’s metal body had landed, clearly broken beyond repair. Returning to the rescued miners, he led them back to the city, where with a heavy heart he collected the pay from the branch manager for the party’s efforts.
After sorting through the miscellaneous belongings left by the the Judge, Gjalund discovered the Judge’s will, learning he and Eldcor had been named inheritors to the aging Judge’s possessions. Making contact with Anzula and Stormfury he let them know he would be retiring, using the considerable pay for the recently completed job and the Judge’s Traveling Court Wagon to wander the peaceful countryside.
Stormfury also decides to take his leave, having received notice that his old regiment was being reformed and that the Crimson Claws had promoted him to command over it.
Anzula, with her payment for her recent job in pocket (and on hand), decides to pursue following the path of the Beach Princes. The lure of royal power drawing her deeper down the path of darkness she had begun traveling…