Date: Trical 14, 1333 Avard
In the wee hours of Trilan the 14th, Roland reached out to Xoriah through prayers and incense. He apologized for the loss of Ember, his trusted war horse. He asked Xoriah for forgiveness, and begged her send him another mount.
In the Temple of Galgiran, morning services had begun. The service was dedicated to Galgiran's allies, such as Eingrim the Gold, recently returned from the dead, and Guardian Roland of Xoriah. Upon mentioning Xoriah, the holy forge's embers began to brighten, as though someone were stoking the bellows. The priests looked at one another in confusion – and then fear, as coals from the fire began to move and stir. Hot glowing ashes moved, forming eyes that moved out of the forge. A flowing mane and hooves of fire wiggled loose from the holy forge, followed by a fiery horse's tail.
The fiery assemblage strode out of the holy temple, unshod hooves of fire striking sparks with every step. The congregation, startled by the strange apparition, followed the horse into the halls of Lok Giran.
Xoriah had responded to Roland's call for a new mount. Getting the horse out of the fortress proved to be more of a challenge, as the dwarves had ensured that larger creatures and larger mounts would simply not fit. It was then, that Roland realized the soul of a dog had been squished into the form of a horse. His mount summoned mount could take other forms, one of them being a mastiff, and the paladin belatedly realized that his horse – was a dog.
Once introductions and assurances were made, the Black Feather Troupe met in the stables. Jasper the dwarf had donned chitin armor, and waited for the troupe with her bear, Alabaster. Captain Slate of Clan Ironwill would lead the expedition's military arm, consisting of a hippotaun and two ankylosaurs, each anykylosaur armed with a ballista – and a bear-mounted scout.
Outside the stables, a roc-hawke blocked their passage. A blue-robed mage from Lok Magius had an urgent message from Master Aegan, ArchiMagus of the academy, summoning Eingrim to trial for violating the prohibitions laid against Hiko.
Roland and his new mount almost rode down the blue-roped mage, preventing any bloodshed, as the Black Feather Troupe prepared to defend Eingrim, and the dwarves prepared to side with the mage. The woman backed down on enforcing the edict, but informed Eingrim that there would be consequences.
Six hours later, the Troupe moved through Rilan, and headed two miles' south of the town. They staged the mounts, there, and let Toox and Jasper approach the fort on foot, a mile further south.
Toox held back at the broken wagon they had stolen from the warehouse, while Jasper went on ahead, reading the snow and the terrain like it was a book.
Jasper saw how the oxen had been killed, how Ember had died in a flash of cold, and saw the odd flying-away of the party – and a mule.
The dwarven scout slipped closer to the fortress, and gently, quietly climbed the mound of dirt and snow that had been built up in the entryway. Inside the fort, parts of the big oak had been broken away, and lots of the grounds dug up. As well, pine trees had been chewed into spears forty feet long. There were dozens of the spears.
Jasper slipped back out, moving back towards Toox, when the dragon shot straight up out of the fort – carrying three giant spears in each taloned claw. The dragon also had hempen rope oddly coiled about its body. The dragon went into the air, and hovered, looking for prey.
Jasper and Toox stayed close to one of the big trees, hoping they would not be seen.
The dragon suddenly flew north – straight towards Hiko, Chimes, and Roland, Eingrim and the dwarves.
Jasper and Toox raced north, hoping to get to the battle in time, when Jasper stopped, taking out her horn and blowing on it. No notes sounded from the big horn as Jasper blew on it, but she knew the horn would reach a mile. She signaled to Toox and then raced back towards the fort, hoping to find something they could use.
The watchful troop and the watchful Troupe kept keen eyes out for the dragon. Jasper's bear, Alabaster, stood up on its hind legs, roared like a banshee, and then tore off towards the south – towards Jasper and Toox.
The dwarves and the Troupe saw the dragon coming towards them, and the two ankylosaurs were turned. One of the shots went wide, but one of them punched through the dragon's wing – irritating it. The dragon ignored the bear, focusing on the afternoon reflections coming off of the metal armor of dwarves and paladin.
The dragon flew directly over the ankylosaurs and dropped six spears on them the size of pine trees. Fast work by Hiko put feather fall on five of the six, and Roland successful deflected the sixth by sheer skill and a bit of luck.
The dwarves on the ballistae worked as quickly as they could to wind them up and load another bolt, even as the dragon hit them with a blast of frigid air. The dwarves and the ankylosaurs took it in stride, but the dragon did not.
The dragon spotted Roland, and recognized him. It dropped down through the snow-laden branches, and then hit dwarves, ankylosaurs, ballistae, and Roland and his mount, with a wall of ice nearly a foot thick.
Chimes goaded and guided the remaining dwarves, who fired their crossbows, while Eingrim unleashed a lightning bolt at the dragon that narrowly missed everyone else.
Then the dragon unfurled the hemp rope from around its body. It had apparently found a shipwreck somewhere along the river, and removed the rigging, braiding it together into a giant's flail – with three-inch thick rope that could break bones and beat a man off a horse. Roland was the target of the dragon's wrath, for the dragon had literally held the man in its mouth – and let him go rather than kill him or crush him. And in return, Roland had returned with ballistae and more armored crunchies?!
DM's Notes: I believe that the INT scores in D&D are equivalent to IQ – just off by a factor of ten. Thus, an INT score of 10 is equivalent to an IQ of 100. If I follow this logic, then a young white dragon with an INT score of 6 would have an IQ of 60 – the academic equivalent of a third grader. Well, lo and behold, I have a third grader handy to ask as a stand in for a young white dragon! I asked Sarah what she would do if strangers were trying to break into her house, and I helped narrow down her defenses. This whole dragon idea was Sarah's to begin with (she vacillated between a dragon and zombie winter wolves, but settled on a dragon), and so she made the dragon hers with her insights and ideas.
Had it not been for that meddling Hiko and his feather fall, the spears would have taken out one of the ankylosaurs, through the driver. Quick reaction on Caileb's part, so kudos for that spell.
Roland earned an infamy point with his calling of the paladin's mount during morning services. I probably should have had him roll a Religion check for that, ahead of time, but (shrug) these things happen.
I scared the party a bit when I muttered about not being able to play anymore, as it got to near midnight. I used to have a clock on the wall opposite me when I DM'd in Texas, but haven't had one since. I ordered one later that night, so I could pace myself better and make sure we don't get too late during the next session. Sualy was feeling guilty, as she had worked that day, but I need her to understand that she is not at fault for my thoughts. I had forgotten about having a clock, and it should arrive before the next session, so no worries. :)
Caileb had been frustrated with illusion spells and taking the illusionist route for Hiko, so I let him start retooling the wizard for conjurer (the direction he originally wanted to go when making the character).
None to date.