Having defeated Ssassra, the priestess of Tiamat, the companions settled down for a much deserved rest. After they had prepared themselves, they ventured on, seeking the location of Gimnar’s ale. They continued the way they has explored the day prior, and found themselves standing before a large, iron lift, held aloft with steel chains. Investigation of the strange object would have to wait, as a quartet of kobold guards had discovered them.
Merle launched himself at a pair guardian a large door, while another pair charged at Lemaia and Era. The thief held them at bay, holding aloft Ssassra’s holy symbol. She told them that her intention was to kill the God-King, Verolax, and save them from a life of servitude. Seeing the symbol Ssassra so treasured in the hands of an intruder, and the deceleration that she was here to destroy their leader was more than the guards could stand. They attacked with every fiber of their being,
Merle tested himself against what appeared to be two battle-hardened kobolds, but in the end they were not match for him. He finished them quickly, breaking them beneath his stone-like fists. Meanwhile Era and Lemaia beat back their small attackers, finding what openings they could in their impressive defense. In the end though, the ladies were victorious.
With their assailants dealt with, the trio wondered what was so important behind the door that they needed guards to protect it. With two sets of double doors to choose from, the three went left. What they found was not what they were expecting. A brazer stood in the middle of a hexagonal chamber. Straw was strewn about the area, with eggs nestled together. Tending the eggs were a pair of female kobolds, who, after seeing interlopers, lunged in a frenzy. They wedged one door closed, bottlenecking Era, Merle, and Lemaia. The two kobolds fought like they were possessed, picking apart the companions, but finally, the last of them fell, a tear in her eye.
Era and Lemaia collected an egg each, and torched the rest, closing the door behind them. From there they scooted down narrow hallway, coming to the dust remnants of an old forge, and an old gem cutters, but still the mystery remained; what was behind the other set of double doors?
Curiosity pulled at them, until they found themselves standing outside the tall oak doors. Lemaia cracked the door open ever so slightly. What she saw beyond the door was like another world. The walls were covered with vine of brambles and wicked thorns, which jutted off making walls of their own.. Roots twisted across the floor. A voice rang out from the bizarre chamber.
“Hello” it said, almost growling, ?What sort of thing are you?”
He bid her, and the two in the hallway to come inside. It wasn’t until Lemaia accepted the offer that she saw a pile of gold, copper, and silver coins, with other treasures. Among the items were 10 casks of dwarven ale. What they were searching for, what they had risked their lives for, now stood feet from them.
The voice introduced himself as Verolax. This was the God-King of the kobolds. Still, they could not make him out. He kept moving behind the walls of thorns. Lemaia tried to bargain with him, for the sought-after casks, but this seemed to only enrage Verolax. Realizing he would not easily part with his “treasure” lunged with her rapier, thrusting it into an adjacent wall, but nothing was there. Merle rushed in, following her lead, thrusting his quarterstaff through a break in another thorn wall, likewise meeting with disappointment.
It was then that Verolax made his presence known. A dark claw fell hard upon the stone, and walking from behind a wall stood a dark green dragon, taller than a man. He smiled, and sank his teeth into Merle’s shoulder. The dwarf cried out as the beast’s acidic bite pierced deeply.
To make matters worse, four creatures-the size of halfling and bearing a humanoid shape-emerged from the thorn walls. They were made of twisted brambles, and brought fierce, needle like claws to bare. The strange twig-men attacked Lemaia and Merle with reckless abandon. The thief managed to cut a few down with some artful strokes of her rapier.
Merle fought off the new enemies as best he could, though a few landed piecing blows upon hos legs. Injured, and facing overwhelming odds, he focused his ki, and in a feat of surprising strength, landed a blow upon the dragon that knocked it to the ground. Verolax would not be undone, however. The wyrmling drew a deep breath, and spewed forth a cloud of poison gas. Lemaia was overcome, and fell to the ground. Merle, already near death himself, was only saved by his natural dwarven resistance to poisons, but still succumbed to the dragon’s breath, and fell as well.
The sole remaining twig-man shambled towards the last companion standing; Era. The bard ignored the thing, hurrying to the dragon to strike a final blow. She thrust her rapier towards the chest of the prone wyrmling, but his hide was too thick. He rose up to its full intimidating glory, snapping at Era with his terrible jaws. She shifted away and struck a musical note she had never played before. A deafening clap of thunder erupted through the chamber, reducing the twig-man to splinters, and thrusting the dragon back against the wicked thorn wall.
When the dust settled, Verolax was held tight to the wall, wrapped in his own brambles. He looked at Era, demanding, “What are you?”
She thought about it for a moment, “Pissed that you hurt my friends.” was he only reply. With a quick swipe with her blade, she freed the ‘God-king’s’ head from his body. She quickly went to work, healing her friends, saving them from death’s door.
After a brief rest, the three split up the dragon’s horde between them. Era found herself in possession of a bag that did no grow heavier, no matter what she put in it. After gathering up their newly acquired goods, including the dragon’s head, the trio rolled the casks of ale to the lift, and took it down to the lower levels. From there they rolled it through the mines, to the crack in the wall from which they had emerged.
After several arduous hours in the dark, the three emerged from the wall in the cellar of The Black Stack Inn, all in hand, to find a sleeping Fella waiting for them. She awoke with a start, and looked upon the companions with disbelief.
“We thought ye were dead!” she said, before calling upstairs, “Dad, they’re back!”
“Do the have the ale?” he answered from upstairs.
There was much celebrating after that. A tale was told to them about the adventurers with the map they had taken such an interest in. They had managed to actually discover the lost dwarven mine of Dhol Kuldhir, but when they entered, they found the place completely plundered, with the body of a dead, headless dragon in one chamber. It slowly dawned on Merle’s face that the mines they had been skulking through for three days was long-lost Dhol Kuldhir.
Gimnar gladly paid the trio 99 gold pieces, and offered them room and board, free of charge whenever they were in town. Furthermore, after receiving Verolax’s head, Ginmar declared that he would be changing the name of the inn from The Black Stag to The Green Dragon.
The three had survived their first adventured, and came out of it not only richer, but as friends.