Steam Breath

One and Many
Things are getting critical!

“What did we learn today?”
“Disintegrate is not to be fucked with…”

In Ghord:

Beginning where we left off…

Screams and fire fill the streets of the dwarven city, so we know more ass-kicking is forth-coming. Before that happens Merric has to suit up! For a couple of minutes… Azazel follows Merric to help with the straps and things. Dakrus takes advantage of the pause in battle to get some shopping done, while Alaire stands around and twiddles her thumbs impatiently.

Finally, Merric bursts out of the shop with Azazel in full dragon mode (apparently subtlety is the name of the game today) and the crew take flight to find the source of the mountain of fleeing dwarves. What they find are three Umbral Reavers (a warrior, a sorcerer, and an assassin) doing what they do best, causing mayhem and destruction.

Baraqel uses his paralyzing breath attack right off the bat, effectively taking the sorcerer out of the fray, while Alaire (less effectively) adds injury to insult by firing three shots at the frozen sorcerer. The assassin takes this opportunity to disappear and the warrior, spotting Merric in all his armored glory, challenges him to a one-on-one fight.

The assassin reappears a little way down the street and makes its presence known by mercilessly murdering a child and mother while the party can do nothing but stand by and watch. Filled with rage Baraqel bears down on the assassin and takes a bite at him while Armoros feels inspired to use the sorcerer as an improvised weapon against the warrior, interrupting the one-on-one by wailing on it with its buddy.

A vast amount of fail occurs on both sides, tempered by a few wins. Baraqel gives up chomping at the assassin in favor of grappling it, after Alaire takes a few last shots at it, finally pinning it and taking it out of commission. Merric brings down the warrior with a little- I mean! a lot of help from Azazel. And out heroes learn that a dragon can charge while holding a paralyzed creature.

Deciding it’s time to stop playing with the yahoos and see what’s going down in the rest of the city, Azazel and Merric take off ahead of the rest of the crew, scaring the crap out of the remaining dwarves in the process. Armoros rips the sorcerer to pieces before she and Dakrus follow suit. Leaving Alaire to blow the assassin’s head to smithereens with an awesome example of sharpshooting…right before she spills her remaining ammo all over the street. Good job.

Merric and Azazel arrive at a large stone building where it appears more umbral reavers have taken over. Two umbral sorcerers on the roof and two warriors guarding the front door. Armaros and Dakrus arrive shortly after the fighting starts and promptly join in. Dakrus gets some shots off with his bow, shooting one of the sorcerers right through the gullet, which was incredibly fortunate since that meant one less disintegrate spell they could pop that round. Wait! Did you say disintegrate? Shit, this is going to hurt isn’t it?

Deciding to focus their attacks on Merric, because he’s so shiny-! or rather, so obviously vulnerable to their spells, the sorcerers nearly kill him. Azazel rockets upwards, an unconscious Merric in tow, to prevent that from happening. One of the warriors, bent on finishing the job the sorcerers started, transports high above Azazel and Merric to plummet towards them, weapon drawn. Fortunately, Azazel knows how to dodge…so the warrior shrugged his shoulders and resumed his position at the front door.

After healing Merric and fighting some more, the party is finally rejoined by Baraqel and Alaire who notice, “Hey, that’s a normal house!” At which point Dakrus has the perspicacity to wonder, “Why would they target a normal residence… What are they trying to draw attention away from?!” And then he looked really hard for their actual target and by sheer force of will, or magic, he found it! Across the city, further than he should have been able to see, at the residence of one of the stone lords, the guards at the door were slumped over, apparently asleep.

Due to this revelation, and the fact that they’re getting trounced, the party decides to regroup so they can strategize and take to the sky for that purpose. After some more healing, the crew discuss their options, or start to but are rudely interrupted by a couple of fire balls, so they ascend more.

Now that they are out of reach, the gang gets back to discussing their options and are faced by a moral dilemma: Go to the save the stone lord, the target of this attack, and the umbral reavers that are serving as a distraction will destroy more of the city and take potentially hundreds of lives, or stay put and eliminate these umbral reavers, saving hundreds of civilians but allowing them to accomplish their mission with the stone lord. What to do…

Merric causes Armoros to rue the day she met him by opting to save the stone lord since, according to his reasoning, as a person who possesses greater power, the stone lord is a more valuable ally than a handful of lowly civilians. This stand point does not sit will with a majority of the party, Alaire is reminded of her first impression that Merric is an asshole, who can’t justify letting hundreds of innocents die for the sake of one person, opting instead to get rid of the distraction as quickly as possible and hope for the best in regard to the stone lord.

So, the plan is for Dakrus to sneaky-sneaky attack one of the sorcerers while everyone else causes a distraction by dive-bombing and attacking the other sorcerer. Alright, seems easy enough. Merric and Alaire resonate with their dragons before diving so they glow and can be more of a diversion. Now then, bombs away!

First though, the sorcerers get a chance to defend themselves. The one that our heroes were ganging up on got flustered and punked itself with its own disintegration spell. One down. Dakrus sends a message to Armoros to leave the other sorcerer to him, everybody else attack the warriors. She doesn’t relay the message so Baraqel paralyzes the surviving sorcerer first chance he gets and Alaire dismounts to finish it off.

The rest of the party switch their attention to the warriors at the door. Armoros and Dakrus go all out against one of them, while the other gets defensive and tries to get diplomatic with Merric. Little does it know, Merric doesn’t make deals with devils! Armoros and Dakrus dispose of their foe while the rest of the party attack the defensive warrior to no avail, even after Baraqel has it grappled. They finally manage to knock it out after it occurs to them to take its shield away, in the meantime Dakrus decides to peek inside the doors to see what’s in there, and promptly shuts the door again. More sorcerers with disintegration spells are what’s in there, apparently.

Baraqel drops the unconscious warrior he’s holding, leaving him for the others to finish off. At the doors Alaire dismounts and pushes them open so Baraqel can blast the interior with his paralyzing breath, stopping three of the four reavers in their tracks. The rest of the party move in, and after a couple more paralyzing breaths, are able to clear the room.

It took a a while, but they’re finally in the house. According to one of the warriors at the door there are twenty more umbral reavers in the house. Let’s find out if it was telling the truth….

This and That
Alright! We can finally meet with the Stone Lords! But first... can we go shopping?

“I’ve seen my god within the last year, how long has it been since you’ve seen yours?”

Back at the Caves:

After taking all the valuables off of the bodies of the blighted Nyss, our party members began impromptu burial rights for their slain enemies (with no real regard for their chosen religion).

Now, onward to Rhul to seek alliance with the dwarves! Oh, no, never mind. First the party had to explain to Dakrus and Armoros why they are doing that. After summarizing events so far for the newest party members, and learning some of Dakrus’ back story, the party determines that it is too late of an hour to be traveling and settle in for the night at the caves.

In the morning, our heroes continue onward to the dwarven city! (For real, this time) They arrive at the gates of Ghord and manage to sweet talk their way into the city…

First thing’s first, time to trade in the loot for even better loot! Heading into the merchant district, the party member’s spot a despondent looking gnome in front of Jinx’ Mechanix closing up shop at a suspiciously early hour. Our heroes inquire about this state of affairs and are invited into the shop. There the gnome, name of Jinx Blastbang, discloses that he is an arcane mechanik from Lael whose shop is getting shut down by the dwarves.

After disclosing his lack of funds to the party, Jinx agrees to barter goods at a decent rate. While shopping, Alaire notices a small mechanika device that she doesn’t recognize, Jinx reveals that it is an invention of his own which, according to generally accepted science should not be possible. Merric wants to try it out and Dakrus, who has been entertaining Jinx by creating explosions in Jinx’ work space, obliges by pitching a bomb at him, successfully demonstrating what a useful little force field Jinx’ invention is.

Done bartering goods, the party recruits the talented little gnome, after making him pass out by revealing the dragons’ true forms and telling him about Atlantis, that is. Dakrus gives Jinx the gold to pay the rent on his shop, so he doesn’t have to vacate immediately, and asks that he allow the party to use his shop as their base of operations while in Ghord.

That settled, Dakrus and Alaire talk Merric out of going to bed immediately, since it was only noon, in favor of hitting the streets in an attempt to discover how to get access to the local library (a more difficult task than one might think). Azazel stays at Jinx’ shop to get his armor worked on, while the rest of the party heads out.

Shortly after leaving the shop, our heroes witness some young dwarves harassing a nyss woman who had been carving a beautiful sculpture. The nyss woman remained calm and smiling throughout the ordeal, even when one of the dwarves broke the arm off of the statue, causing them to become bored by her lack of reaction and finally took themselves off.

Alaire approached the woman, introducing herself and expressing her admiration for the woman’s sculpting ability as well as her poise. The nyss sculptor, Meryll Reyvrese, turns out to be a powerful cleric of Nyssor, and as such, butts heads with Merric who is a pigheaded follower of Menoth.

Meryll and Merric engage in a dual in the middle of the street, since talking never resolves anything, during which Merric refused to admit that Meryll was thoroughly trouncing him. Dakrus and Armoros bet on who would win, and Alaire felt only marginally guilty about rooting for Meryll. To everyone’s suprise, Meryll yields to Merric, though he was obviously out-matched. Right before she yielded it had seemed as though she saw something over his shoulder, but when the rest of the party turned to look they saw nothing but a couple of city guards down the street.

Merric proceeds to talk too much, again, exasperating his party and infuriating Meryll when he lets slip that he knows more than she would like about her religion. He somehow manages to resolve the issue, and after wards everyone agrees that he should keep a lid on it.

Our heroes make their goodbyes to their new acquaintance, Meryll, and continue on their merry way when they soon come upon another altercation (just what is with this city?), this time in front of Thulric’s Fine Threads. One dwarf, presumably the owner of the shop, threw another dwarf out the door of the shop, apparently having a problem with his attitude while haggling. Thulric scares the other dwarf off when he brings out his rifle and, after the offending haggler shouted back one last insult, demonstrated that he knows how to use it.

Armoros decides she wants to buy pretty dresses from the angry seamster and enters the shop, followed shortly by the rest of the crew. The party proceed to make his day by commissioning him to make over a thousand gold worth of finery for them (Azazel and Merric excluded since they prefer nudity, apparently). The crew will have to wait four days to receive their clothing, but decide that that is a price they are willing to pay if it means they can look pretty when they confront the Stone Lords.

Business negotiations now complete for the day, the party make one last stop for a delicious dinner before retiring to bed.

A scream outside the shop in the middle of the night, wakes half the party from their slumber. Alaire, Baraqel, Dakrus, and Armoros all tumble out of their beds and down the stairs ready for a fight. Halfway down the stairs it occurs to them that someone ought to wake up Merric and Azazel, so Baraqel sprints back up the stairs to pound on their doors.

After ascertaining that the two sleepy heads are both awake and moving, Baraqel somersaults out a third story window to join the rest of the party who have arrived on the street outside Jinx’ shop. There they see an Umbral Reaver, an infernal creature, murdering a city guard.

Alaire fires three rapid shots at the creature and the rest of the party quickly join the fray. Our heroes deal enough damage to the reaver that she finds it expedient to teleport away, rather than stay and be killed. Five other screams are heard in quick succession, emanating from further down the street, and our heroes can see the beginnings of fire coming from that direction as well…

Rock and Rhul
Surrender or die! (Pleeease pick die. Pretty please?)

“This is not the one we’re looking for, kill him.”
“Wait! There’s a problem with my weapon.”
“What is it?”
“I’m using it to kill the wrong person.”

Somewhere in the Kingdom of Rhul:

A corp. of fighters is ambushed by a group of blighted creatures. One half-orc badass, name of Dakrus Darklock, survives, taking two of the blighted down while his cohorts fall around him. In spite of his valiant efforts, he is captured and drug away by the bad guys.
(I wasn’t really paying attention at this point so, Adam or Jonathon, if you want to rewrite this segment, please feel free)

Back in Atlantis:

After a long, and much needed, sleep, our heroes awake to find their dragons gone. Setting out in search of them, Alaire and Merric somehow know exactly which direction they needed to go in order to find them. Merric finds Azazel in short order and engages in some risky riding lessons, while Alaire tracks Baraqel down in the library where it looks like he’s been up all night studying.

Now that our duos have been reunited it’s time to get down to business. Namely, learning the lost art of true naming, but before they hit the books the four get some nasty headaches while figuring out how to use Soul Resonance.

When that’s all out of the way, Baraqel mentions an ancient pact between the dwarves and the Darastrix Caex and, though Azazel is all for launching a suicide attack against the ultimate evil, the party agrees to visit the dwarves in the hope of renewing the alliance.

In route to see the dwarves in Rhul, the two dragons spot something interesting and fly down to get a better look. What they find is the aftermath of a recent battle, one that drenched the snow in blood, and signs that someone was captured and dragged forcefully away. Azazel and Baraqel’s interest is peaked when they find the black scale of a blighted creature in the snow, Alaire’s interest is peaked when she sees signs that the person captured didn’t go with out a fight, and the crew sets out in pursuit.

Elsewhere, in a dark cave in Rhul, Dakrus comes to, bound and gagged. A blighted nyss stalker grabs the half-orc’s face, assessing him. Not finding what he is looking for the nyss stalker exits and sends three underlings into the room with orders to kill Dakrus. Not fully in agreement with that plan of action, our friend struggles to break free of the chains that bind him but is unfortunately distracted by the searing burning sensation that is inexplicably pouring down his back.

Happily, one of the three would-be murderers defects in support of Dakrus and obliterates the other two before freeing him and revealing herself to be a gold dragon named Armaros.

Before further explanations can be made, however, our heroes enter the scene, putting the newly united caex and dragon on high alert. After a brief display of stupidit- er, masculinity, everybody comes to some kind of an understanding so they can all go kill some stuff.

The two firebreathers obliterate the first bout of blighted opponents, while ice sits in a corner suffering from a migraine.

Second bout of blighted, more of them this time! Baraqel and Alaire finally get their act together (sort of) and participate in the slaughter. Alaire and Merric coupe-de-grace the shit out of the paralyzed and unconscious blighted, while Dakrus and Armaros try to intimidate some information out of the only remaining foe, to no avail.

Covered in guts and glory, our heroes try to pull it together to face the last and final boss of the day, well, the dragons do. Faced with a large evil white dragon, the humans ignore him and engage in a brief spat with each other. The white dragon, Winterwraith, and Armaros politely, if acerbically, introduce themselves while Baraqel convinces Merric, “Yes, this dragon is evil.”

After waiting patiently for the people to get their act together, Winterwraith wastes no more time, promptly hosing all present with his breath weapon. Battle ensues, for real this time, and damages are received on all sides, but our heroes arise victorious after all. Dakrus takes his turn at coupe-de-grace-ing some shit, since he missed out the last time, and gleefully starts dismembering the body.

The dragons request the heart, splitting it equally between the three of them and enjoying it as a snack, but otherwise leave Dakrus to it… the dragons light up like christmas trees and bask in a slight power increase gained from devouring another dragons heart.

When Dakrus is done playing with the corpse, the crew finish their day out by looting the bodies… I mean, we might as well make some money while we’re at it, right?

Hellfire and Brimstone
If I die? You die? Sucks to be you.

“You know those dragons that went crazy and evil? And, you know, decided to destroy the world ’cause they were bored?”
“Well, after sleeping for a reeeeally long time, we’re pretty sure one of them is awake. Has been training an evil army for a hundred years, an army which is now laying waste to your homeland. Has a supernatural bond with your Hierarch, one of the most powerful men who has ever lived. Oh, and he might not be the only one that woke up.”
“Oh, shit.”

In the southern province of Icthosa:

Visgoth Scarrel informs Alaire that the Hierarch is sending one of his High Reclaimers, Merric Alducar, to inspect their diamond mining operation and asks her to keep an eye on him during his stay. First impressions were not favorable. Merric disapproved of the entire operation, and Alaire wished she could take the stick out of his ass and use it to beat the racist out of him. Something smelled funky in the deepest mining shafts and it was NOT the workers.

After the mutually upsetting visit to the mines, Alaire took Merric to see Scarrel, where the Visgoth proceeded to decimate all of Merric’s objections with nothing but a load of bullshit. Huzzah! Meanwhile, Alaire relieved her feelings by destroying some property-I mean! She went back to the mine to inspect the gross smell, but couldn’t find anything…

After a few more days of mine excavation (and a really boring sermon, Hellfire and Brimstone, blah blah), the workers hit a depth of 100 meters, the deepest anyone had been in known history. While, Merric and Alaire were awaiting developments outside of the shaft, Alaire heard running footsteps in the mine that were abruptly cut off.

Shortly thereafter a worker stumbled out of the mine shaft, shouting, “RUN!” and desperately trying to keep his guts from spilling out of his eviscerated stomach. Unfortunately, even if that whole hand on the stomach thing had worked out for him (which is doubtful), a sword emerged from out of the darkness behind him, slicing him in two.

Merric and Alaire, neither of whom are good at following directions apparently, raced towards the mine entrance with weapons drawn to be greeted by four baddies. After dropping three of them, and taking a brief moment to heal Merric, our two heroes were preparing to finish off the fourth guy when an even bigger baddie (and two sidekicks) exited the mine shaft.

Undaunted by this fresh supply of xp-I mean! foes, our heroes proceeded with the ass kicking. After several blunders and a lot of Awesome exchanged on both sides, Merric and Alaire thought they were doing pretty well… until the bad guys they’d already killed started standing back up and reenlisting.

Then, as though things weren’t confusing enough as is, Merric and Alaire both felt a painful burning sensation on their backs and experienced a sudden inexplicable onset of rage or giddiness, respectively.

Two shadows cross the sky, briefly blocking out the moon.

Alaire and Merric struggled on for a little longer, when a nasty looking red dragon landed near Merric with an explosion of rubble and blasted three of the little baddies with fire. Followed shortly by a beautiful silver dragon who swooped down out of no where (seemingly) and scooped Alaire up onto his back, out of harms way. The two dragons then trounced the remaining enemies with their antipodal attacks (Merric and Alaire helped a little, experiencing the dragon’s emotions the while), killing them dead (for real this time).

Without waiting for the carcasses to stop sizzling, the dragons flew away with the heroes astride them, just in the nick of time. Looking down the heroes could see masses of “blighted” evil creatures swarm out of the mouth of the mine.

After an abortive attempt to convince the dragons to help them warn their superiors of the approaching army, Merric learned that his boss might be evil and Alaire learned that her boss is most likely doomed, their stress was alleviated slightly by the most gorgeous sunset they will ever behold. Fortified by that sight, the party braved tornadic winds in order to enter the fabled Atlantis, a floating city of legend and lost magics.

Landing in the city, Alaire and Merric dismounted at which point the red dragon, Azazel, and the silver dragon, Baraqel, introduced themselves and presented the humans with an abundance of information. Including, but not limited to, information about Atlantis and its technologies, their mysterious dragon/rider bond, the ornate brands they’ve all received as a symbol of that bond, and the Ancient Evil Dragon that has awoken, which they all must fight…

Now full of more information and new revelations than they know how to process, the four new allies retired for the night for some much needed rest.


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