Chapter 14

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The battle with the Red Dragon.  Scorecards available on request.

          Navero, male human cleric, 3rd level
          Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 3rd level
          Rourk Ravensbane, male drow cavalier, 3rd level
          Kortul, male human fighter, 2nd level
          Razuli, male human fighter, 2nd level
          Arlor, male dwarf thief, 2nd level

     For a moment, everything paused.  We stared into its gold-flecked
eyes like they were the only thing in the world.  Then, as agreed, we
scattered. Kortul and Arlor ran to the right, Kortul to the fore,
aiming his longbow, and Arlor about 15 feet to the rear.  Rourk and
Razuli went left, Rourk forward with weapons drawn and Razuli loading
his crossbow.  The dragon all too quickly shook off its sleep and
stood, and moved its claw in a curious way.  Navero and Dania hid
behind the rocks, Navero starting a Chant which would encourage his
friends, and Dania fired off 2 magic missiles.  The missiles streaked
out across the room, and fizzed out on an invisible barrier; a Shield.
So far, except for spellcasting, not a sound had been made.

     The dragon roared.  The earsplitting noise echoed enormously in
the cave's confines; we quickly realized it had been chosen partially
for its great acoustics.  The noise was so loud that Navero was
shocked out of his chant, and Arlor and Rourk were stunned.  Then it
breathed, a mighty gout of flame, in the direction of Rourk and
Razuli, at an angle guaranteed to get both.  Razuli ducked behind a
lump of stone, but Rourk, stunned as he was, could not possibly get
out of the way.  The flames blazed around them both; a great blast of
steamy residue flew off as the Shimmer mold which had coated them was
seared into ash, but they were alive.  Kortul fired two arrows; one
bounced off the invisible shield, the other from the creature's
metallic hide.  Dania swore and cast a Web spell about the dragons

     Kortul and Rourk charged; Arlor approached more cautiously.
Razuli lifted his crossbow, but discovered the string had burnt
through, so he drew his own blade and moved forward.  Navero resumed
the Chant.  Dania cast Cause Blindness; the dragon shrugged it off.
The dragon reared up and lifted the web, gold showering from it.  The
web tore completely away from its scales, and it then threw the sticky
mass over Kortul.

     Rourk charged up the pile of treasure, but never reached the
dragon itself.  One wing swung out, battering him away and almost
throwing him into Razuli.  The great tail swung out and knocked the
struggling Kortul down, and then the dragon ripped into him with its
claws until he lay still.  Razuli ran up beside it, and threw his
entire weight behind his sword, stabbing into its leg; blood hissed
out and the blade snapped.  Arlor threw a dagger, which skittered
across the scales of it's neck.  Dania moved from the rock to a column
which was closer to the action, while Navero continued his entreaties
to his gods.

     The dragon paused, as if considering its options, and then
breathed again.  This time, the fire arced across the room, and
enveloped Dania and her column.  Hair shriveled, and Shimmer mold
boiled away.  Rourk got up and swung both swords into one forelimb; he
drew blood, but not nearly enough.  Razuli drew his dagger, laughed at
his own foolishness, and looked in the treasure pile for a decent
weapon.  Arlor tried to run around and get behind it.  Dania dropped
without a sound.  Navero ran forward to Dania, and quickly used his
last spell point to Cure Light Wounds.

     Kortul got up; he wasn't quite dead after all, and was able to
rip away the tattered web in one motion.  Rourk stabbed into the body,
one blade merely scratching the steely scales, and the other not
penetrating nearly as far as it should have.  Arlor threw his other
dagger; the dragon merely moved out of its way.  Razuli saw a naked
sword in the pile, gleaming in the red light of the lava, with a
blackened and bony hand still around the hilt.  He grabbed it without
thinking.  Dania was still unconscious, and Navero began to hear
something from the lava pit; a crackling sound, unfamiliar.

     Rourk swung again; both blades grated across the scales.  Kortul
swung his great blade, and felt its weight come to a satisfyingly
sudden halt in the dragon's neck.  Arlor finally reached its
hindquarters, and tried to pick a spot to plant his short sword.  He
chose the tendons of the leg.  Razuli stabbed with his new sword
beneath the tail, where he thought there might be SOMETHING vital; the
blade sank into the steely flesh almost greedily, and the dragon
actually screamed in pain. Dania was jarred awake at this, and cast
another Web spell, but this time into the dragon's open mouth.  The
cracking sound was getting louder.  The dragon's eyes blazed, possibly
with pain but more likely with rage, and kicked back with both legs;
Razuli was torn from crotch to throat, and hurled back into a wall.

     The dragon grabbed Kortul, and threw him into Rourk; both
dropped.  With it's other claw, it tore away most of the web in its
mouth.  Arlor cut at it's leg, but it was like trying to cut through
stone.  Rourk got back up; Kortul did not.  He had been thrown onto
one of Rourk's swords.  Razuli lay there and bled.  Dania and Navero
looked on in helplessness.

     Arlor ran to Razuli, and grabbed the shining, bloody blade from
his hand.  Rourk swung twice, cutting across the deep wound Kortul had
made in the dragon's neck.  A good amount of blood rewarded him.  The
dragon looked down at him, and its left claw came streaking in out of
nowhere, followed closely by the right; both hit, but the bite
miraculously just grazed him, ripping his chest plate to tatters.
Rourk was hurled away to the floor. Dania cast Magic Missile; it
somehow snuck past the shield and made a slight wound in the dragon's
side.  Navero threw a rock, but it fell far too short.

     The dragon looked out across the room, to where Dania and Navero
were huddled behind a rock.  It seemed to be at the same time insulted
and horribly triumphant.  Its breath roared out again.  Navero grabbed
Dania and threw his mold-laden cloak about them both as the flames
surrounded them.  The fires seemed to last minutes.  When it was over,
Navero almost gently dropped to the floor; Dania had been shielded by
Navero's body, and was nearly unhurt.  Rourk hacked at the dragon
again; it seemed to finally be slowing down, although he did no
significant damage with the strike.  Arlor ran up behind it and
chopped at its leg again.  The sword was almost as long as he was, and
very unwieldy, but the slash cut nearly to the bone.

     The dragon slipped down the pile, its leg no longer supporting
it.  Rourk smashed it over the head, striking for the eyes; he missed
them, but the dragon seemed to be jarred by the impact, showing that
it was weakening.  Arlor swung, but the heavy blade was too much for
him and he missed.  Dania cast her last Magic Missile; they sputtered
against the shield.  The dragon swung with its great wings, blowing
dirt up from the floor; Rourk and Dania got it in their eyes.  It
kicked back with its good leg, and tore Arlor's legs out from under
him.  He dropped with two broken legs (critical strike) and fainted
from the pain.

     Rourk struck blind.  He hurled himself onto the dragon's sagging
neck and stabbed and stabbed and stabbed.  Blood hit him in the face
and burned; he ignored it.  Dania cleared dirt from her eyes, and
started to limp away from the column back towards the entrance.  The
dragon snarled weakly and shoved Rourk away, slamming him to the
ground and holding him underneath one claw.  It looked into his eyes,
and Rourk felt it trying to take hold of his mind and Charm him, but
he was one of the Dark Ones, and not to be so manipulated.

     The dragon's last desperate maneuver had failed.  Rourk stabbed
up into the golden eye.

     The dragon seemed almost indignant.  Then, so slowly, with a
great clash of steel on stone, it fell back onto its pile, and its
last breath left it.  The thing was dead.

Daniel Parsons

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