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Week Twenty Seven

June 11th, 1998
Avg. Rating: 3.7

SEGUE, FIRST

In a small candle lit chamber sat two men- one, an older, bearded man; the other, a younger looking, black haired Kormallis. The two positioned themselves in the center of a protective circle carved into the floor and began casting spells. The older one, whom Kormallis referred to as Acherus, completed his incantations and slipped into a meditative trance. Kormallis cast one last protective spell on himself and followed his teacher's example.

Acherus, still entranced, began speaking the words of another spell, echoed closely by Kormallis. He continued for many minutes, voice rising, until he stumbled over a critical passage, a passage which Kormallis recited correctly. The chamber became engulfed by a somber red light, and the shadows twitched with life. Tiny black forms erupted from the darkness, swarming over Acherus, savagely biting and tearing at his flesh. As Acherus was dragged into the darkness, the vicious creatures turned on Kormallis. He kicked and screamed to no avail, escaping certain death only by the timely activation of his final contingency spell. The room exploded with a searing burst of white light; when it cleared, the room was entirely empty except for Kormallis, lying in a growing pool of his own blood, a wide silver streak in the middle of his ebony hair.

SEGUE, SECOND

High in the clouds two female gold dragons soared together, an ancient one and a much younger (and smaller) one. Without warning a huge black dragon tore through the clouds and locked its jaws around the large gold dragon's throat. The younger wyrm attempted to help, and did manage to break the black dragon's hold, but was no match for its elder. The black dragon spat acid on the young gold dragon's face, forced her into her human form, and sent her plummeting to the ground below.

The black dragon returned her attention to the older of the two gold dragons, who had snatched up clawfuls of boulders while her attacker was distracted. The two mighty serpents battled back and forth for long minutes, but the black dragon was eventually victorious. She snapped the gold dragon's neck in her jaws and flew off, the corpse still dangling from her mouth.

EPISODE

The episode began with the party in the sewers, along with Lord Piergeiron, Gino, and the remaining Tempurians and Mystrans. Gregory left briefly, to retrieve the tabards and personal equipment he had stashed at the Inn of Many Doors, and saw many Shieldbreaker patrols, some with prisoners, on the surface. He quickly returned to the rest of the party.

Meanwhile, Willow sent Felicity to scout the castle. Inside the castle walls not a single guard was seen, only Shieldbreakers and Dragon Cultists. Felicity heard two Shieldbreakers conversing on the wall and learned that Kormallis, along with his closest ten acolytes, were gathered for a time of fasting and meditation in preparation for the following days of Ixchachaxi's reign.

In the sewers, Gino had gone to look for a way into the castle from the sewers...he returned a short time later, panting and out of breath, shouting that he had encountered Shieldbreakers, and that they may have followed him back. A quick check of the tunnel revealed the bodies of six Shieldbreakers, along with one dead and one wounded Tempurian defender. The party decided to act quickly- they set out for the castle's council chamber, the most logical place for Kormallis and his acolytes to be. Without the magic rings Kormallis and his deacons wore they wouldn't stand a chance against the dragon.

The PCs, along with Talyth, Shreesha, and Rakmor, cautiously made their way to Mother Tathlorn's. The building was deserted, and there was no sign of Mother herself, so the party just went in, to room #7, opened the hidden door in the armoire, and proceeded to the observation window above the council chamber.

Once there they could see Kormallis and his ten acolytes seated on the floor, wearing only ceremonial loin cloths, lost in deep meditation. The only others in the room were Dugan, the dwarf, and Caldia, the drow, both originally from Xanathar's lair. Talyth produced a magic dagger from his tunic and began cutting straight through the glass; when he was done he knocked the glass in and the party sprang to the attack.

Even as Talyth dropped to the floor below the window, Willow cast a deafening thunderclap into the chamber. Shreesha leaped 20 feet from the window and landed on one of the acolytes, tearing him to pieces as he fell. The rest of the party quickly filed into the room and chose their targets.

As the battle raged on Kormallis and three of his men cast a spell which instantly suited them in their armor, complete with weapons. In addition to wielding Bane, Kormallis also had Heartseeker dangling from his belt. After Kormallis critically injured both of Erik's legs, Kelly began mocking him through the telepathic link they shared (due to the rings' powers). Instead of finishing Erik, Kormallis made his way through the crowd of combatants towards Kelly, completely unaware that Willow was apportating Heartseeker from his belt to Kelly's hand. The unarmed and unarmored cultists proved to be little challenge, and were quickly cut down; the armored cultists took just a few seconds longer. Caldia and Dugan fought well, but they, too, were eventually beaten. Even Kormallis, after being magically healed from the brink of death by Bane, soon succumbed to the combined might of the party.

Kormallis fell to the ground, his life seeping from a dozen wounds, and began screaming for help, help to "get them off, get them off of me!" Tiny creatures sprang from the darkened corners of the room and started dragging Kormallis away, still screaming for help. Willow attempted to keep him from being taken, but two of the demons began biting and clawing her, forcing her to allow Kormallis' abduction. One of the creatures hissed at Kelly as she walked towards Kormallis; she not only hissed back, but demanded that the creatures wait. She quickly grabbed Kormallis' amulet and ring- the creatures then dragged his corpse off into the shadows.

The party, though victorious, was far from unscathed. Talyth had a severe wound to his hand, Willow had some minor wounds as well, and both of Erik's legs remained mutilated and useless. As the rest of the party gathered their wounded, collected all of the rings, and made their way back up to the chamber's window, Gregory spoke through the door to the guards who were frantically trying to break their way in. "All is well!" he shouted in his best impersonation of Kormallis. The banging on the door ceased.

The episode ended with the entire party back in the hidden passage above the council chamber. They had killed or incapacitated Kormallis, all of his acolytes, and Caldia and Dugan.

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Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
-- G. K. Chesterton