Prelude

Dragon Slayers

Our unusual team of mercenaries rest in the depths of Kobold Hall. The heroes collect the two halves of Chieftan Slithy’s skull mask, but the caravan goods are not in the area. They fear their mission isn’t quite over yet.

A secret key, a cold door, and a dark tunnel lead the heroes to a frozen cavern. Candlelight reveals a treasure horde—but the adventurers know better than to let down their defenses. Just as the adventurers begin investigating the sides of the area, the true threat descends.

Szartharrax, a young white dragon, leaps from the darkness to protect his treasure. The kobolds of this cave worship him, and these stolen riches were his rightful offerings. He splits the party as he lands. His very presence stuns many of our young heroes. His icy dragon breath catch both Donaar the paladin and Sweetlick the cleric, and he turns his attacks on the weaker members.

No one is eager to land the first strike—his attention could mean death. Wytex helps Saum flank the dragon, and Saum’s backstabs tear at the dragon’s scales. Borodin and Sweetlick spring into action to heal their allies.

Antek unloads early—his brutal strike smashes the dragon’s face, and his swirling attack reconnects against the dragon’s front leg. The dragon, disoriented, slips and slams his chest into the cold floor. Here our heroes realize that maybe (just maybe) they have a shot against this beast.

Donaar shakes off the ice and lays into the dragon with the vengeance of Bahamut. He challenges the creature, but the dragon is relentless—he is focused on weaker prey, Bahamut be damned.

Selenus flings his bear trap at the dragon—that trap tears at his leg the entire battle. Magic missiles, short swords, and javelins fly. Two back to back crits (Paladin’s Judgement and Sacred Flame) draw blood on Szartharrax.

The dragon breathes ice on and claws at Wytex, who crumples to the ground. But before he can even feel the cold floor he pulls himself together. Attacks wear down the dragon further. His life in danger, he flies into a frenzy of claws and bites against Donaar.

The dragon flies into the air (bear trap and all) and his roar shakes the chamber—icicles and stalagtites are loosened, and one knocks out the paladin. The dragon lands on his treasure horde for his final stand. Borodin teleports to lend Saum flank. As Saum moves into flanking position, the dragon bites viciously and takes him out.

The dragon is barely holding onto life. Selenus connects with his quarry one last time as the dragon’s legs give way, and Wytex ignites the beast as he falls. With his final breaths the dragon curses: “Tiamat … will … destroy … your … world”

The paladin uses Lay On Hands to revive the rogue. The crew gather to move the dragon off its treasure—a fantastic horde that contains a pile of gold, a wicked longblade, a suit of delvers armor, and some unusual red crystals. Red crystals whose insides appear to be boiling, rolling flames.

As Borodin pulls the crystals out from the felt bag, the party ignores the gold (just for a moment) to gaze at the stones. But something is not right. Borodin feels something evil with the crystals, and Sweetlick confirms it. Sweetlick touches them and sees flashes of unexplicable evil which tears at his sanity. Borodin fears the crystals are part of some evil ritual.

Our heroes rest and collect trophies from the dragon’s body before returning to Fallcrest.

On the way into town the heroes stop at Teldorthan’s Armory to return his green dragon hide. The dwarf explains that he had been commissioned to create an intricate Wrymscale armor for a visiting noble. Excited about its return, Teldorthan offers one of his finest armors or shields to Donaar.

Back at Moonstone Keep, Lord Warden is surprised and relieved to see the fractured skull mask of Chieftain Slithy, leader of the SKull Kicker tribe of kobolds. What he wasn’t expecting was the tale of Szartharrax—in fact, he did not believe our heroes until they produced fangs the size of daggers and white scales as large and tough as platinum coins.

Lord Warden orders ale for the heroes as they recount their heroic feats. He gladly hands over the bounty, while ensuring that the heroes could keep the other items they found in the treasure (if other traders lay claim to those items or gold, the city of Fallcrest may compensate them).

Borodin asks Saum to show Lord Warden the red stones from the dragon’s lair. Markelhay frowns as his wife examines the crystals. She can divine little more than the adventurers already know – the crystals are evil, necrotic, and part of some ritual. She asks to keep the stones overnight to allow the local high priest of Avandra to examine them. The Lord scratches his light beard … it occurs to him that someone has been trading in necrotic goods along King’s Road, between Fallcrest and Winterhaven. Necrotic goods are forbidden from open trade in Fallcrest. The heroes see the wheels turning in his head – someone is trafficking, someone in Fallcrest.

He sends the adventurers off with a note bearing his seal – the group is invited to an all-expense-paid weekend at the Nobles Suite of Nentir Inn, courtesy of Fallcrest treasury. As they wander the city, the heroes realize how quickly word spreads. They hear whispers – “See them? They are the ones!”... “I heard they destroyed an entire kobold clan!”... “My dad heard that one punched a dragon in the face!”

As the raucous party continues in Nentir Inn, the reality of the past few days sinks in – they are no mere mercenaries, they are Dragon Slayers. Not only that, they’ve earned the instant favor and respect of both the Fallcrest leaders and the trade houses. None of them have felt such respect and power before. What started as a mere mercenary mission has turned into something bigger.

After a long rest and much feasting, the group of new friends look at each other silently on a cool morning. As much fun as their weekend was, they each now think the same thought – the real fun is out there, beyond the city walls.

Chapter 1

Prelude

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