The group, minus their bard leader, clustered in the vestibule, cleaning up what they could of the goblin and drake ichor before laying out their bedrolls on the cold stone floor. They had opted to sleep in the large room with the rune of fire protection in it, just in case something fiery happened while they were trying to rest.
In the early hours of the morning, Arannis the eladrin had completed his trance, and was keeping watch at the far wall with Merri the paladin on the other door. He suddenly sensed waves of arcane power coming from beyond the door, and beckoning her over so as not to disturb the others, she agreed to keep watch while he peeked outside. The magic did not feel threatening, and upon cracking the door he could see that the pool which he had used to peer deeper into the Abbey earlier was actually glowing with an eerie light.
Taking a risk to step into the hallway, he walked forward. Suddenly, the water in the pool glowed a deep red, and a man with sharp, commanding features peered out. “You have trespassed into my domain and taken me by surprise once, but never again! Be warned, adventurer who enters the realm of Malareth’s power, for he is aware of your presence and will not tolerate you for long!” Suddenly, the entire pool vanished, replaced with only a smooth floor where once a stone basin had rested.
Arannis didn’t have long to process this phenomenon, for the others were rising with the coming of dawn. As they rolled up their things and prepared to go deeper into the dungeon, despite Malareth’s warnings, the bard Torik returned. He told them how Greag, the caravan driver, had revealed to him that he transported more than art objects for Argenta. Every time he traveled south, he also concealed masterworked silver weapons beneath empty compartments in the false floor of his wagon.
Dealing with the Dragon
After a brief discussion about the dragon they believed to be lurking in the worship space of the abbey just north of their position in the vestibule, they decided it was worth it to pay the creature a visit. A few among the adventurers knew enough about dragons to know that they didn’t tend to like sharing space with others in their lair, and it was possible that this dragon was harboring a grudge against Malareth. They also knew enough about the weak and sickly-looking kobold servants that Vamaniel had spied earlier to guess that the dragon would be very young, unable to command stronger vassals, and therefore would be easier to dispatch should the discussion turn sour.
Entering the hallway, the tiefling Staimos used his linguistic facility to speak with the kobolds. Even then, their language was elementary and babbling, speaking of the “Ice Lord” and requiring the adventurers to come with them. They did so, and were ushered to a chamber with a glowing rune circle on the floor, a small pile of gold and a few assorted oddments in the corner, and a large white dragon. The dragon reared up, the scales along his back ruffling almost like feathers, and roared. The roar was somewhat impressive, but the adventurers were hardly frightened.
The dragon, who named himself Farallax, demanded to know why they had entered his domain, and the adventurers strove mightily to placate his obvious arrogance. Comparing him to Megallax, an “ancient dragon” that the adventurers made up on the fly was a great maneuver, as Farallax was obviously pleased and claimed to be descended from Megallax. (Anyone from the Nentir Vale would know, of course, that it’s far more likely that an ice dragonling in the area would be some whelp or another of Bitterstrike, the Wounded White Dragon of Winterwood.)
They adventurers managed to convince Farallax that they would slay the interloper on his domain and bring his body to the dragon to consume, and he agreed to help them by revealing a secret doorway in his chamber that would permit a sneakier assault on Malareth.
The adventurers, deciding that it was too unsafe to leave the dragon alive to haunt the people of Harkenwold, decided to ask permission to worship at the four altars in the main hallway before traveling further into the dungeon. The dragon laughed at their desire, but they had flattered him enough that their desire to worship gods and not him was not terribly offensive, but more amusing. He let them go, and they quickly used the time to discuss whether or not to betray the dragon.
The bard alone ended up holding out on this treachery the longest, but the others had either been so upset by the dragon’s base arrogance or so concerned that the dragon might upset the surrounding countryside if allowed to survive that they decided together to kill Farallax before he could grow to become a real menace. Quickly organizing themselves for battle, keeping in mind the kobolds still lurking around them, they went back into the dragon’s chamber on the pretense of using the secret door, and launched a surprise attack.
With a bellowing roar, Farallax cried out “Treachery!” and blasted the adventurers with an icy blast fueled within his own cavernous body. They battled in the room for some time, the dragon pinned against the wall, the ranged fighters keeping the kobolds at bay while the melee fighters risked their lives against the dragon. Farallax fought with vicious skill, seemingly summoning new reserves of strength over and over again as he blasted the adventurer with his frostbitten breath and his dagger-sharp claws.
Finally, though, the adventurers had worn the dragon down, and he seemed to sink to the floor, then rose again to roar like he had when the adventurers first encountered him. As bloodied as they were, the adventurers might have been intimidated by the sound.
But then the bard, the one who had been so reluctant to fight, leaped forward. Angered by seeing two of his friends, Staimos and Merri, fall prone before the dragon’s vicious breath assaults, Torik’s eyes gleamed with uncharacteristic anger.
“You call that a roar?” The undead dwarf threw back his head and cackled, in a viciously mocking imitation of the dragon’s call. As he did so, he crooked his fingers at one of the kobolds, recently slain by Arannis and with a jerk of his arm seemed to rip a dark energy out of the very heart of the dying minion. “I’ll show you a roar!”
And with a screech to split heaven, the dwarf heaved his arm towards the dragon, and the dark energy from the heart of the kobold ripped across the room and plunged into Farallax’s gaping mouth. The dragon did not respond to this, but the cold fire in his eyes seemed to go out. In the end, the mighty Farallax perished by being mocked…to death.
The Storage Room
Resting for a moment, and investigating the runes at the various altars, the adventurers took a moment to pause, reflect, and prepare themselves after facing the dragon. Then, their preparations complete, they moved onwards, opening the secret door to find a few goblins and a monstrous bugbear waiting for them.
It wasn’t an easy battle, and there wasn’t a lot of room to maneuver in the cramped room. What was worse, a few crazy goblins rushed the adventurers early on, their frenzied attacks making them easy targets to dispatch but knocking the adventurers off balance and forcing them to reorient themselves before they could fight again. But the great bugbear seemed eager to move around them, staying free of their attacks but darting in to smash the adventurers whenever an opening appeared.
Eventually, though, the goblins and their bugbear overlord were vanquished, and the adventurers took a moment to search for what they could. They found a few things of minimal use — rope, chain, trail rations, and other bric-a-brac — among the barrels, but the axe-wielding Vamaniel found that the axe used by the bugbear was enlaced with some sort of necrotic magic. Claiming this lifestealer battleaxe as his own, Vamaniel named it “Kurrash,” after the word carved onto the axe head.