“I come from the great continent to the south. The giants a long time ago basically eradicated the dragons. The job of the men and orcs was to make sure that they never repopulated again.”


 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A perilous crossing
  • The battle at the riverbank
  • Toward the tower
  • Shabuuj

Photo showing the cast of Lobster Role

Image of Hag facing Shabuuj

Episode 23: Thunder & lightning


WHERE WE LEFT OFF

The storm has passed. Little remains as it was before. The dragon has been driven west along the river valley. The druid, freed from confinement, warns the party that even their renewed strength may be insufficient for the challenges to come. And so once again the friends, now four, took shelter beneath his roof as they prepared for the next leg of their journey.

 

RECAP

Enya took the lead. As the growing storm drew the river higher and faster by the minute, she fastened her rope to a rock and whispered a command. In a few seconds the rope had affixed itself to another exposed rock on the Thundertree side of the river, adding convenient knots to further assist the perilous crossing. Returning to her friends, Enya drew forth her holy symbol, a plain wooden ankh affixed to a simple band of woven, pearl-white horsehair. “I give you aid in our time as we go forth,” she prayed. Little Pocket pointed out several spiky figures wandering just beyond the far shore. “What do you think those creatures are?” Hag wondered aloud. “Did they look like the things we fought at the windmill?” Tibboh wondered. As the two of them prepared to cross together, the sailor stepped forward and gripped the rain-soaked cordage in her palms: “I think I can manage it. I’ve shimmied across ropes many a time!” 

Image of Little at river crossing

No sooner did the sailor set foot on the far bank when she felt vines grasping toward her and attempting to wrap around her feet. As everyone gathered their senses, one of the spiked figures approached and tore a needle from one of its limbs, hurling it toward Little Pocket who nimbly ducked the projectile. There was no avoiding the tangle of vines at her feet as they crushed both her ankles with their tightening grasp. Tibboh and Enya each landed a shot against the vine blight entangling Little Pocket. Hag wasted no time leaping across the river, and lightning streaked the sky just as he struck another blow to the expanding mass of vines and casting down a ball of fur from his pouch that instantly took the form of a wild wolf. Two more thorn-throwers drew close, one of them sinking a second heavy needle into Little Pocket from thirty feet away as she struggled to resist the tightening vines. Enya and Tibboh continued to provide covering fire from their side of the river, with the hobbit adding a well-timed “health health health!” Little Pocket and Hag, meanwhile, drew on their inspiration to escape the grasping vines and send a needle blight splintering off into kindling as yet another lightning flash coincided with a powerful blow from the big club. Freeing herself from the lifeless vines still clinging to her ankles, the druid repositioned and released a thunderous wave against three enemies, sending one of the needle-folk stumbling backward as the wolf friend dodged one incoming blow after another. Enya and Hag each sent more of the blights to the ground in a pair of explosive shots, while the wolf friend yanked out a mass of roots from one of the only surviving blights and ripped it around like a chew toy before disappearing beneath an unexpected needle blow from behind. And yet again, the vines drew tight around Little Pocket and Hag, binding and restraining them as their only allies watched from the far shore.

Image of wolf and party at riverbank battle

With the height and speed of the water showing no sign of letting up, Tibboh knew the crossing couldn’t be put off much longer. Dashing hand-over-hand across the rope as fast as he could manage, he slipped and slipped again as the flashes of lightning illuminated the ruins of Thundertree in the distance. Seeing his predicament, Little Pocket focused her energies and diverted the river just enough to provide Tibboh a safe place to land when he fell. One after another, the remaining blights collapsed as the party gathered their wits and focused their fire on a single target at a time. First Enya felled a mass of vines, then Hag collapsed another needle blight, and finally Little Pocket drew her shillelagh and pounded the final blight into the ground, straight down over the noggin and driving it into the ground like a fencepost.

“Okay, Enya, come on!” Hag called out as he made his way back across to gather her up and transport her across. If Jax was to be taken at his word, and Tibboh was sure he should be, they all anticipated the terrifying foe that lay ahead. “What if it’s a baby green dragon?” Enya hoped aloud, doling out healing to those most in need while trying to preserve some of her powers for the battle to come. In addition to the cleric, the land itself appeared to transfer strength to the heroes, patches of soil exhausting and withering away at their feet as they felt themselves restored by the site’s natural magic. Everyone drew quiet as Hag began to speak.

“I came from the great continent to the south,” he began, his words weighted with the quiet confidence of one who knows what he is talking about. “Lived with giants and orcs and dragons. The giants long time ago basically eradicated the dragons. The job of the men and orcs was to make sure that they never repopulated again. And cast down to Hag are some important things to remember if we face a dragon. First, the types. The red dragon is a greedy dragon and is only interested in hoarding gold. The blue dragon comes from the deserts and, on my continent, they never had a blue dragon. The white dragons inhabit the cold mountaintops and frozen colder regions. And the white dragons are only interested in eating and are considered rather dumb. But the green dragon — if you’ve heard a rumor, maybe, here now at Thundertree — is the most dangerous dragon. It’ s deceitful, cunning, conniving, and more than gold or riches it’s mostly interested in controlling the creatures around it. It plays with their minds. It’s best not to engage in conversation with the green dragon because it will try to manipulate you. Some tactics when around dragons is never be caught together in one group. Always spread out, always, always, always move with cover, protective. cover.” As the party discussed various tactics to employ, Hag brought them back to basics: “Cover, cover, cover. If the dragon turns on you and uses its breath, if you’re behind a rock, then you’re protected. I could tell many stories of dragons. Never let a dragon fly if you can prevent it from flying. They’re so much more dangerous in the air. Never, Hag doesn’t like this as a tactic, but, never, never think that you can’t run. Always run. Always run and take cover. The reaches on these dragons are great distances. Their tail is a weapon, their claws are weapons, their mouth is a weapon, and, unfortunately, when a dragon attacks, it has three attacks.” Understandably frightened, Enya proposed rerouting the party: “Maybe we don’t approach at all. Maybe we go find the pipes in the capital city.” “We’re all scared, Enya,” responded the sailor. “I’m not scared,” Enya clarified, “I’m frightened!”

Coming upon Reidoth’s cottage, the four friends found the walls and roof entirely contained in layer upon layer of tangled vines, their depth stretching out into the path and swelling beyond the roof. Enya drew a coil of copper wire and attempted to send a message to their friend: “Reidoth, are you in there?” After a moment’s pause, she continued, “I heard back excited animal type sounds. Clearly an animal that can hear us.” “Have him bang against wall if he’s trapped,” Little Pocket suggested. “Where’s Skittles when you need him?” asked Hag. Unable to make out any sounds over the wind and rain, Tibboh looked north. “I would say we cautiously make our way toward the tower.” Taking advantage of the storm to move as stealthily as possible, they each moved into position outside the ruined tower. Hag approached the attached keep, passing a large ceiba tree whose first branches began to extend at a height of forty feet off the ground. With his companions taking cover behind other rocks and trees in the area, Hag stepped hesitantly through the burned-out doorway as another flash of lightning streaked across the sky. The brief instant illuminated a huge figure lying in wait within the tower — a great, hulking mass of green scales glistening in the pouring rain. What was once distant, rolling thunder began to come suddenly in sharp, cracking peals. Two masked elven corpses lay scarred with acid burns on the ground. Through the darkness and the rain, two gleaming amber eyes blinked in the darkness as the face extended in the human’s direction, “Mother said to wait and let you speak first… why don’t you come in?” Remembering his lessons, biting his tongue, Hag retreated slowly back out the doorway. “No, no, no! Just… can’t we talk?  You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting…” Unable to remain silent any longer, steadfastly refusing to respond to his host, Hag said the words everyone expected and dreaded to hear: “Spread the word — dragon inside!”

Image of battlefield with Shabuuj

In those rare combats where death is not only feared but expected, the first moments move like molasses. Ascending to the tower rim with an indignant shriek, the green dragon Shabuuj was drowned out by each breathless, pounding heartbeat. Hag and Little Pocket commanded wind and water in an attempt to divert the dragon’s attention, while Enya heaved up a mound of earthen cover. Time seemed to stand still as Tibboh released a matchstick into the night, arcing toward the great tree, everyone’s eyes and hopes fixated on the sputtering flame. The dragon’s lips curled slowly into a sneer as the match suffocated beneath the wind and rain and the hobbit hurried to shelter behind a nearby tree. “This isn’t how I thought this would be,” she lamented, bitter but confident, “this isn’t how I thought this would happen.” Unblinking, luminescent yellow eyes darted across the battlefield before spying a healer with a holy symbol. Launching from her perch on the tower wall, she relocated atop the newly-formed mound of earth before Enya and released a billowing cloud of yellow-green chlorine gas. As Enya braced herself and held her breath, the gas reacted with the rain to coat her face and skin with blistering acid. Surprised and confused by Enya’s ability to survive the assault, the dragon exhausted her breath weapon completely in an attempt to incapacitate the healer, to no end.

Shabuuj returned to her perch atop the tower and the battle began in earnest. Enya drew her bow and began a new chapter in the history of that weapon — landing a retaliatory shot imbued with divine magic more powerful than all the damage dealt by the chlorine gas attack. With a cry of “Pelor, you are with me!” she brought her spiritual weapon into the fray as well. Hag and Little Pocket repositioned, he after an unsuccessful shot with his first javelin and she after conjuring a flaming sphere near the branches of the great tree. With the full force of the storm directly overhead, a lightning bolt struck directly beside Hag, singeing his club which vibrated with electrical energy after the strike. Tibboh remained behind cover, rubbing some fur drawn from their bear friend on himself to strengthen his resistance to the expected breath weapon attack. Ignoring the stinging wound to her left side, the forest dragon glided silently to rest before Hag. Stretching her wings and neck to their full extent, she then lunged toward Hag who deflected her strike with his club. Out of position, he then suffered a vicious claw across the chest that left an open cut. As the winds whipped around her, she contemplated repositioning before settling in and focusing on the barbarian to the exclusion of all else, screaming ferociously into his face as she swatted away a shot with her tail. Recovering from his own injury, Hag drew again from Sister Garaele’s bag of tricks, summoning a small songbird, a troogn. Hag then slugged Shabuuj across the face with his great club and grinned into its eyes with the confidence of one who knows that dragons can be defeated.

Image of Hag facing Shabuuj

With the dragon’s full attention drawn to Hag, Little Pocket and Tibboh both scrambled toward nearer cover as they closed ranks on the beast from all sides. Shabuuj lowered her eyes until they were level with Hag’s: “I think we must both be each other’s first times…” As they each probed each other’s eyes for signs of weakness, Shabuuj lashed out with a succession of attacks that landed with the speed of snakebites. Her jaws tore a chunk of flesh from his shoulder and left acid searing into the wound, while two more claws deepened and widened the fresh gash across his chest. The trogon paused in surprise at the damage dealt to Hag, its bright colors displayed in flashes of lightning: small, pine-colored wings, zebra-striped with a black capped head and its red belly, white chest, yellow beak, and distinctive, long tail. “Bird friend,” Hag called out, “fly around its eyes!” With Hag keeping the dragon in one place, Little Pocket connected with a pair of fireballs, one large, one small, and Enya landed another spectacular shot as the full magical energy of the bow was channeled again into radiant energy. Hag himself landed another solid blow. Not to be outdone, and seeing Hag’s deteriorating condition, Tibboh snuck near enough to get in a strong “humminah humminah humminah!” just before the barbarian suffered another vicious, acid-infused bite attack.

The tempest strengthened. The tide turned. The dragon continued to lose herself in the singular focus on her melee opponent. Then she was startled by another lightning strike and thunder crashing directly overhead. Her breaths drew short and she began to look anxiously toward the sky. Another attack landed, and then another. Rain washed over them, blown from all directions, as Hag ripped down what remained of his shirt, exposing beneath the fresh wounds the mark of the bear totem warrior. Now severely wounded, Shabuuj grasped at Hag in the hope of taking home at least one prize for her efforts. Agile, lucky, and above all, comfortable in the storm, Hag used the rain to his advantage and scrambled free of her clutching grasp just as she took off into the night sky. Increasingly effective with her tail and wings every second, she proceeded to deflect attacks from all sides as she circled above the treetops. Hag connected with one final, defiant javelin shot before the dragon wheeled around and away at full speed westward in stunned silence, retreating at full speed along the river valley.

 

See also: Enya’s Letters #23

 

 

 

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