Tuleo writhed free of the Fruum’s deadly grip, somehow slipping between dimensions with his cosmic powers flaring him to new heights of divine energy. As he became more corporeal, he homed in on a powerful mystic beacon, the mysterious volcano of the Elvenforge. He spotted a rock monster (made by Vayu) by the back door, and tread in carefully after his compatriots.
Following their dusty track, he came to the ornate door, and mustered all his god-like might to shove it open. That snapped the mystic door bar, and summoned a ball of flame from the copper network (to investigate.) He chatted with it, and it then went and got a larger more articulate elemental for him to talk to. The larger elemental left to notify the “Dragonites” that he required hospitality. The elemental was rude to Tuleo, because he spoke the language of the “swamp people,” and it figured all he wanted was food and a way out.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party sent scouts to check the disturbance, and Skritt and Wayland saw Tuleo. The party was reunited, and searched through the formerly locked complex. They found a room where servants had committed suicide by drinking poison, after they arranged their masters in the room next door.
Glorious loot! Using Vayu’s ability to see magic, they homed in on the enchanted goods, dumping the dead off their treasures and playing magic-glam dress-up. They scored weapons, bracers, rings, boots, cloaks, books, shields; when they were done looting magic, they loaded up on gems, jewelry, and the like.
Stumbling out of the haze of the room where mummified flesh had turned to dust roiled up in the air, they investigated further. They found runes that were dimensional doors to more elaborate guest quarters, not accessible without the “keys.” Continuing to explore, they found a magnificent art work glade and chapel to Saegrak, Goddess of Winds. Offering their respects, they felt emboldened to continue.
Questioning an elemental they summoned from the copper network, they got a basic map of the mountain, and they were staggered by its scope. All this wealth and construction, and this didn’t even rate as a back door; they weren’t even on the map yet…
The Back Gate
Tuleo flew them down the swift-flowing stream one by one, past relief carvings of other races bringing tribute to the Elvenforge. Then, up the sweeping stairs to a massive chamber with a vast gate that had been smashed open from the other side by the incredible bulk of a dragon, centuries ago. As they walked through the broken gate in awe, they saw snapped dragonscales, deep scoring in the stone floor, blood sizzled into the steel/iron of the gate, and they tread softly.
The Armory Door
Deeper in, they followed an elemental who agreed to lead them to the sealed armory. Vayu’s navigation skills helped them manage the maze. When they arrived, after half an hour of walking, they found a lavishly decorated room worth easily a million gold in raw materials alone, and a massive stone block sealing the entrance to the armory. It looked like work with picks had been done for a while, and eventually after getting 2 meters deep the workers gave up.
The invaders summoned another elemental from the copper network, asking many questions. The elemental was blue this time, and told them the dragon Grizelle laired in the Greeting Hall (the elementals didn’t seem to want to talk about the dragon) and the Dragonites were at the Welcoming Gate (or something like that.) The elemental advised them to go to the central chamber, and descend until they reached the Well of Fire. This elemental seemed somehow smarter than the others.
Still waiting for the Dragonites (whatever those were) to show up, the adventurers posted watch and got some much-needed rest.
The Well of Flame
The elemental returned, anxious that they get moving to the Well of Fire. They reached the main chamber, awed by its construction and magic. One detail was that the construction was backwards to a tree city; if the shaft was a trunk, the platforms and ramps and so on would be around it. So the pattern was familiar, if majestic on a whole new scale.
They descended, noting a band of warriors crossing a narrow catwalk above, headed towards their back trail. Picking up the pace, they reached the bottom of the shaft, and could go no further.
An elemental opened a secret runic door in the wall, and they descended below the ring of the Forges themselves, into earth that was only kept cool by frost diamond clusters in the walls. They reached a door of magma, and it opened for them, frost cannons cooling a tube for them to walk through to reach a frost diamond room that rose like an elevator or bubble through magma to the throne chamber of Uriash, Prince of Flame.
The elemental prince was chained to a throne of fire by four enchanted cords; the entire copper webwork through the mountain was a prison to manage the prince and his elementals. He did not agree to open the armory for them, noting it was sealed even from the network. He did tell them that the blood of the dragon could free him, if it was poured on his bonds, and all he wanted was to leave. They asked the prince if there were weapons that could help them, and he suggested he was pretty much it; he did not seem to think much of their prowess and chances.
They also learned the Dragonites were pirates on ships Grizelle snatched and carried home. Slaves, there were enough for a breeding population, and Grizelle taught them elemental magic so they could use flame and manipulate Uriash’s servants.
He created a powerful magnesium-flare bright elemental to lead and help them, and they left as their crystal chamber of frost diamond began to melt in the presence of the prince.
The Drowsing Dragon
Following the elemental down secret maintenance tunnels for the elemental cage, they crept up to a balcony overlooking the drowsy dragon. Ten Dragonites had knelt before the dragon’s head, but two were gone; as they watched, the dragon ate a third, the life energy helping perk her up after a long sleep. Her slaves did not mind being eaten, it seemed.
One of her many lairing chambers, this one was breathtaking; cabins from wrecked ships around a vast melted couch of gold, molten cannons used for wall art (including a beautiful mural of what could only be Gris), enchanted objects driven into the wall in an area so she could rub them with her itchy back… Off to the side, a shanty town built from wood and sails of trophy ships.
The invaders withdrew and had a hurried whispered strategy session about what to do. Vayu found stone statues of elven heroes, and animated them to do his bidding.
The Roused Dragon
Gunfire roared, but as the metal slugs flattened on armor or flew wide, Wayland’s arrow pierced the mighty dragon’s eye. She reared up with a scream, and Tuleo was radiant, hanging in the air and channeling divine power into her ancient energies. Enraged, she pursued as Tuleo flew with a speed he unlocked through pure adrenaline mixing with the cosmos.
The dragon had to land to get through a narrow neck before reaching the central shaft, and from the balcony Vayu fired, and his stone statues leaped at the passing freight train of dragon below.
Gritting his teeth, Tulip flung himself down onto the dragon. A dagger was tied to one hand, he held a dagger in the other, and the mighty ghim hammer was on his back. He bounced off the scaled hide, blood trailing from his fragile skin hitting the scales, but he managed to dig his dagger into the wing membrane at the last moment; the dragon hardly noticed, it was fixated on Tuleo’s taunts.
Tulip loosed the hammer and pounded on its wingbone as it flared its vicious black and green flame all over Tuleo; surely even a demi-god would succumb to the potency of that attack! But he dove, unscathed, as the magma parted and blood fell around him, hissing on the bonds of Uriash. Tuleo suddenly felt very much in-between where he’d rather not be.
As Tulip smashed repeatedly at the dragon while gripping it’s wing, the rest of the adventurers raced over to get a good look at the mountain-trembling battle. Grizelle snapped at Tuleo, and surely this time he was lost in her maw. But he channeled divine energy within, shoving her jaws open and soaring free!
The dragonslayers fired another volley of blackpowder and shafts as Tuleo squirmed free of the dragon, snatched Tulip, and ascended. Mortally wounded, Grizelle cried out, and mustered impossible strength to keep fighting—
That’s when the whips of flame shot up out of the pit, and the freed Prince of Flame snatched the Widow Dragon.
Escape! For Some…
As Grizelle’s death shrieks rebounded through the mountain, it shook violently. A crack opened by the victors, and daylight was beyond; Uriash was not without honor. As they fled, they snatched at what baubles they could reach.
Meanwhile Tuleo shot up the shaft of the volcano as black smoke boiled up after, carrying Tulip. They darted out past the dirigible, surprised to see Effson skyship hovering over the cone! Then the first blast roared up after them. Effson leaped from the dirigible, and boonwings caught him and glided towards safety.
Hector leaped out too, but no boonwings caught him. With a scream, he fell, and the flames raced up to greet him…
All’s Well That Ends Well
Burdened with baubles and loot, sooty and weary and exhilarated, the companions made camp at a safe distance and much of the mountain listed and sank into what was likely a very hot pit.
They traded stories and gems, basking in the glow of their victory.
The adventurers were rich, and the Widow Dragon was no more.