Toe to toe with the dragon

Tol shoulders his long bow and fast draws his melee weapons and with a whirl of steel only manages to hit the dragon with Ackeris. However it is a veritable hit as the fury of his attack startles Volvagia, who, tripping over his tail, falls over. Switch seeing an opportunity to strike leaps after the dragon and sinks his sword into its now exposed underbelly, before swiftly retreating out of reach of the flashing talons.

I continue to climb the cliffs towards the final orb. Behind me Kathra leaps across the island and wades across to cover my back in case the dragon comes after me.

Volvagia in a flurry of wings and claws gets up and again flies up to the ceiling and bashes some more rocks down on, opening another vent of lava near Switch. It appears that this is something the dragon can control.

Memnnon in desperation at not being able to hurt the dragon at range, pulls out his alchemist acid and throws it at Volvagia. The missile whistles wide of the mark and smashes against the ceiling. Tol has better luck however as in another whirl of upper body movement, puts away his sword and axe, unshoulders his bow and commences to fire a volley of arrows at the winged beats above him.

I have finally reached the highest part of the island, where the final orb rests. “oh bollocks” there is a large keyhole which on closer inspection looks like it needs all four of the keys to unlock. I have one and the other three are all currently in the orbs around the room. Where is that Halfling rogue when you need him? Ozzie

Well, if Kathra can shut down a gate with his magical ability, then surely I can pick this lock….. hmmm, with my magical ability – that should be easy…… Owww. There is a sharp explosion in my mind as I try to trick the lock with one of the keys and the rest using prestidigitation – that hurt!

Switch has moved up the cliff. He draws his bow and sends a little arrow winging its way to the ceiling to sink itself into the dragon. Volvagia screams in pain and surprise, before falling back into the lava. Switch is jumping up and down like a lunatic, shouting “I got him I got him, I killed the dragon!”

Things aren’t so good for Memnnon and Tol, who have both been hit by the splash of lava, which has rapidly cooled and immobilised them where they are.

Switch is halfway through his victory dance when there the lava next to Memnnon begins to bubble and broil as Volvagia again bursts out of the lava and lands on the bridge next to them. Volvagia immediately goes on the attack, taking a large lump out of Tol with its teeth. Memnnon misses with his strike before retreating from the razor claws that are trying to pin him down. As he pulls back he shouts a healing word for Tol who recovers considerably from the dragon’s bite.Lava

Out of the corner of my eye I note that Volvagia is now a darker colour, has smaller and punier wings, but nastier teeth and claws. There is a sulphurous aura as well. The creature is also bloodied, which means that the lava isn’t healing him, or not much.

Tol is still a desperate whirl of upper body action and in a rare show of bravery is going toe to toe with the dragon! Although I do note that he is still stuck in the Lava.
I take the opportunity that Tol provides distracting the dragon to regroup my thoughts and quickly bind my wounds. I mutter to myself that I will need five goes to shut down the portal, once I have unlocked the gate. Kathra looks at me in alarm at the time it is going to take and suggests that I perhaps put that frozen hand, hovering around doing very little, to good use helping everyone else rather than trying to shut the gate, as otherwise there may be no one left to save. A reasonable comment, given that the vortex while expanding isn’t expanding very fast at the moment.
This battle again stands on a knife edge, The flaming sparks go after all of us, but are particularly dangerous to Tol and Memnnon, as their red shirts have been rendered useless until they can redo them up. Kathra wails in frustration as her carefully aimed throw is disrupted and she drops her hammer into the lava. Volvagia hearing the wail, whips her head around and seems to notice us for the first time. Recognising that if I get the gate shut down he will be trapped again, takes to the skies and swoops across to attack Kathra and I. Kathra whacks the dragon as it goes past and lands on the island, getting a hefty smack in return for her trouble. Kathra is doing a sterling job keeping the dragon focused on her, but even her depths of reserves are starting to fail, as it takes another chunk out of her, covering her with a noxious blast of sulphurous gases.

I also don’t manage to avoid the swinging arm of the dragon which cuts deep into the side of my head and down the side of my body, shredding the red shirt – I too am now vulnerable to the fiery sparks. In retaliation I teleport the beast three squares away and into chilly grip of my frosty hand. The dragon is hovering over the lava, slowly shaking its head a bit over my attack. There is a fusillade of arrows and axes being launched from all sides by the team.

I am again burned by the fiery spark, hovering beside me. My yelp of pain alerts Tol who briefly changes the focus of his aim, fires and removes the fiery spark from next to my head before coolly recommencing the barrage against Volvagia. Thanks Tol!

I manoeuvre the frosty hand and grab the mighty dragon by the neck in a strong icy grasp, that should give it something to think about…..errrr probably me…. I quickly pull out a potion of healing and drink it as I may be about to receive some dragon attention.

Behind me there is a disturbing increase in the sound and psychic vibrations of the vortex. Briefly taking my eyes off the dragon I see that there is another issue to keep us busy. The vortex to the Elemental Plane of Fire is strengthening and starting to pull in the bridge, the fiery sparks and most disconcertingly the island I’m standing on… eeek.

Kathra also heals herself and then smites the dragon with her hammer as it wriggles free of the hand and shifts closer to try and punish me for my arcane mastery. Fortunately it misses. Memnnon hoots with devilish glee as his Lance of Faith takes Volvagia from behind. But this isn’t going to deter Volvagia from wizard canapé as his head again snakes over the top of mine in a snaky strike.

Switch has also now noticed the speed the vortex is now growing at and realising that I may need all the other keys sets off at a run to gather them.

I again send my Bigby’s frosty hand to grab the dragon around the neck. Connecting again I proceed to squeeze the life out of the dragon. It wriggles desperately, but I can see the area around the hands grasp is going from red and fiery to a pale pink and then white! I concentrate harder – thinking about cold things, roaring avalanches of snow, Thundering storms of ice. The whiteness spreads further over the dragon, in places I can see ice crystals forming, whilst in others there is steam coming off the dragon as the elements of ice and fire battle for supremacy. But this is a battle that cold will win, as with a final fiery groan Volvgia finally falls limp in the hands of my mighty frosty fist!

There is no time to celebrate, the very air around us is beginning to spin in a slow tornado as the vortex grows in strength every minute. I banish the frosty hand and refocus on the trial of will with the orb. I am bleeding profusely, but need to close the gate otherwise my comrades will perish. Memnnon starts heading around to help me, as does Tol who calls upon his deity to heal me. Many of my wounds heal, my head clears and I am much more confident that I may survive this final tussle. With refreshed concentration I apply my arcane strength to the lock mechanism, seeking to fool it with a combination of prestidigitation, bluff and a semblance of truth.

There is a clunk as I unlock the gate.

Meanwhile Switch has lithely leapt across rivers of lave to collect the keys and is on his way back. The speed of the vortex is increasing, as is the heat in the room.

Being so close to the vortex My hair is standing on end as the heat and power of the plane of fire start to sear my hair and eye brows. “Flee you fools” I cry above the roar of the vortex
The rest of the party start fleeing for the door. But Kathra has ignored me and is calmly cutting up the dragon as part of the trophy and hopefully for research purposes, sale and magic item creation…

Ozzie concentrate! – Control the portal..Concentrate…. Another clunk as I start gaining control of the portal….. clugunk –aaaaraaaarrgh! I scream in surprise and pain as I miscalculate part of the puzzle and receive a hefty blast of psychic damage. I won’t survive another of those.

Memnnon, hearing my scream of pain has turned around and is charging to the rescue. Tol too, suddenly realises he has a healing potion in his pocket and stops climbing the wall to safety, turns around and sprints to my aid, and possible death in the Elemental Plane of Fire.

Nothing like pain to focus the mind. I breathe deeply and move into a different zone….the vortex continues to grow and is starting to pull in the very fabric of our plane…. I can feel the psychic forces of the plane pulling at my consciousness…. I will be one with this spinning maelstrom…. clunk, another piece of the puzzle is mine….the tornado is tearing at the clothes of the heroes rushing to keep me alive…. the vortex is ripping away the very ground beneath me…. more haste less speed Ozzie comes the voice of my mentor through the whistling winds….Memnnon crosses over to the island to help and heal, dashing across the side of the fallen dragon….the searing heat of the Plane of Fire is starting to cause parts of my cloak to catch fire…… clunk.







control. And bring it to a stable position.

The battle of the Gate Chamber

Switch runs past me handing over the key, with the dragon in pursuit, and continues over to the other orb in order to pick the lock ahead of me unlocking it.

Tol tries to draw the dragon’s attention away from me with a splintering shot Archer has I disarm the second gate and flee its wrath.

As I disarm the gate I can feel arcane cogs wheeling slowly into action as the gate to the plane of fire start to close. I can also feel that this action may enable me to recover some of spells as a by product of the activity. Good news! It appears that Volvagia can also feel the arcane powers starting to close the gate. His roar is one mixed with anger and pain.Gate chamber

Memnnon and Kathra are batting away at the annoying sparks of flame. Memnnon does notice however that when he wipes one out that Volvagia appears to strengthen and heal from the dismissal of this spark.

Kathra tires of batting the flames and with a very feminine leap crosses the gap from the orb island and rushes down to engage the dragon, which has turned around and struck Memnnon with its claw, removing his fire resistance. Kathra arrives just in time to be the recipient of its fiery breath attack along with Memnnon.

Then with the heavy beating of wings Volvagia takes to the air in pursuit of Switch again. It is during this flight that I notice that Volvagia is not a strong flier, for he lands again after a short hop.

Meanwhile Tol has taken advantage of the departure of the dragon to leg it across the bridge towards the fourth orb. As he does so he is pursued by the flaming sparks all the way up to the fourth orb-gate. Memnnon recovers from the shock of having his fireproofing stripped away from and goes off to assist Tol with the last gate.

Switch is quickly and calmly working on the lock of the third portal, as the dragon eyes him and me up. I shout at it that the mighty warrior wizard Tol is going to shut down the gate in an effort to distract Volvagia. I also fire a pitiful ray of frost at the beast both of which have no effect whatsoever. Volvagia actual

Switch’s lock picking is getting more frantic as Volvagia lands on the island next to him. I shout to Switch to hang on as I’m on my way, at the same time Switch anticipates Volvagia’s lunge and ducks behind the orb as the dragon’s head snakes past a hair’s breadth away.

Kathra and I are in pursuit and trying to distract the scaly beast with our arcane and martial powers as Switch finally picks the lock and then desperately tries to shut the gate himself. Unfortunately there is a surge of arcane fire from the orb as punishment for dabbling in things he doesn’t understand. There is also an increased flow of lava around the chamber and more of the fiery spark creatures fly out through the gate. They have now started to attack the party.

The dragon again tries to take a lump out of switch and another hammer whirls over its head. This time it grabs Switch in its jaws and it is only through Switch’s dextrous wriggling he escapes in one piece.

Across the chamber Tol wipes the sweat from his forehead as he concentrates on the orb and focuses his foresters mind around tings he doesn’t understand. His reward is a burst of raging fire from the orb and another perceptible rise in the level of the lava. Tol steps aside from the orb to allow Memnnon the opportunity.

As Kathra and I close on Volvagia, I concentrate my mind and connect with the mighty beast, I mentally convince Volvagia that he is beset by a swarm of icy stinging wintery bees. This is big enough of a distraction that Switch is able to leap off the island and to safety. He is bleeding from a number of puncture wounds and I can see the relief on his face that he is out of the range of those crunching jaws. However he has done his job in unlocking the orb so I can now get to the island and close the gate.

I now face the rather daunting prospect of closing the gate right under the very jaws that have been scissoring on Switch….. eeek! I’m not sure I can do that. At that very moment Volvagia turns around and backs onto the island a bit more as Kathra comes to attack him. She receives a nasty bite in return for her daring. Horaay for Kathra, as she has distracted Volvagia in such a way that I may be able to jump across onto the island and unlock the gate…hmmm, still under the nose of the beast.

Then there is a simultaneous roar of triumph from our infernal colleague and one of pain and frustration from Volvagia. He whips his head around to glare across the chamber at Memnnon who is giving him the bird. Only one part of the gate remains. Volvgia suddenly rears up and disappears into the lava.

With a bit more time to concentrate, I manage to trip over my robes as I try to valiantly leap across the lava to the final orb. I give a terrified scream as I pitch into the lava.

I drag myself out of the lava onto the island, the red shirt having saved me from all fire damage. Lava ain’t that hot I mutter as I move over to concentrate on the orb.

Kathra starts cleaving the sparky lights into little shreds.

Suddenly…Surprise, surprise..! Volvagia bursts out of the lava and flys up to the ceiling, causing the floor to open large cracks behind Kathra with lava bubbling up, making the ground uncrossable. In addition The burst of lava has splashed Kathra and I and solidified so rapidly we are unable to move. However this is the least of my worries at the moment, as I concentrate on the orb.

Tol and Memnnon are moving back to the bridge. Tol nocks an arrow as he moves across the bridge, hitting with his first shot, the other bounces off the dragon’s scales.

I ignore everything around me and concentrate my powers on the orb, shutting the gate down – Ozzie yeeeeahh, freeing myself from the lava and moving my Bigby’s hand to grasp the dragon if it comes closer. We now have a chance.

There is a bubbling sound and an eruption of lava, as I successfully close the last of the locks holding the gate. A shimmering sphere appears on the high island in the middle of the lake of lava. Ohhh no – more swimming in lava for me I suspect.

The eruption of lava broke the bridge and where it once was, there is now a large whirlpool.

Volvagia looks different since coming out of the lava. He is no longer damaged and doesn’t appear to have a permanent aura of poisonous gas around him. His tactics have also changed. He is now bashing himself up against the roof of the chamber, knocking down large chunks of rock which are falling on top of us and making terrain difficult to cross.

I recall what the Gareb dhur said about the locking mechanism. This final orb is a safety valve, and must also be turned off to completely shut the gate. I notice that the level of the lava has started to drop. I could wait until it drops enough to walk over to the island, but I don’t think we’ve got that much time. Where is Grushenka? Where is the pitfiend leader? Both must realise something is up and be coming to get us? No time to lose then.

So hitching up my still smouldering skirts I again make a brave running jump across the lava….and again I stumble and plunge into the lava. Woe is me, why can’t the dextrous athletic lot do this and I’ll concentrate on my books and spells?

Fortunately the lava is very shallow here and I am able to get up and wade onto the island.

To be continued….

A video of Volvagia……


Guardians at the Gate
opps I fell off.... again

Scythe bladesStanding at the entrance to the large room as the scythe blades go back and forwards. I drop a storm pillar in to cause the blades damage. Tol’s twin strike bounces off the closest set of mixer blades which immediately change direction and cut through the storm pillar to a massive explosion of sparks as it the lightning flashes collide with the spinning blades.

Kathra fronts up and takes the first hit from the blades. We can hear the other one moving towards us. Kathra’s first blow glances off the blades, before she shifts aside for Switch to strike a mighty blow with his sword which causes it to start clinking and clunking.
Memnnon asks for Halav to shine a divine glow on the battle. The searing light causes more clunking from the blades. My Ray of Frost connects and slows the creature as it moves into the space available. The now frosty blades then take a direct hit from Kathra causing bits to fly in all directions as it flies apart, with a large burst, most of the party are hit by a piece of the spinning shrapnel.

Switch engages the other scythe blade with his bow and sinks an arrow into the heart of the contraption. Memnnon’s daunting light also strikes again. I drop a second storm pillar at the same time the blades stop whirling.

After a short rest we all try to climb up the ledge where the guardians are located. Our ace climber, Switch, falls off the first, which doesn’t do my confidence any good and I fall off near the top and land on the floor in a heap at the bottom.

When the guys get to the top, there is a general movement by the guardians toe to secure the door. This sudden movement causes Switch to fall off the wall again. Despite my best intentions Switch refuses my offers of assistance before executing a dazzling leap and swing to the top of the ledge. I take a more mundane route up the rope Kathra has let down for me.

As i climb the rope I instruct the others, who are keen to try their keys out, to pay close attention to the mechanisms when they stick the keys in and see how they work, for it will be important if we are to disarm the last one. Tol moves, presents the key and puts it into the guardian, which has moved its arm aside to display a keyhole. Warforged construct Tol, for once listens to my advice and notes very closely how the key works. Memnnon moves up to his guardian and unlocks his, which when unlocked it moves to the side, opening the way to the door behind it.

Switch unlocks his, noting that we can take the keys out of the guardians with no adverse affect as to whether they are on or off. We agree that we should take the keys as it would be horrendous to return and find that the guardians have been re activiated!

This leaves one guardian to disarm. We agree that switch will sneak to open the door, Ozzie will then twist of space the creature, if it tries to attack him. However it all goes wrong as switch moves past the creature, it smites him with a large hammer Tol fires a disruptive strike which hits the creature, but my twist of space fails. Switch continues past and opens the door to see a short corridor opening into a large room. The guardian doesn’t try to continue the attack so I opt for plan B.

Plan B: I drop a winged horde onto the creature which prevents it from attacking us to get past as it flails against the imaginary foe I have created for it. We all charge past the guardian and into the room.

Enter the Dragon
"I'm not finished with you...' WHUMP!

The ceiling arches 60-70 feet above, it is very hot. There are little flames dancing around in the air. In the centre are fountains of lava swirling up. We are on a ledge about 10 feet above the rest of. The fountains are vortexes to the elemental plane of fire. The spheres are each in shiny metal stand and must be the key to the gates\ vortexes. Switch notices that one side is more likely to be affected by the rising lava.

The cavern

Kathra and Tol put ropes in case we need to make a quick escape. We all move along, except before Kathra moves all of the will of the wisps start moving toward the party, and they just flit around Kathra, who follows on. I do a quick revision of portals and opening rituals from the book of the gate as Switch and Tol jump off the side off the side of the cliff. The wispy things keep coming out of the vortex. Switch realises that these creatures a lighting them up for a ranged enemy. Kathra goes down the rope. Suddenly the dragon Volvagia erupts out of the lava next to Switch and breathes fire at me, Tol and Switch. As this occurs I shield the blast and note details about how the monster looks. The creature appears to be of rock and lava and is surrounded by an aura of poisonous gas. Eeeeek!

Memnnon casually saunters into the fray and casts a gleaming shield of divine faith against it. Switch shifts out and fires a back stab sight down the throat of the dragon, as he does this I also I shift away from the dragon, and join Tol running away.
I’m heading off to the orb calling to Memnnon to come along with the key. When I get to the orb I can sees that the orb has a key hole. Meanwhile Kathra moves past Switch and heads off to the island with the orb matching her key. She does a mighty run to jump across onto the island, where she deftly inserts the key unlocks it, concentrates very hard on what little magic training she has picked up from me and her own innate natural ability and to her own surprise closes this part of the gate. Unfortunately her joy at doing this means she misses her footing and falls into the lava.

Memnnon locks eyes with the dragon, which enrages it enough for it to move out of the lava and swipe at Memnnon with a claw. This mighty swipe misses – mainly due to a timely shot from Tol. Memnnon then issues a divine challenge against Volvagia, smiting the dragon with his mace and calling down the daunting light of his god.
Switch sprints past Memnnon collecting the key on the way past and heads off towards me. As I wait for the key I study the orb and see that I can’t do a tying until it has been unlocked, without a key it I suspect that Switch could probably unlock it, but to secure the gate needs my powers of arcane – or Kathra’s (perhaps I should take her under my wing and teach her some cantrips – she might find Mage Hand useful?).

I look up to see where Switch is and all I can see is Volvagia taking to the skies after Switch. I am so shocked that all my giant frosty hand can do is wave the dragon through as it dives to bite Switch, who squeals in terror as he bravely dodges the beast’s claws. Behind him I can hear Memnnon shouting “I’m not finished with you yet” as he charges after it and striking at its tail.

In which Tol tries a Bulrush

We race through the chambers pushed rapidly by the Galeb dhur. We are pulled up short, as there is an unexpected large gap in the hole up ahead. The iron plating is buckled and broken. Tol checks out the ground underneath to make sure it is safe. Tol notices that there are a large number of gaps. Several of the iron plats have been eaten, most likely a rust monster.

I ask the Gareb Dhur how they deal with the rust monsters and learn that they herd them with wooden sticks into cages. I also learn that it’s only 5 mins to the chasm and that wood is considered important to the Galeb dhur as it is rare for them.

We decide to go on and get a low down description of the final chamber. There was a large square room with a large stair case leading down. This is above where we met the zombies. There were rising rooms going to the middle room and then another going right down to the bottom.

On further questioning we learn that there will be two spinning blades, and that the chamber do