PayDay’s Journal 36-39 – Still Searching

Harvesting dragon parts is not easier. It’s gross and bloody work but when it’s all said and done, we’ve collected a fair pile of bits and bobs that we can hopefully use later or at the very least sell for some kind of delightful profit. We retreat up the hill a bit as we are trying to decide what our plan forward is, and there is a familiar hand like shape receding into the mist only to be replaced by the single ugliest person I have ever had the misfortune to meet on more than one occasion. Of course. It had to be Gnoman. I didn’t have time for his I don’t remember you nonsense so I immediately went to task of trying to get him to work with us. I think I even offered him money. I didn’t care so long as he would be willing to work with us. He accompanied us down into the village and I slid into Shojin’s face because I couldn’t think of anything better to do at the time.

Apparently this was all it took to get the orcs in the village to come back out of their hovels to see what was going on. A trio of what I took to be elders gathered and with much pointing seemed real interested in us now. The only problem was that that Gnoman was the only one who seemed to understand them. It seemed that we had slain their jailer (whatever they said didn’t translate all that well) and they were nothing short of impressed with what we had done. So they were, I don’t know, heralding me as their tiny savior. The weird part was the longer I wore Shojin’s face the more inclined I was to help them.

They were afraid of something that was still in the domed structure in the middle of their village. Whatever it was is what was keeping them from fleeing as soon as the dragon was killed. They gave us a hovel of our own for the evening and Ezrella chose to sleep inside with Fayne, Z, Gnoman and myself while the boys slept outside, which worked out because he was a creepy lecherous dwarf, but I didn’t trust myself around. His crazy was too much like mine. Nothing good could have come from that, but it might have been fun.

We used our standard practice and used the bear as a big furry doorstop and we bedded down for the night.

Munnin woke me up pecking my forehead which wasn’t all that weird. When we locked eyes and he said “You must follow”, yeah that was weird. And he just kept saying it. I was just trying to get him to keep it down when he flew into the most ruined corner of the tiny building we were in and just smashed right through the wall. Where he flew there was a purple radiance in his wake. Weirder and weirder. I thought about trying to wake the others, but I figured this was something the lady wanted me to do so I just followed Munnin. It was deep in the night and with him not on my shoulder I should not have been able to see as well as I was able to at that point. I tried to flex my magical muscles and there was no effect.

Now Huginn was there and telling me to follow. And they both wanted me to head into the domed structure. I owe the lady my life and she’s done me no wrongs up to now. She’s cryptic and only helps me succeed in looking insane, but I do as she asks. So I did my best to be as much like a shadow as possible and I snuck inside. From the outside I would not have guessed that it went as deep as it did. There were two paths, a narrow one with steps that looked like it was sized for people and there was the large dirt and loose stone path that was clearly for the dragon. I chose the big path so I could reduce the chance of being snuck up on.

Descending the path every once and a while there were small rooms off the sides, and they were all filled these large round barrel things. The tops of all of them were sealed in some way. I didn’t try too hard to open any of them, because I wasn’t sure what was inside or how to do it. I heard a soft but steady rhythmic noise as I travelled ever downward.

Eventually I found myself at the bottom and the floor leveled out. I crept around the final corner and nearly soiled myself. Another dragon. As big and as black as the one we’d slain and pacing a large room. There was a row of tables along the far wall and at each table was a small dragonish looking person and I don’t completely understand what they were doing. I just knew it couldn’t be good. But none of them seemed to notice me so far so I moved closer. As the dragon paced the room and seemed to inspect their work the people working at the tables were casting spells on eggs. Really big eggs, and all of them had a metallic gleam in the low light. A sickly light passed from their hands to the eggs and seemed like it was infusing them with…something. Were they corrupting these unborn things? It seemed that after a bit of imbuing them with energies malignant they were placed into another of those large barrel container things. And there were more of those things all about this room. It was countless eggs and all for some purpose that I still didn’t know.

I moved closer still and the dragon looked my way. I thought for sure he’d seen me or maybe even smelled me. I was finally close enough to see that there was something wrong with the eyes of the dragon people. They were inky black voids. There was no light there or signs of life. I also noticed that that there was something off in the way they moved but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I saw that there was a door at the far end of the room and wanted to find out what was on the other side. I studied the path that the dragon took and moved as quickly as I dared so as to avoid being found out. I made it to the door and of course it was locked and the dragon was starting back towards me. I was quickly running out of time and for the first time since I’d entered the room the dragon paused and sniffed the air. I had to hurry. I worked at the lock as fast as I could and it seemed like the lady was smiling on me because as soon as I opened the door and moved through it I found myself back in my bed with Munnin pecking me on the head. I flicked his beak and called him a jerk and went about telling the group about the dream I’d had. When I went to wake Z, I pulled back the blanket and she was gone. In her place were a multitude of spiders and her holy symbol. Fayne tried to picked it up and got burn for her effort. I rolled it all up and put it in my pack. I guess we’d look for her after we found Shojin.

We readied ourselves to face the dragon below and bid farewell to the trio of guys we’d worked with. I hope they find what their after and I wouldn’t mind working with them again sometime. Ezrella wanted to travel with us it seemed, which worked out because we needed the help. And I led the group back down where I’d been in my dream. But it was different. Still too paths, still going down, but the dragon’s path was far more worn down than in my dream. As we came upon the rooms the containers were gone, however we did find a golden egg in one of the rooms under a layer of dirt. It was making a soft noise and drew me to it. I carefully wrapped it up and placed it in my pack, but got the impression that it would have been fine almost independent how I treated it. I’m starting to think it’s a dragon egg. I’ve no idea what we’ll do if and when it hatches, but I couldn’t just leave it there and knew Shojin wouldn’t either. I had hopes that he would have a better idea what to do with it.

As we continued to descend the place was empty and covered in a thick layer of dust. We rounded that final corner and instead of finding a dragon instead found almost nothing. No dragon or empty-eyed dragon people. It was pretty anticlimactic. We did however find one of the containers. It had some markings on it in a language that only Gnomann seemed able to decipher. It was something like “do not open until this amount of time has passed” but the amount of time made no sense and it wasn’t clear if it was days, months, years or something longer. If this thing was filled with more eggs there had to be hundreds of them. I set about trying to open it, and it was simply a matter of being willing to pay the price for working the locking mechanism. Eh, why not.

And… I was thrown across the room. And the eggs ruined before our eyes. So, we left. Not what I’d intended but my main goal was to help the orcs. We headed back up and as we neared the entrance heard the cries of battle from outside. Since wearing Shojin’s face had worked for helping me feel heroic, I had an idea to seem more fearsome in battle and slid into looking like a slightly smaller Gnomann. What we faced were a quartet of hulking bipedal dragon things. They were formidable foes but were ultimately no match for our many shenanigans. And these guys were hauling a small fortune amongst them. Just a massive pile of…stuff. Gems and gold and weird little statues, but also a couple of scrolls, a sword and this thing that looked like a lute but had like forty strings, and a gnarly looking flute pipe thing. And some other random stuff that we’d probably find a use for. All in all it was pretty amazing. We collected it all and told the survivors in the village that we had dealt with all the threats and they should all return home.

Strangely as were interacting with the people in the village it seemed like the years they all wore seemed to fade away. There was some strange magic at work in this place. The people rejoiced and ran off and we were proud. This was quite possibly the first time we had done an honorable, heroic thing. We save these people and it felt great. But it was missing something. We were missing something. So we checked our own wounded and set off back the way we came. Shojin wasn’t here and never was. We needed to find his trail and get him back. So for the third time we made our way back to what was becoming our basecamp there by the road a days travel from Dillard and set up camp for the night. We’d get started first thing in the morning. It was time for Fayne to earn her keep. She was not a good ranger.

Morning came and Fayne claimed to have found a trail. My patience was wearing thin at the time it was taking to find Shojin and I was mean. But we made good time and after a short bit of travel we found Shojin’s wand and I nearly started crying right then and there. We were finally on the right track and I had to believe that we were closing the distance between us.

I pushed Fayne harder and harder to get us there as the day wore on and finally we were deep in the brush and we found a discarded pack and signs of a struggle. Good, that meant he didn’t go quietly. On the ground we found the tusk Shojin kept tied in his hair. Damn. They were trying to limit his options. I resolved in that moment that I would kill all the people responsible for this and I would stop at nothing short of the total annihilation of anyone who stood in my path.Fayne was saying something about finding a unique boot print that had a very distinctive cut in the sole and she had a bead on the direction it was travelling. Almost as if on cue four human, I don’t know what they were, came out of the brush. They bore the emblem of some burning eye on their person and were fairly clean which spoke of funding. Didn’t matter, they were in our way. I wanted to keep one of them alive but Fayne ignored my request and put an arrow through the last of them after we easily dispatched the first three. She noticed that his boot had the same distinctive mark she had found and that he would lead us back to their camp.  

I got snippy about interrogating a dead man and she clarified that his tracks would lead us there. Ok, that made sense. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves nearing a open area and could hear the sounds of people being ordered about. As night was nearly upon us, off in the distance I saw a man in rags chopping down a very large tree. A gangly orcish man. Finally, and at last, we’d found Shojin. And there would be hell to pay.