The dragon exhales a toxic cloud that washes down the stairs to envelop the cousins. Amaya, unfazed by the dragon’s breath or frightening presence advances past Nova while the fiery demon arch is clear. The dragon’s tail whips around and stops her in her tracks as she crosses the threshold, but she soldiers on and takes a tentative swing at the cluster of illusory wyrms, destroying one. Nova winces from the venomous breath and the aura of terror the dragon exudes but forces herself to move forward toward the stairs. Then she turns and sends the first of many bursts of healing magic toward Amaya.
Canter flees down the stairs, and Nasti follows her cousins into the dragon’s chamber, casting haste upon Amaya. The dragon sinks its teeth and claws into the half-elf then pivots to swat the tiefling with its tail, but she is too quick. Amaya shifts to put herself between the dragon and Nasti then throws the beast off-balance with a deft sword-stroke – destroying an illusion to blood the real wyrm. She assumes a defensive stance to ready for the counterattack.
Nova continues pouring on the healing, and Nasti further fortifies Amaya with stoneskin. She tries to advance to the stairs, but the dragon’s tail slams into her and arrests her progress.
Then the doors at the top of the steps open to reveal a pair of male humanoids with short horns on their foreheads. They are wearing studded leather armor and wield curved daggers, and their tabards depict a stylized green scale. The dragon’s disciples make no move to engage in the fight, merely watching their master at work.
The dragon positions itself to unleash its toxic breath on the cousins for a second time. Once more, Nova fares the worst and uses her power to heal her own wounds. Despite her enhanced speed, Amaya is unable to penetrate the dragon’s scales with her next flurry. Nasti licks her lips and makes a decision, casting one of her newest and most powerful spells. In an instant, the tiefling is replaced by a twelve-foot-tall bipedal lizard with oversized jaws and a powerful tail to balance it.
Nastisaurus Rex snaps at the dragon, which recoils in surprise. Then the wyrm grins and returns the favor, biting a chuck of dinosaur flesh out of the polymorphed witch. Amaya tries to slip past the dragon while it seems to be distracted, but its tail stops her cold for a second time. Aborting the notion of securing a flank, the half-elf strikes twice with her blade but only draws blood once.
Nova continues sending her dwindling magical healing where it seems to be needed most, while Nasti takes the flank Amaya tried to enter. The tiefling struggles to control her oversized form well enough to harm the dragon, and the wyrm maneuvers to take the position that Nasti just exited, taking a slash from Amaya in the process. Nova evades the dragon’s jaws, so it takes its frustration out on Amaya with its claws.
The half-elf retorts, maintaining her defensive posture, and Nova keeps healing. Nasti finally manages to sink her teeth into the dragon’s hide, which draws its attention back to her. She is bit in turn and Amaya is clawed again. The wyrm seems to relish attacking multiple opponents at once, as it makes an arcane gesture with one claw. Amaya takes advantage of the flank with the Nastisaur and bursts the wyrm’s magical shield, and the tiefling clubs the dragon with her heavy tail.
In response, the green dragon puts Nasti down with a vicious bite before turning its focus back on the other two adventurers. As the dinosaur reverts to her natural form, the wyrm bellows something in Draconic, and the tieflings mobilize, flashing their kukris and attacking Nova on the stairs. Amaya maintains her focus on the dragon and her next slash ends the threat – permanently. With a nod, she joins Nova at the foot of the steps. A tiefling meets her there and slashes her with a dramatic flurry of knife-play.
A third tiefling – a female in brown robes with a matching green-scale tabard – emerges from the top of the steps, sizes up the situation, and casts a spell. A flaming sphere erupts where Nova is standing, and she is forced to leap backward. Still singed by the magic, she sends a ray of enervation through one of the bravos and the wizard. They wilt somewhat under the necromantic assault but fight on.
Canter comes streaking through the fiery barrier of the demon arch so fast he avoids all harm and starts rifling through Nasti’s pouches for a healing potion. Clearly, he could feel his witch fall even though he couldn’t see her through the flames.
Both tiefling knife-fighters turn their attention on Amaya and their quick bladework easily penetrates her defenses. However, the half-elf strikes back harder, her enchanted blade giving her the edge in terms of raw carnage. Between her blade and Nova’s necromancy, the first bravo falls in moments. The other is unnerved and cannot capitalize on its flashy fighting style well enough to do more than graze Amaya on his next flurry.
The tiefling wizard sends her flaming sphere chasing after Nova, who jumps back again to avoid the blaze entirely. The horned woman frowns and tries to snag the human with a magically conjured vine, but Nova evades that, as well. Canter finds and force-feeds a healing potion to Nasti, who sputters back to consciousness, casting about. She regains her feet and scratches her familiar behind the ears, eliciting a happy purr. The remaining tieflings do not long survive the cousins’ wrath.
They enter the austere chamber above to confirm no more threats are lurking within and find it empty. Arrow slits in the southern wall, but they are filled with dirt. There are three unmade beds and as many footlockers. They find several interesting items on the bodies, within the footlockers, and in the dragon’s hoard stashed beneath the stairs. Included in the hoard is a Slaughtergarde medallion with a different symbol inscribed – that of a stylized eye.
The footlockers contain mostly clothing, though two tunics marked with the crest of the Sumberton city watch raised a couple of eyebrows. They also find a couple extra tabards with the green scale design stashed away, as though the tieflings might have been considering recruiting more followers for their green dragon lord.
Amaya shakes a spellbook at Canter. “Here’s some dinner.”
“Is it all natural?” the familiar says. “I can only eat all natural. Wait. What’s the word? Primal.”
“I don’t know. It’s magical?”
“Lemme see that.”
“There are also a couple of tunics marked with the crest of Sumberton city watch,” says Amaya, lifting them to show.
“That’s… interesting,” says Nasti. “We drive out the wererats and, what? Tieflings move in?”
“There goes the neighborhood,” Canter says.
After Amaya spends a couple of hours treating their wounds – just in case, the cousins make their way back to the Luminous Order camp on the surface. “Did you stop the villains?” the camp leader asks.
“It’s a work in progress,” Nasti says wearily.
“We stopped… ‘some’ villains,” Nova says. The soldiers eye the many, many bandages and nod sagely.
“We killed a dragon,” Amaya says casually.
“The hell you say,” barks a soldier before he can think about it.
“Not a big dragon, but … you know. Bigger’n me,” Canter says.
“I don’t recommend fighting one in a confined space,” Nova says. “Or… non-confined for that matter I guess.”
They make a more complete report then settle in for sleep.
* * *
7 Sarenith, 4720 AR
The cousins return below and find the stockade doors closed. A barking voice coughs in warning and several others respond in kind. Amaya kicks down the doors handily, surprising the gnolls and their pets beyond. The replacement guards are swiftly cleared, and another eye medallion is retrieved from the gnoll sergeant’s corpse.
They are unopposed as they make their way back to the broken giant statue room. Rock is still there, though he has been untied and watching the stairs nervously. When he sees the cousins, he immediately reaches for a boulder to throw, fear evident in his eyes.