“Wraiths!” Nasti calls out as Amaya takes a cautious step into the center of the room, Thalkainen raised defensively. “You’ll need ghost touch or positive damage to get through their resistance!” Heeding her own advice, the witch sends positive energy coursing into the nearest apparition.
“Cuuuurssse you!” cries the afflicted wraith as it advances on the tiefling. Amaya’s magic blade carves into the insubstantial specter as it passes her, but it remains focused on Nasti, reaching a wispy claw into her chest and tearing out a portion of her life force. Nova tries to cast a powerful spell to heal her cousins and harm the undead, but it is disrupted by the wraith’s claws! The other two wraiths advance to flank Amaya, and she too is struck by the ghosts’ draining touch.
The half-elf clenches her teeth and dispatches the first wraith with a mighty swing of Thalkainen, pivoting to slice the half-formed substance of the second. Nasti remembers that her recently acquired magic staff is meant to be good against the undead and runs it through a basic pass. One of her strikes impacts the insubstantial entity, but the result is somewhat disappointing. She abjures a shield in case the ghost retaliates.
No longer threatened by a nearby wraith, Nova sends positive energy out in a burst, but the pain of the previous injury took most of the bite out of the spell. The remaining wraiths continue to focus on Amaya, drawing away more of her life essence. She cuts another down and her cousins’ magic ends the threat of the third.
“I hate undead…” Nasti gripes as she catches her breath, still feeling drained. Nova’s magic dispels the lasting effect of the wraith’s tender attention from the tiefling.
The cousins enter the tomb to make sure there are no lingering threats. Confident that they are momentarily secure, Amaya treats their wounds. From the coffins, they recover a magical dagger enruned as “Assaulter,” a potion, and a spell scroll. Canter licks his lips at the sight of the scroll.
One prepared, the cousins continue to traverse the rough, winding tunnel until it widens into a larger cavern to the northwest. The contents of this chamber are slightly shielded by large boulders strewn along the tunnel boundary. The tunnel continues past the chamber, but a pair of reptilian horrors standing on two powerful hind legs lurk there. Their forelimbs are armed with sharp curving claws, and their toothy, eyeless, tubular heads have three frilled flaps that resemble ears.
The creatures act first, screeching so loudly that the cousins recoil in sickening pain. Amaya staggers forward onto the nearest low boulder, ready to strike if either of the monsters come near. Nasti takes a more proactive approach, sending electricity arcing toward each of the aberrations. One of them evades the strike entirely, but the other catches a bolt full in the chest.
Nova focuses her mind on the lightning-struck monster but is left wondering if these things even have a mind. She retreats down the tunnel to provide the creatures painful shouts one fewer target. Amaya advances on the nearest beast and slices into it twice with Warcaller’s sword. She and Nasti are treated to another chorus of the monsters’ pain-inducing screeches.
The witch calls upon her lightning once more then staggers into the southern tunnel after Nova. “Destrachan,” she mutters under her breath as the oracle passes her, heading north to heal Amaya. Emboldened, the half-elf advances on the nearer aberration and slashes it again. In return, she is bit deeply by the other beast and raked by its claws, suffering more injury than Nova’s spell had healed.
Amaya kills one of the destrachan and wounds the other, which barely manages a clumsy swipe of its claws in retaliation. Nasti returns to the fray with a ball of flame to the aberration’s chest, and Nova’s icy ray brings it down.
“I think we should rest,” Amaya says.
“Whaaat?” Nova replies sarcastically. Nasti lets her own response go and nods wearily.
They search the destrachan’s cavern. The chamber contains various refuse and debris common to a lair of a large beast, and in the far northwestern corner of the cave, a large egg sack contains six leathery eggs. Woven into the egg sack secretions are some shiny souvenirs retrieved from previous victims, including a pouch containing an enchanted ring. Then they retreated to the duergar guardroom bunks.
* * *
8 Calistril (II), 4721
Many hours later, the cousins make their way back through the tunnels, past the destrachan cavern, and farther north. As the tunnel turns east, they notice a horribly rank, putrid odor. The tunnel mouth opens into a large cavern cloaked in darkness, and humanoid bones lie scattered about the floor. In a northern nook, a boney draconic form with loose flesh draped from it lurks. It begins to shamble toward them slowly.
“So, we fight or run?” Amaya says.
“Zombie dragons might have zombie TREASURE!” Canter says.
“Good idea, Canter,” Nova says. “Maybe you should go over there and scout to see if it’s friendly?” The familiar gives her the raspberry.
“Uh, it’s getting closer,” Amaya notes.
Nova sighs. “What the hell… You only live once… Maybe.”
At this pronouncement, the boney dragon breathes a wave of fetid viscera across the adventurers! Amaya charges and carves into the undead wyrm with Thalkainen then raises the blade defensively. Nasti lobs fire at the animate and Nova sends positive energy into the beast.
Amaya dodges the descending upper jaw only to be caught in the side by sweeping claws. Her overhead chop scrapes across a few remaining scales harmlessly, but she cuts one of the dragon’s feet off, limiting its ability to evade further attacks. Nasti applies more fire to the problem while Nova afflicts the undead creature with interstellar void.
The second jaw attack catches Amaya but knocks her out of the way of the undead claw, and while its head is near the ground, Amaya lops it off with Thalkainen.
As Canter predicted, the cousins find a fine hoard of cash and prizes. “TOLD you,” he crowed.
“When you’re right, you’re right,” Nova says.
Among the remains, they find sacks of odd gemstones and trade bars stamped with unfamiliar symbols with Undercommon writing. There are also bloodstained notes with directions to a “Duergar Checkpoint,” where these Darklands travelers were meant to seek entrance to the dark dwarves’ stronghold for trade. These would-be traders appear to have taken a wrong turn and run afoul of the undead dragon.
After tending their wounds, the cousins sit down to discuss their next move. “There is an entire city of duergar down here. Maybe we should approach this with some more care than is our custom…”