It was close to midnight when the thieves reached the base of the
plateau. They’d been climbing the mountain over the drow caves since the
fight – they’d found Cairne a short distance ahead of them, carving the
drow that had wounded him to shreds. The Dragon they were planning to
rob had made it’s nest, along with it’s hoard, within a pit dug out from
a large, round outcropping within the mountain that was common in the
area. The result was a fortified pit with forty-foot-high walls in the
middle of rough mountain terrain. While this would usually make it less
attractive as a target, the bandits were glad for the obstructed view.
It had afforded them time to find a nice place of cover to recuperate
from both the climb and the hasty retreat from their previous
“Ugh, next time we decide to rob a dragon, can we please not also fight the only race in the world that has more innate magical power?” Cairne was complaining quite loudly for someone who was still managing to be the quietest person in the area.
The Chief looked at her incredulously. “You’ve never fought goblins before? Really?”
Cairne nodded. “Makes sense. Drow are Evil, sure, but they’re all about their rules. Of course that’s who we’d run into if we avoid the cities if the universe wants us in a fight.” He finished the dressing on his wounds – Gallywig had stopped the bleeding with magic, but he’d need rest for a few days when they got back.
“Chief, we’ve, uh…” he was at a loss for words.
“What?” Chief pushed with impatient concern.
“Oh, my!” Gallywig stammered, barely remembering to keep his voice hushed as Knicks and Cairne worked their way over the top.
“We’ve got a complication,” he eventually managed. The other groups seemed to all be in the same indecisive confusion.
Mor pushed the chief up before leaping onto the rock.
“Oh,” he finally managed. Cairne looked back at the chief, done with his own slack-jawed observation of the situation.
Barna shook his head and pointed up. “There they are, coming in from above, as always. Ah! Brother!” he called. The man looked back at him, his serious air taking a slight shift as he waved back at his brother’s group – he was a tall, heavily built man with heavy steel covering his body from the waist down, and a narrow blade almost two meters long strapped across his bare chest. He had wild hair past his shoulders and a thick scar dividing the top of his face from the bottom. The Fallen Rangers were renowned as one of the more powerful bandit groups in the region, and Charanel was their best warrior – the reason they’d sent him on to the dragon raid. He made a signal to Barna – a hand held as if drinking an ale. Barna responded by pointing at his brother – they’d arranged for a drink when they returned – at Charan’s camp – Barna’s was a bit of a mess at the moment.
“Those idiots!” Gallywig shouted. “Shiara will notice that for certain!”
The Horde, a group of ten orcish and half-orcish warriors, had decided to try and get the enchanted bags off of the Sirens, four female warriors who were beating the orcs senseless with unarmed combat.
The Chief had tasked Barna, Knicks and Gallywig with finding diamonds, while he and Cairne loaded the magic bags on Mor’s belt with as many riches as they could gather. Mor stood, Greataxe drawn, to the right of the group, moving occaisonally to stay between them and the Light fingers – the group most immediately on their right, fairly normal looking bandits who usually specialised more in stealthy crimes. They didn’t seem to be looking for a fight but Mor’s job was to secure his gang’s operation and that’s what he did. On the left wasn’t a problem, Barna and Charon were occaisonally throwing different gems to each other as trade. Charon had already found a fist-sized diamond, uncut, and traded it to Barna in exchange for an incredibly well-inscribed djanni’s lamp. The rangers had come specifically for those, and they already had two lesser djannis, one male, one female, both stunningly attractive, almost human creatures but for the slight blue glow of their skin, out and assisting with the search.
The hoard was a place of chaos with all of the fighting and looting, a few bandits from different clans had even congregated around an everflowing tankard, when a large mound of gold in the center of the lake shifted. In an instant everyone was quiet, eyes locked on the mound. Nobody had touched it – it had moved on it’s own.
Knicks outstretched her hands, middle and ring fingers held together. the rings on her ring fingers glowed, and Barna, Gallywig, Cairne and Chief all released their bags as they flew into her hands. She secured them to her belt, and went to grab the bags off Mor’s belt.
The Fallen Rangers all did the same, dismissing their djannis and putting them all on the belt of their smallest member, a dwarven woman, stout of build but still petite for a dwarf, and Charon drew the lengthy blade from his back into a combat stance.
Within a second, ten arrows dug lightly into his scales, and he roared
his fury. Suddenly dozens of whirlpools formed in the golden lake, coins
shifting as countless draconic children dug their way out of their
slumber. These were all much younger, children and hatchlings, but still
the smallest of them was almost as tall as a man when on all fours.
The bandits surely outnumbered the dragons, but not by a large margin,
and they certainly didn’t feel like they had the numbers advantage as
fireballs flew about the golden lake. Bandits everywhere engaged the
dragons – Some, like the the more stubborn Horde, just attacked each
dragon near them. The more level headed Sirens and Light Fingers had
focused their attacks toward the edge of the plateau, trying to carve a
path to escape. Barna’s crew had three young dragons on either side of
them. “To the Rangers!” Barna called. Mor charged to the right, lodging
his axe deep in the middle dragon’s skull. As it fell, he ducked out of
the path of it’s two brethren as they lunged at him. As he covered their
retreat, the others charged the three on the left. Barna and Cairne
lunged at the one on the left, Barna cutting it’s foreleg deeply, Cairne
digging his axes into the beasts’ wing, causing it to howl in pain,
clawing Cairne’s chest and grazing Barna with a gust of orange flame.
The Chief had his blade locked in the jaws of the one on the right,
pushing him back with raw strength as Knicks threw her blades into it
and calling them back one after the other in a vicious frenzy. Gallywig
recited more spells, his hands occasionally glowing before thrusting the
light into either himself or Knicks. They all ignored the center one –
four of the five Fallen Rangers were pelting it with a flurry of arrows –
firing as fast as they could. They were far less spread out than
Barna’s group had been – meaning only two were on their exposed side,
which Charan was holding off on his own. Chief could see him over the
shoulder of his dragon – he was just holding him off for Knicks to cut
down, and she’d cut his shoulder and ruptured his flame sac – so he had
time to watch as Charan ducked and dodged and occaisonally slid his
blade against the dragons. He was fighting completely defensively –
making no large swings or full-force attacks – it seemed he was just
dodging the two dragon’s attacks, and if those movements happened to
include his blade moving into the dragons, then so be it. They were both
wounded – Charon didn’t have a scratch on him, but he wasn’t landing
any lethal blows. Chief saw a gust of flame to his left. Barna had just
taken a fireball straight to the head. He’d created an opening – Cairne
was kneeling in front of the dragon, facing away from it, both axes
directly above him – he’d cut two grooves right through it’s head from
below it’s jaw, up through the skull, and then out through it’s face –
blood splattered all over Barna as his body fell to the ground. He
wasn’t breathing. Knicks threw one dagger again, quickly using the other
to cut off his hand, tucking it into one of the bags. The dragon next
to him also fell – it’s front had been reduced to a pincushion by the
rangers – a quick count and Chief saw twenty arrows at least. Knicks
threw a few more daggers out at his dragon, he was too in his face to
see where it hit but he felt the dragon go limp as he pulled his weapon
The Rangers were firing a flurry of arrows right past his team – Mor had
killed another of the three he was holding back but the third had
felled him. Knicks charged it head on, throwing her daggers at its’ head
as it breathed fire at her, she slid right under it, sliding under the
dragon too, calling her daggers back as they pulled at her – trying to
go through the dragon, but it’s hide was too tough for them to go too
deep, leaving several bloody cuts and gashes along it’s body. As she got
her daggers back, she quickly removed the orc’s hand as she had with
Barna, before the dragon knocked her to her side with it’s tail. She
threw her daggers once more as she circled it – arrows pelting into it’s
forelegs and torso. More drakelings were closing towards them – she had
no idea how many other bandits had fallen yet, but it had to have been
at least half of them. Once again she caught and threw her daggers, she
was almost in front of the beast again and she caught a lucky hit – her
dagger had caught a soft bit of flesh under it’s foreleg shoulder. She
kept running past it, dodged another fireball, and pulled the dagger,
this time it came to her straight through the dragon’s chest. With a
weak roar and another gust of flame, it fell. She made her way back to
the Rangers – more dragons were closing in on them – another five –
Cairne had fallen, along with one of the rangers, who were now
dual-wielding various weapons for close combat, as Chief and Charon each
managed to take a dragon down as well. Knicks got to work – cutting off
Cairnes hand first as she looked in the distance – The Ravens and the
Gargoyles were having their own alliance forming – Their lesser members
were engaged with a large group of drakelings – they were starting to
drop but they’d already killed their number in dragons – Huggin, Munnin
and Jewel were taking on the eldest – their blades and hammers flashing
off the wounded dragon’s chest and arms. Jewel had lost an arm, Munnin
had lost an eye, and the dragon’s tail was broken and had a muscle torn,
hanging limp from it’s torso. They were doing well but clearly the
dragons had the upper hand. Most of the bandits that had arrived had
either died or retreated by now – and the remaining dragons were
collecting around the remaining groups – the Sirens, the Gargoyles and
Ravens, and them. It didn’t look good – in moving to the Rangers, they’d
gained a lot of fighting strength but lost time to clear their way to
Luckily, that wasn’t the plan. Knicks moved to the Chief as Gallywig put
a spell on him – he barely felt her cut off his little finger – the
group held out just long enough to repeat the process on the remaining
survivors of their group when Roc, the large bird that the Ravens
arrived on, took off, with Huggin, Munnin and Jewel on it’s back. Their
other members were all down, and the elder dragon took off after them.
All eyes, dragon or bandit, were on them.
Two dead drakelings, one lost arm and five minutes later, Charon stood in a cave, listening to his persuers scramble down the path they thought he had followed. He looked out to the plateau, using what little magic he could to staunch the bleeding at the stump of his elbow. How many had died tonight? How will Shiara react to this? Would she know which bandits had come? Would she exact her revenge?