Post by monstermike on May 20, 2011 14:27:58 GMT -5
Owynn, Pan, and Herman leave the colorless quarters of the dwarves with Father Grizzle, Kweiraye, and eight other dwarves in their wake. Behind them, Bitsa, Tenkar, and Ozenda have their hands full trying to get their small army of excited dwarves to quiet down and work as a team.
The walk south, following the slightly curved hallway. Owynn checks around the corner to make sure there are no stray trolls or ogres wandering the hall, then walks across to the door. Pan, Herman, and Kweiraye join him at the huge double door, while Father Grizzle and the rest of the dwarves hang back.
Owynn can hear the steady, slow breathing of something huge and powerful on the other side of the door. Unsure for a moment whether to knock or simply walk in, he places his palm against the door for a moment to decide. Though unafraid to face such a creature of legend, he notices that his heart is pounding. He swallows, and his Adam's apple feels like a golf-ball stuck in his throat.
During this instant of indecision, the breathing changes. A voice from within - a powerful deep resonant voice - says, "Come in. Come in, adventurers. I've been waiting a long time for you."
Game time 4/4 19:50
Please post your next move (in which you are messily devoured), by noon Monday, May 23.
Owynn was about to raise his hand when he heard the dragon's voice. Surprised, he jerks a little backwards. He looks at his companions, Pan' first and Kweiraye next, before turning his eyes forward again. Then he swallows, takes a deep breath, and hoping his natural eloquence will help him in his endeavor, he pushes the door open.
He arbores a wide smile and tries his best to look confident. "Of course! A majestic dragon such as you cannot be surprised by mere mortals such as us!"
Post by monstermike on May 23, 2011 9:21:40 GMT -5
"Mmmm. I see my reputation precedes me," says the dragon with a slow smile.
The room is a large rectangular chamber with a high ceiling - about 15 meters high. There are lit torches in sconces along the walls. Near the door is a small table and chair, and a black iron kettle suspended by a tripod and chain over a small firepit. There are a few plain wooden side tables along the edge of the room to the dragon's left and right with bundles of unused torches stacked on them.
At the center of the room lies a magnificent red and gold dragon. His head is lying on a sizable pile of gold coins, gold ingots, and a few other odds and ends. His forelimbs are wrapped around the pile, as though he was using it for a pillow. Smoke trickles up from his nostrils, and his cat-like eyes glow with a golden light of their own. Dark red leather wings are folded along his back and his tail curls around so the barbed tip is near his snout.
Partly obscured by the bulk of his body, you can see two doors at the back of the room.
"What have we here? The mighty Hero with the enchanted sword, yes. A formidable faun warrior, I see. The hireling, of course. And a young dwarf, dressed like Mr. Blackwell. Most interesting. Hardly your typical party of adventurers though. I should know - I've eaten dozens of them."
"Where is the preening elven wizard? Where is the gruff but amiable dwarf warrior? Where is the halfling thief? I must say, you fall far short of the typical complement. I'm somewhat disappointed in you."
The dragon lets out a ululating sigh along with a small unintentional puff of flame. The flame dissolves into three black smoke rings that rise to the ceiling of the chamber and dissipate.
"Now, to the business at hand. You are here to slay me and take my treasure. Of course, you will fail and in a few minutes time I will be eating you, just like all the others in the past. And of course, this will not deter you from trying, just like all the others in the past. But, such is the life of a dragon... Years, decades, even centuries of waiting sometimes. Waiting for some d**n fool heroes to come along. But above all, we dragons are a patient race."
The dragon laces his front claws together and stretches out his forelimbs, then works some kinks out of his long neck. Rising to all fours, he stretches his whole body like a cat, spreads his wings out wide, and finishes with some warm-up tail lashes that reach from one end of the room to the other smashing the little side-tables to splinters.
"No hurry," he says. "Issue your challenges and proclamations and such whenever you are ready."
Game time 4/4 20:00
Please post your next move by noon Wednesday, May 25.
Owynn turns his head at his companions, looking surprised, during the dragon's speech. After his final sentence, he raises his hands high and keeps smiling in an attempt to de-dramatize the situation: "No, no, no, not at all! I agree that the look of this troop is somewhat confusing, but I assure you -- with all due respect -- that you are completely mistaken. This impromptu visit has actually been triggered by..." the warrior pulls Kweiraye by the arm and pushes him slightly in front of him "... our good friend Kweiraye here. You might not recognise him, but he is the son of Medwort, whom I think you already met. Am I right?"
Post by monstermike on May 24, 2011 10:01:51 GMT -5
[Interstitial - As long as it's just conversation, I'm going to move the clock forward a little more slowly here - once every couple of turns or so.]
The dragon seems to brighten a bit at the mention of Medwort's name. "Ahh, my good friend Medwort! The only creature in this place with the good manners to be a friend and neighbor to me. Yes, yes. Then you must be Kweiraye. Please - have a seat." He gestures to the small chair and table near the door. "Tea?" He asks.
Kweiraye, somewhat shaken by the dragon's overwhelming appearance, gratefully sits in the chair with a weak nod. Taking this as agreement for tea, the dragon lights the fire under the black kettle with a carefully controlled puff of flame.
"There's tea and cups in the little drawer there," he says to Kweiraye. "I'll have to trouble you to fix your own. I break so much china with these." the dragon says, brandishing his front claws.
Turning to Owynn, the dragon says more harshly, "Adventurers you are, despite your presence with an honored guest. I offer my hospitality to you and your companions under the condition that you all behave yourselves as guests. Among my race, this puts obligations on us both and these obligations are not ignored lightly. For my part, as host, I agree to welcome you into my home and treat you and protect you as though you were family."
"For your part, it means that you would not betray my trust by attempting to attack me or steal from me. Do we have an accord?"
"No worries, no worries: we are not here to attack or steal, not at all!" answers Owynn. Helping his young dwarf companion to bring out the tea set, he adds: "By the way, you will be pleased to learn that Kweiraye here has been promoted as personal decorator of Hrruuukkk Ptui, head of the goblin guard. That's how we were able to meet him: while on travel, we passed by these mines to pay a short visit to our good friend Salazar, and we were introduced to his higher level staff. While we were passing by the quarters, Hrruuukkk Ptui couldn't help but show us the advancement of his personal room rearrangement."
The warrior puts a hand on the right shoulder of Kweiraye and presents an even bigger smile to the dragon before resuming his story: "We immediately became good friends, ain't it right, Kweiraye? And after some time, we discovered the fascinating story of his father, and the not less fascinating fact that a fabulous and majestic dragon such as you were present in the mines."
Getting one step closer to the dragon, and putting his hand next to his mouth as if he was about to tell a great secret, he continues: "Of course, I know that Salazar can be a little mysterious at times, and would not openly give out all his secrets. But I immediately understood why he would ask such a formidable creature as you are to stay near him. He wanted you to guard his most powerful weapon!"
Showing all his assembled companion with a movement of his hand, he concludes his long-winded monologue: "So I took the liberty to come here with this small assembly, but be assured that we were only driven by curiosity and not hostile intents. See, I fancy looking at rare and ancient magical devices. So, please, if I may ask very humbly, could you let us have if only a short glimpse at Salazar's GREAT ORB OF POWER?"
His eyes lighting up at the offer of hospitality, Pan seems oblivious to Owynn's fine words. He flops himself down in a seat and puts his hooves up on the table. "What do you fill your belly with around here?" Seeing the dragon eye him suspiciously, he waves his thumb at Owynn, smiling: "Oh yeah, what he said. No fighty, no stealy. Got any vittles?"
Herman is stunned by Owynn's eloquent back and forth with the dragon, and even more so with Pan's reckless gluttony. He stands somewhat tensely in the back, head down, wishing he had something grand to say.
Post by monstermike on May 26, 2011 10:33:28 GMT -5
The dragon turns to address Pan. "Nothing fit for you to eat, I'm afraid. They toss me a worn-out miner from time to time, or sometimes a badly wounded orc guard." His face forms an expression of disgust. "Blechh, orc. However, my favorite food is sweet, tender young hirelings." This last with a meaning glance at Herman, who gulps hard and tries to look older, tougher, not a hireling, and invisible all at the same time.
The dragon listens carefully to Owynn's statement, preening himself a bit during the flattery. "Quite so. The object of your curiosity is not an orb at all, but a staff. A staff of great power, according to Salazar. I have not seen it myself, as he hid it behind one of these two doors beyond me some time before our, eh, arrangement. It sits there, protected by a riddle. You know the sort of thing - behind one door death, behind the other treasure."
"He was convinced that only he was smart enough to solve such a riddle. But when we met in the mountains during one of his journeys, I explained to him that this riddle was an old chestnut. He immediately offered me a place to stay under the usual terms and conditions, provided that I agree to protect the staff from any intruders. But I'm sure he wouldn't mind if some of his friends took a quick peek at it."
The dragon shifts his enormous bulk to reveal a pair of doors at the back of the room - one painted blue, the other red. On the wall between the doors is an inscription which reads:
BEHIND ONE DOOR DEATH, BEHIND THE OTHER TREASURE THE ORACLE KNOWS WHICH AND WILL ANSWER WITH PLEASURE BUT BE WARNED! HE ALTERNATES BETWEEN TRUTH AND LIES AND WON'T ANSWER QUESTIONS WHOSE TRUTH YOU SURMISE
Under this sign is the bust of an old man with wavy gray hair and thick glasses. His avuncular features seem somehow familiar to you. There is a coin slot in the pedestal that the bust sits on. A small hand-lettered sign reads:
"Ask the Oracle! Insert 1 copper piece to have your question answered. Stock tips 1 gold piece. Sorry, No Refunds!"
[Bookkeeping: Owynn takes 16 AP CHR for fooling the dragon with his tall tale.]
Game time 4/4 20:10
Please post your next move by noon Friday, May 27.
Owynn raises an eyebrow when hearing about the staff. "A staff? Are you sure?" he asks the dragon. When the speech of the gigantic creature is finished, he starts to walk slowly in circles, scratching the back of his head and putting his other hand on his chin. He mutters: "That's strange... Salazar never mentioned a staff... Or maybe it is the old staff? But then why have it guarded?"
He thinks further, then stops, as if enlightened by a sudden discovery: "Or else... No, he wouldn't dare!" Muttering again (but not too low): "Not with such a powerful creature... And yet, it would definitely be his style... Poor dragon... how humiliating..." He turns his head again to the dragon, trying to look as sympathetic as he can: "So the old wizard asked you to guard a staff, right? But you never had the occasion to look at it? Well, then how can you be sure that it is a staff then? Maybe we ought to make sure..."
The heir of Tallinoor then eyes Pan' and Herman to make him understand he will need his help to figure out how to deal with the doors. "Herman, can you bring out a copper coin?"
Post by monstermike on May 27, 2011 10:04:45 GMT -5
"Adventurer! You speak in riddles. Of course Salazar would trust only me to guard his most powerful item. It would be an insult to have me guard anything of lesser value. If that were so, it would imply that there exists a more formidable guardian than myself, and as you can see, THERE IS NONE MORE POWERFUL THAN I!"
At this final thundering shout, the dragon rears up flapping his great wings and lets loose a jet of flame at the ceiling. His great claws rend peelings of stone from the floor. The wind from his wings is like a hurricane, tumbling Kweiraye and the tea table over backwards and knocking Herman onto his rump. Owynn and Pan have to brace themselves to keep their footing. The jet of flame roars upwards to the ceiling and fans out across it, actually coming back down the walls of the chamber.
"Now, speak plainly, Adventurer! Are you saying that the staff I guard is not Salazar's most potent weapon?"
Game time 4/4 20:10++
Please post your next move by noon Monday, May 30.
Post by monstermike on May 27, 2011 13:24:55 GMT -5
Dazed by the dragon's deafening outburst, Herman picks himself up from the floor. He takes a moment to clear his head, then rejoins Pan near the bust of the Oracle. He considers for a while, then reaches into his pouch for one of his precious gold pieces. "Let's try asking for a stock tip first and see if this thing even works."
He drops the gold coin into the slot, and for a moment nothing happens. Then inside of the bust, he can hear a sound like clockwork gears whirring and springs winding. The marble face suddenly animates and gives Herman a kindly smile.
"Why hello there young man. Never too early to start investing, I always say. How can I help you?"
Herman is amazed by the lifelike animation of the marble face. He collects himself and says, "I suppose I would like a stock tip, if you please."
More gears whirr, and the Oracle responds "The market is pretty overvalued right now, so you have to look for good companies at bargain prices. I would suggest Amalgamated Magical Holdings - that's ticker symbol AMH on the Khazan Stock Exchange. They're a good solid outfit whose share price has been beaten down due to the loss of one of their top magic engineers. If you can get in at under 10 gold pieces per share and hold it for a good long time, I think you'll do all right. Remember to use a limit order." The Oracle beams a kindly smile at Herman, then freezes back to an immobile bust as the clockwork gears wind down.
[Edit: Tried to repair the flaw in continuity. A dragon just roared, shot flame, and created a hurricane with his wings. Yet somehow Herman and Pan carried on a humorous conversation through this as though it didn't happen. I think we can assume that Pan and Herman approached the bust before the dragon's display of power]