[original from 2002]
At the gates of Dale the party was met by the guard, “What is your business in Dale?”
“We wish an audience with The King,” Thalimar answered.
“What matter is so important that you wish an audience with King Bard?” the guard asked.
“It is of evil news from the south that we wish to speak to him about. We seek his council and will only speak to him,” Thalimar said. The guard bid them to wait. Ten minutes later he returned with the King’s steward. He was a wizened older man with a gray beard. “Who are you and what news from the south do you wish to speak to the King about?” queried the steward. “I am Thalimar Xilomar of Lothlorien, this is Tuber of the Grey Mountains, and -” “Urki son of Balin,” Urki interrupted bowing deeply. “There is a dragon wymling to be destroyed and we seek help and wise council,” Thalimar continued.
The steward led them through the walled city. They walked around a great square. In the center was a massive carving depicting the Battle of the Five Armies. A small swarthy man was working on a portion of the statue. The figure he was working on was of a halfling with large furry feet. They paused before the statue to watch the foreign looking carver work. “What manner of creature do you carve?” asked Thalimar. “This is Bilbo the Hobbit,” said the tiny man. “Let us hurry on and I will present your information to the King,” the steward said.
They entered the palace and were requested to leave their weapons behind. Thalimar immediately placed his bow, quiver, sword of Gondolin, and dagger at the guard’s station. The others followed his lead but Urki grumbled something about his father’s father..
The steward eventually returned and led them into the King’s audience chamber. King Bard looked at them curiously.
“What is an Eldar doing wandering in the lands of men?” Bard demanded.
“The tale is too long to tell,” Thalimar answered.
“What news have you from the south and why should it concern me?” The King addressed Thalimar.
“It is a long story but the short of it is this: travelers near Redvale were being attacked by plants that could move magically. We investigated and found a citadel in a ravine in the woods bordering Redvale. On the second level of the citadel was a sorcerer who tended a tree that fruited two types of apples. The apples could heal or sicken a person. The people of Redvale were given these apples and told to plant the seeds.
Apparently the seedlings grew and became mobile and attacked wantonly. We destroyed the Gulthias tree so that no more seedlings can grow. We also killed the sorcerer so another Gulthias tree can not be spawned by him. On the first level of the citadel were two orc tribes and one tribe was eaten by the dragon after it got loose. The first tribe we no nothing about except that they had the dragon caged but could not control it once loosed. We need help to dispatch with the wyrmling. We know nothing of its powers only that it ate an entire band of orcs.”
“We will speak of that shortly. Urki, your father has been looking for you. He has even said that you are probably dead,” Bard said.
“Nearly so, orcs captured me and I was rescued by this Elf and barbarian. Of course I had to help them battle the sorcerer,” Urki answered.
“About this dragon, I can give you arms but not men and I can give you funds,” Bard offered.
“Can you put out a call for volunteers?” Thalimar asked.
“Yes, the call will ask for fighters to meet a month from now at Redvale,” Bard said. “I will also send rangers down to guard against orcs getting in and out of the area.”
“I can also give you this,” Bard rose from his throne, he took a bow hanging behind him and offered it to Thalimar, “This is the bow that slew Smaug.”
Thalimar took the bow and examined its fineness. He slung it over his shoulder and bowed to Bard. “If anything helps us this surely will, thank you.”
“Go to the Lonely Mountain and see the Dwarves. They may have information about dragons that can help you and I am sure Balin wants to see his son,” Bard bid them good luck and the adventurers left the chamber. They picked up their weapons and went back out into the square.
The little carver was still working on the hobbit. The carving looked so real that if it hadn’t been for the coloring of the stone one would think the figures were moving and breathing creatures.
“Where are you from and how did you get here?” Thal asked.
“I am from woods south of the great plains. I met up with a caravan that was headed this way and when I got here I needed money so got a carving job.”
“If you are from the wood then you may be of some help to us on our mission to slay a dragon. Meet us a week from now and travel with us south,” Thal said.
“It sounds very dangerous but I will go with you,” the carver said.
“What is your name?”
Urki led Tuber and Thal into the Lonely Mountain. Its entrance was newly wrought and the halls were great and fair. There were many lamps made by the dwarves lighting the chambers. Thal felt a bit uneasy under the weight of the mountain. Urki was greeted heartily by many they saw and many inquired why he was with an elf and a great barbarian. Urki did not tell any the tail, knowing that it would be told at a huge dinner to be held for his return. They meant to see Balin and seek his advice about the dragon and the artifacts they had found.
They entered a Balin’s chambers. Balin was over joyed to see his son. Urki told the tail of being captured by orcs, freed by Thal and Tuber, finding the dragon and fighting the sorcerer. They showed Balin the books and scrolls they had found. Balin was especially interested in the Black Dragon Hide Book. He knew that some elders would be able to interpret it but it would take some time and it would have to be left for at least a week. Thal agreed to this.
The rest of the week they spent some time in Dale getting potions and scrolls identified and read. They eventually went back to see Balin. Balin presented Tuber and Thal with chain mail shirts that were very light but would protect them as chain mail. The Dragon Hide Book was a book that described the lost citadel as a place of dragon worshippers that kept dragons as gods and tended to them. The Book also had a map of the citadel. A scroll completely described how to open all the doors and clearly marked all the traps.
They met Chandu Ghan and helped equip him for the trip back to Redvale. Two weeks later they left for Redvale. Just outside of Dale they saw three men hung by some local guardsmen. Thal and Tuber recognized them as being part of the band that had attacked them on their way north to Dale. They met the usual merchants and travelers on their ride south. The river was busy with traffic also. Thal waved to many elves traveling up and down the river.
During the night they rested along side the road, making a fire and sleeping in shifts. One night when Chandu was on guard he heard a rustling of dried leaves. It did not sound right to him so he woke the others. Thal recognized the sound immediately. He dove for the packs to find a torch and grabbed his sword. Tuber ran at the vine monsters with his axe. Chandu backed away trying to get away from the unnatural creatures. Urki groggily picked up his axe and prepared for battle.
Between Tuber and Thal they quickly dispatched the bramble monsters. They talked for some time, trying to figure out what could have gone wrong with the dispatching of the Gulthias tree and the sorcerer. Chandu commented that they could be plants that reproduce through their root system. Thal tried to track the creatures but could not find anything concrete to follow. The next day they met a ranger and discussed the bramble monsters and the orcs with him. Orcs were killed trying to leave the ravine. Bramble monsters have been found all over the place and are being killed but no end seems to be in site as to eradicating them.
They finally entered Redvale and met with Kerowyn and Hucrele. They spoke with them briefly about the bramble monster problem. But could come to no conclusion. The party went to the town great hall and set up a place to meet men at arms to help fight the dragon. Geonynn entered a little later. “So you are trying to get people to go on a foolish mission?” Geonynn proclaimed.
“Destroying a dragon that grows in power is hardly foolish,” Thal replied.
“You have no proof of the dragon’s existence, I do not want any of my townspeople wandering off with you and your fantasies,” Geonynn said.
“Are the bramble monsters not proof enough that there is evil about? You are a coward and anyone that listens to you is the fool,” said Thal getting quite angry.
“Coward?!” yelled Geonynn. He drew a sword hung from his huge waist.
Thal drew his blade of Gondolin. Thal decided to simply defend himself and let the fat man tire himself out. Geonynn lunged at Thal and Thal easily parried his slice. This went on for a while until Geonynn blooded Thal with a lucky slash. Thal, angered, decided he had better fight back. But Thal only fought to bruise and tire the Thane not to kill. He fought Geonynn until he dropped to the floor unconscious. The few men who stood around the hall watching looked at Thal in a new light. They each approached eagerly to sign up for the dragon hunt. The party now consisted of Thal, Tuber, Urki, Chandu, and five brave young fighting men.
Thal loaded up his men with another hundred feet of rope giving the party a total of two hundred feet of rope. The rangers had cut the rope leading down into the ravine so that no creatures could escape they would need eighty feet just to get down into the ravine. When they got all the way down the cliff face, they approached the entrance to the citadel. Urki led them over the loose paving stones and Thal made sure Urki knew about the hole trap in front of the door. They moved quickly to avoid attracting any rats.
A side door to the entrance led to a small ten by ten room which held three skeletons. The skeletons animated and attacked the party. They were soon smashed to smithereens by Tuber, Thal, Chandu and Urki. They found three arrows with runes that said “Smite Foe”.
According to the book to get past most of the doors they needed a key from a carving of a dragon in the great hall. Thal remembered that the throne had a carving of a dragon. Thal instructed the party to wait behind in the dragon cage room while he silently searched about for hints of dragons, goblins, and orcs. He found out that the dragon was in a chamber through the eastern most door of the goblin queen’s hall. He found only dead goblins.
Thal moved down a parallel hallway to get the opposite end of the great hall. Here he heard a silent sobbing coming from the queen’s throne. He silently approached but she did not move or look left or right. She simply stared ahead sobbing and crying. Thal moved to her side and waved his hand in front of her face but she did not move or notice him. He put her out of her misery. He searched the throne and found the key in the dragon carving’s mouth exactly where the book said. Thal also found three scrolls. They searched some rooms to the south but it only led to fear, injury and traps. There was little reward. And they were putting off the inevitable.
The fighting men were growing impatient and did not like this adventuring. They returned to the dragon cage room and put all of their articles and equipment out to see what they could use against the dragon. The arrows they found would be of use especially with the bow Bard had given them. Thal would use these. Also two of the scrolls would be of use “Conjure magical lights to confuse the foe”, Urki was given this to use, and “Skin toughness of armor” was given to Thal to use on Tuber. Tuber would drop the caltrops in front of the doorway and the dwarven fire potion Chandu would throw at the dragon. Everyone lined up at the door on either side. Thal entered the large chamber.
“Who has come to worship Calcryx,” the dragon said. It was lying on a large dragon sized dais.
“It is I, Thalimar Xilomar,” Thal drew the arrow back and let it fly. He could feel the power of Bard’s bow. The arrow hit the dragon and it roared. Thal ran out the door as the dragon followed. Tuber threw the caltrops in front of the doorway. The dragon’s large head poked through the door and its mouth opened. It drew a great big breath and breathed fire on the line of adventurers to the left of the door. The tried to leap back but were all hit by the dragon’s fiery breath. One of the men burst into flame, cried and fell to the ground. The dragon’s head disappeared back into the room.
They stood looking at each other for a moment realizing the dragon was not going to come out after them. They pushed the caltrops aside and Thal led the way into the large chamber. The dragon was back lying on its dais. Thal shot another arrow at it hitting it. Tuber ran forward and swung his great axe at it. Urki moved into the room positioning himself near the door and started singing from the scroll. The men followed and positioned themselves around the dragon. Chandu stood closer to the door he threw the potion of Dwarf’s Fire at the dragon. It exploded in a great ball of fire. Thalimar shot the third arrow at the dragon but it missed and now he switched to sword and dagger. They hacked away at the dragon which fought back mightily with its clawing and biting attacks. It landed some good blows on Tuber but he stood up to the punishment. The magical lights distracted the dragon for a few moments while the party took advantage by a flurry of blows into its hide. Chandu even shot his blow gun into its hide. Urki lunged forward and got into position to swing his axe. The dragon was overcome by all of the wounds and fell to the ground.