The rest of my party fought the beast in the Thassilonian Dungeon while I wasn’t there. Our ranger, Harsk, fired a few bolts into it as it flew away. After the excitement died down, we began our search anew. While Lem, Harsk and Amiri split up to check out different locations, my instincts told me that something wasn’t right at the Shrine to Lamashtu. Of course, nothing is really ever “right” at the shrine, but moreso this time around. So I, Seelah, a paladin skilled at searching out monsters, traveled alone to the blasted shrine.
After the jump, one small leap…
All I remember clearly is the sounds and smells. I saw the beast as well, but part of me hangs on to the belief that maybe my eyes had been lying. It charged me and I turned it aside, though it cost me my favorite shield. I swung hard and true with my trusty dogslicer only to have it hit the beast’s scales in an awkward way that sent my weapon bouncing back at me.
Our time is almost up and we haven’t managed to subdue the threat. Harsk and Lem have given up and Amiri is on the edge. There’s only one place left for me to check and I’m not particularly looking forward to it. The Desecrated Vault is just about as cheery as it sounds. We went through much of the place early on in the quest but abandoned it after only finding nothing but a few wretched creatures and some rusty equipment.
I arrive back at the vault and heft the giant, stone door a small ways to make room for my entrance. I fire my torch and move forward. The only passageway we didn’t fully explore was blocked by a large pit. Staring down into the inky darkness, I wonder how far down it goes. The light of my torch does nothing to show me the bottom and any small rocks thrown down the shaft do not echo back. This seems to be a fools errand.
As I turn to go, I hear a soft scraping in the distance, almost like armor chafing. In absolute silence, I wrangle my breath down into my chest and wait. As the sound makes another report I realize that it’s coming from beyond the pit. The next action I must perform is obvious if not a bit horrifying. I must leap the pit or take the chance that Black Fang will live to feed again.
(Quick break time. Out in the real world, we have run out of turns leaving only me and Sarah with a few turns before the game ends. We’ve closed most locations and have people at the ones we haven’t. In order to reach Black Fang I have to overcome a pit trap that requires a pretty high roll. In fact I have to roll an eight on an eight-sided die. In the Pathfinder card game, you can add dice to rolls using blessing cards, but we were all out of blessings.)
I kneel and ask for guidance, but in this dark place my prayers go unanswered. Stepping back several yards, I eye the other side of the pit. There’s a few vines sticking out from a collapsed section of wall. Taking a few deep breaths I steady myself and set my sights not on the other side but on the vines themselves. I don’t need to make the entire leap, just far enough to grab a handhold. I wish there was someone here to at least tell my friends what happened if I don’t make it out. No time for that now. My legs pounding the earth, I leap for the other side.
Metal slams against stone as I feel the breath leave me. My arms are above the ledge, but barely and I’m scrambling for a hold. I see the vines and grab for them. The first one comes out in my hand. The second does the same. I’m not going to make it. The third holds.
Thanking the gods for continued existence, I hoist myself over the ledge. My ribs hurt like hell from the impact, but it could have been much worse. The chafing sound comes again from the darkness. Time to move forward.
The passageway shifts left and right as I slowly feel my way through. Though I initially imagine my eyes are playing tricks on me, there seems to be a light source somewhere up ahead. As I turn a final corner, the beast comes into view. It’s clearly wounded and weak as my presence elicits only a feeble growl. I almost feel for the creature as I unsheathe my sword.
Approaching slowly, I close the gap between us. Black Fang attempts to stand a few times, falling over after each attempt. Finally it settles in and turns its gaze towards me. Dark eyes, wise and cruel, take me in and judge me. How many years have they seen? What secrets and memories die with this monster? After a few laborious moments, its head comes back to rest on the floor and its eyes close. It’s afraid and it knows why I’m here. I take no pleasure from what I must do. In fact, I want nothing more than to turn around and leave. However, dragons don’t retire. I have no choice. The sword comes down. The town is safe.
I should be happy, but I am not. I can’t stop thinking about its eyes. I didn’t only kill a dragon, I left a part of me in that vault as well.