So Mao Chien departed and fared up into the mountains
to arrange a meeting between Argrath and Ulan White-Feather, the
Eagle Lord. While they were waiting to hear back the Friends set
about readying their forces for the contest with Kao Lu.
Agrath put out the call for the hsunchen warriors
to gather at the monastery and they collected food and supplies
for the campaign. Doiban and his monks prepared so summon the dream
dragon and Bronwyn aided in their activities.
After four days, Mao Chien returned with Ulan.
Ulan was a tall and imperial looking man, coloured like tanned leather
as all of these easterners were. His hair was a brilliant white
and his nose was sharply hooked, even when he was not manifesting
any eagle spirits. With Ulan was Palbar Far-Seer, a wrinkled old
man held in great respect by all present. Palbar was Ulan's spirit
talker. Also with Ulan were his Nest Guardians Orki Two-Talons and
Wolan Flies-like-a-Rock, so called because he flies hard and fast
striking his foes like a catapult stone.
Doiban bade Ulan welcome and named Argrath to him.
He then led them to the feasting hall where he sat Argrath and Ulan
at the head of the room on the Dragon's Perch. The Friends and Ulan's
followers were arrayed along the sides of the table and Doiban with
his senior monks sat at the foot.
Argrath and Ulan spake of this and that and shared
tea. Argrath spake of his intent to free the region from Kao Lu's
depredations and sought Ulan's aid. Ulan agreed readily and spake
of seeing Ko-Lahu burning two days past. One of his braves had seen
a force of Kobai and Black Iron disciples destroy the town. He also
told of a force issuing from Kao Lu's fortress. All three hundreds
of the Kobai, one hundred of the bandits, four-score each of the
spearmen and the cross-bowmen and four-score of the Black Iron disciples
had left the Fort. They were led by Kao Lu himself with all ten
of his body guards and they were faring directly to Dragon's Rest.
Gudny fared to the Black Iron Fort striding upon
the wind. Once there he unleashed Black Cloud on the shantytown
surrounding the fortress having the Vadrudi spirit destroy it and
toss all the bodies into the fortress. "I'm out! I'm out! Yes! Yes!
Kill! Kill! WEEeeee!" Thunder crashed and whirl-winds danced. Lighting
struck out in insane directions while winds thrashed the hovels.
Wreckage and bodies flew through the air and Kao Lu's prize Bonsai
garden vanished in the blink of an eye. When finished Black Cloud
returned to his bag on Gudny's belt chuckling happily to himself
and Gudny returned to Dragon's Rest.
Now back at the monastery, the monks had entered
a chamber hidden deep in the stone of the mountain. There they each
freed their consciousness and focused it on the Cosmotic sceptre
that Bronwyn still held. Over the duration of that day a dream dragon,
stretching 45 ells from snout to the tip of its tail, formed around
The dragon lay on the backside of the outcrop with
its head resting on the uppermost terrace of the monastery. Unmoving,
the dragon was indistinguishable from the other carved dragon's
heads, just a little larger.
We need now describe the monastery of Dragon's
Rest. The monastery is carved into the face of a granite scree slope
on four terraced levels. There is a broad stairway that stretches
from the fields below to the upper-most terrace in 120 steps. On
each terrace there are a few buildings, carved from the granite
and decorated with jade and other stonework, but most of the level
is inside the mountain. The dream dragon's snout pointed directly
down the stairs.
When Kao Lu comes to the Monastery he marches his
force straight up the stairs and stops at the top. Some of his troops
search each level but the passages are many and the hiding places
more. In these hiding places waited the Friends and their allies.
So now our tale turns to Kao Lu's arrival. The
warlord's force arrived with the full panoply of an eastern army.
Gongs thrummed, pipes trilled and gaily-coloured banners snapped
in the breeze. The men in Kao Lu's force walked like the red-men
in Sartar, they all strode forth on the same foot at the same time,
it was most unnerving.
As expected, the warlord marched directly up the
stairs. At each level a few of the bandits and some soldiers searched
the level but found naught that they weren't expecting.
When Kao Lu was within ten ells of the top Bronwyn
yawned and exhaled. A roaring jet of flame boiled out of the dream
dragon's muzzle covering the entire stairwell from top to bottom.
When the furnace blast ceased, the surviving Kobai
were fleeing into the undergrowth with their coats aflame, the only
thing left of the spear and cross-bowmen were a gross of badly charred
skeletons and melted spearheads. Kao Lu's proud disciples were staring
at their burning clothes and the half of their number who had been
cooked beyond recognition by the blast.
Kao Lu himself, and his bodyguards, stood where
they had been. They all glowed a dull red like iron thrown into
a furnace. Some of the guards stared at their hands as they slowly
turned to slag and melted.
It was at this signal that the Friends surged from
hiding and set upon the survivors.
Sigmund leapt from hiding hurled Little Weighty
at the mass of bodyguards. He had spent the day before blessing
the Thunderstone to seek Kuchjan Harder-than-Iron and he had done
well. Kuchjan saw the blow coming and he made to block the stone
with his arm. Little Weighty seemed to stop when it struck Kuchjan's
open palm but then the Black Iron warrior shattered into uncountable
flying shards and Little Weighty returned to Sigmund's waiting hand.
Bronwyn stretched his wings and with a sharp snap
was airborne over the hillside. His shadow streaked across the rock
as he hunted down the fleeing Kobai warriors with the merciless
precision common of all dragonkind.
Kao Lu and his men charged the top of the monastery.
Doiban fled to the rear of the terrace as the Friends boiled up
around him and leapt to the attack.
Garthael, Mau Chien, Gudny and Kamoar made to attack
Kau Lu. Mau Chien flew through the air and smote at the warlord
with his Dragon Striking Kick. Kau Lu caught Mau Chien's foot in
his left hand and threw the warrior off of the terrace. With his
right foot his kicked Garthael's great blade from his fist, pivoted
and struck the Humakti in the face with his left heal. Garthael
spun around from the blow and his helm jumped into the air to land
on the next terrace down. Gudny's lighting bolts rebounded and left
the storm priest with crackling hair. Kau Lu jabbed his right hand
into Kamoar's berserk forehead and sent him reeling back.
Argrath made to strike at Kau Lu but a bodyguard
leapt at the king and shrugged off Argrath's magic.
Kau Lu's still glowing form blurred as he entered
his Fists of Fury trance and stuck at the assembled foes. His rain
of glowing iron-edged fists were each met by a flurry of lightning
blasts from Gudny and Kao Lu fell back on his heals exhausted with
the effort .
The Black Iron warrior struck at Argrath with the
grim certainty of steel but Argrath was no longer there, he teleported
himself behind the monk and struck like an adder smashing the warrior's
head onto the tiled floor with his movement magics.
With his army destroyed, his disciples slain and
faced by the entire force of his foes, Kao Lu surrendered to Argrath.
The warlord agreed to collect his remaining followers and leave
the region. They would take their clothes and weapons and enough
food to survive.
Gudny was later heard to say these words:
Iron-man strikes with serpentile speed
Deathsman delivers dire deeds
Catman sets to slashing the 'surper
Dragonsman is dashed to ground
Orlanthsson thunders with terrible thews
Kao Lu laughs and looses his storm
Storm Lord shatteres and scatters the breeze
Iron bends and bows
to the Dragon Lord
Kao Lu returned to his fortress with the Friends
and turned it over to them including his treasury. He and his followers
then left the area.
Argrath now held the EWF warbanner in his hand
and the Friends cheered themselves hoarse. Also in Argraths' new
hoard were roll after roll of silks, ingots of gold, silver and
bronze. Weapons, Iron, precious vases and boxes upon boxes of spice.
Tapestries, art and books of collected wisdom.
 It was at this point that the GM was cackling
and we were all cringing. Kao Lu had a mastery advantage on us and
100 AP to spend; he bid it all. Luckily Gudny spent a plot point
and rolled a natural '1' compared to Kao Lu's '3' and won the round.
If it hadn't been for that roll by Gudny then they were all dead.
 Mao Chien
 Argrath Dragonfriend
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