Using the stage deocration-like trees and bushes they cut down as camoflage, the party tried to make their way around another mesa, skirting the wooden gargoyle town and getting to the mountain on the opposite side they believe might hold a way out. When they're spotted, they just make a break for it, and it's a spell-slinging, bow-firing chase to mountain. Luckily, there is a cave entrance.
Once inside (where the gargoyle's can't go because of their strings), our heroes follow the twisting trail up inside the mountain until they reach a larger cave. There's a whispering in the darkness, and the party is greeted by:
The Dragomen: Humans dressed in bad dragon costumes who serve someone called "the Dragonettes" and believe by sacrifice they will be reborn as those creatures and after many cycles, dragons. The Dragonettes live in the next cave over and come for a sacrifice every week.
Not wanting to linger long among these idiots, the party moves on to the next cave. There they are stopped by diminutive reptilian creatures with spears:
These are the Dragonettes. They can barely disguise their snickering at how they've gulled the Dragomen, whom (it is fairly obvious) they are using as a food source. They refuse to let the party pass, but Kully puts them to sleep. Investigating the adjacent caves uncovers a great hall (which the party avoids), a garbage pit filled with human bones, and a kitchen. There Erekose kills a fleeing Dragonette, so the party begins to move with more urgency.
They uncover a shrine where a winged Dragonette priest and his acolytes are raising a sacrificial platform (pilled with human parts and a Dragonette corpse) up into an aperture in the ceiling to the "Mother Dragon."
Several party members want to kill the priests and take the platform to the aperture, but Shade convinces them to parlay. When the priest hears they want to willing take the platform up, he's more than happy to let them go meet the Mother. He's sure such a sacrifice will prime him for dragon evolution for sure!
The party ascends into darkness. Those with dark vision see a cave littered with bones and overfilled with a very old, sleeping dragon. Stealthy investigation reveals a manhole-size opening in the ceiling that goes up through rock to reveal the night sky. There are no other exits.
With few options, the party sends the frogling Waylon climbing up to investigate. He finds himself on a cold and wind-swept mountain peak. Then, he hears the sound of bells! He lights his lantern and to his wondering eyes appears a flying sleigh pulled by deer!
|Art by GENZOMAN|
Father Yule knows him by name, and acquiesces to Waylon's request for rope. His friends quickly scramble up out of the dragon's den, and since Father Yule is on his way to the Land of Azurth, he gives them a ride.
He deposits the party in Rivertown, with a gift each.
This entire series of adventures was liberally adapted from Frank L. Baum's Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz.