Finding a Guide
Our last experience in the Jungles of Q’Barra taught us that a guide would be a worthwhile investment. So we asked around, and one guide in particular came highly recommended. We were advised that scamming travelers is a common practice in the area, and much to our surprise this scamming even included leading them into traps and leaving them in the wilderness to die. But the clients of the recommended guide were known to return, and because he seemed reputable we decided to seek him out. Before finding the guide, Terminum also purchased a compass and two books – Plants of Q’Barra and The Dangers of Q’Barra – which would surely come in handy.
The guide’s name was Grik and we found him in a working-class bar. His price was high, but he raised an eyebrow when we told him that we were looking for Jharazad. After we inquired about the dragon, Grik said that he had heard a few stories and while they were mostly hearsay, he did mention that he knew of a somewhat reputable source that might be able to provide more information. Luthar saw this interested the guide, so he attempted to persuade Grik that finding Jharazad would make him a legend and that it would greatly increase his business. Luthar asked him to help us track the dragon for free since we had something Jharazad would be interested in. Grik agreed to meet us halfway. The roundtrip would only cost 100 gold if we found Jharazad, including safepassage to the Stormhold Clan Holds and the time spent tracking the Dragon subsequent to that. But if our search was unsuccessful we would have to pay him 500 gold, barring any extenuating circumstances. He had us sign a contract to that effect. We spent the night in an inn before leaving and the foresighted Terminum began reading the books he had purchased.
Back into The Jungle
We left early in the morning. After tracking for half a day, Grik asked us to stay back for a second and shortly returned. He then asked if it would be ok to take a short detour. He had some clients in the area that he wanted to check on since he was unable to hear any noises in the direction of their camp. The crew agreed the detour would be okay. And we probably wouldn’t have known the difference either way.
Upon arriving to the camp we found a pile of dead orcs outside of a crude hut. Grik said that these orcs were his clients. They were here to gather dragon shards. There were basic supplies inside the hut, lots of strong orcish whiskey, and a large chest full of dragon shards of various sizes. Grik helped himself to a few small shards saying, “I guess they won’t be needing these anymore.” The rest of the crew each took a handful or two of the shards, and began to put them in the bag of holding, but it made a humming noise as the shards got closer. We decided it was best not to experiment with the magic, and only took shards that we could carry without becoming encumbered. In addition, Terminum took a football sized shard and put it in his pack. He also smelled a bottle of whiskey, and took it after inspecting its cleanliness.
After exiting the hut and taking a second look at the orcs, it was fairly clear that they had died of a wasting disease. Terminum put the bottle of orc whiskey down. They had also died recently, as only one of the corpses was showing signs of decomposition. Grik said such diseases were quite common in the area, and had the orcs been better prepared they would have been fine.
Nel and Luthar search the bodies for bitemarks or any other signs that could have could have caused the disease. Terminum kept his distance and didn’t like the idea of touching diseased corpses. They were unable to find exactly what caused the disease, but they were able to detect that one of the corpses seemed to still be warm, and was possibly even alive. Luthar determined that the orc was indeed alive, and Terminum the Vigilant suggested that we kill him immediately. Instead, Luthar foolishly attempted to heal the orc. He further ascertained that it would take some time to nurse the orc back to health, perhaps a day, and he felt it was his duty to to help this sentient being, a beast though it may be.
Terminum did not like the idea of camping around diseased corpses, so Luthar volunteered to stay with the dying orc while the rest of the crew distanced themselves slightly. During the night, Terminum and Nel buried the crate of dragon shards not to far from the camp because lazy Grik did not want to make a trip back to town. He and the others said that it would be a waste of time. Terminum then complained about wasting time to help some stupid orc, and said “I hope that orc dies anyway.” But Terminum does not really care if the orc lives or dies.
Onward to the Hold
In the morning Luthar felt that the orc would be okay, so we left him some food and water, then set out. The trip was fairly uneventful. We reached Stormhorn Clan Holds after nightfall and could see the city lights through the trees, but Grik suggested we wait until morning to enter the city so they would not take us for assailants.
Stormhorn Clan Hold
Upon entering the Hold in the morning, we found a crowd had gathered around a lizardfolk shouting draconic in the townsquare. Rhogar and Grik were able to interpret for us, and the speaker was proclaiming that they must take back what is rightfully thiers. Grik explained that they were just a bunch of rabble rousers known as The Faithful. He went on to say that the lizarfolk yelling about this was a recruiter. Their leader wanted to start attacking the outsider outposts, but they seemed to be all talk. It was clear that this group of lizardfolk were not contemptuous of humans and outsiders in general, but only held ill will against those who had allegedly stolen their land. We were not compelled to involve ourselves in the territorial dispute.
Grik met with some friends in several bars and houses while we shadowed him. He inquired about Jaharazad, and conjectured that most of the stories were hearsay. He did hear from a source that he thought might have actually seen the dragon, but he was pretty drunk. But Grik knew this lizardfolk well, and where he tended to wander while he was drunk. So we had a general direction to head which was better than nothing. We stayed the night.
Visiting the Hermit
The next day we treked toward the direction of the possible dragon sighting, and Grik knew of a hermit in the area so we went to his dwelling. Grik asked us to stay back, as the hermit naturally disliked visitors. Twenty minutes or so past while we waited. He came out and said that the hermit didn’t want to see us, but he did tell Grik that he had heard a giant winged beast on several occasions, and even thought he saw such a creature on a nearby mountain top.
The Climb to Jharazad
The climb up the mountain was difficult and perilous. We took quite a fall on one particularly strenuous slope, and had to camp a night to regain our energy. The next day Grik caught a scent of the flower that Jharazad was rumored to be particularly fond of, and he followed the scent. It lead further up the mountain, nearly to the peak, where we found a large cave. The fragrance of the flower emanated strongly from the entrance. Rhogar shouted loudly to announce our presence and intentions to the dragon. There was no answer and Rhogar shouted again. We ventured cautiously into the cave entrance, and from just inside we peered into the cavern once our eyes had adjusted. In the distance, we could faintly see flickering torches. We gather our courage and walked toward the lights. In the cave we found mountains of gold, and among them was a sign that read, “Jharazad is out. Please do not steal the treasure.”
500 xp for Terminum, Luthar and Nel for RP and problem solving. Terminum gets an extra 200 for quality blog post.