Boris the Bold is a warrior who prefers a two handed sword taller than he is. I think they call it a claymore, or as Sister Agnes said, penis compensation.
Unger the Younger was a thief and comedian. Everything was funny to him. In the first ten minutes he’d hit on both Johann and Rufus before asking me if his tool had any chance of getting inside my armor. I hope I didn’t hurt my eyes rolling them so hard. He had complained previously, so I did not have the heart to inform him that his daggers were not the only things that were dull.
Francis of Edge Cliff was a caster of some ilk but had neither spell books, nor physical components with which to channel the arcane powers he alone was privy to. Alas, we were to be sorely bereft of the greater of his mighty arsenal. Based on Rufus’s reaction, I’m guessing he was a lot less experienced than he claimed to be.
Lastly came Calladil, a warrior who claimed some modest renown. He, at least, looked like he knew his way around his gear. His scale mail was worn and his scabbard had been used so much that the bronze frame was worn shiny and the leather gleamed. He preferred a long sword that did not appear at all flashy, unlike the beast Boris wielded. Calladil also did not boast about his accomplishments. Instead he ate the offered food and drink while seeing to his gear. That gave me a modicum of respect for his abilities. He had a gait that spoke of confidence and a little swagger. If I had my guess, I would say he was a seasoned veteran down on his luck. Why else would he be running with this lot. I wish we’d brought him back from stone first so I could’ve asked him a few things in confidence.
The one thing these miscreants had going for them was they were obviously friends. School boy chums, as Sister Edna called the townies that came to the temple on high holy days so they could ogle the topless virgins. None of the first three had an ounce of sense, or a hint of shame. If they lived to see Cassandra I’d be surprised.
Rufus would lead us to the dragon under the pretense that we were new recruits to bolster the brigands who were supposed to keep the valley free from marauding monsters. Of course, the brigands had been a little overwhelmed with the giants and then the orcs to really stop anyone from doing anything, but that was beside the point. Cassandra had a clear reckoning on the threat the giants posed. The orcs were beneath her contempt, according to Rufus who had spoken with her the day before.
She had made a cardinal error in that meeting, questioning Rufus’s integrity at the same time trying to blame him for her own weakness. Typical of those like her — powerful individuals with few(or no) scruples and a large ego — Cassandra had not been challenged successfully before. Rufus was like her, if I was being totally candid. But he was an ally while she was an obstacle.
Johann was known to Cassandra, so her accompanying Rufus would be a natural choice. I would be the only wild card. Cassandra had met me once before in person, and long before by reputation, and had demanded I bring her the head of Wizard Tim in exchange for Lilith’s release. I had failed in that exchange. Come to find out she didn’t really care too much, but Rufus hated Tim, so that was part of the price for opening the tower. Cassandra had never been able to get past the gates. Luckily Rufus had the only key.
This also meant Bob couldn’t get out unless I let him out. I just had to not die in the coming ambush. Oh, how the fickle fate of nefarious plans never, ever, survive contact with the large, scaly enemy.
Her chamber was huge. The ceiling was so high it rested in shadows even when all the torches and braziers were lit by Rufus when we entered the chamber. There were small piles of treasure strewn about, but the preponderance of loot surrounded a raised dais on which stood two broken thrones. Whomever had ruled this ancient city had once sat on that dais. I’m betting they were long gone before the dragon showed up. More information I would need to gather from Rufus and Johann.
Miracle of miracles, we made it just as Rufus had planned, with our forces slightly dispersed in a half circle facing the dragon. Rufus explained that he did not want the fact one eye was swollen shut to prevent her from getting a clear vision of each of her newest recruits.
Things were going well until she got to Boris the Bold. She’d smelled him before, which wrecked everything. Instincts are nothing to sneeze at, or in this case were exactly to be sneezed at. Cassandra sniffed each of them once and they stood stoically by waiting for Rufus’s signal. He assured us she would sniff each of us then lay down with her eyes closed while he ranted for a while about the rules and regulations governing this lair. It sounded like it would prove very dry and I’m glad we did not have to sit through that. Regardless, we never got that far. Cassandra sniffed Boris once, sneezed a great blob of dragon snot on him. She only blinked at him, twice when, in his righteous indignation, he swung his giant claymore at her, the preposterous phallus glancing harmlessly off her black scales.
Quick as a snake she lunged forward and bit him (snot and all), his head toward her gullet, and his groin just inside the edge of her teeth, with his arms and legs sticking out from her bite, spewing blood from the rents in his plate armor.
Remember kids, just because you can afford the gear, doesn’t mean you should pretend to be someone you are not. Unless it’s during a festival or such, then dressing up is totally acceptable. This wasn’t a festival.
The rest of the adventurers stood there in shock as Boris leaked all over for a moment. I ground my teeth and stepped forward, swinging my mace for all I was worth and clocking her in the jaw.