It was Tuesday night at the Green Tankard Tavern, which meant two things:
1. “Dragon” Wings for 1cp
2. Jubal could be found heartily munching on said wings
Unfortunately for Jubal, it meant a third thing on this particular Tuesday night: Tavia had seen him and immediately marched over, sat down, and started talking to him. “You REALLY like chicken don’t you? Funny things about chickens….” Sighing, Jubal tried very hard to ignore her and continued adding to the pile of discarded chicken bones in the bucket sitting on the floor next to him. The barkeep, having seen this scenario play out before, brought over another tankard of ale for the increasingly annoyed mercenary.
As Tavia was wrapping up telling Jubal everything she knew about chickens, a young boy came in to the tavern, looked around, and nervously approached Jubal. “Sir, my master wishes to see you and Tavia immediately.” Jubal growled. “He knows it’s wing night, right?” The boy took a half step back. “He does sir, but he said it’s most urgent.” Jubal glanced over at Tavia, who had now moved on to why she didn’t like pigs. Standing up, Jubal tossed a silver to the barkeep, and grabbed a handful of wings before heading out the door. “Let’s go, girl. This had better be important.”
Jubal and Tavia reached the wizard’s chambers and found they were not the only ones summoned – both Fryn and Chaedi were seated by the fire already. As Jubal and Tavia sat down, Curuvar entered, and wasted no time getting to the point. “My friends, you have done both this town and myself great service in the past several months. But I fear I must once again ask for your assistance. There was once an artifact of great historical significance, known as the Jade Chicken. It has been possessed by kings and warlords down through the ages, before it disappeared from record. It was thought to have been lost or destroyed. Until recently, that is. Information has surfaced that the Chicken was last seen centuries ago at the Tower of Talon Pass. This holdfast once housed a garrison of soldiers guarding the mountain pass. I doubt the tower still stands, but perhaps there you may find some clue to the artifact’s whereabouts. Of course, I will pay you well for your efforts, and a significant bonus if you can find some clue to the whereabouts of the Jade Chicken. I must warn you, however, that I am not the only one privy to this new information. There may be others who also seek the Chicken. Be on your guard."
The next morning, the party stopped by the Loudwater General Store to get supplies. Jubal purchased a climbing kit and a bottle of barbecue sauce. Tavia glanced up at Jubal, “You do realize you can’t eat a chicken made of Jade right? Even with all that bbq sauce.” She grinned at him as she also placed a Climber’s Kit on the counter along with the 2 pieces of gold to pay for it. Jubal returned the grin, revealing that not only were his teeth sharpened, several were made out of some sort of shiny metal. “I can eat ANYTHING with barbecue sauce.”
After completing their purchases (and receiving a hefty discount because of their recent service to Loudwater) the party set out for the tower. The journey to Talon Pass took several days, which passed by uneventfully. They reached the site of the ancient tower to find only a meadow full of rubble hinting at its former glory. Searching the site, they found a stone stairwell set into a cliff face leading down.
Tavia lit a sunrod and the adventurers descended the stairs to find a room with two doors – one closed and locked, and the other damaged and barely hanging on it’s hinges. In the corner of the room was what appeared to be the remains of a deadly trap that had been set off by some poor hapless creature, recently in fact. Upon closer inspection, the locked door had a word painted on it in blood: “Don’t”
Deciding to heed that advice, the group proceeded through the damaged doorway on the opposite side of the room. Moving down the corridor they could hear noises ahead and soon encountered a band of orcs with a pair of wolves. The orcs fought with a fierceness that appeared to come from desperation, but were nonetheless soon defeated. Jubal,lifting his maul from the body of one of the orcs, recognized them. “These are NightFist Mercenaries. The wizard was right when he warned us that others might be seeking the Jade Chicken.” Fryn examined one of the bodies more closely. “Not all of these wounds were caused by us. Perhaps this place has defenders?”
The heroes explored the rest of the room and found another wrecked door at the other end. Warily moving on, they proceeded down a short passage in to a large room where a group of kobolds were attempting to finish off a lone orc, who made the unfortunate decision to dash around the corner headlong in to the party of adventurers. He died a quick bloody death, as did his kobold enemies after a short battle, though one did manage to escape through a door on the opposite end of the room.
Deciding to let the kobold go for now, the heroes explored the room and found a secret passage accessible from an elevated ledge. Entering the hidden room, they saw an ominous looking pit in the floor on one side. As Fryn attempted to skirt it, he accidentally triggered a deadly blade trap that nearly killed him, leaving him a bloody mess on the floor. While he retreated and tended to his wounds, the group destroyed the still whirling pillar of blades. regrouping, they examined the room and discovered a set of magical leather armor on a pedestal. Lowering a sunrod tied to a rope down the pit, they realized that some sort of magical darkness hid whatever was below. Believing that anything protected by magical darkness MUST be important, they then lowered Fryn down. But when the darkness enveloped him, he called up to his companions to pull him back up. They decided it wasn’t worth the risk and returned to the other room. They this room more and discovered another set of stairs leading down, which they took.
They came in to a room that was filled with cots, and appeared to be some sort of makeshift hospital but was otherwise empty. Moving on, Jubal pulled back a curtain that led to a room that contained three kobolds standing at the ready. With a battle cry, he charged in and immediately engaged them, but soon found himself surrounded by two more kobolds that he hadn’t seen. As it turns out, it didn’t much matter since the kobolds couldn’t seem to pierce his armor anyway. As the kobolds literally jumped on top of him, Jubal’s companions could hear him laughing. “My mother hit me harder than you dragon shits! HAR HAR HAR!” By this time the rest of the group had joined the fray. With five foes to fight, including a war priest who stood back unleashing his deadly spells, the battle was harrowing, but ended as the others did: with dead kobolds on the floor.
After a short time spent bandaging their wounds the group explored the remainder of the room and found another yet another set of stairs that they descended. The room they entered was the largest so far and had at one end what appeared to be an elevated stage. In front of the stage was a large statue of a warrior in armor. On the stage next to the statue was a large ornate crossbow on a wood stand. The center of the large room was dominated by a curtain hanging from the ceiling, that appeared to be encircling something. Flying around the current at a height of approximately 10 feet was a drake making lazy circles around the curtain. As the group approached the curtain, the drake finally noticed them and swooped in, attacked jubal, then darted away before Jubal’s hammer could strike him. As it darted back in forth though, Fryn and Chaedi attacked with deadly accuracy and it fell. The group approached the curtains and drew them back to reveal a nest of three more drakes, which also attacked them, darting back and forth mostly out of melee range. At the same time, the huge crossbow on the stage suddenly moved, and took aim at Tavia, loosing a bolt at her. Jubal, largely useless in the fight against the drakes charged straight at it, shield raised, and started hacking away at it as his companions dispatched the remaining drakes.
After a short rest, the party continued exploring and entered a large cavern. A sinister voice rang out from the darkness. “Ah.. the little spiders that so narrowly escaped my trap have wandered back in to it.” Then, a pair of malevolent, almost feline eyes appeared, coming towards them. To their horror, there stood before them the terrible shape of a black dragon, wings outstretched and tail lashing back and forth. Before they could react. everything went black and for a moment they were dumbfounded. Next there was a long deep intake of breath and the party was engulfed in acid, which burned any exposed flesh, causing searing pain. Jubal took the brunt of it and was grievously injured, even with his shield raised before him. Knowing that to stand still would surely invite death, he charged towards the dragon and came, suddenly, out of the darkness. But where there had been a dragon, there was now nothing. Turning, he quickly found that the it had moved to the other side of the cavern and was now charging towards Chaedi. Rushing forward, the battle was now fully joined by the party. While the dragon was engrossed in biting at Chaedi, Frynn had managed to move around behind it and was attacking with his scimitars. Jubal then came within striking distance and began raining hammer blows upon it, to get it’s attention away from Chaedi who was withering before it’s onslaught. As they traded blows with the dragon, Tavia stood back and provided much needed healing to the group. The dragon lashed out with it’s tail, striking Frynn and throwing him backwards, but the ranger managed to land on his feet and charged back in to the fray. Again the vile creature cast a veil of darkness about him, but it mattered not. Though powerful, the dragon had underestimated it’s foes and fell before them after a brief but violent battle.
Tavia tended to the wounded, even managing to get what sort of looked like a smile from Jubal. They moved on from the cavern and came to a short passage with two doors on either side, and one at the end that was slightly ajar. Jubal saw a shape move past the open door and without thinking (as is his tendency) rushed towards it. Bursting through the door he came face to face with a ghostly, hideous shape floating before him that moaned and then attacked him. As his companions yelled for Jubal to stop, two ghouls appeared from the doors along the side, lurched towards them and attacked. Though surprised by the undead fiends, the heroes were not daunted and soon set them free from their prison of undeath.
With the immediate threat taken care of, they went about exploring the room. Raising her sunrod high to get a better view of the room, Tavia approached a wall that held a large painting. As she approached it she gasped and dropped the sunrod. Her companions, fearing some new threat quickly ran to her. “What is it? What happened?” questioned Chaedi. Fryn looked at Tavia. “You look so pale. Were you injured?” Tavia couldn’t speak (a first), and just pointed at the portrait hanging on the wall. In a large ornate frame, covered with years of dust and cobwebs, was a painting of Tavia, or at least someone who looked so much like her that only a very discerning eye could see the minute differences. Tavia, with a bewildered look, shook her head. “But… I don’t… I don’t understand. How can this be?”
With Tavia still in a bit of shock over this turn of events, the group decided it was best to take the painting, and show it to Curavar when they returned. Perhaps the wizard could explain the meaning of it. They then searched the rest of the room. Rummaging through a large cabinet, Jubal let out with a short laugh. Tavia looked at him questioningly. Turning around, Jubal held out his hand. In it was a small jade chicken.