Leaving his erstwhile teammates: Indigo and Orestes behind to explore the woods, Dokan and the diminutive Zavia rode on towards Khajag.
Khajag, as far as they knew was just a mining town. A profitable, diamond mining town but just that. Recently though, it has been bequeathed by the tyrant Thereanthor to one of her four children: Narciss.
As they journeyed on, a leather clad, Halfling called out to them from behind. He seemed cocky but not threatening.
After he’d managed to catch up, the Halfling introduced himself as ‘Charlie Stilton’ and invited himself along for the journey. He was originally from Fewham and had followed after the adventurers as he’d lost confidence in the protection the ‘captive’ dragon: Sybille had giving the town.
They arrived at the outskirts of Khajag about a day-and-a-half later. Just farming outposts but, weirdly, worked by human slaves overseen by kobolds.
Some of the kobolds, the bigger ones, rode upon strange dog-like mounts.
The kobolds gathered in number before approaching Dokan, Zavia and Charlie Stilton. They overtly threatened and insulted the gnomess Zavia but she refused to let herself be provoked and eventually the three adventures were shown to the town’s outer ‘wall’.
A gatehouse, complete with an iron portcullis stood astride the main road into the town. It was stone-built, ornate and impressive. What was most odd about it though, was that there were no walls on either side. Rather a shimmering field of blue light.
Tall stone towers interrupted the sheets of crackling energy at regular, mile wide intervals. Each one manned by a Black cloak and a couple of blue Dragon-borns.
After a brief conversation with the Black cloak atop the main gatehouse, Dokan, Zavia and Stilton were allowed through the gate to meet with Narciss himself.
As they walked toward the newly built palace, Charlie Stilton and the others noticed how poorly treated the humans were. Everything in the burgeoning town of Khajag had been built on the whipped backs of the human slaves.
The central palace was huge in relation to the town itself. Grand but overblown. It was made mostly of white marble but had domes and decorations of vivid blue.
After dealing with a few underlings, the adventurers were surprised to be shown directly into the blue prince’s throne room§. Here they found the young dragon talking lazily to one of his mother’s Black cloaks. The room itself was colossal and, at its zenith, the domed roof reached over 50’ high!
Despite this, the dome was supported by highly decorated ribs at the circumference of the room rather than interrupting columns. Each rib denoted one of the many races of Fissa, their intertwined bodies and faces in expressions of painful subjugation. At the very top of the dome, where the ribs met, was a huge, decorative, stone boss. A boss that showed Narciss breathing lightning at the hairless monkey races.
After making them wait for a few minutes, the young dragon uncurled himself from his specially made throne and summoned the three adventures forward.
Although still young, he was already the size of a large horse but when he spoke, his voice was like a rasping whisper. Like wind over gravel.
The young Dragon told them that he’d ‘ordered them here to help stamp out a large and illegal gathering of orcs. Possibly in their thousands’.
He explained that ‘He could get help from his mother, the tyrant queen, but her troops would take weeks to arrive and he’d elected not to wait’.
He also explained his frustration with his scryers. ‘For some reason, despite numerous reports of orc sightings, they cannot locate them’.
Narciss ordered the three adventurers to ‘Go out to Fasel wood. Find the orcs and kill as many of them as possible’.
It was only then that a wretched looking human clerk shuffles forward and presents Dokan with a scroll with a reward list on it…
Ten gold pieces worth of diamonds per confirmed normal orc grunt killed but larger amounts for ten particular orcs, who are known troublemakers.
Five thousand gold pieces worth of diamonds for known troublemakers: Morten, Ragnar, Knut. Aurelius, Unger, Harang, Stig and Viggo.
Ten thousand gold pieces worth of diamonds for Bodan and Auzoux. Two especially dangerous orcs. Orcs who are inspiring their kin toward open rebellion.
After they were dismissed by the young dragon prince, Dokan, Zavia and Charlie Stilton had a quick look around on their way out of the town/city.
The main entrance to the main diamond mine was located at the far edge of the town but still within the confines of the blue energy shield. It was unsurprisingly well guarded, as were several other building.
The trio of adventurers also saw the humans being openly mistreated by the kobold overseers. Dokan, Zavia and Charlie Stilton did nothing to prevent this though as it would have caused direct conflict with the Dragon-borns and Black-cloaks.
As they were escorted back to the main gate, Charlie Stilton, on viewing the shimmering blue energy field, asked one of the nearby kobolds what the shields did. Happy to explain, four of the kobolds dragged over a human slave and threw him through the barrier.
The translucent blue field didn’t prevent him passing through it but his electrified body was quite dead when it fell on the other side.
From one of the nearby doorways, a woman wailed in despair. Her husband had been killed just as a cruel example.
Slightly disturbed but unwilling to kill the culprits, Dokan, Charlie Stilton and Zavia headed out and away from Khajag.
They made camp that night at the edge of the forest. In the morning, they headed in.
It was late that afternoon when the Halfling cleverly noticed a pit trap. Not that wide but spiked at the bottom and deep enough to prevent easy escape.
The diminutive Charlie Stilton and Zavia found themselves somewhere to hide while the well-armoured Dokan triggered the clanking bell alarm.
After a few minutes a huge black scaled dragon-born arrived. He was wary due to the ongoing bell and flanked by two humans. A well-armoured warrior and a mysterious looking sorceress.
These three were the survivors of the mercenary group Dokan had fought on-route to ‘saving’ Lady Sybille from the Black cloak tower near Fewham.
They had proved themselves tough and now it looked as if Dokan was facing them alone. Mallyx, the dragon-born signaled his human teammate forward but he was surprised by a sneak attack from the well-concealed Charlie Stilton.
Realising it was a trap, the black dragon born and the sorceress rushed to help. The battle was closely fought and Dokan looked in trouble until the little Gnomess, illusionist: Zavia managed to fool the Dragon-born into stepping onto his own pit trap.
Down he fell, soon followed by his underlings.
Zavia sealed the pit with an illusionary but unassailable metal lid, effectively trapping the three mercenaries. It was a simple matter then, for the rogue and the paladin to finish them off with crossbow bolts and daggers.
After a brief rest, the three adventurers stripped the mercenaries of all their valuable equipment and searched to area. They found dozens of pit traps and, eventually, Mallyx’s camp. Tents, a prepared but unlit fire and a wagon containing a hundred and sixty eight severed orc heads. The bodies were to be found dumped down a natural, open pit.
Despite the distasteful nature of the campsite, the three adventurers decided to stay there overnight and to look for Orestes and Indigo in the morning.