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The Hunt for Bloodbane

[Monday, 12 January 1998]

Griflet's Report: “You will pay for your wrongs, Bloodbane.”

GRIFLET THE PEACEMAKER - Wolf's Moon, Year of the Gorgon

Your efforts to ease the tension between the Elves and Vardin's people bear some fruit. Your scouts are impressed by your speech; they agree to be less haughty with regard to the humans. Gorianthas likes you and respects your judgement. He agrees to your proposal to form a compound, though he warns that some of the People are likely to be none too happy. Nevertheless, things seem to ease a bit, at least for now. You haven't received any complaints from Vardin. Still, you never know - hundreds of years of prejudice is not undone in a day.

GRIFLET THE SCHOLAR - Wolf's Moon, Year of the Gorgon

You have studied ancient scrolls and maps, and questioned the wise (it seems there are not too many of these left) about the Isle of Zecy. The Isle is not generally spoken of, but your dilligence and tact reveals the following:

The Isle of Zecy was the home-isle of the Elves. Zecy was a beautiful city on the forested island, ruled by King Celedril, whose sons were Imric and Coryon. At the Battle of Sorrows at the beginning of the Elf-Quarmall war, King Celedril was slain by a demon summoned by Quarmallian fanatics. The King was buried in a tower in the centre of the city and the city itself was abandoned as a giant memorial. To ensure that Celedril's resting place would remain undisturbed, on pain of death, the ground of Zecy was declared sacred by common decree of Imric and Coryon. A small, fanatic clan of Elves remained on the island to protect it from intruders and defilers. These were the Wild Elves - Lorathon Shadowblade's kin. Nothing has been heard of them for centuries, as all communication with the Blessed Isle was cut off.

Then Imric and Coryon (who loved each other little) went their separate ways, following the ley lines which converged on the Blessed Isle. Coryon and most of the People established the mighty city of Tovilyis in the forest near the Upper Lake of Pleea. Imric and his bride Elthiria and a smaller number of followers built Imric's Hold in the Northern Forest of Sibilan. The war with the Quarmallians which followed was long and bitter, but the Isle of Zecy, as far as anyone knows, remained undisturbed since the Battle of Sorrows which caused its abandonment.

LEONORE'S STORY - Day of the Newt, Wolf's Moon, Year of the Gorgon

Leonore is a young apprentice of the House of the Geomancers (which was nearly extinguished by the Nightmare). When you meet him (after reading a note about the House of Geomancers) he is walking cautiously around with a device of brass and wood, surmounted by a three-faceted crystal. He wears a puzzled expression on his face. “I can't find the ley, Griflet,” he mutters “I can't find the north-south ley.” When you question him he tries to explain. There were three, the number of Law. They formed a triangle, with points at Imric's Hold, Tovilyis and of course the Sacred One. I took measurements at Imric's Hold” (here he gestures to his odd-looking staff) “and the Tovilyis-Imric's Hold line was giving bizarre and impossible readings. It's been malfunctioning for years. I figured it was the background disturbance at Imric's Hold, or my inexperience with the instruments or both. Now though I can't even find the line. I am hopeless. If only Master Kalianthis was here. He'd know what the problem was.”

Later, you wonder if occasional references in old tomes to the Three Stones might relate to the three elven cities in some way. The books you have found constantly refer to other works located in the Tovilyis Library, especially the “Book of Three”, which comes up again and again. Tovilyis was burned by Bloodbane years ago (though not completely). You don't know if any books remain there.

Much later still, you recall that the crystal on top of Leonore's staff was similar to the medallion owned by the centaur Lana Softhooves.

GRIFLET THE HUNTER - Day of the Dog, Wolf's Moon, Year of the Gorgon

“I have a bone to pick with that old snake and will gladly send my arrows through his mailed skin and lodge it deep within his heart.” you say when you meet Polydices in the clearing by the old oak.
“I am glad to hear it, Griflet,” says Polydices, almost smiling. “But his mailed skin is very tough. Only the most skilful arrowshots aimed at the plates on his neck have a hope of harming him. I have studied much dragonlore over the past few months. I have distilled a potion which will protect us from dragon-venom, and give us a resistance to its burning. It is a waxy stuff which must be rubbed into the skin, hair and all arms and armour. It is also,” he shrugs “untried. Few have encountered dragon-venom and lived.”

Days pass. You and Polydices run silently through the trackless Wild Wold toward the Grave of Ships. It is spring and Beastmen are in abundance, but you are a master scout and none of the subhumans are alerted to your presence. “Their minds are weak,” sneers Polydices. “I compelled several of them to carry my Device into the throne room of the Beggar King of Tovilyis. Their mission was a success, the Zerai gate was closed, sparing my master the attentions of their former slaves from Limbo.”

Polydices is very interested when you mention the Dragon Icon. “Coryon was powerful, more powerful than we guessed,” muses Polydices. “We did not think he would use Chaos power against us, against his own city...but Bloodbane could never be properly controlled, not even by Coryon, though perhaps he guessed how the dragon would react to the attempt. A genius, however. He ended the war, at the cost of his people, his life and his soul. Intriguing. Most unexpected. And you've seen this stone? I do not expect you to tell me where. I see I am correct. Ah well, soon the stone's power will be broken - if we are successful. Look there.”

You have already spotted what Polydices is pointing at: a large cavern in a clearing of scorched earth. It is Bloodbane's Cave and it is time to do battle with the Foe.

Retreating to the woods, you and Polydices cover yourselves with the waxy potion. “There is not enough for your armour, Griflet. Save it for your weapons. Your armour will do you no good against his jaws in any case.”
“Hold on to this,” you tell Polydices, handing him the Horn of Podgett “and blow it if the Dragon awakes.” Together you cautiously edge toward the cave.

GRIFLET THE REVENGER - Day of the Cat, Wolf's Moon, Year of the Gorgon

You walk cautiously into the gloom of the cavern. Its mouth is huge and dark, and you hear a rumbling from within. The huge green bulk of the Reaver of Tovilyis lies coiled atop a mound of treasure. Smoke seeps from his nostrils. Then you see the red gleam of his eyes - he is awake! But he hasn't seen you. You aim carefully at his heart, while Polydices chants a spell. You let fly. Your first arrow sinks deep into the dragon's throat with enough force to kill two men; the others glance harmlessly off his metallic hide.

With a roar Bloodbane rears up to his full height and gouts burning dragon-venom in your direction. It burns and sears, but no more than being splashed with hot water thanks to Polydices' magic potion. Flames burn all around you in the entrance to the cave. You aim carefully and shoot again, but your arrow glances off Bloodbane's scales. You realise that only exceptional hits can harm the dragon. You dart out of the fire as a clear note sounds throughout the cave - Polydices is blowing the Horn of Podgett.

Three berserkers appear and throw themselves at Bloodbane. The Dragon seems confused by their sudden appearance, he snaps and swipes at them with his tail. You take careful aim and fire another arrow at the Foe's heart. A hit! Bloodbane roars with pain and rage. His huge jaws come down and bite one of the Warriors of Podgett in two; bloody gobbets rain down upon his companions who furiously attack the dragon's sides with their axes. Another of your arrows finds its mark, and dragon-blood pours searingly from the wound. You fire again and again as the Warriors hurl themselves ineffectively at the Foe's massively armoured bulk. Five of your arrows project from Bloodbane's neck now, but he still can't seem to concentrate his attacks on you. You notice Polydices beside you, eyes closed, and you think he has something to do with the Dragon's confusion. Suddenly with a roar of pain, the Foe launches himself on huge bat-like wings towards the gaping entrance to his lair. Immediately, you run for the flames, with Polydices close behind, chanting.

Polydices touches you and you dash through the flames as fast as a horse, though you are still seared by the heat. You see the Dragon in the air, flying away. Into the woods you dash, pausing to nock and shoot when you can. Three more arrows find their mark. You can't run as fast as he flies - he's getting away! But then you fire one last arrow which passes straight through the dragon's eye. With a dying roar, gouting flames all over the place, Bloodbane crashes to earth among the trees of the Wild Wold ahead of you. The trees around about topple and burst into flame. Inside your head you suddenly hear a high pitched wail.

“No! I want to live. I WANT TO LIVE. I WILL LIVE, YOU WILL DIE. THIS IS MY BODY!” For a moment you are paralysed as Mysteriones struggles to take over your body. You gasp with pain and fall to your knees, clutching your head.

Then there is only silence.

You are lying looking upward at the trees and the blue sky. You feel at peace, more peaceful, more quiet within than you've felt for years. Bloodbane is dead and so is Mysteriones, the false spirit drawn from the dragon's body so many years ago by the mad sculptor-prince Coryon. You feel as if a weight has been removed from the world.

But the feeling does not last long. You smell smoke and hear the crackling of a forest fire nearby. Jumping to your feet you run back to the cave, where Polydices is waiting.

“We should be safe from the fire inside the cave,” he says. “The ground around is scorched by dragon-venom and will act as a firebreak.” You walk inside and glance at the dragon-hoard, where you see treasures of the Elves and Quarmall intermingled with bones and gold. Polydices meets your gaze. “We are avenged,” he says.

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