Stopping for a moment between trips to the brush, Oni asks, "Would blocking the vent be fruitful?"
"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken
Fanax shrugs, "Not sure. Depends on how large the cavern is and if there are other chimneys."
"Can't we put this fire out and just go kill the beast already?"
Wiping his brow, the bugbear braces a hand on his lower back and regards Fanax. "I don't know. Can we? Have any of us even seen it clearly enough to fire an arrow or throw a spear? Is it the sort of beast you can see at all? Maybe the smoke is what gave it away."
Before long, Oni realizes that he'll get more smoke and a longer-lasting fire if he intersperses rotten, green or damp wood with dry fuel. Accordingly, he roots around near a fallen pine some distance away from the cavern's entry, looking for appropriate fuel. This far away, the forest floor is stippled with pockets of lush plant growth, and that's especially true here because the fallen tree has knocked a hole in the forest canopy.
He's halfway back to the cavern and the rest of the expedition when he realizes that he should have been paying better attention. One of his arms is beginning to itch where he brushed up against a shrub or small tree of some kind.
Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold
As Oni is starting to be annoyed by his itchy arm, Yonah is picking out a partly-decayed log to haul back to the cavern entry. His eyes are a bit sharper than Oni's, and he has the advantage of having been part of a band that had more to do with the pinkskins than Oni, so he recognizes before it's too late that the downed pine is nestled in a stand of young lacquer trees—the source of a trade good favored by the Imperials, who use its sap both as an adhesive and as a component in . . . wood finish. Whatever that is.
Lacquer trees are (unfortunately) extremely toxic. Touching them is sufficient to cause an unpleasant, itchy rash, and the sap is more potent still. They should be avoided as a source of firewood.
Yonah stands over the dead pine and observes to his fellows, "Don't touch the ones that look like this one. They'll make you sick. Especially the sap." Scratching his left ear a moment, he wonders, "But could we...turn that to our advantage, if we were careful?"
Late Afternoon, 28 Urthan, 973 IRThe Desolation of VumrotAdrag Plateau
Grimvaalk announces that since it looks like this project is going to take some time, he's going to go forage for food to supplement the expedition's rations. This late in the day, his odds of securing enough food to make a noticeable difference really are pretty low—it's not going to be long before the sun sets—but nobody raises an objection. One less goblin at your makeshift siege encampment is one less goblin to bicker with the others, so nobody raises an objection when he rides off on his wolf to scour the nearby hills for edible plants and game.
Surprisingly, Grimvaalk has a run of good luck, scaring up a pheasant, and then stumbling onto a large stand of wild rhubarb. It's not much, maybe enough to feed one of the bugbears a solid meal. But given that it's impractical to try to stalk a deer or mountain sheep this late in the day, the steppe hunter concludes that he's used his time effectively.
Knowing that edible plants often cluster in areas where soil, water, and sunlight are favorable, Grimvaalk has his wolf creep a little further east across the shoulder of a hill, hoping to augment his take of the sour vegetables, and spies movement further downhill, almost seventy yards away. He freezes, and after a closer inspection determines that he has stumbled upon a small sounder of pigs. He's pretty sure they haven't noticed his presence yet, because their vocalizations are infrequent and carry no trace of alarm.
Orange squares indicate light undergrowth. A space covered with light undergrowth costs 2 squares of movement to move into, and it provides concealment. Undergrowth increases the DC of Tumble and Move Silently checks by 2 because the leaves and branches get in the way.
Brown dots indicate normal trees. A creature standing in the same square as a tree gains a +2 bonus to Armor Class and a +1 bonus on Reflex saves (these bonuses don’t stack with cover bonuses from other sources). The presence of a tree doesn’t otherwise affect a creature’s fighting space, because it’s assumed that the creature is using the tree to its advantage when it can. The trunk of a typical tree has AC 4, hardness 5, and 150 hp. A DC 15 Climb check is sufficient to climb a tree.
Blue squares indicate flowing water in a small creek.
Green squares indicate gradually sloped terrain, heading downhill from light to dark shades. This incline isn’t steep enough to affect movement, but characters gain a +1 bonus on melee attacks against foes downhill from them.
Grimvaalk urges his wolf downhill to close the distance between himself and the pigs, loosing an arrow as goes. He misses the porkers, but skewers the hell out of one of the bushes between him and them. The creatures let off squeals of alarm at the sudden noise.
Grimvaalk - 6a
Pigs - 6b
Grimvaalk spurs his wolf onward toward the pigs, loosing another pair of arrows as he comes on with the hope of putting down the pig that looks least vigorous (although it must be said that all four are large healthy-looking sows). Both his shots smack into their intended target.
For their part, the suiids run away. All of them are squealing loudly in distress, but the injured one is squealing loudest of all, and Grimvaalk can see that he's landed a couple of solid shots. Obviously not enough to prevent his quarry from running on him, but solid nevertheless.
Pig #4 has suffered 10 points of damage.
Grimvaalk urges on his wolf, crashing through the thick of the underbrush in ungainly but efficient fashion, and looses a couple more arrows shortly after bursting free. Neither one finds its mark, unfortunately, but the goblin doesn't allow this to deter him from giving chase.
But even as he's splashing into the stream after the fleeing pigs, the pigs are clambering out of the stream and skirting past another stand of brush.
Grimvaalk continues his pursuit, his wolf splashing noisily through the shallow stream even as the goblin continues trying (ineffectually) to shoot down his chosen pig.
His noise and efforts prompt the sounder to split up, pigs darting in every direction except toward him. One porker even turns north, crossing the stream a second time in its haste to get away from him.
Grimvaalk rides southward past the edge of the screen of vegetation, and puts another couple of arrows into his chosen prey.
The pig screams, probably in agony. The other pigs scream, possibly because that's just what pigs do when they're upset.
All of the pigs take off at a run, moving surprisingly fast despite their stubby little trotters. But the one Grimvaalk shot at is at least leaving a blood trail.
Pig #4 has suffered 23 points of damage and is bleeding.
Dinner is yours, after you track it down and drag it back to camp.
In fairly short order, Grimvaalk tracks his pig to where it lies dead. It ran a surprising distance, covering probably a hundred yards before blood loss finally brought it down. This animal is a sow, but that hardly means she's small. She's got to weigh at least five hundred pounds, and the goblin is pretty sure that even if he guts her right here, she's going to be too heavy for his wolf to carry back, even if he shoulders some of the burden and walks. And dragging her is going to be a nuisance in wooded, overgrown hills, especially with a stream to cross.
He concludes that he'll have to get help, make several trips, or allow some of the meat to go to waste.
Grimvaalk decides some is better than none and sets about roughly butchering some of the choice bits of the pig, taking what his wolf can carry and leaving the rest for a second trip. With that task done, he returns to the rest of the party with his spoils.
When Grimvaalk returns to the others, he finds them still scattered around the clearing outside of Vumrot's lair. They appear to be watching the fire burn.
Save Fanax, who is sitting against a tree. It is clear he is fighting the fight of boredom and sleep. Rather easily, Grimmvalk can see sleep is slowly winning.
"Well, I can see you've been productive," Grimvaalk observes sarcastically as he leads his wolf into the clearing. He unstraps what he's managed to carry back of the pig and his other foragings and lets it drop uncerimoniously. "You think some of you could pull yourselves away from fire watching duty to help carry the rest back? It's more than enough to give us another day or two here. The wolves can eat their fill of what's left afterwards."
Fanax stands and says, "Lead the way."
Late Night, 28 Urthan, 973 IRThe Desolation of VumrotSomewhere on the Adrag Plateau
After a surprisingly decent supper of rations from Grimvaalk's pack, roasted pork and pheasant, and wild rhubarb, the majority of the expedition settles down to sleep. The first watch passes without incident for Yonah and Zathrus; they wake Fanax and Grimvaalk and then bed down. Even when someone has to go in close to refuel the bonfire that's keeping Vumrot contained, there just isn't much to see, other than a gradually lowering cloud of smoke against the cavern's ceiling. For all you know, the dragon could be dead or escaped. He certainly isn't interfering with you.
This monotony continues for another two hours, until the goblins' shift is about two-thirds finished. Suddenly, they're confronted by a dramatic change in the character of the bonfire's light; between one breath and the next, a bank of dense fog flashes into being just outside the cave's entrance, obscuring everything beyond it. The bonfire clearly is still burning, because its light is diffused and softened by the fog into something that's honestly rather pretty. But the fog is impenetrable to your vision.
The blue shaded area represents a bank of dense fog which obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. A creature within 5 feet has concealment (attacks have a 20% miss chance). Creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker can’t use sight to locate the target).
White squares represent the valley floor. It's reasonably flat (flat enough not to affect movement or combat). Brown dots represent ordinary trees. A creature standing in the same square as a tree gains a +2 bonus to Armor Class and a +1 bonus on Reflex saves (these bonuses don’t stack with cover bonuses from other sources). The presence of a tree doesn’t otherwise affect a creature’s fighting space, because it’s assumed that the creature is using the tree to its advantage when it can. The trunk of a typical tree has AC 4, hardness 5, and 150 hp. A DC 15 Climb check is sufficient to climb a tree.
Grey stippling represents boulders and rocks of size significant enough to affect movement. They are "dense rubble." It costs 2 squares of movement to enter a square with dense rubble. The DC of Balance and Tumble checks on dense rubble increases by 5, and the DC of Move Silently checks increases by +2. As a result of the movement penalty, dense rubble counts as difficult terrain; you can't run or charge through it.
Orange squares and yellow squares are light undergrowth. A space covered with light undergrowth costs 2 squares of movement to move into, and it provides 20% concealment. Undergrowth increases the DC of Tumble and Move Silently checks by 2 because the leaves and branches get in the way, but the concealment enables Hide checks.
Dark grey squares represent the hillside. At all times, you may assume that the hillside represents a "steep slope," on which the downhill side is toward the nearest white square. Characters moving uphill (to an adjacent square of higher elevation) must spend 2 squares of movement to enter each square of steep slope; as a result, you cannot run or charge uphill. Characters running or charging downhill (moving to an adjacent square of lower elevation) must succeed on a DC 10 Balance check upon entering the first steep slope square. Mounted characters make a DC 10 Ride check instead. Characters who fail this check stumble and must end their movement 1d2×5 feet later. Characters who fail by 5 or more fall prone in the square where they end their movement. A steep slope increases the DC of Tumble checks by 2.
Dots on the hillside are also trees, with mechanical effects identical to those already described.
The darkest area of the hillside represents a cliff, roughly 40 feet high. A cliff typically requires a DC 15 Climb check to scale. This cliff is not perfectly vertical. For every 20 feet you ascend, you will automatically move 5 feet into its area. If you fail your Climb check by 4 or less, you make no progress. If you fail by 5 or more, you fall from whatever height you have already attained.
The interior of the cavern has natural stone floors. It takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with a natural stone floor, and the DC of Balance and Tumble checks increases by 5. Running and charging are impossible, except along paths. The walls and ceiling of the cavern are unworked stone. It takes a DC 15 Climb check to move along an unworked stone wall.
Pausing only briefly to consider the possible personal gain that could result from the others being eaten, Grimvaalk rushes toward the camp with the intent to wake any of his sleeping companions.
"About time," Fanax mutters to himself beginning to walk towards the fog.
"Come on Grim let's," the sentence is cut short as Fanax glances over his shoulder and doesn't see his fellow watch goblin.
Eyes quickly looking around Fanax stops walking. When he sees what Grimvaalk is doing both the head and shoulders of Fanax visibily slump.
Looking at the ground Fanax offers a few quiet expletives and waits for the others.
Grimvaalk isn't far from the nearest of his companions—Oni, he thinks—but the amount of light being emitted by the bonfire suddenly but significantly decreases even as the goblin stoops to wake the bugbear.
The shroud of fog makes it impossible to ascertain what just happened, but whatever happened was decisive, and Fanax feels a stirring of hope—maybe the dragon has figured out some way to put out the fire!
23 - Fanax
22 - Vumrot
21 - Oni
20 - Zathrus
18 - Gorx
15 - Grimvaalk
07 - Yonah
It is currently Fanax's turn.
Fanax hustles toward the cavern as quickly as he can without risking the amputation of a thumb or finger while he draws his weapons.
He's about twelve feet from the edge of the fogbank when he hears a thud and a faint sizzling noise. Even without the sounds, he can tell that someone's tampering with that bonfire because the amount of light being shed by it undergoes another sudden but decisive reduction.
Grimvaalk hasn't shouted them awake, and they're much farther away from the fire than Fanax, so Gorx, Zathrus, Oni and Yonah all slumber on. With some luck, at least the quiet so far may mean Vumrot doesn't know that his adversaries are aware that he's doing whatever it is that he's actually doing behind that fog.
It is currently Grimvaalk's turn.
Grimvaalk begins kicking his companions awake. Oni and Yonah are the closest to him, so they get kicked first.
23 - Fanax (Blue 1)
22 - Vumrot (Red)
21 - Oni (Blue 5)
20 - Zathrus (Blue 6)
18 - Gorx (Blue 2)
15 - Grimvaalk (Blue 3)
07 - Yonah (Blue 4)
It is currently Yonah's turn.
Gorx is asleep.Oni is prone.Yonah is prone.Zathrus is asleep.
Yonah hops to his feet, hisses, "He's putting the fire out!" and proceeds to wake Gorx by prodding the sleeping shaman with his foot.
Fanax creeps up to the edge of the fogbank, peering ahead and listening for signs of what might be happening in the cave.
The goblin scout isn't disappointed; as he draws close to the fog, he hears a strange clattering noise, as if someone is dragging a heavy block of stone or wood across the floor of the cavern. And as an undertone, something hissing. Sizzling.
It is currently Oni's turn.
Gorx is prone.Oni is prone.Zathrus is asleep.
Oni gets to his feet, clutching his spear and using it as an aid to getting up. This coincidentally leaves him on his feet with a weapon in hand when he finishes. As the bugbear readies himself to fight, he says loudly, "Awake! Awake! The dragon is coming!"
"What the FUCK?!" demands Zathrus as he's jolted awake. He blinks away sleep and sees the scene. "What the fuck?" he repeats as he stands, his drowsiness disappearing instantly as he concentrates on getting a force screen around himself.
It is currently Gorx's turn.
Gorx is prone.
Zathrus's force screen has 30 rounds remaining.
Gorx lurches to his feet, and immediately reaches out to the Spirit World. He's had a lot of attrition among his spirit allies recently, so this time the shaman reaches out for something a bit more durable—you can't die if you're already dead, and the Great Horde is just close enough for him to snag an ancestral spirit or two.
Quickly, Grimvaalk darts back over to his wolf and springs astride the big canine. Once ensconced in the saddle, the goblin warrior readies his bow.
Meanwhile, Yonah hurries westward toward the fogbank, ending up about ten yards north of Fanax's position.
Fanax hurries through the fog, moving toward the bonfire to try to get a glimpse of Vumrot and whatever the dragon is doing to make the fire's light dim so quickly and dramatically. The fog parts as he comes up adjacent to the bonfire, and he stands in the flickering light of what's left of its flames, wreathed in the scent of . . . roasting goat.
The scout barely has time to make sense of the strange tableau laid out before him: three dead goats have been haphazardly thrown over the parts of the fire nearest to the interior of the cavern. They're sizzling wildly because they're in contact with the fire's coals, and probably are the source of the (honestly somewhat tasty) aroma.
Vumrot, who is somewhat larger than a pony but smaller than a horse, scaled in gleaming white, is in the act of dragging a fourth goat over toward the fire, but at the sight of Fanax he drops the creature, which makes a sound like a chunk of dense, dry wood when it hits the stone of the cave floor. It's frozen solid, and Fanax immediately thinks of the "larder" full of stolen livestock that he found during his trip inside the cavern.
But before Fanax can say or do anything else, Vumrot takes a couple of steps toward him, inhales deeply, and gives vent to a spume of white vapor that Fanax takes for steam, up until the moment that it washes over him like a blizzard off of the steppes. The cold lasts for only a moment, but it is agonizing, and Fanax is pretty sure his eyelashes are now cold enough to snap off if he just blinks hard.
Fanax has taken 8 points of damage.
Springing to his feet, Oni tries to conceal his excitement at finally encountering Vumrot in the flesh. He rushes to clear the distance between where the party made camp and the mouth of the cave, hoping Fanax doesn't perish before the other can come to his aid. "To arms! To arms! The beast has come!"
It is currently Zathrus's turn.
Zathrus's force screen has 29 rounds remaining.
Zathrus hustles southwestward, trying to get a better view of whatever is happening at the cavern's mouth. His movement doesn't really help much; he gets a better view of the fogbank enveloping the area, but Fanax's plight remains hidden from him.
Gorx finishes his invocation to the spirits of the dead, and succeeds in dragging a pair of ancestral spirits into the mortal world—and "drag" really feels like the right word. Unlike the biddable little spirits that he's been relying on up to now, he has to exert serious effort to breach the veil between this world and the next.
The two spirits flicker into view, about fifteen yards away, and he sees that both are women: a goblin and a hobgoblin. From the appearance of the latter, she died of some kind of massive violence. Her face is kind of lopsided, as if it's been crushed with some kind of massive club.
The shaman immediately calls out, "Kill the dragon," and is met with a disbelieving, "Kill the what, now?" from the goblin. And in close succession, the hobgoblin jokes, "Right, sure. Don't beat around the bush by offering to cook me dinner and get me drunk first." The goblin snickers at that, agreeing, "Oooooh. I miss food, too."
Grimvaalk urges his wolf toward and then into the fogbank, moving up to support his kinsman. The goblin almost runs over Fanax in his haste, so dense is the fog; one moment he's trotting through the mist, and the next he's peering out of the mists past Fanax to see Vumrot, vapor curling about his nostrils and teeth. Grimvaalk is now close enough to see what appear to be three goats—probably among those stolen from the hobgoblins' herds—laid across most of the bonfire. He can hear them sizzle and smell their roasting meat, too, suggesting that underneath them there are still hot coals.
Their presence explains why the bonfire isn't shedding as much light as before. Vumrot apparently was planning to use them to smother the bonfire. The dragon has a fourth goat carcass on the floor behind him. It's rocking gently back and forth on the stony floor of the cavern, and (judging by the patches of frost on its fur) looks like it's been frozen solid.
Yonah hurries up, stopping behind and a little to Grimvaalk's right. The bugbear suggests, "Clear the bottleneck, or we'll all get blasted in the face." Taking in the rime of frost coating the rocks and the wisps of vapor hovering near them, he adds uncertainly, "Again."
Fanax isn't loathe to take Yonah's suggestion, and backs off about ten feet.
Vumrot responds by twisting his snake-like neck back toward the frozen goat carcass that he'd previously had to drop in order to breathe at Fanax. With a convulsive heave, the dragon lifts the carcass off the ground and slings it toward the fire. It falls neatly into place with a loud hiss and the immediate smell of burning hair and meat, deepening the gloom even further as it smothers the remaining flames.
From the sizzling noises, the coals beneath the four goat carcasses are still very hot, but that may not matter—when all's said and done, the bonfire isn't nearly the barrier it was. Someone might get burned walking across it . . . but probably not fatally.
Oni makes his way toward roughly where his allies are, and shoulders in between Grimvaalk and Yonah to hurl his spear at the dragon. Vumrot is obliged to yank his head backward rapidly like a big, scaly white goose to avoid getting skewered.
Zathrus's force screen has 28 rounds remaining.
Strangely, Zathrus pauses, his attention briefly on Gorx's ghosts instead of the angry dragon. "Huh," he chuckles to himself. To Gorx, though, he calls "if that one is Khingi'ut like I suspect, you're not getting shit from her without a bribe. Ask her what she wants and give it to her."
The goblin woman's ghost looks a bit disappointed, and grouses, "It isn't any fun if you TELL him, Blueberry!"
Gorx shrugs. "She won't get anything if we're frozen." The shaman turns back to the undead.
"If you want something at all, you're going to have to help us kill this dragon."
In turn, the goblin woman shrugs in turn. "We're already dead, shaman. We can afford to wait until someone comes along who isn't a skinflint," she points out, sounding bored.
The hobgoblin tosses her head in agreement, pointing out, "We're not unreasonable, shaman. You don't even have to pay us up front. A little risk is alright. It even adds spice. But spice really belongs on meat. What do you say to a couple of meals? Find our descendants. Get some spicy meat. Get them all in one place, and then call us again."
Happy to let the bigger, melee focused guys in front, Grimvaalk fires a pair of quick shots into the cave to see if he can hit anything by sheer luck. The first arrow actually rattles off the dragon's scales, hitting too indirectly to pierce its tough hide, and Grimvaalk feels that sensation in the pit of his stomach that tells a marksman he could have nailed the shot if he hadn't rushed. Without waiting, he pulls back and around to the side of the entrance of the cave to the north to put him just out of sight and, (he hopes) out of breath range, of the dragon.
Noticing a Vumrot sized gap among his companions, Yonah Adisi sighs, readies his weapon, and bids his fellows, "This is stupid, but let it not be in vain!" Having acknowledged his own foolishness, the bugbear rushes through the through the pile of roasting goat, using the (still mostly frozen) carcasses as stepping stones to a position in striking range of the dragon. He's admirably nimble for his size, and makes the trip with his feet, at least, unscathed.
His body doesn't fare nearly as well, as Vumrot's jaws snap into his upper thigh, and the dragon rips its needle-like teeth through the flesh. Nevertheless, Yonah draws first blood for your side a second later—as soon as he has his feet planted on ground that isn't a burn hazard, the bugbear winds up a tremendous blow with his morningstar, and brains the dragon as he's coming in for another bite.
The rest of the party only hears Vumrot's sudden roar of outraged agony, but Fanax is the only one who really bears witness to the bugbear's heroism.
Yonah has taken 8 points of damage.
Vumrot has taken 13 points of damage.
Fanax's mind whirls with dozens of thoughts simultaneously as he watches Yonah's rush against the dragon. The goblin annoyedly wishes this had happened earlier, while fear grips his legs and his innate sense of self preservation begins to force him to stay hidden. But it is Fanax's ego that wins the moment. The small woodsman simply can't allow someone to take all the glory. "If we survive this encounter," Fanax finally thinks to himself. And with that Fanax exits the fog and moves to stab the dragon.
As Fanax comes up into flanking position, the goblin's blade drives into Vumrot's flesh, and the white-scaled terror lets loose an enraged bellow. Vumrot's jaws snap, his claws rake, and he even flails about him with his wings. When Vumrot subsides, both warriors are largely unscathed—Yonah is bleeding a little from a split lip where the dragon's wing buffeted him across the mouth.
Vumrot sidles northward, clearly not eager to remain caught between his adversaries. For the moment, the would-be heroes have him bottled up inside the cave.
Yonah has taken 10 points of damage.
Vumrot has taken 24 points of damage.
Oni rushes in toward Vumrot, hopping and jumping to avoid the embers of the dwindling bonfire at the entryway to the dragon's lair, and makes as if to get the white-scaled terror in a clinch. A snakelike strike of the creature's neck almost immediately makes him think better of his plans, though—the bugbear ducks to get his head out of the way before it's too late, but still feels trickles of blood down both sides of his face.
Oni has taken 2 points of damage.Yonah has taken 10 points of damage.
Zathrus's force screen has 27 rounds remaining.
Giving up his attempts to influence Gorx's negotiations with the dead, Zathrus jogs westward, skirting past the southern edge of the fog cloud that has enveloped the cavern's entryway.
Tiring of his called ghosts wanting something for something, Gorx voices an annoyed, "Hrmph!" The shaman waves a hand in dismissal, and the pair of spirits disperse back into the ether from which they came.
23 - Fanax (Blue 1)
22a - Grimvaalk (Blue 3)
22b - Vumrot (Red)
21 - Oni (Blue 5)
20 - Zathrus (Blue 6)
18 - Gorx (Blue 2)
07 - Yonah (Blue 4)
Grimvaalk hangs back. He can't see the trio fighting inside the cave, but he has a pretty good idea that they must be packed in tightly and he's leery of trying to shoot past them--the sounds of melee are evident.
Meanwhile Yonah Adisi, the Running Bear, brings his shield and morningstar to the ready, and shouts back to the entrance in the cave, "Press the attack!" To Vumrot he says, "Whatever hell you go to will be far better than what will happen to your corpse, snake." He makes a half-hearted swipe at the dragon in the midst of his trash talk, but he's obviously concentrating more on defending himself from attack than he is on his offense, and the proximity of the cavern wall has his weapon hemmed in, providing cover to Vumrot. The attack doesn't land.
Fanax is all in now and has no interest in fighting this dragon deeper in it's lair and farther away from the others. So Fanax decides that he will move behind Vumrot and flank with Oni. "Now is the time to press the attack!" Fanax yells angrily. He suits action to word, jabbing his sword at the winged lizard in a fruitless attempt to skewer it.
The yelling finally impresses upon Grimvaalk that now is, indeed, time to press the attack, so the wolf rider urges his mount back toward the cavern's mouth. The wolf manages to avoid scorching itself on the dying bonfire, and Grimvaalk turns in the saddle to fire an arrow at Vumrot as soon as he gets a relatively clear shot. He misses.
Vumrot reacts really poorly to Fanax's attempts to keep him in a flank, erupting into a frenzy of snapping teeth, slashing claws and flailing wings as he scuttles around to a less compromised position to Oni's west. Somewhere in there, Fanax catches a wing right across his face. It hurts.
Oni fares much, much worse, getting mauled by a combination of tooth, claw and wing.
Fanax has taken 5 points of damage.Oni has taken 11 points of damage.Yonah has taken 10 points of damage.
Oni tries to dart in past the dragon's guard and come to grips with it—and succeeds, surprisingly enough. He gets a hand wrapped around the base of Vumrot's wing, and tries to pull himself into a clinch, but his efforts are frustrated when the dragon gives a convulsive flap of his wings and jerks free.
Zathrus's force screen has 26 rounds remaining.
Fanax uses the back of his hand to wipe free the immediate flow of blood and spits more on to the cavern floor. He hates the taste of his own blood. He also takes in the fact the dragon has now ventilated Oni good and proper. Fanax begrudgingly takes a small moment to respect the bugbear for continuing to stand. But all of it whips Fanax into his own frenzy of sorts and he screams loudly, "If the rest you don't get in here RIGHT NOW I will kill you when this is over!"
Zathrus doesn't bother to answer, and continues on his way toward the cavern mouth. His chosen path takes him through the westernmost portion of the fog cloud enveloping the area, but the low visibility in the mist doesn't actually impede his progress. The loose rubble underfoot during part of his movement does, however, slowing him down because it's treacherous to walk across. Even with the delay, though, he manages to emerge into the comparatively clearer area beyond the fog.
Quite the spectacle greets him when he does. Fanax is nearly eclipsed behind a sinous white form with sail-like wings that Zathrus recognizes as (indisputably) a dragon. Oni is faced off against the creature, unarmed but extremely bloody and showing all the signs of having been savaged by the creature's claws. Grimvaalk has somehow managed to get his wolf inside the cavern.
And of course, closest to him Zathrus is more than aware of what appears to be a smoking, sizzling pile of dead goats, which apparently have been flung atop the remains of the bonfire that was being used to smoke Vumrot out of his lair.
Stepping a little closer to the fog-shrouded entry to the cavern, Gorx composes himself and sends out a tendril of awareness into the Spirit World. Quickly, the shaman finds a pair of dead souls that he thinks he's strong enough to drag into the world of the living, so he grabs hold of them and begins to do so. Maybe these will prove more pliable than the mercenary harridans he drew last time.
Meanwhile, Yonah brushes past Oni, drawing a snap of Vumrot's jaws as he's forced to let down his own guard in order to keep from jostling his companion so much as to leave him vulnerable. The resulting bite wound is quite painful, but Oni forges onward, hooking around into the space between Grimvaalk and the dragon. Vumrot's attention is on him the whole time—the dragon has been hit with Yonah's morningstar once already, and didn't like it. Once he's there, he sets his heels firmly to the ground, and the spiked club lashes out again, almost too fast for the eye to follow.
Vumrot doesn't like it any better this time, and roars agonized displeasure.
Fanax has taken 5 points of damage.Oni has taken 11 points of damage.Yonah has taken 18 points of damage.
Vumrot has taken 37 points of damage.