The dragon was identified as Sky Scale, according to reports she favoured the skies more than the average red dragon. I had put that episode out of my head thinking that it was not needed, that it was illogical for me to seek revenge and for a time it worked. However as our fame grew in the land we began to attract more and more attention, from villains and allies alike. The local king had heard of our exploits and had asked us to slay Sky Scale whom was perched in the mountains to the west. He asked for our help, the surrounding towns had become restless and wanted the king’s army to intervene however the war prevented him from sending such help.
As we made our way on the road I noted all of my companions, though I know their behavioural patterns well I do not know of their past. Joran the cleric from what I gather was forced from his village and logically speaking I assumed it had something to do with his religious choices, Koras is the only one who makes his past open, he was a young warrior from his tribe and he decided to go out into the world to earn his tribe more honour and facing a dragon was a great way to do it. I had asked him about honour before, from what I gather it is a concept. Koras tells me that although I do not understand it my willingness to help others means I have it.
Then came Eric Mount, a small man who fought with his fist and feet, however through our travels we found that occasionally he would let lose a piece of magic on accident, letting loose a fireball when he became angry or summoning rain when he became sad. Joran tells me he is a sorcerer with much power yet little control a contradiction to the monk. The last person was named Sir Orantus. A knight in the kings service he joined our group when his senior told him to join us in taking a village back from a group of goblins. Though he insisted that he did not need our help he soon gave up and thus resented our assistance. However as time passed he began to respect my bravery and ability to follow orders to the letter.
We were all fast friends at this point. After Joran it is Koras who begins to trust me, his straight forward thinking melded with mine despite his reckless behaviour. He is brave, illogical and reminds me why humans are good. Next up was Eric, after saving his life on several occasion he simply accepts me saying that “There is no reason not to.” Although he cannot control his powers yet his mind is sharp and logical always meditating to gain control. Then came Sir Orantus, though mistrusting of my kind he soon begins to respect me. I thought that he would be the one to do this first because of his background as a soldier but this wasn’t the case.
This makes me think that he has fought other warforged before however it appears that my kind have not been seen for decades and Sir Orantus is only nineteen, thus logically speaking I would be the only one that he had met. Because of his age he cannot be sent to the front line to fight the opposing army however the king seems to have no problem with sending him to fight a dragon, another contradiction. It takes us several weeks of travel, I of course cook, everyone still has nightmares about when Koras tried to give it ago. These are one of the few times I am glad that I do not sleep, I have tried in the past but to no avail. I do not know why I had tried, sleeping wastes too much time, too inefficient.
We are well on the road, everyone has packed the appropriate supplies, weapons, ammunition and rations. I myself have brought a small set of tools needed to carry out minor repairs. After all a shoe with a hole is no shoe at all. As we walk along the road we all chat about the previous adventures, about religion, politics and even about the uncertain future. However soon we have nothing to talk about. A dreadful atmosphere surrounds us. I myself am unaffected and for one reason. I enjoy what comes next. “Are we there yet?” Koras pipes up.
“NO!” Everyone yells unison. I myself join in for the fun of it.
“Are we there ye-“
“DAMNIT KORAS SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP OR I WILL MAKE YOUR BALLS FALL OFF!” Yells Joran, the first to lose his composure.
“Wait can clerics do that?” He asks with a hint of fear.
“You wanna find out???”
Hours past but even then Koras forgets why he is quiet.
“I WILL-“ Red to the face Joran pulls his mace out.
“-You hungry? Cause I am!” Stopping I cook us all a quick meal of rabbit stew, the food takes away everyone’s tension. Even now Joran and Koras are slapping each other on the back laughing whole heartedly. Food is a strange substance, it gives organic beings the ability to continue, in more ways than one. Though originally apprehensive about giving me the duty of a cook the entire group finally accepted me when they admitted that they couldn’t cook themselves and the food that Joran summoned tasted like ass. I have yet to find an ingredient called ass. Many vendors laugh when I ask them where I could buy some fresh ass and how I could cook it. Why it is humorous escapes me.
Days later and to everyone’s relief we soon find ourselves at the base of the mountain just outside the town that resides there.
As usual Sir Orantus enters first, knights are well received here, next would come Eric, monks of his order are also respected. Then would come Koras, though brutish looking this far west people would not recognize his origin. After Koras Joran would come hiding behind the large barbarian, most people fear and hate his church. Then I would come last, after all I prefer to follow than lead, these days people treat me with curiosity rather than fear. Besides if I didn’t come last I couldn’t protect Joran from behind. It was both Koras and my job to hide him from full view.
It was okay if people caught sight of him from the sides but to see him from the front where his deity’s symbol showed could cause panic. Despite our best intention Joran was always against this idea. “Only cowards hide who they are! I am a follower of Nerul and that is who I am!” Nerul wasn’t evil as it was explained to me, he was actually neutral, thus evil people did indeed worship him but good people did to. After all to worship death is to also worship life. It made sense to some extent however if he wanted to worship life why not worship the goddess of life then? He responded with this. “Because the clerics of that order do not kill, sure they heal the wounded but to truly help a good person we must kill evil people!”
For a man who made sense, the fact that he wanted to tell the world that he worshipped death in a world against that idea made him seem illogical and human. I have nothing like that; though Joran told me I was alive I have yet to find anything illogical about myself. As we enter the village people begin to celebrate as if a drought has ended. “Oh you finally came!” they would shout upon seeing the knight and his companions. Everyone would flock around us asking us questions like. “Did the king send you?” Or “Are you here to fight the dragon?” And other questions along those lines.
Sir Orantus and Eric were both disciplined and answered all questions that they could politely. Koras boasted saying that he would kill the beast with one blow and Joran began to try and convert people despite my protests. Something was off, different. Looking around it seemed the town was intact; nothing was damaged just in bad repair as if people had left them alone too long. The dragon had destroyed my village in less than a day how was this place still standing? Shaking my head I realize it’s probably because the town is larger, better defended and slightly less flammable, the buildings here look to be made of stone from the nearby mountain. However despite all this I cannot shake this feeling.
Thinking I scan the buildings, then the people cross referencing prior encounters, at first I came to the conclusion that they were ignoring me. Humans have a strange habit of trying to ignore things that they wish to not exist. Normally people whom I am new to either ignore me or are interested in me, often asking Joran if I am his golem. However these people aren’t ignoring me, they literally cannot see me as if I do not exist. Joran is the next one to figure something is wrong, the people are crowding around him are not fearful at all.
“TURN!” He shouts repelling the ghosts with his holy symbol high above his head. Everyone at this point springs into action.
Sir Orantus and Koras soon find themselves back to back, a logical method of combat, covering each other’s blind spots. Their weapons however appear to have little effect. Though magical it seems that they only keep them at bay. They only fight for survival hoping that Joran will help them. Eric on the other hand is a different story. His fist keeps going through our transparent foes doing nothing at all. As his composure fades and his anger takes over he suddenly stamps down on the ground creating a sort of barrier keeping them at bay. With this respite we are safe.
Diving into the barrier I berate myself for doing so. They were not targeting me thus I had no reason to do so. “Joran, I recall that you have the ability to detect undead passively, it is illogical that you did not alert us, I ask why?” I say holding a flask of holy water. I do not even recall taking it out. He frowns glaring at the ghostly forms, his face asks the same question as I do. We do not know how Eric created such a barrier but when you’ve been working with him for so long you do not ask. Eric was a walking contradiction, he was always so calm and thoughtful, the only way he could use his powers were when his emotions became extreme. Thus when things looked bleak he would often make himself angry on purpose.
“Damn it, I can’t believe I was so weak as to resort to this!” He swears under his breath. Logically speaking it is the only reason why we are saved, why he continues to berate himself is beyond me. “So little self control.” He murmurs. As we stand there inside the bubble Joran begins to destroy the undead from the inside, soon they all back off realizing how futile it is. “WELL!” Shouts Koras. “I SAY WE CHARGE EM!” He smiles forgetting that his axe is almost useless against them. Putting my hand on his shoulder I simply shake my head. Suddenly Eric collapses and the barrier leaves.
“So…. Little…self…..need…. more….training…..” He mumbles. Lifting him up Joran tries to revitalise him, his healing spells appear to have no effect on him. “He’s just fatigued so he’ll be fine but I don’t have the spells prepared to wake him up.” He tells us. Almost on queue the ghosts return, our only protection against them gone. “TURN!” Joran shouts, a large portion of the ghosts flee but it is a temporary measure as the amount of undead we face seem infinite. However before they reach us something familiar re-appears.
The ghosts suddenly flee and burn as a wave of fire descends upon them melting the ground below. Even though we aren’t the targets we feel the heat from the flame. Looking up we find the source, it’s Sky Scale! My mind reels with a multitude of questions, why? Why!? WHY!? An arrow travels up at the dragon but she is too high up and instead finds the ground. I freeze, that was my arrow. Only wing beats can be heard. I look down, my arms, they appear to be malfunctioning, that is the only conclusion I can find. They shake and I cannot remember pulling out my bow never mind using it.
As I look back up I see everyone is staring at me only occasionally glancing at the dragon. “Tsk, wasteful.” Joran says. “You okay?” I look down at what Joran was referring to. The flask of holy water is on the ground and broken, its contents soaked into the ground.
“I believe that I am experiencing.” I cannot even finish it, everyone looks at me confused except Koras for some reason who looks at me with a sort of smile, this particular stance says that he is. Proud? It is not just my arms which are malfunctioning, my mind must be to. Is this what Joran meant when he said I would eventually die? Perhaps I am starting to decay now.
Sky Scale swoops down lower, everyone readies their weapon as I prepare a new arrow. I must wait until she comes within optimal firing range. However before we can do anything she speaks. “Greetings humans!” It bellows. “I am the dragon you people had come to call Sky Scale.” She says with some amusement.
“You wish to speak with us? Why do you not attack?” Sir Orantus shouts not lowering his sword. Joran at this point has Eric slung over him and is the only one of us without a weapon ready. It appears he is ready to flee with Eric, a logical choice since the monk is in no state to fight.
“I do not fight because I have a proposition!” She says smiling. “You see, I used to live in that mountain as a lord, the people would often come up and pay me taxes.” Looking away she smiles. “In exchange I only eat their livestock.”
“You blackmail them?” The proud knight yells. Despite being the youngest of the group Sir Orantus is what you would call the leader.
“Bah, blackmail such a dirty word. Anyways I am here because a stupid necromancer decided to turn them all into ghosts, I would’ve killed the bastard already if it weren’t for the fact that his lair is protected against dragons, besides if I leave my lair for too long who knows what would happen to my horde.” Looking back towards the mountain I assume that said horde is in that general direction.
“What do we get in return then?”
“Well as I understand it your wish for me to leave this place alone, since everyone is dead I have no wish to remain. As soon as you kill the necromancer I will have enough free time to relocate my lair and horde and yes I know you wish me not to kill innocents so if it pleases you I wish to take a lair from a blue dragon down the coast I hear he has quite the horde. This of course will take some time, so not only do I leave your people alone but a blue evil dragon is destroyed as well.” Logically speaking this is a sound offer but.
“This is only a short term solution at best!” I shout. “After you kill the blue dragon it is safe to assume that you will eventually fight humans once more.” A logical truth however looking at Sky Scale I find my bravery slowly fade away. Her immense size, the feeling of unbridled power, this is a mercy. We cannot defeat her, we do not even possess dragon slaying equipment! So why, why do I hold my bow so hard? I am acting illogical, I am acting outside of reason. I am acting human?
We have reached the agreement. Trekking through the mountain we soon find the necromancers tower as per the dragons direction. Me and Koras still object, Sir Orantus doesn’t like this but says it is the only way, Eric doesn’t seem to care either way but Joran seems ecstatic. “Haha that Necromancer won’t see us coming! Creating such abominations I’ll show him!” He yells pumping his fists. “That explains why I couldn’t detect them earlier, if it was just normal undead I’d be fine but I’m guessing this bastard had casted some sort of anti detection spell!”
Logically speaking it was sound, I should be thinking of plans right now, what siege weapons I could build on short notice. Instead I think of the villagers, how did this happen? When did this happen? Could it be stopped? Nearing the outskirts of the tower a sort of area is established. Nothing grew within a certain area of it and that’s where we hid amongst the bushes. Even these seemed sickly in comparison to the tree we had passed by earlier. “Lets just charge on through!” Koras yells. Sighing I quickly look at the tower to see if his out burst had alerted our enemy.
I see no signs of life, hopefully the mage had not yet found us though if he already had he was showing no signs of it. “This is a tower, an emplacement, we should have a siege weapon, squads maybe even a wizard and we don’t even have that!” Whispers the knight. “This is going to be difficult though considering the other path we could take it is quite easy I suppose.” Looking down at his sword he mumbles. Raising his head he stares at me. “Well if someone could get through without being detected they could theoretically open the front door and let us all through no? Someone who could not be detected by undead.”
Why was everyone staring at me?
Joran lamented that he wished to come with me however he had not prepared the proper spells to do so. Even if he did I would not let him come. Though he might’ve become invisible to the undead, to things that lived he was a lighthouse. I myself have the ability to remain slightly more subtle thus it was logical that I undertake this task. “I shall find a way inside and once in locate the unlocking mechanism for the gate, be prepared once that happens, I doubt my stealth can cover something such as that.” I tell them as I begin to leave. I feel resistance on my arm, turning back it is Eric.
“Hey, you might be the oldest of us all but the moment you think something is wrong you’re going to get out right?” It was strange, I knew Eric cared for my safety but for him to be more verbal about it seemed out of character. Now that I thought about it he behaved differently when he woke up from creating the barrier. Nodding my stance told him that I understood the risks. Joran refrained from casting any beneficial spells on me, the less magic I had casted on me the harder I would be to detect, however the fact that I’m powered by magic renders this argument useless.
Either way I do not see any reason for Joran to waste his spells like this thus I do not tell him. Climbing the tower I find that one of the windows is open. Climbing in I feel that I am being watched. Paranoia though in a world of magic it is not unheard of. However if I was truly being watched I would have been caught by now thus it did not matter whether I was detected or not at this point. Climbing down the stairs I noted the lack of undead.
Somewhere above the tower a crooked figure sits. It’s body was completely hidden in black cloak. If one were to look into his hood they would only see two glowing lights of blue as if eyes. Yet they did not blink. A raspy if monotone voice echoes throughout the empty chambers. “Just as planned.” A dry cough followed these words as the figure hobbled back towards a simple chair that seemed out of place. Sitting down he then slumped as if exhausted.