Ascending ancient stairs through collapsed tunnels, the party could hear the kobold horde in the distance. Tired of worrying about kobolds breathing down their necks, they decided to make their stand in the storehouses, where raw minerals extracted from the mines were taken by the kobolds for delivery to the dragon’s lair. As the rest of the party took a moment’s respite to sharpen their weapons and prepare, Zolar set about beating the kobolds at their own game: First he set up a kerosene trap above the door leading up to the storehouses, then he set up decoy caltrops down a hallway with a light spell cast at the end. As Zolar worked, he spotted the first of the kobolds in the horde come charging round the corner. High-tailing it back to the party, Zolar gave them the heads up. “The kobolds are coming!”
The kobolds came so fast, and from every possible fissure, in every direction that only a few of the party were able to get off spells or ranged attacks before being swarmed by the horde. Miri the barbarian managed to actually throw one kobold at some of the kobolds caught in Zolar’s kerosene trap. It was a furious fight, with PCs getting dragged down tight passage away from their party, knocked to the ground, pummeled, and even disarmed. As Ardell attempted to make it back to the party after being dragged off, he prepared to jump over a spiked pit trap only to trigger a tripwire which sent him careening into the pit; at the last second, he caught the edge of the pit and saved himself a painful fall. One of the highlights was Raphael bluffing the horde that he was one their side – since he’d been adventuring with the kobold Crusher – and it bought him a momentary reprieve from the horde. At least, long enough for the rest of the party, with Raphael’s propituous leadership, to kill a sufficient number of kobolds to break the horde’s morale. Yelling taunts at the fleeing kobolds, the party regrouped and ascended ancient dwarven stairs…
Raphael noticed the albino kobold Crusher peering at them from a fissure. Rolling his eyes, he looked at Crusher, “You. What do you want?” Wringing his hands, Crusher emerged from the darkness decked out in adventurer’s gear – 50’ of rope, gloves, thieves’ tools, even a potion bandolier – and explained that he felt taken advantage of by Infyrana and that he saw an opportunity for his advancement to the kobold throne. Raphael and Crusher swore a blood oath (with an epic bluff) that Crusher would help lead them past the gauntlet of traps before the dragon’s lair and convince any kobolds minions Infyrana might summon to not heed the dragon’s call; in exchange the party agreed to help Crusher become the new Kobold King provided the kobolds stopped raiding human (dwarven, elven, etc.) villages. As part of this deal, the party took two of Crusher’s potions of vigor. Miri noticed Crusher’s rations pouch was jostling about and making funny noises which sounded an awful lot like her missing pet monkey; she and her friends convinced Crusher to give them the monkey (his dinner) as a gesture of good-will (and in exchange for a potion of healing). Crusher considered that the party had saved his life and agreed to the trade. Kirito was less than pleased to have the kobold chief who killed some of his former companions now joining the party.
The first trap was a pit which Crusher was thrown across. However, when Raphael attempted to jump the pit, gravity reversed and he fell “up” thru the plaster ceiling and into a 50’ shaft. After some climbing, several gravity reversals, and extensive rope work, the party managed to get past the reverse gravity pit trap.
The second trap, they found themselves in a corridor with dwarven pictograms representing dwarven mages with frustrated faces. Crusher found the flame jet traps, but in the process of opening a portcullis accidentally triggered the flame jets, jumping back just in time to avoid being burned to a crisp. After some debate involving the red dragon scales of the last dragon the party slew and mis-labeled sovereign glue (to which Crusher sagely commented “switch labels, yes, yes, old kobold trick”), Lily decided to use her frost magic to partially quell the flames while the rest of the party ran through. They made it past the flame jets a bit seared, but not well done.
The third trap was a heavy stone block with a 2’ gap on the bottom. Crusher examined and reported back that there was a combustible gas and a pit trap with a narrow walkway. Zolar went “first” this time, ducking into the room and levitating, only to discover the poison was toxic to breathe. Extinguishing their torches, the party decided to just take damage from the poison gas and move past the trap; fortunately they’d set up planks and ropes across the pit so the dizzying gas didn’t cause anyone to fall into the pit.
The fourth/fifth trap appeared to be a pit which Zolar noticed. At this point Zolar cast tenser’s floating disk to ferry people over the pit. It was at this point that several party members felt Infyrana scrying on them and Zolar realized the dragon had True Name magic. Crusher reported that the next room was clear of traps, and so the floating disk ferry process began. However, when three people were in the next corridor, suddenly the entire corridor tilted, sending Lily, Raphael, and Tristan careening toward the pit. Lily and Raphael luckily landed on the tenser’s floating disk. Tristan had readied himself to assume the form of a bat should he fall, and that’s precisely what he did. Crusher, who’d leapt clear of the trap, was duly impressed.
An old mithral gate lead into what was once the dwarven treasure vaults. The party was surprised when Miri pulled old a mithral key her monkey had found somewhere and handed it to Crusher. Hand shaking, Crusher placed the key in the mithral gate’s lock and winced. No trap was forthcoming as the mithral gate opened, revealing a fog-shrouded chamber. As the party advanced thru the fog with Crusher almost gleefully pointing out traps, Tristan wryly pointed out it was like a kobold trap museum. It was at this point that Crusher and Raphael parted ways, with Crusher declaring Raphael had learned to think like a kobold (a compliment?), Ardell declaring he was glad they’d saved Crusher’s life and that Crusher’s reign as king would be just, and Crusher giving a guilty look farewell. Perhaps humans weren’t so bad after all? Or was Crusher planning betrayal all along?
There was one last door to be opened, and Raphael did so with aplomb. A bunch of centipedes, spiders, and snakes dropped on his head…followed by several mithral bars. He stepped out of the way as a dwarven keg of ale and several rusting suits of ancient dwarven armor came tumbling down after. Lily consoled him that the loot was well worth it.
The passage became natural cavern and was noticeably hotter. Along the walls were the petrified remains of several adventurers. Among them was another of Zolar’s past lives, his outstretched hand petrified as if it once had clasped a book; Zolar and his grimoire mused what would happen if they cast remove affliction on the petrified old incarnation of Zolar. Lily found a petrified devil, and flashbacked to many centuries ago, when she had helped corrupt the Cult of the Dragon which sought to turn Infyrana’s progenitors into dracoliches; the dragons refused and so an army of devils laid waste to their lair…the only survivor to escape was the then young Infyrana. It would appear fate indeed had drawn them to Dragon Mountain.
Kirito, twin blades drawn, turned to look at the NPCs Giliana and Theadric, “You’d better wait here.”
As the party advanced into Infyrana’s lair, Zolar wove a spell of mass fire resistance and another of mass invisibility. The dragon had a lot to answer for…