Hidden Embers

Blum and Kaun

The little village of Blum bustled with activities as a couple score elves gathered for the upcoming full month. The middle-aged human named Dugon acted as the ataman for the village. Many of the elves preferred to set up temporary camps nearby so Dugon has room at his home to put up two other visitors. Hektor, a tall and muscular man with long black hair and dark eyes, was merely passing time awaiting a friend who had traveled on a religious pilgrimage to a shrine near Kaun. The pretty, athletic half-elf woman with striking blue eyes had come to meet with some of the elves. That she was acquainted with Hektor was merely coincidental.
Maerylle, the half-elf, wasted no time and politely introduced herself to Anoniear, who acted as a leader of the elves, and a couple of the elven hunters as they spoke with Dugon. The hunter carrying an obviously well-cared for bow was called Aelar. He wore his black hair short and carried himself confidently. The other was also raven-haired, but he wore his hair very long; his whole appearance was a bit wild yet he had a calm demeanor. This elf introduced himself as Traril.
As the elves puzzled over Maerylle’s interest in their story another figure hunkered near the edges of the small village watching some one approach. The hunkered figure would most often be mistaken for human, but his slightly protruding facial structure and the bristly hair on the sides of his face marked him as something else. He wore hide armor and carried a shield. He was only about 5’9” and stood a bit shorter than that, slightly hunched over, but he was well-muscled and kept a protective eye on the hunter elves, Aelar and Traril, as if he knew them.
The approaching figure turned out to me an old man riding a goat. Sapar, the old man, gaspingly called out for aid. He came from Kaun where just a day or so before some reptilian creatures came marching in carrying two small white dragons on fancy palanquins. In the name of their young Dragon Princes, the creatures had taken prisoners and forced the villagers into servitude. Apparently a bit more familiar with the methods of Dragon Princes, Maerylle objected. She knew that her friend Hektor was waiting for a deva who had traveled up near Kaun. Without much thought, she immediately called for action.
“My friend Hektor here has a companion up near Kaun. I am going up there to find out if she is well, and to help these people if I can. Who is with me?”
The archer, Aelar, seemed quite happy to accompany the pretty warrior but his companion, Traril, remained reserved. The shifter, who was introduced as Ash, agreed to go if the elves did. After just a bit more discussion, a small group departed for a day’s journey to Kaun. The group traveled quickly, led both by Maerylle’s enthusiasm and Traril level-headednes. Aelar found a campsite for the evening along with a little bit of game. The night air was cold in the foothills of the Copper Mountains. The companionship was a bit chilly also, as the elves agreed with Maerylle that some sort of night watch should be set up but were not yet ready to trust this outsider to her own watch. Maerylle seemed not to take offense and set her own watch to overlap with both Aelar and Traril.
The next morning the group continued up into the foothills towards Kaun. Soon the early winter forest became colder and frostier than the time of year would warrant. Cautiously, Aelar moved forward up the trail. He soon discovered the path had been blocked by an avalanche of snow and earth. Also a bit out of season, he explored with care. He noted reptilian tracks and soon enough heard the sounds of a group of creatures approaching. Returning to the others, the whole group moved forward to where the avanlanche blocked their path towards Kaun. Maerylle felt sure that this was some sort of tactic the attackers at Kaun had set up to slow down help. With the others could make out the sounds of the creatures beyond more clearly, she could at least understand some of them. They were speaking draconic and they were preparing more tricks or traps to block the road. Again, with out much thought other than to make sure that Ash was ready to accompany her, Maerylle led the charge forward.
The creatures were kobolds. And they were certainly booby-trapping the path to prevent any one from making it to Kaun. Battle ensued. And the small group found some cohesion immediately. Ash worked well with Maerylle; he bottled up the enemies while she worked through them clearing a way for the others to attack. Both Hektor and Aelar pulled out powerful attacks from afar. Hektor called forth forbidding powers, cursed the enemies and blasted them with eldritch might. Aelar lurked behind, deftly spitting arrow after arrow in all directions. Traril held back, halfway between the artillery fire of Hektor and Aelar and the melee force of Ash and Maerylle. He called forth powers of nature that helped control the enemies and keep his companions safe. Despite a fairly decent coordinated effort, one kobold escaped and their leader was slain outright instead of held for questioning.
Without any information on what lie ahead and with an escaped scout heading back with warning, the group decided to press on to Kaun immediately. The air grew very cold and snow and frost coated much of the area. Kaun itself was a striking sight. Most of the buildings seemed vacant and cold. Smoke still rose from the longhouse, but rising immediately nearby and engulfing another building or two was an enormous block of ice with an ominous opening. A woman bustled out of the longhouse carrying a steaming tray into the ice cave, and then she quickly returned empty-handed.
Discussing a bit of strategy, Hektor agreed to enter the small village on the pretense of looking for his friend, the deva. Aelar moved to a vantage point where he could keep watch on the warlock. Extremely surprised by Hektor’s arrival, the woman tried to shoo him away from a dangerous situation. However, two kobold guards arrived at the longhouse while he attempted to find out more about the situation. The guards did not understand the human much and instead decided to take him into the ice cave. As Aelar watched, Hektor tried a ruse to buy more time. Soon enough though, action had to be taken. Aelar let fly a few arrows and Hektor blasted the creatures. Again, one of the small kobolds managed to escape.
Hektor and Aelar gathered back at the longhouse while Ash, Traril and Maerylle hurried to the village. Once every one was together again, Maerylle began a battle plan. The first step was information. The kobolds were in the cave with 2 dragons. They had taken most of the people prisoner. Every one else was either killed or fled, except for the blacksmith. Maerylle and Ash went to get the blacksmith while Aelar hunted for herbs to create a smoke bomb. Hektor and Traril tried to find a way onto the large block of ice to cut a small hole into which the smoke bomb could be dropped.
It took nearly 30 minutes to get all the preparations ready and Maerylle fretted about the two kobolds that had escaped and possibly warned the dragons. Also, the prisoners weighed on every one’s minds. But once the plan was put into action, there was no turning back. Unfortunately, the kobolds were quickly. They blocked the entrance and it was taking too long to get to the prisoners. Some of the meaner creatures attacked the prisoners who turned on their captors with the small ice picks they were using. The two white wyrmlings waited on pillows on an icy edge of the cave while all the kobolds joined in battle. They were led by a gnarled kobold casting magic, but Ash and Maerylle pressed in while Traril’s nature spirit threatened the kobold mage. Aelar and Hektor took out enemy after enemy with their fire, both arcane and mundane. The dragons eventually dropped down and joined the fray. Angered and frustrated by her inability to get to the prisoners, Maerylle let loose a howl and a few sweeping blows taking out numerous enemies at once. And as the group pressed on, the dragons took blow after blow. As the blood sprayed from one of them, his form shifted and the illusion of the dragon dropped. The creature was just a drake – nasty but certainly not a dragon. In fact, both of them were similarly disguised.
After that, the battle quickly turned. Five of the village prisoners were down and all of the kobolds were defeated except one. Aelar held his arrow carefully aimed at the small creature while Ash and Maerylle threatened him with their swords. The creature surrendered.

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