Having cleared the monastery of its evil inhabitants, and rededicated it to holy purity, I looked to lead my team onwards, through the pass and into the lands of the master. As we were leaving the monastery though we got a surprise in the shape of Bishop Guillam. He was on a similarly secret mission to mine though, so we merely exchanged blessings, updated each other on our progress and then parted.
The first part of the pass proved to be deceptively easy as we advanced up the valley and into a narrow canyon beyond. Eventually this opened out into a broad amphitheatre, with an ominous cave mouth beyond. We strode across boldly but as we approached the cave, not one, but two green dragons emerged from the cave mouth.
The cowardly thief and the ignorant barbarian both turned on their tails and fled at the first sight of the dragons, but the rest of my team held their ground, bolstered by my imposing presence. At my command, Alya stepped forwards are tried to converse with the dragons in draconic, as she spoke the language fluently, for reasons that I am presently not dwelling upon. I deemed that although two dragons would be a noble challenge indeed, our mission was of a higher priority than my personal renown and glory, and the path of true righteousness lies in persuing the greater good, and thus had instructed her to parlay with the dragons, for I know that dragons lust for gold and precious things, which the truly holy such as myself hold in scant regard, and if I could purchase our passage rapidly with the exchange of such baubles of no value, it would be a good exchange for the present and I could return at a later date to eliminate the scourge of these vile beasts from the earth.
The dragons, showed no sign of responding to Alya’s words though, and after a brief pause, I directed Mordana to use her second sign to divine if they were magical illusions or such-like. It seemed that the smaller dragon was, while the larger dragon contained a source of magic within it. The response of the larger dragon to our investigation was to unleash a gout of flame in my direction, hitting Magni and Elune as well. Magni indeed lost much of his fine beard to the flames.
Motioning to Alya, I bade her unleash her flaming doom in response. The casting was fine, as the larger dragon burst into flames, while the smaller one disappeared completely. The flames rapidly revealed that the larger dragon was a construct of some sort, containing men, some of whom fled back into the cave. Magni, enraged, persued them, followed by Mordana and then myself. Despite my pleas to keep one alive to show us the path through the caves, Magni slaughtered them remorselessly. Mordana was more biddable, and intimidated her opponent into surrendering, terrified of her glowing eyes. Having dropped his sword though, he drew a dagger and killed himself in fright, or in obedience to his dark master.
I now realised that the larger dragon was a complex construct of pulleys and struts, manned by a dozen men, most of whom were now roasting in its remains. The smell was troubling, so we started into the cave.
The path beyond wound down a narrow tunnel into the earth. After many miles, we came to a side turning, but I chose the path that continued on. The tunnel then broadened, and eventually bifurcated. I led us down the right branch which led us into a large cavern. Here I decided that we should stop and rest for the night, conserving our few remaining torches. I chose well, for we were undisturbed.
In the morning (or as near as we could judge in this lightless gloom) I led us on straight through the chamber. After an hour or so though, our torch started to burn fitfully, indicating that the air was becoming bad, so I turned us back and led us down the leftmost passage. After but a short distances, this opened up in the flank of a snow-covered valley high up in the mountains.
The bleak floor of the valley was bare earth, covered with many strange markings – 2 to 6 parallel groves raked in the soil, 50 to 100 feet long, end ending in a series of 1′ diameter and 3 foot deep pits. I surmised that these might be the marks of some great beast of the mountains, and order the others to keep a keen eye out.
In the centre of the valley we saw a wisp of smoke. I bade the witch send her familiar down there, and it reported back that there was a cluster of turf huts inhabited by some gnomes.