The party looked on into the darkness towards where the roar had seemed to originate. They waited with held breath and dread for the thing to reveal itself. Out of the shadows stepped a shining dragon. At first glance it would seem to be a bronze or brass dragon but further examination would reveal a completely different answer. It was a gigantic clockwork dragon. It whirred and clanked as it stood before them.
In the next moment it attacked. It lashed out with its claws, tail and mouth. The party split off in different directions to avoid getting hit by its large sweeping attacks. After many long minutes of battle they managed to take it down with their various magics and attacks. The true hero of this battle was Kaladrax. At the last moment he had activated his Ring of the Umbral Ambassador. This special family heirloom granted him the ability to gain access to shadowy abilities that made him stronger.
The ring was slowly pulsing with shadow energy which seeped into the very bones of his hand where the ring was worn. With a swift move Kaladrax landed the killing blow on a wonderful feat of craftsmanship. After the battle they examined the remains of the dragon and found nothing really amazing, just a few valuable bits and bobs.
Kaladrax stood off by himself looking down at his ring hand. He could feel the cold shadows seeping, not only into his hand, but his whole body and soul. He feared it would overtake him. Aleera came up and they smiled at each other. She told him she was so happy he had unlocked a piece of his mystery. They were talking in hushed tones when a shout came from far off.
Kariss had gone further ahead and found something. The rest of the party ran to catch up to her and came across a great dias. At the center was an old statue. It was carved in the elven style with sweeping loops and delicate details. Elvish runes were etched around the statue. It held in its hands a great hammer.
In large contrast to the dusty, dilapidated statue, the hammer was pristine and shining in the darkness of the cavern. Kariss saw the potential power of this weapon and tried to lift it but could not. Even her considerable strength could not lift the hammer. Seeing that her normal strength would not be enough she used the power of her werehippo curse to gather enough strength to herself to lift the great weapon.
This time she lifted it with ease. After examining it for a few moments she decided against attuning to it and put it away for the time being. Having survived this latest unforseen adventure in Drakeforge, they moved on through the immense cavern. They reached the wall after a few hours of walking in one direction and found more elven architecture. Pillars went on in intervals towards each side. Each had elvish runes and art inscribed into the work. They kept walking, following the wall.
After a little more time, without any extra surprises, they heard a scraping up ahead. Something was moving on the ground not far from where they were. They concentrated the light ahead of them to reveal a prone figure. It crawled along the ground but stopped when it heard them call out.
It turned around and propped itself on a nearby rock. The party moved in closer after seeing that it must have been injured and not a terrible threat to them. The creature removed the hood from its head to reveal a dirty dwarf in dull armor. The party was surprised. The dwarves all seemed to be, if not in complete consensus, at least in complete compliance to the reigning regent. This one was not only injured but dehydrated and hungry.
They took a few moments to heal up his broken leg. While Kariss did that, the others prepared food and drink for everyone. It seemed as good as any place to set up camp for the night, day, whatever time it was. They sat down around a small fire they had managed to light and passed around food. After the dwarf had eaten and drank as much as he could they asked their questions.
How had he gotten here? Who was he? Did he know a way out?
The dwarf was silent for a moment. He seemed to be gathering his thoughts. Then he answered. He was the younger brother of the regent of Drakenforge, Lord Bromdahr Thornshield. His name was Gralmore Thornshield. He had only recently arrived from the mainland, from Iron Mountain. He knew of no way out of this confounded cavern. The party was aghast at this terrible development. How could a brother betray his brother?
It turned out that Gralmore had confided a reluctance in the use of slave labor for the work in Drakenforge. He was a traditionalist, believing that dwarves should mine the resources they worked on. This was seen as treason by his brother. An act of faithlessness in his rule. Not wanting to kill his brother outright, the regent had thrown his brother down here to live or die as fate saw fit.
Before falling asleep, the party set up a watch. Aleera’s sprite and Kariss’ snake, Kess, were standing guard with one person rotating through the “night”. They dreamt, that night, of knives stabbing backs and brother turning on brother. Kaladrax in particular had dreams of shadows and snarling fangs of a large creature.