By the Yurick Calendar the year is 770, if you mark your years in this fashion. The more appropriate Draconic Calendar puts Athalan 50 years after the return. Since much of our story directly involves dragons, we will use their system. It is late in Lamashan and our intrepid adventurers have recently made a trip over Corin’s Pass, escorting a merchant train to Styrewood. They were on their way back when the real story begins.
There are four of them, though this number will surely fluctuate. The majority are half-elven, a race not often seen on Athalan, but around the Aluseum Mountains, where our heroes hale from, they are somewhat more common. First is Arien, a paladin who seems not to have subscribed to any particular order of paladins, instead blazing her own trail of justice through the land. There is the ranger, Tuatha de Danonn, who sort of ended up in this group because he knew the mountain passes well and needed the gold. Aris Whiteleaf is a roguish fellow and the only full elf in the group, whose many talents have come in handy more than once. Then there is Demos, a wizard who needed to get out of town due to an incident in an alchemical laboratory.
In the Aluseum Mountains, winter has already began taking hold. Cold wind forces the adventurers to bundle up after leaving the shelter of the Styrewood. However, once they break the barrier of the trees, the weather is the least of their concerns. Two dragons, for surely that is what they must be, none in the party have seen a dragon before, circle each other near the mountain pass. Once our heroes recover from their initial shock, they realize that these dragons are fighting one another. The combat rages closer and the colors of these creatures can be seen. One is silver, immediately recognizable as a “good” dragon, while the other is blue, which are typically malevolent in nature.The blue strikes out with his devastating breath weapon and lightning strikes the silver on the neck, causing it to falter in it’s flight and plummet towards the ground. It manages to slow the fall by spreading his wings, but the impact can still be felt by the party, nearly a half-mile away. The blue dragon wastes no time and dives towards his fallen opponent. The silver, not able to take flight in time, seems to brace itself. The blue lands on it’s back, claws first, then bites onto the silver’s throat, spilling massive amounts of blood onto the battlefield. The blue dragon takes flight, dragging the silver with it. Once they get 300 feet or so above the ground, the blue lets go, but the silver is able to keep ahold of his opponent. It twists its head to face the blue and releases his own breath weapon. A white mist surrounds the blue dragon; it stops flying,drops straight down and slams against the earth. The boom echoes off of the mountains, and nearly shakes our heroes off of their feet. The silver, not able to fly uses it’s wings to glide to the ground near it’s victim. It slumps over towards the blue, and apparently satisfied by the results of the fall, slumps to the ground in exhaustion.
Brave and curious by nature, the adventurers cautiously approach the dragons and are surprised to find that the silver is still alive, if just barely. It lifts its head and opens its eyes, though it seems a near impossible struggle to do that much. In a rasp it whispers, “Athiel, in a cave near the trail. Find her. Help her. They must not….” It can not manage to say anything further. The great head falls to the ground again, and the dragon’s breathing slows until it stops altogether.
“Athiel” is not a name anyone recognizes, and for good reason. This now deceased silver dragon, Adelonda, was working hard to keep Athiel hidden. For ten years, they moved from one remote part of Athalan to another. Why? Good of you to ask. Athiel is almost unique. She is a half-dragon, half-fiend, constructed (for lack of a better term) by the pit fiend Nybrus from an egg stolen out of Adelonda’s nest. The only other creature like Athiel in existence is her brother Horkol, who remained in Hell when Adelonda tried to rescue them both. No one is sure what purpose Nybrus had in creating such creatures. Back to our story.
Demos, not wanting to miss an opportunity starts removing blood and a tooth off of the corpse of the blue dragon. This takes time, as it turns out too much of it. People appear on the mountain pass, immediately mount horses and start riding as fast as possible towards the party. When they get closer it is apparent that their leader is only part human. The other part has horns and leathery skin. They demand to know what the adventurers are doing and then demand to escort them over the pass, for “safety” sake. Being outnumbered, the party is obliged to follow along with the plan. They all take to the pass.
Yewell, the fiendish human is second in command to a crew of rough-looking mercenaries. Their leader is quite the opposite. Wren is a demure half-elf with dark eyes, hair dyed black and red, and tattooed vines crawling up her back and down her arms. She is pleasant to her new “guests” and then, when she finds out that they have nothing interesting to say, ignores them for the most part.
That night, Yewell leaves on patrol. He returns a short time later and tells our heroes that they must come with him. Something about the creature’s nature has changed. Enough so that the group is willing to risk heading out with him. On the trail, they run into another version of Yewell, the real one. Their escort is Athiel using her change shape ability. A fight breaks out, and our stalwart crew overcome the half-fiend. They make a run for it and don’t stop running until they reach Corin’s Pass (the town and pass share the same name.)
In Corin’s Pass they spend some time relaxing and learning a bit of Athiel’s story. The only other being she has ever know in this world just died, so the party offers their assistance. Athiel’s goal is to head West, where she hopes to find a legendary gold dragon named Zhuqul. A monumental task, but our team is up to it.
Rest doesn’t last long, and the party soon realizes they are being spied upon. They form a plan. Instead of heading due West, the direction Wren would likely assume they were heading, they decided to take the trail North. What they didn’t realize was that Wren had posted lookout near both of the roads out. Aris, with his keen eye for such things, spots one of these spies and heads off to confront him. He starts to climb up the building he saw the man on, but then the same appears over the edge with a crossbow in hand. He pulls the trigger. Aris is struck in the chest and falls to the ground, dying. The spy makes his escape as Aris’ companions work to save their friend’s life. Arien manage to stop the bleeding, and the elf wakes up long enough to tell them that they must go on without him. Reluctantly, they leave Aris behind and continue North.