A Trip Down Memory Lane

Dragonlance Classics

Dragons of Despair- Chapter 1

After a 5 year search for proof of a true cleric in the world, a group of companions met on the road to Solace:

Rosalind the Red Majere, a strong barbarian, and her brother, Raistlin Majere, a red robed wizard,
Mrik the only dwarf to be accepted into the Knights of Solamnia, and his friend in the Knights, Garcon.
And Boots, the free willed kender handler.

As they reunited on the road, a group of goblins surrounded them, demanding a crystal blue staff from the adventurers. Not knowing what the goblins referred to, the party was forced to fight the goblins, defeating them easily with their skills learned on their quest.

As they continued along the path to Solace, the party met two brothers, plainsmen from the Que Shu clan. The brothers revealed that they had been cast out of their village as blasphemers, because Riverwind had found a mysterious blue crystal staff on his traditional coming of age journey. He had returned with a fever and the staff, giving the staff to his brother, the devout Lakebreeze. Before he could elaborate the group arrived in Solace and went to the Last Home Inn.

Within the tavern the adventurers heard rumors of soldiers from the capital, Haven, searching for a blue crystal staff, and a story teller foretold that Raistlin would face a great test in the ruins of Xak Tsaroth. Uncomfortable with the pointed stares directed their way, the adventurers decided to forgo resting in the tavern and with the aid of the tavern maid, Tika, crept out the back stairs and onto the road to Haven.

As they made their way by the lights of the three moons, the party saw a group of cloaked figures approaching with a cart. They claimed to be servants of the Masked Lady which Lakebreeze recognized as another name for Takhisis, the evil dragon goddess. They claimed a holy relic, a blue crystal staff, had been stolen from their temple in Xak Tsaroth. Saying they knew nothing of the staff, the adventurers moved on to make camp in the woods.

All of the party was fast asleep when Boots and Riverwind heard something trip into the fishing line with bells they had set around the perimeter. A half dozen goblins with wargs ran screaming from the trees, swords drawn. Deep in the darkness of the forest, more goblins fired at the party. Frantically grabbing their weapons, Rosalind and Mrik rushed forward to engage the closest goblins as Raistlin yelled out in a language no one else understood.

Piercing light blinded the goblin assailants, as the party quickly dispatched them all, save one. A blubbering wretched creature tangled in the fishing line of Riverwind’s bell alarm, the surviving goblin told the party that hundreds of goblins roamed the region, all searching for the blue crystal staff. However, none of the goblins knew why. Only that their bosses were scared of some outside power who wanted the staff. A power that resided in Xak Tsaroth.

Choosing mercy for the pathetic goblin named Snotrag, the party decided their journey to Haven would have to wait as more and more clues pointed them towards the ruins of Xak Tsaroth. Deciding they would need more mounts to get across the plains quickly, the party split, sending Riverwind, Lakebreeze, Boots and Snotrag to circle outside the town of Solace while Rosalind, Raistlin, Garcon, and Mrik bought more mounts.

As they crept around the outskirts of the town, Boots saw several unattended horses tied to the post outside the tavern. Abandoned, and longing for freedom from his point of view. Giving Snotrag a knife, he convinced the goblin to go and cut free two horses before he heard the sound of someone coming out of the inn. Knowing they would misunderstand his liberation of the abandoned horses, Boots hopped up with LakeBreeze and Riverwind lifted Snotrag to his horse and they rode off in time to hear “Thief! Horse Thieves! Men of Haven Militia Assemble!” As Lakebreeze coaxed their horse to break into a run, Boots hoped they caught that pesky horse thief. Stealing was wrong after all.

Meanwhile in the market of Solace, Raistlin and Rosalind had just finished negotiations on the sale of a couple of horses and a pony when they heard the cry. Looking over at the two knights, Garcon and Mrik, they all realized at the same time what must have taken place. As calmly as possible, they made their way out of the city in time to see four militia men riding after a cloud of dust in the distance.

Glancing over his shoulder, Lakebreeze saw that the militia men were gaining fast. Handing his reins to Boots, he began to pray to his goddess, Mishakal, for help. Vines and grasses sprouted from the ground, wrapping themselves around the legs of the pursuing horses. With heart wrenching screams the horses fell throwing their riders from their backs. Lakebreeze and Riverwind urged the horses towards the pass into the Great Plains.

Rosalind was still shaking her head about the dead militia horse they had seen on the way to the pass, but she knew that with two broken legs the soldier had little choice but to put it down. Now she, Raistlin, Garcon and Mrik rode with the back up militia who still pursued the horse thieves. Night was beginning to fall and Raistlin looked as though he needed his nightly tea to keep himself well. She informed the Captain of the Militia that her party would be stopping to make camp on the road. Wishing the party well and asking them to keep an eye out for both the horse thieves and a blue crystal staff, the Captain turned his group south into the plains and rode away.

It wasn’t long after that the smell of cooking food and the warm light of the campfire drew Snotrag, Boots, and the two Plainsmen brothers from their hiding place in the grass of the plains. Overhead, the crackle of thunder and flashes of thunder revealed a strange storm moving in from the North, South and West. The smell of smoke blew in on the harsh winds.

After a short debate the party drove the militia’s horses back toward Solace, hoping the return of the stolen animals would make the militia lose interest in them. They then made their way North into the grasslands to find a more secure campsite. What they found instead was a foreboding copse of trees and a stronger smell of burning. grass.

Fearing the sudden fury of a plains fire, the party drew deeper into the trees though every step filled them with dread. All of them except Raistlin who calmly informed the group that this was the death site of an ancient evil wizard whose spirit was rumored to continue to haunt the wood. While arguing whether they were safer in a haunted wood or a grass fire, the party heard the sound of boots approaching. Hiding in the trees, they saw a small group of large figures moving around the outside of the woods.

By eavesdropping they heard the creatures complain that someone named Verminaard had not allowed someone named Kisanth to aid them in their search for a staff. Unfortunately, Mrik shifted his weight as he tried to listen closer and a twig snapped.

Half of the figures entered the wood to investigate while the rest stayed out due to fear of the forest’s reputation. Pulling up his hood, Raistlin called out into the darkness, “Who dares enter my forest?!! My spirit shall devour you!” before casting light and blinding several of the creatures. Standing over five feet tall with large wings and a reptilian face, the creatures before the adventurers were unlike any they had ever seen before, yet they followed Raistlin’s queue and rushed the dragon like creatures. With strong and steady swings Rosalind and Mrik chopped through their first two opponents, ripping their blades free as the creatures turned to stone and crumbled to dust.

Exchanging a quick, surprised look the two fighters pushed forward. Behind them, Riverwind pelted the attackers with arrows from his bow. Taking aim at one of the attackers, he drew back his arrow only to hear the sharp snap of his bow string. Cursing, he dug another string from his pack and pulled back.

In the shadows of a the tree branches Boots planned his attack, sneaking behind one of the strange creatures and drawing his hoopak. Silently he swung watching as the rock flew through the air and smacked one in the back of the head. It turned to stone and crumbled away. Within moments it was over. Piles of dust with the creatures’ gear on top of them were the only evidence that the fight had even taken place.

A wet barking coughing filled the wood and the light from Raistlin’s staff flickered. Moving swiftly, Rosalind caught her twin as he fainted and lowered him to the ground. With care she prepared his herbal drink and fed it to him as he began to sweat and shiver. Gathering the gear of the fallen creatures the party huddled close and listened to the howling wind until they finally fell asleep.

The next morning a chill drizzle began to fall, and the damp and generally miserable group was awoken by Riverwind. A large stranger was approaching. Taking defensible positions, the group peered out into the soggy plains to see a minotaur in white robe with a large wooden staff. Overcome by curiosity, Boots made his way out and asked the minotaur who he was and what he wanted. He claimed to be a wizard named Kvoth, traveling to Xak Tsaroth in search of ancient spell books. Glancing back at Raistlin’s unconscious and feverish form, the group agreed another caster would be very helpful so they invited Kvoth to join their group.

Throughout the next two days the adventurers traveled the Great Plains, several times coming across large paths of tromped down grass and the tracks of many wagons and boots. An army seemed to be on the move.

Knowing they would need supplies, they approached the village of Que Shu. Above Riverwind and Lakebreeze’s home village, carrion birds circled ominously. Somberly the group made their way into the town. The doors to huts lay open and the bodies of a dozen Plainsmen lay on the ground. But most disturbing was the burned body of a hobgoblin hung in the center of town. Burned by a heat so hot as to melt the chains it hung from. Above it hung a shield and written in blood were the words “This is what happens to those who take prisoners. -Verminaard.”

Distressed the company continued on towards the ruins of Xak Tsaroth…..

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