Finding refuge among a group of Azura’s people, she vouches for them. Their leader, Caine, confesses that he and his kind are all actors. To prove this, they act out a scene from “The Half-Elf Princess Bride,” a play many of the Last Born are unfamiliar with but find nonetheless entertaining. When questioned, Caine also reveals that the world they are stranded on, Arcadia, is indeed home to many dragons (as Mal’s vision suggested.)
Grateful for the rest and safety, Zyn is determined to find the ship while she can still get a bearing on it. With a safe spot to keep some of the crew while the warriors head out, Caine pledges to keep anyone safe who wants to stay behind. They convince Hanos to stay back with Lochlan, Aiden, and Corelleon just in case.
The group keeps a close marching order going out: Mal and Celia in front, Zyn and Sophie in the center, Azura and Xax covering the back. They walk for nearly half a day when a silver dragon swoops down from over head, drops a scroll, then flies off again. Sophie checks it for traps (and fails miserably.) Opening it anyway, the scroll says, “We have your wizard. Meet with our council. Directions will be provided.” The group agrees that the message is fake; after all, Hanos would never identify himself as a “mere” wizard!
Continuing on for a few hours afterward, what appears to be the same silver dragon is perched on the ground and waiting for them in their path, pointing the direction toward a distant plateau. Xax initiates a mindlink to communicate; Mal introduces himself, to which the dragon gives her name as Neganna. After all turn toward the plateau (Zyn indicates the ship is still in the other direction), the dragon leaps off in that direction ahead of the group. Rather than provoke an attack that could come at any time, the Last Born decide to visit this council, if for no other reason than to explain their peaceful and well-meaning intentions.
Reaching the plateau within an hour, a massive cavernous opening reveals the way into a hollowed out mound. With natural light pouring into a circle in the center of the chamber, the Last Born enter to find ten dragons perched in circle as if in council. There are five older chromatics, one of each color, and five older metallics, one of each metal, including the silver who introduced herself as Neganna. In the shadows of the cavern beyond the council circle are many younger dragons of all breeds.
The natural fear given off by the massive reptiles proves too much for Sophie and Celia initially, but Mal and Xax instill in them the confidence they need to remain. Mal waves again to Neganna in recognition (as only Mal would do) and asks her to introduce the others. Nodding to her fellow metallics, she introduces Shuma the Copper, Apopha the Brass, Attor the Bronze, then skips herself in line to Ormar the Gold. Less cordially, she continues with the chromatics: Pythius the Blue, Sesha the Green (and current head of the council), Volos the Black, Dalinda the White, and Tanit the Red.
With the pleasantries barely concluded, Sesha immediately lashes out, accusing the Last Born of being thieves. Xax counters that they are merely explorers. The green dragon also points out that since the group knows that Arcadia is where the wealth of all dragons has been stashed, such knowledge cannot leave the world (in spite of the fact that Sesha himself just revealed the so-called secret.) Sophie refuses to contain herself and screams back at the green dragon to “Just give us our stuff back and we’ll go away.”
Unfortunately, the chromatics want blood, and Sesha proposes a simple option to get it: trial by combat. If the Last Born win, their ship will be returned and no harm will come to them. Should they lose, they die (except for maybe Sophie, who claims willing to become a slave.) Xax manages to add in that whatever happens, the rest may remain unscathed on world. Sesha consults with his chromatics (spurning the metallics in kind) before he slyly agrees.
The trial will be five combats, first to three wins declared the victor. To appease suspicions of a surprise attack, the metallics agree to protect the non-combatants while the trial is taking place. The Last Born must chose their champion from among themselves and draw a lot at random from a cauldron to see who will face them. Ten dragons have volunteered to represent and fight for the council. Sesha is deliberately fuzzy on what constitutes victory, defining it as when “one opponent is unable to continue for any reason” (death being a rather specific one.) Lastly, either side may call for a brief interruption to administer healing as needed, to which Sesha grudgingly agrees after some prodding from Neganna.
All of the Last Born bow their heads and pray to Sanguine for success, even Azura, while Sophie prays to Maidyn instead. After being blessed in any way helpful, Mal takes up the first combat, looking somewhat upset that the negotiations with such wondrous creatures has come down to blood. Seeing this, the chromatics chuckle among themselves over the immanent defeat of such a reluctant warrior. Mal draws the first lot: a black slate. The council parts to make way for a lithe young black dragon to enter the council circle. Mal greets his opponent respectfully, but the dragon brushes him off. The elder black dragon on the council, Volos, puffs up like a proud father as the combat begins.
With uncanny speed and power, Mal strikes first and thrashes the creature hard, instantly silencing the jeers in the crowd. Hurt but still seething in a rage, the young black lurches forward, but Mal evades the claws and maw of the dragon. As he readies another strike, Mal begs anyone who’ll listen not to let this continue. Mal’s follow up attack is as deadly as the first, and as it becomes apparent the first strike nearly crippled the dragon, both Volos and Xax call a time out to stop the death blow, but Mal’s pick had already done its damage.
The elder black roars in anger but does nothing else. Taking the moment to look up into the eyes of the council dragons, Mal demands to know the name of the creature he had to destroy. Neganna quietly gives it: his name was Glynn. Almost tearfully, Mal thrusts his hand into the cauldron a second time and draws another lot, a bronze slate, before again reiterating that the council should stop this before any more blood is spilled. Neganna glares at Sesha, but he appears neither moved nor worried about the outcome of the trial in spite of the first win.
The summoned bronze dragon enters the circle, larger than the black before him. As the crowds roar for blood, Mal shows respect and introduces himself again. Not so crass as the black, the bronze nods respectfully and gives his name as Nicola. Both combatants square off, but Mal proves faster again, landing harsh blows on the creature. Having witnessed the previous combatant’s mistake, the bronze retaliates by unleashing his lightning breath at Mal, striking hard. While the attack seems true, Mal shows no hesitation in returning the damage in kind, although in truth Mal actually pulled his second strike as much as he could. As the only being close enough to the bronze when it happened, Mal heard it utter the words “Nice shot” just before it collapsed onto its side.
Xax again leaves the safety of the closest metallic with the intent to aid the bronze. With Mal already reaching for a third slate in the cauldron, Sesha the Green points the dwarf out and accuses him of somehow cheating. Sophie answers the challenge and calls the green dragon out for the coward he is. With eyes wide and evil in its heart, Sesha forgets himself and breaths an acid stream to silence “the elven bitch” for daring to speak to him a second time in such a manner, bargain or no bargain. While Xax uses a special ability to switch the locations of himself and Sophie to save her, the metallic guarding her was more than resistant enough to ward off the green’s cowardly attack.
Neganna the Silver immediately declares the Last Born the winners of the trial by right of the council’s forfiet; by attacking Sophie outright, Sesha himself violated the rules, and as such must also step down as council leader. Neganna hurries the Last Born out of the chamber as both chromatics and metallics begin heated debate over who is to succeed Sesha in leading the council.
Outside at a safe distance, Neganna shape changes into a humanoid form and explains that Hanos was indeed kidnapped but by someone he knew: the dragon he saw in the well of Larnagish’s tomb on old Kaldera. His name is Varune.
A few moments afterward, another silver dragon glides in and shape changes, presumably Varune. He reveals that he took Hanos to the ship (stuck in the mud but undamaged) and lands it for a pickup. Zyn takes control, cleans the ship up a bit, and flies everyone back to Caine’s encampment where a few final details are discussed.
The acting troupe agrees to leave with the Last Born for another world to perform upon (while a private showing of the complete “Half-Elven Princess Bride” will be performed for the crew.) Neganna knows from Varune what the Last Born are up against since the “barren wake” has prevented the dragons from bearing offspring as well. Concerning Raylen’s body, Lochlan agrees it would be appropriate to accept the silver dragons’ offer to bury him on Arcadia rather than consign him to a fire world. After the dragons additionally bequeath a few generous treasures (magical armor and such) onto the Last Born for their honor, Zyn takes Nia skyward off planet before Sesha gets any ideas about retaliation.
Session XP: 4275 per player (total 75,700 xp)