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Across the Plane of Ulcers

Posted in: Play by Ariel on February 27, 2009

ulcersThe lantern burned bright and all day we followed its shining beam until we came to the Plane of Ulcers.

The air was heavy with the stench of acid. Some pools were tiny and others huge and all of them bubbled and steamed.Cinder and Myntilly walked ahead of the group to scout a path. Acgar, because she is half black dragon and immune to such trifles as acid, wandered off a ways, inspecting some of the large pools.  I felt nervous. The smell of the acid, the tension of wondering what the last test will entail (it is, after all called The Test of Sacrifice), it all had me feeling jumpy. I walked slowly beside Kaurophon, who seemed deep in thought as well.

Cinder came back towards us. “Myntilly is going to fly me up and over the plane. We can really scout ahead and come back with the route through the ulcers!”  I turned to Sadi, who silently shook her head.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Split the party? Is that ever a good idea?”
Before anyone could answer, Acgar pointed to the sky. “Something is coming.” Through the mist we saw a black dragon lazily flying towards us. Cinder and Kaurophon both scurried to hide behind the rest of us. Alek got out his longbow, as did Sadi. We have successfully fought off a dragon before. We have the claws to prove it.

One of the problems with Occiptus is I never feel like I know what is going on. It’s this damned evil influence. I always feel muddle-headed. Before we left camp this morning, I had given each of my friends a treasure. I figured that “sacrifice” might just be monetary or that we could use the treasures to distract any rivals. Alek got a small carved statue; Sadi a fine brass mug; Cinder a silver chalice; Acgar a golden comb shaped like a dragon; Myntilly a pearl and I kept a decorative silver longsword for myself. Watching the dragon fly over us, I thought Is this the test?

kaurophon-acidQuicker than lightning, the dragon turned, swooped and picked up Kaurophon.  The dragon flew about 300 feet and dropped him in a large pool of acid.  Karuophon might be a half-demon, but he’s not going to die on my watch!

As I got closer to the pool, the dragon gently landed at the far edge of the acid. Kaurophon was struggling to reach firm ground. Sadi had the same idea I did: distract the dragon. She threw her brass mug as far as she could. The dragon watched it land, but didn’t move.  Alek  must have remembered the necklace of fireballs he was wearing because a ball of fire blossomed about 20 feet past the dragon.

I held up my holy symbol and asked for Pelor’s help. The dragon flinched as a beam of sunlight split the acid mists. Unfortunately all I accomplished was directing the dragon’s attention on me. He flapped his wings a few times, grabbed me in his jaws and flew back to the edge of the plane. Lucky for me, we were only a few feet off the ground when he dropped me into a pool of acid. me-acid

The acid was so thick that it only slowly seeped into my clothing.  It was a few minutes before I felt any burning on my skin. I’d landed on my back in the pool and as I turned over to try to swim out, my legs got tangled in the longsword. The longsword!

The dragon, as with Kaurophon, had landed just a few feet from me. Back on solid ground, I lifted the sword in both hands and presented it to the dragon. I don’t speak Draconic, so I chose not to speak at all.

I bowed my head, so I only felt the sword being lifted from my hands and felt the flap of his huge wings as he flew away. He only went about a hundred yards before landing with his back to us. dragon-and-ulcerThat should have been the moment we ran for our lives. Our party was so scattered, though. Kaurophon and Sadi were almost to the far end of the plane. Myntilly had gone invisible, so no one knew where she was. Cinder and Alek were about halfway across. And Acgar was walking toward the dragon as if in a dream.

She called out to the dragon. He turned and walked towards her. They spoke in Draconic for a few moments. The dragon snorted, swiped with his tail and Acgar was on her back. She quickly stood up and in her hands was the golden comb. The dragon slowly came towards her. They spoke again and he took the comb. Again he flew away to examine it.

Suddenly I felt a hand on my arm. “It’s me.” Myntilly had flown back to get me. She put her arms around me and suddenly we were in the air. I am not fond of heights. I get dizzy if I look down. So I focused on the dragon. He was absorbed by the comb. We, in our separate groups, hurried to the far edge of the plane.

Cinder and Sadi made it safely out of the ulcers. Alek, Acgar and Kaurophon were lagging behind. Suddenly the dragon was landing in front of those three.
I put a hand on our bag of holding. “Put me down by the dragon! Please!”

As I landed on the ground, I reached into the bag and felt the circle of metal. I repeated my submissive stance as with the sword. I took the chance of speaking. “Sir Dragon: please accept this golden crown. We bow before your superior strength, wisdom and age.”

My arms were beginning to shake from holding the crown up when the dragon finally hooked one claw through it. As the weight left my hands, I stood up and saw the dragon looking at Acgar again. She was holding her breath and I suddenly went cold all over. If the dragon wanted, he could kill her with one blow.  After a few seconds he rose into the air and just as Acgar began to relax, the dragon’s tail whirled around and knocked her off her feet. It was an insult, to be sure, but he’d continued off into the mists and we were alone and safe.

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