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Dragon Hunt – Chapter 2, Part 12 – There is a Dragon in the Palace

dragon-in-palace

The grand marshal announced loudly, “Qewaxon the Great, Grand Wizard to the court of King Athyert Veray and his guest, representing the city of Rockport, Sir Olorry Gleamheart, exalted Paladin of Heironeous, leader of the military sodality of crossbowmen, archers, swordsmen, clerics and wizards of the first order dedicated to serving the deity Heironeous!”

The wizard Qewaxon and the paladin Sir Gleamheart were standing just inside the gilded entrance doors. All eyes were on them as they proceeded forward toward the king on his throne that set atop a low dais at the far end of the huge throne room. The room was decorated with many colorful banners and tapestries. Light was shining in through many large stained glass windows. The walls and columns were of the same gold infused marble as the hallway they had just left. A second floor visitor’s gallery ran along both sides, crowded with gaily clad lords and ladies, all straining to see the activities below. Under both galleries stood castle guards with shields and spears in hand. Behind the two rows of guards were knights and attendants, clerics and holy men, military and civilian authorities, land holders, and others.

They stopped at the foot of the dais. The wizard stood impatiently. The paladin unsheathed his sword and, holding it point down rested its tip on the polished floor in front of him, lowered his head, shifted one foot forward and lowered his other knee to the floor. His looked resplendent with his heavy white cape draping to the floor behind him but he felt inadequately dressed, having left both helm and shield in Rockport.

King Veray, dressed in his red velvet robe with ermine collar and golden crown, was sitting on his massive golden throne. He addressed the paladin, “My wizard informs me that you wish to address the crown. I declared this a day of open court with the purpose of meeting each of the knights before the start of the tourney. Tell me what business you have that is so urgent as to interrupt this day of festivities.”

The paladin remained silent, on one knee and head bowed.

“Arise, Sir Gleamheart!” commanded the king. “Don’t waste our time by having me repeat myself. Or have you been struck dumb by being in my presence?” At this the king smiled broadly at his joke and looked around at his assembled guests who responded with light laughter.

Sir Gleamheart rose, sheathed his sword and responded, “Your highness, I am indeed humbled in your presence. I beg your pardon for this interruption in your day but I chose neither the day nor the time for this audience. It has been thrust upon me by circumstances beyond my control.”

“Well you are here now,” said the king. “So get on with it.”

Looking around at all of the now solemn faces impatiently waiting to hear what he had to say, he began to understand the fear that the city guard had experienced when suddenly required to speak before the guests in the governor’s hall only a few minutes earlier. He decided to ignore the others and concentrate only on the king. He said, “I have come to ask for your help. An ancient red dragon is on the rampage in my homeland. The church of Heironeous is funding an expedition and has chosen me to lead it. I have assembled a group of fighters and enlisted the help of a renowned dragon tracker to find his lair se we can defeat him there. What I need is as many willing volunteers as you can spare to come with us on this quest. The more able fighters we have, the greater will be the chance of our success. They will of course share in any hoard found in his lair.”

The king turned to the wizard, “And what do you know of this?”

Qewaxon said, “The dragon is Abraxas. There are many ancient scrolls in our library describing his ruthlessness. It is well known that he lairs in the black mountains and some claim to know which mountain, but there is no record of anyone ever locating the lair, at least none who have survived. From what I have been able to piece together from current reports, a few years ago an item from his hoard went missing. He is too proud to admit that it may have been stolen, but he is certain that someone has it and is refusing to return it to him. At first he made a few vailed threats and destroyed a few villages. The more time that passes, the more obsessed he has become.”

The king asked, “What is this missing treasure?”

The wizard replied, “No one knows for sure. Abraxas has convinced himself that the thief is keeping it from him and knows perfectly well what it is. He has only referred to it as some type of gem.”

To Sir Gleamheart the king asked, “When is this quest to begin?”

“It was to have begun yesterday, Sire. We had assembled the party in Rockport when the dragon attacked the city and destroyed all of our wagons and most of our provisions. Although we lost only a few men in the attack, a large number have since resigned from the quest leaving us shorthanded and prompting my appeal here today. We should resume as soon as possible. I have already sent forward the scouts to mark the trail.”

“I am sorry for the suffering of your people, but what you ask is quite impossible,” said the king. “Even if I had the fighting men to spare, it would take several months of hard travel for them to reach Rockport from here.”

Gleamheart said, “Couldn’t your wizard teleport them there, as he brought me here?”

The king said, “Being a stranger here, perhaps you are unaware of my decree forbidding all knights and fighting men the use of magical teleport spells into or out of the Golden City of Wheathorp, except in emergency situations or by the expressed consent of the king.”

“Pardon my asking,” said Sir Gleamheart, “but why would you have such a decree?”

“Because it is too dangerous,” said the king. “Four years ago a group of adventurers left here by teleport spell to stop a goblin invasion it Landshire. They were successful, but when they returned, there was a mishap. The wizard’s teleport spell landed them three miles out to sea. Only the wizard survived.”

“If I might add,” said the wizard. “Even if we had the king’s approval, I can only cast a single teleport spell each day.” Before the paladin could remind him that he had already teleported twice today he added, “I used an old teleport scroll to travel to Rockport today and used my one teleport spell to bring you here. The point is, I can take a maximum of 8 willing creatures with me. For me to teleport a large number of fighters from here to Rockport, along with their mounts and provisions, would take several weeks.”

“There is no reason to discuss this further,” said the king. “I will not give my consent.”

“But your majesty, surely …”

The king interrupted him, “Yours isn’t the only mountain in my kingdom with a menacing red dragon. Also, between your mountain and here is a swamp with a black dragon that is stirring up trouble. I have blue dragons in the deserts and green dragons in the forests. I even have white dragons in the frozen north. That doesn’t even count all of the metallic, the so-called good dragons, that are disrupting civil order. Surely you don’t expect me to send troops to deal with all of them. That is why I have local leaders throughout the kingdom that maintain their own troops. As much as it pains me to say this, you and your governor must deal with this dragon on your own.”

He paused a minute and then asked, “What did you say this dragon’s name is?”

No one noticed the nearly invisible ball floating near the ceiling. Someone was magically scrying on these proceedings.

“His name is Abraxas your majesty,” replied Gleamheart.

“Abraxas… Abraxas… I know that name,” said the king. “I was told tales of him when I was a child. A monster to scare children. As I remember the stories he has a complete lack of feeling or compassion. He is big and mean but you and your group should have no trouble defeating him. As I understand it he is a weak gutless coward who was not even able to prevent a thief from walking into his lair and walking out with whatever he desired.”

The magical scrying ball disappeared and the room shook with the sudden appearance of a gigantic red scaled beast that filled the space from the gilded entrance doors to the backs of Gleamheart and the wizard. Abraxas had materialized and he was angry. His head rose well above the heads of the observers on the balcony and he stood with his tail flicking behind him. His wings were raised above his back nearly scraping the ceiling above. The room filled with the smell of burning sulfur as whiffs of smoke puffed out of his flaring nostrils.

Many were overcome with a fear that could not be controlled. There were screams as people pushed and shoved to stumble down the narrow stairways and out through the closest exits. Many a brave lord positioned himself between his lady and the dragon but for others fear overcame valor as they pushed their way to safety. Only the bravest knights and guards remained steady. Sir Gleamheart felt no fear as he drew his sword to protect the king. Being near the fearless paladin gave Qewaxon the courage to dash up the dais and cast a protection spell that surrounded both himself and the king.

Abraxas spoke in a thunderous voice that could be heard over the screams, “Lies! These are all lies! I am not …” He was stopped in mid-sentence by a spear hurled by a guard who was standing near his right foot. The spear pierced the frill that swept back from his jaw. He quickly turned to face his attacker. Flames of anger licked up from his eyes and nostrils. A cone of fire roared from his mouth engulfing the guard and everyone behind him. The flame boiled up the back wall as the gold veined marble blackened and cracked. Banners and flags were set ablaze. Those who didn’t collapse in the blast ran from the area with hair and clothing on fire.

Other guards and knights threw spears and fired arrows. Most either missed their mark or simply bounced off the dragon’s armor-like scales. A few found a crack between scales or hit with enough force to penetrate but Abraxas ignored them as he crashed his tail against the columns supporting the left balcony, knocking them out from under the gallery causing it to come crashing down upon those beneath and spilling the panicked guests out onto the lower level resulting in a great number of casualties. The blood-curdling screams of a knight split the air as Abraxas bit his arm and tore it off above his shoulder. At the same time, the dragon’s sword-like claws fatally slashed open a frightened noble.

Sir Gleamheart took the hilt of his long sword in both hands and charged the dragon. The air surrounding Abraxas rolled in waves from the heat of his body. Gleamheart threw all of his weight into his attack as he landed a tremendous blow with his sword into the dragon’s chest. The sword crunched through scale and muscle to bury itself nearly to its hilt. Abraxas slapped Sir Gleamheart away with the back of his hand, as one might swat away a bothersome fly. The blow sent the paladin flying back up the dais where his head met with the corner of the throne and he collapsed unconscious into a heap at the king’s feet.

As he plucked the sword from his chest, Abraxas said, “If my treasure is returned I might decide to sleep another 50 to 100 years. Otherwise I will destroy your entire kingdom.”

The gilded doors flew open and all of the knights that had been waiting in the hall started running in with sword spear and lance.

With a roll of his eyes as if he were simply tired of the fight, Abraxas disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared.

After the fires had been extinguished, Sir Gleamheart healed, the dead removed and the wounded tended to, King Veray declared the tournament canceled and ordered Qewaxon to provide all the teleport spells that Sir Gleamheart required. He declared the defeat of the dragon that destroyed his throne room to be a royal quest and that all volunteers that joined the quest would have the gratitude of the crown. There was no shortage of volunteers. Most of the knights who had arrived from across the realm to prove themselves in the tournament were eager to join their peers in an actual dragon hunt. The king also promised to provide all weapons, mounts, equipment and supplies they might need.

Back in Rockport, Governor Patrick broke the seal on the message Qewaxon had left. It bore the royal seal of King Veray. It was a royal decree levying a 20 percent tax on all recovered dragon hoards.

Dragon Hunt – Chapter 2, Part 11 – The Golden Palace

golden-palace

Sir Gleamheart and the governor had been discussing the status of the dragon hunt. The other guests were being ignored by their host and had begun half a dozen quiet conversations at their various tables around the hall. Everything fell silent when a wizard suddenly appeared in the center of the room. Sir Gleamheart drew his sword and the guards all readied their weapons. The governor calmed their fears when he stood and addressed the intruder. “Qewaxon, welcome. Your entrances are always shocking.” Turning to the others he said, “Put your weapons away. This is my friend, Qewaxon. He is King Athyert Veray’s court wizard and occasional emissary.”

Only after the paladin slowly sheathed his sword did the guards relax their positions. All eyes remained fixed on this small framed human. In the dim light of the candles, his ashen complexion and deeply wrinkled skin gave him an undead appearance. His head was almost completely devoid of hair making the light gray hair that fell to his shoulders and a thin beard that hung past his knees that more striking. He was wearing a tattered black wool robe tied at the waste with a broad leather belt with brass buckles from which hung a variety of pouches and odd metal hooks and rings along with what appeared to be a leather scroll case and small wire cage. A thin maroon scarf and faded blue gown could be seen where the robe parted down past his belt. His gown was as tattered around the bottom as his robe. He had tall soft leather boots on his feet. His forearms and hands were bare. He held a large crooked wooden staff in his right hand and a rolled-up parchment in his left.

After looking around for a moment, he stepped over to the head table. Ignoring the governor and the paladin, he addressed Gauwalt Byne, the old wizard who was sitting to the governor’s right. “I received your missive. I have been following the activities of your dragon with great interest.” Turning to the governor, he continued, “I ask your forgiveness in not passing the document immediately to the king. He is quite busy but if you or Sir Gleamheart would consent to returning to the palace with me, I could get you an audience with his highness almost immediately and you could make your plea in person.”

“Take me,” Sir Gleamheart said. Realizing his breach of etiquette in interrupting their conversation when he had not yet been addressed he stepped back and said, “I apologize but if the king is as wise and compassionate as they say, I am sure he will find a way to provide a number of fighters who would be eager to join in this holy quest.”

Qewaxon didn’t respond right away. First he looked the paladin over closely, from the top of his naturally curly hair and perfect teeth to his highly polished armor and proud posture down to the polish on his pointed sabatons. “You Sir Gleamheart are exactly as I expected you to be.” The paladin started to smile and thank him when he continued, “You are brash and compulsive. You are too eager to use your sword when your words would serve you better. It is my opinion that this dragon hunt you are contemplating is doomed to failure. I have followed your exploits from time to time and I must say that I am not impressed. However, I am only an advisor to the king and he seldom heeds my advice. If you are ready we can leave now.”

Gleamheart turned to the governor, “By your leave sir, I will go with the king’s wizard and hopefully return with enough men to defeat Abraxas.”

The governor replied, “Go then, and good luck.” Then to the wizard he said, “It was good to see you again, however briefly.”

Qewaxon handed him the rolled parchment that he had been holding. “This message is from the king. I believe it to be a tax matter.” Then without further ado he recited a few magical words and both he and the paladin disappeared.

To Gleamheart, all the world went momentarily cold and black. He became somewhat dizzy with the feeling of falling from a great height while still standing firmly on the ground. Then, suddenly, the room where he had been standing was gone and in its place was a large, brightly lit room filled with many people and bright colors. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the bright sunlight that was streaming in from the huge open doors at both ends of what he soon realized was a very wide and quite long corridor. Only he and the wizard that was standing before him remained, all the rest had changed. If the people that were milling about had noticed them appear it must have been a commonplace occurrence for no one seemed startled, or even curious.

Qewaxon said for Gleamheart to wait here for a moment while he arraigned for them to be announced. He explained that the hall was full because the king was hosting a tournament that was to start in a few days. Today he was receiving each of the participating knights. With that he hurried across the hall to a pair of 20 foot tall gilded doors and slipped inside.

Sir Gleamheart stood there in awe. He had often heard tales of the golden palace but this was more wondrous than anything that he could have imagined. The walls were of a white marble through which ran strands of gold in all directions forming intricate webs of abstract design. Everywhere catching rays of sunlight from the many tall windows reflecting light in all directions giving the entire place a golden glow. Then he began to take note of the throng of people. What at first he mistook for chaos he could now see was a hectic but rather orderly crowd with many small groups, each group wearing different livery colors, most of which he recognized. There was the green and gold of the Southern Forest Duchy, the red and black of the Imstul Empire, the gold and blue of Marietland. The colors continued on down the hall – yellow and blue, white and green, pink and grey, orange and white, brown and blue. Gleamheart had spent many an evening studying the many and varied livery’s of all of the known lands as well as their various ranks and titles. But never had he seen so many different liveries in one place.

In most of the groups he could see one or two knights in their finest armor surrounded by several squires, nobles and attendants. Most groups were human or elf but there were a few dwarven groups and he saw a few half-orks and tieflings. He even thought he saw a dragonborn in a group at the far end of the hall, when suddenly a knight rushed over to him and grabbed him by the arm. “Olorry! My old friend. Is it really you? When did you arrive? Are you in the list?”

Not recognizing this stranger at first, Sir Gleamheart replied, “No, I am not in the list. I didn’t come to participate in your games.” It took him a few more seconds to recognize his old sparring buddy. “Neil Cutroy! The last time I saw you you were wearing the tan and brown of Marshwood and your beard was several inches shorter.”

“They call me Nel the Courageous now.” His friend replied. “I went adventuring for a while and ended up in the Ephoura Empire, where I swore my allegiance and took to wearing their gold and red livery.” He gave him a solid pat on the shoulder, “It is a wonderment to see you again.”

Gleamheart replied, “It is quite an unexpected pleasure to see you here as well. I am glad to see you are well.”

Neil stepped back a pace and asked, “If you are not here for the jousting tournament what business brings you the palace?”

“A very grave matter indeed, I am afraid. I have come to partition the king to provide me with as many volunteers as he can muster to fight a red dragon from the Black Mountains that is on a rampage of destruction.”

“The Black Mountains? Aren’t they over a thousand miles from here?”

“Over two thousand to be more precise and you must cross two other mountain ranges and a desert to get there from here.”

“You came all that way?”

“The king’s wizard teleported me here. I was standing in Rockport only moments ago. I am hoping the king will allow him to use his magic to deliver fighters to join my group to hunt down and destroy this dragon that is causing so much pain there.”

“I hope the king grants you your partition,” Neil said. “After your audience with him you should stay here a few days and participate in the jousting. You could represent Rockport. I have many lances and a good warhorse you can use.”

“I am afraid that I must decline your gracious invitation,” said Gleamheart. “I must return to Rockport as soon as possible. The dragon may attack again at any time.”

“Of course,” said Neil. “But if you were teleported into the palace you haven’t seen the list. Never before has a list had such a find field and grandstands. It is just outside the castle wall and the colorful pavilions have been popping up for the last couple of weeks as knights have arrived from all over the kingdom, and a few from other realms as well. The vespers tourney starts tomorrow. I have a young squire that expects to do well there. The jousting tournament will be on the following day. We are all here today to receive our formal welcome to the games from the king. After that we will be assigned our order in the formal procession to start the tourney. I am looking forward to riding in along with all of the other knights and judges. This will be my first Invocation.”

Gleamheart responded, “It sounds like it will be quite an event.”

Neil continued, “Everyone says that this will be the largest jousting tournament ever held. They have even erected a low wall to separate the horses and riders.”

“I remember when we once used a rope divider,” said Gleamheart.

“That’s right. I had almost forgotten that. That was in Glosharmos, if I remember correctly. Wasn’t that where your opponent was shamed for directing his attack at your horse?”

“Yes. That was Galter the Swift, and I won the contest despite his un-chivalrous conduct. I still have his silver buckler.”

“He became Galter the Earnest after that. You know that the looser no longer forfeits his armor to the victor? On the last day of the tournament the ceremony for awarding the prizes will be conducted. The king is awarding 200 gold coins as a grand prize to the ultimate victor.”

Then they noticed Qewaxon. Clanking his staff on the tiled floor with each hurried step he quickly approached and when Gleamheart looked in his direction he motioned for him to follow and said, “Come quickly, the king will see you now.”

As Gleamheart turned to go, Neil said, “Come back for me before you teleport back to Rockport.I will go with you.  I can’t let you have all of the glory!”

“I will,” said Gleamheart. “Thank you.”

“There is no time for that,” interrupted Qewaxon. “We must go now!”

They crossed over to the gilded doors which opened for them as they approached.

Dragon Hunt – Chapter 2, Part 10 – The Paladin

It was nearing noon. The large pendant on its silver chain rattled against the paladin’s polished breastplate as his warhorse reared to a stop. The pendant was in the form of a silver hand holding a silver lightning bolt, the holy symbol of Heironeous, the deity to whom Sir Olorry Gleamheart had dedicated his life and sacred honor. It flashed brightly in the sun as the he dismounted at the gate to the governor’s residence.
As he removed his helmet and gantlets he addressed the guards, “I must see the Governor at once!”
The guards looked at each other. The first one said, “Of course, Sir Gleamheart, sir. But, you see, he wasn’t expecting you and, well, perhaps if I have someone announce you he will grant you an audience when he is free.” It was not surprising that he knew who this knight in shining armor was. Everyone in town knew of this man.
A young man, a squire from his clothing and demeanor, ran up from the stables to take the paladin’s horse and see to any of his other needs. Gleamheart handed him this helmet and gauntlets and turned for him to assist in removing his cape. “Tell Governor Patrick that his godson seeks his counsel in regard to this dragon business.”
Just then there arose a commotion in the street. A man in a torn and battered city guard uniform and a crazed expression on his face was running toward them. “You must die!” he exclaimed as he ran directly toward Sir Gleamheart and raised his sword to attack. With a swiftness born from years of practice, the paladin drew his sword and in that same motion swung it into his attackers weapon with a force that nearly knocked it from his hand and, ducking and spinning, he pivoted on one sabaton covered foot, turned a full circle and struck the man in his chest with the other, sending the attacker to the ground. The two guards were just now drawing their swords. Before they could approach, Sir Gleamheart stopped them with a raised hand saying, “This man is obviously under some kind of spell.” Reaching the man before he could get back to his feet, the paladin spoke some ancient and mysterious words as he placed a hand on the man’s forehead. Almost instantly, the man dropped his sword and looked around as if seeing his surroundings clearly for the first time.
Seeing the sword still in the paladin’s hand, the man dropped onto both knees and said, “Sir Gleamheart, please spare me! It wasn’t I who meant you harm, it was Abraxas! The dragon! He hexed me! I swear it!”
“Of course,” Gleamheart said as he sheathed his sword. “You are injured,” he said as he offered him his hand. “Can you stand?” With Gleamheart’s help he stood uneasily. “Let me heal you.” Then, with a magical incantation he had recited many times before, he invoked Heironeous’ divine mercy to heal the man’s wounds. The man acted as many before him when first receiving magical healing. First disbelief in the sudden and compete healing of all his wounds and restoration of his health and vigor. Then extreme happiness at his good fortune. “How do you feel?” Gleamheart asked.
“I feel great!” he answered as he turned himself around with outstretched arms, examining his arms and chest where seconds before there had been multiple scratches and bruising. “Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“Thank Heironeous,” Gleamheart replied. “I am only his servant.” Then, turning to the squire he said “Bring this man some water. He looks thirsty.”
“Yes, now that you mention it. I guess that I haven’t had anything to eat or drink for nearly two days. Ever since the dragon snatched me from the ballista tower.”
“It is important that you tell me of your ordeal. All of it, in so far as you can remember.”
“Yes, of course. And I can remember it all clearly.”
“But wait, you must tell it all in front the governor, so it won’t lose anything in its retailing.” He grabbed the man by the arm and took him quickly to the large doors of the white granite building. Ignoring the startled guards at the door he cast a spell which pushed the doors open with a slam that could be heard in the street. Without breaking stride he continued into the large foyer. He turned and started to toward the assembly hall when a guard stepped in front of him. Before the paladin could push him aside, the guard pointed to the descending staircase to his left. “He is in the dining hall,” he said with a grin. Sir Gleamheart smiled in return and turned to proceed down the wide stairs and then along a short corridor with doors to either side to arrive in front of another pair of ornately carved doors. He had ran and played in the corridors of this mansion as a child and knew every alcove and secret passageway. From beyond the doors to the dining hall he could hear music playing. It was a song he remembered from his youth. He stopped and waited for the song to end. The sweet sound of a child singing to the strings of a high strung lute.
He opened the doors to see that the lute player was a young boy astride a pure white buck which was being led by a fair hared girl. She led the buck out a near side door as all eyes turned to the intruders.
As soon as he recognized who it was, the Governor called out to him from the far end of the room, “Olorry!” Then with a wave for him to come on in he corrected himself, “Sir Gleamheart! You and your guest come join us. We were just finishing our meal, but I’ll have them return with soup and mead.”
Governor Tamas Patrick had bright turquoise eyes that could be seen clearly from across the large room. His complexion seemed somewhat paler than the paladin remembered but his wavy brown hair was pinned back as was his custom from as far back as Olorry Gleamheart could remember. He was a tall man, but was now somewhat stoop shouldered. His was wearing a suit of leather armor in gray and copper. The great hall was lit only by clusters of candle chandeliers rendering it rather dark. All of the main rooms of the mansion were built underground for fear of dragon attacks. This was a rectangular room three times as long as it was wide. The governor sat at the head table. There were tables to the left and to the right. With the central area for entertainment and for the servants to access the tables. Although the room could easily seat 50 or more guests, there were less than 20 seated here now. There were various land owners, money lenders, high ranking military men, guild masters, the harbor master, and other nobles and knights. Many of the faces were familiar to Glemheart, but none more familiar than Gauwalt Byne, the old wizard sitting to the mayor’s right.
Pushing the suddenly timid guard forward, Gleamheart said, “Governor Patrick, I came to discuss the dragon hunt, but first this man has some valuable information to share.”
The room grew quiet and the guard looked nervously around. He then stood tall and straight. “My name is Quaintus Northant, second paviser, third armored company, blue division of the city watch. On the night of the dragon attack I was stationed on the ballista tower on the corner of Rosemont Street and the Warfe Road.” Looking back at the paladin seamed to give him courage to continue. “The fog was so thick we couldn’t see even as far as the next tower over. The first notion we had that the city was under attack was the screaming. And then we saw a flash of fire in the distance. We manned the ballista but couldn’t see no target. Then there was a dark shape coming down and the dragon grabbed me up. His scaly foot, it was like a crow’s claw, only big, you know? It was near as big as me and it crushed the breath out of me. It flew away with me. I tell you, I have never been so scared. I don’t know if I was more scared of being crushed to death, or of being dropped. I had no way of knowing where we were, or how high we were flying because of the fog.”
Looking around at all the eyes watching him, he swallowed hard and continued, “Finally he flew far enough away that he was out of the fog and I could see how high in the air we were. I held on tight and closed my eyes. A couple of minutes later he landed. I could see that we were near the coast, many miles north of here. He must have cast some kind of spell on me because all of a sudden I wasn’t afraid any more. It was like he was the greatest creature in the world and I was his best friend. I mean, he isn’t really my friend. I was under a spell and I just thought he was. You have to understand that I wouldn’t do anything to help Abraxas. I swore an oath to defend Rockport from dragon attack and I take that oath seriously.”
Governor Patrick assured him, “I understand, my boy. You are not in trouble. Please continue.”
“Well. He asked me a lot of questions about the expedition that was being organized to come after him.” Turning to Sir Gleamheart he said, “I am sorry, but I told him everything that I knew. After I told him where the wagons were being kept, he instructed me to return to town and slay you. Failing that I was to give you a message. Then he flew back towards Rockport. That was the last time I saw him. I started walking. I didn’t stop until I found you. You know the rest.”
Gleamheart asked, “The message, what was it?”
“Please don’t hold this against me. These are not my words, they are his …
“Abraxas, the largest, most fearsome, most deadly, and greatest dragon since Tiamat, supreme lord of all land over which he flies, issues this command to Sir Gleamheart. You shall abandon your ill-conceived expedition. You shall obtain the gem that I seek, and you shall return it to me personally. Do this and I will stop my assault on your towns and villages. Defy me and not only will your entire expedition be utterly destroyed, but I shall start a campaign of fire and destruction such as has never before been seen.”
Gleamheart said, “Did he say what the gem was that he wants me to bring him?”
Quaintus shook his head and said, “No. I got the impression that he thought you knew what gem he was talking about.”
Gleamheart said, “I only wish that I did, and that I had it. Perhaps I could end this whole bloody mess.” Then he pointed to the nearest table and said, “Sit. Eat. Thank you.”
Quaintus went around to the table and quickly set at the nearest spot. Halflings hurried to the table to bring him food and drink. Gleamheart walked up to the head table. “Governor,” he began, “the expedition is in dire need of volunteers.”
Tamas Patrick answered, “I have already encourage all city guards that wished to volunteer. I granted them leave and told them they could keep their share of the treasure. As I recall, you seemed pleased with the response.”
“The attack has changed all of that. Yesterday many of the volunteers withdrew their pledge and returned their shares. More left this morning. It has been reported that some were seen leaving the city and taking their shares with them. Taking into account those that were killed or wounded that we were not able to restore, we are left now with less than one in five of the original number of fighters.”
“I can order more men to volunteer,” the governor replied.
“No,” snapped Gleamheart. “I will not lead men who are forced to fight!”
From the governor’s right Gauwalt Byne spoke up, “Tamas, Olorry, have either of you asked King Veray for help?”
They both turned and stared at the old wizard. This small man in the black cloak and pointed hat that he always wore had been sitting and listening calmly until now.
“King Veray?” asked the governor. “He is sitting on his throne in the Golden City of Wheathorp, a thousand leagues and two mountain ranges away. He wouldn’t be able to get any troops here even if he could be persuaded to part with them.”
The wizard tapped his bony finger on the table, then turned to the governor, “You are always overlooking the power of magic. No, I don’t have the power to move large numbers of people a thousand leagues or more, but the King has more powerful wizards than me at his command, and may have other magical means of transport we are unaware of. All I am saying is that it could do no harm to ask.”
Governor Patrick looked at Sir Glramheart, then turned back to the wizard and said, “I don’t suppose it would do any harm to ask. Can you send him a missive?”
“I took the liberty of preparing this earlier. It needs only your seal,” the wizard said as he handed him a parchment.
The governor looked it over. It eloquently but briefly, described the entire situation. It ended in a formal request for any help in the form of willing fighters that the king could provide. After reading it, he held a stick of red wax in a candle flame to drip the wax onto the document and then pressed his signet ring into the hot wax. While he was doing this, his wizard was clearing the table in front of him and setting a small silver tray there. When the governor handed the document back to him, he placed it on the tray and cast his spell. The document disappeared with a sparkling flicker. “We must now wait for his reply.”
Gleamheart and the governor continued discussing the upcoming quest. Gleamheart said that he had been informed that the wagon makers and ballista maker are requiring coins on the barrelhead and will no longer accept the golden coins for a share of the treasure in payment, and furthermore that it will take at least a week to equip and provision even the small band of volunteers he now had available. The governor gave the paladin an account of the destruction from the attack and what emergency measures are now in place. While they talked the wizard noticed a small transparent globe appear near the center of the room. It floated just above head height and was as elusive as a whiff of pale smoke. No one else saw this magical apparition which the wizard recognized as the receiving eye of a scrying device. As he watched, it winked out of existence and a heartbeat later a black robed man with a long grey beard appeared.
//

D&D 5E – Uses for a shield

Pal_Shield

What is the best use of a Shield and Longsword combo?

I received this inquiry the other day: “I like to play a Paladin that often uses a Shield and Long Sword combo. However, I have noticed that there is no shield bash in 5E. I have been using the shove instead as an action between a Trip and Shield bash. Are you aware of any attack that tries to leverage a Shield in 5E? I would really like to stress a shield proficiency for my build if possible.”

Here are my thoughts:

A shield is an improvised weapon dealing 1d4 bludgeoning damage.

Paladins are proficient with shields. Whether said proficiency extends to it being used as an improvised weapon is not specified, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.

Note that shields aren’t light weapons, and thus can’t be used for normal two-weapon fighting.

If your Paladin adopts the “protection” fighting style at 2nd level:

“When a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll. You must be wielding a shield.”

If your group is using feats (I think most are) there is the “Shield Master” feat:

You use shields not just for protection but also for offense. You gain the following benefits while you are wielding a shield:

If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your shield. (If I was DMing the game, I would allow the use of this bonus action to either shove a creature or to attack it with the shield as an improvised weapon.)

If you aren’t incapacitated, you can add your shield’s AC bonus to any Dexterity saving throw you make against a spell or other harmful effect that targets only you.

If you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you can use your reaction to take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, interposing your shield between yourself and the source of the effect.

And the “War Master” feat will allow you to cast spells while holding both your shield and sword.

I would like to hear if anyone has any other thoughts on this matter.

Iconic Paladin

Thinking of playing a Paladin? Here is an excellent article regarding the pros and cons of playing a Paladin: Paladins with Class By Skip Williams.

Here is the information for playing an iconic Paladin character. Start with my post on Iconic Characters, then add this specific information.

Hit Die: d10

Class Skills: Ride, Heal

Class Knowledge: Nobility and royalty

Deity: Heironeous (recommended)

Alignment: must be Lawful Good

Code of Conduct: A paladin loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act. Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

Associates: A paladin will never knowingly associate with evil characters, nor will he continue an association with someone who consistently offends his moral code.

[Paladins “detect evil” becomes “detect unholy”.  (Refer to  Turn Unholy ) This means that they can detect un-dead, demons, and devils. Some Paladins may be able to detect other kinds of creatures as well if they are defined in their faith’s holy scriptures as unholy. This means that a Paladin can not detect someone who has an evil alignment, evil thoughts, of is simply an all-around evil dude unless he is defined as unholy to his faith in his faith’s holy writings.]

Special abilities:

The following are the special abilities available to Paladins. The abilities are listed under the level that they are acquired. Where an ability is described as (ref PHB), you should refer to that ability’s description in the players handbook.

1st Level
Toughness: You gain +3 hit points.
Aura: same as for a Cleric
Detect Unholy: Can use detect unholy, as the spell, once per day.
Smite Unholy: Can attempt to smite unholy with one normal melee attack, once per day. Add your Charisma bonus (if any) to your attack roll and deal 1 extra point of damage per paladin level.
2nd Level
Divine Grace: Bonus equal to your Charisma bonus (if any) on all saving throws.
Lay on Hands: Can heal wounds, or deal damage to unholy, by touch. (ref. PHB)
3rd Level
Weapon Specialization: You gain a +2 bonus on all damage rolls you make using the selected weapon.
Aura of Courage: Immune to fear (magical or otherwise). Each ally within 10 feet of you gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws against fear effects.
Divine Health : You gain immunity to all diseases, including supernatural and magical diseases (such as mummy rot and lycanthropy).
4th Level
Ability Score Adjustment: Add 1 to any ability score.
Turn Unholy: Can turn unholy. You may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier. You turn unholy as a cleric of three levels lower would.
Spells: You can cast spells. You cast spells on the Paladin spell list. Refer to the cleric for information on preparing and casting spells. You cast spells as a cleric, but you don’t get domain spells and you don’t get to lose a prepared spell to spontaneously cast a cure spell in its place. Your caster level is one-half of your paladin level.
5th Level
Smite Unholy 2: Like smite unholy above, but now you can do it 2 times per day.
Special Mount: You gain the service of an unusually intelligent, strong, and loyal steed to serve you in your crusade against the unholy. This mount is usually a heavy warhorse. (ref. PHB)
6th Level
Negotiator: You get a +2 bonus on all Diplomacy checks and Sense Motive checks.
Remove Disease: Can produce a remove disease effect, as the spell, once per week.
7th Level
No special abilities added at this level.
8th Level
Ability Score Adjustment: Add 1 to any ability score.
9th Level
Magical Aptitude: You get a +2 bonus on all Spellcraft checks and Use Magic Device checks.
Remove Disease 2: Like remove disease above, but now you can do it 2 times per week.
10th Level
Smite Unholy 3: Like smite unholy above, but now you can do it 3 times per day.
11th Level
No special abilities added at this level.
12th Level
Ability Score Adjustment: Add 1 to any ability score.
Leadership: Having this ability enables the character to attract loyal companions and devoted followers, subordinates who assist him. See the table in the PHB for what sort of cohort and how many followers the character can recruit.
Remove Disease 3: Like remove disease above, but now you can do it 3 times per week.
13th Level
No special abilities added at this level.
14th Level
No special abilities added at this level.
15th Level
Greater Weapon Focus: You gain an additional +1 bonus on all attack rolls you make using the selected weapon.
Smite Unholy 4: Like smite unholy above, but now you can do it 4 times per day.
Remove Disease 4: Like remove disease above, but now you can do it 4 times per week.
16th Level
Ability Score Adjustment: Add 1 to any ability score.
17th Level
No special abilities added at this level.
18th Level
Greater Weapon Specialization: You gain an additional +2 bonus on all damage rolls you make using the selected weapon.
Remove Disease 5: Like remove disease above, but now you can do it 5 times per week.
19th Level
No special abilities added at this level.
20th Level
Ability Score Adjustment: Add 1 to any ability score.
Smite Unholy 5: Like smite unholy above, but now you can do it 5 times per day.