Rand begins to bring Aven up to speed while breaking chains off prisoners: “By the way, we found the white dragon .. He’s perched on top of the Central tower in Belheim… He’s enormous. Much bigger than Draugarlond. We don’t think he’s spotted us, We’ll tell you more later.”
At Rand’s words, the brook trout fisherman (one of the good-aligned captives) speaks up, “Don’t speak of him! Sorry, that is … Lord Garland always told us not to. His lordship said it was dangerous to even think about him .. it .. the frozen foe. And whatever you do .. don’t say his name! Sorry for interrupting, sirs .. and lady.” (He backs away quickly, bowing while limping on his wounded leg.)
Over chatter among the group of a potential of a dragon religious war, Orn shivers at mention of Orborus. The group gathers the prisoners together, putting the 6 obvious guardsmen in charge of corralling the Belheim folk, preparing them for the trek to Griffton. While organizing, the group chats with some of the guards for more information on what happened in Belheim: “They just appeared” “Devastation was total” “We were caught in nets” “We’ve been here for over a week” “Every so often they’d eat one of us” “We’d just hear screams” “Others were taken further west” “Fire signals lit before skirmishes” When asked about the tower on the lake, a guard replied, only holy ones from the council allowed on the center isle in Belheim.
Before leaving, Zinn speaks with the dead cyclops: “How do you get to the mines that the Belheim prisoners were taken to?” “West, 3 days, climb to gate in and deep below.” “Who does the white wyrm take orders from?” “Thoko” (Gfed recognizes the name from old giant legends, a terran title equivalent to emperor.) “Where is the army going now?” “West, back home, to await Thoko’s command”
They burn the remaining giants’ bodies, and begin the march back to Griffton. Along the way, Shah flirts with a female guard.
Back forest, amid more comfortable temperatures, the whole group stops to rest. Aven takes some time before sleep to retell his recent interlude. He lived 10 years in what the rest perceived as only 2 days. Aven taken away from “here”, because of what he was doing; his life was severed. He had been trying to craft items faster than natural laws allowed, when was “untrue” for the beings of Mechanus, a timeless, clockwork plane. His consciousness taken to Mechanus, where he was repaired and then put on trial. The “others” in Mechanus took his crafting device. They also claimed aven strongly resembled the one who first brought gun technology to orcs, to the blood god, Orborus, the giant red wyrm. Aven has a charge to fix this, his life in the balance, literally ticking away.
In the middle of his watch shift, Fraas hears a voice in his head:
“YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY WATCHERS. WE SHARE A COMMON FOE. I WOULD SPEAK WITH THEE. MEET ME AT THE TOWER’S BASE. MAKE HASTE, FRIENDS.”
“You say friend, but we have never met. Though if we have a common foe, and if you are the one I suspect, what help will we be?”
“YOU SEEK TO FREE THE CAPTIVES OF THE THOKO, THE INVADER OF MY HOME. I COULD PROVIDE INFORMATION… AND ANY OTHER ANSWERS YOU MAY REQUIRE.”
“We shall secure those civilians we have already saved, and all who I can convince will meet you forthwith.”
“TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! TONIGHT! YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME, WIZARD!”
Fraas wakes the others, after preparing for cold protection. Bork, Fraas, Zinn and Sentinel teleport to the dragon’s tower. Arriving a bit away, they walk across the icy moat as there is no land bridge, only a destroyed frozen dock. Frozen bodies lie in lake, trapped under ice.
Upon approach, the gargantuan white wyrm drops to the ground to meet them. “Welcome my friends. Thank you for answering my summons, this is my last night before I return. I need your help to root out this great villain. In return, the favor and friendship of dragon is a great gift.” Sentinel clasps his hand on Bork’s mouth.
The white wyrm then begins to provide a bevy of information:
Thoko, a Rune Giant, has two siblings 2 brothers which are chained up by him currently. His is chained in the same room where he resides and does not leave, trapped in the mountain to the west. When pilfering the white wyrm’s baubles, he found a Torc, when placed around his neck he became as powerful as a Demi-god, thus was able to subdue the White Dragon. Thoko has a white-bearded sorcerer (presumably Jackmerius). Thoko also knows about the adventuring group and some of their capabilities, as the white wyrm has been commanded by Thoko to report on the group, up to this point.
The white wyrm is bound to Thoko by a magical collar and must do what he explicitly says. Has been recalled by Thoko to his service back at their mountain home. The white wyrm destroyed Belheim as it is the rightful seat of the dragon ruler of this place. Draugarland is the title of those that rule the mote. The previous Draugarland was the upstart young green dragon and before that the mote was ruled by his parents.
Inside the tower is a portal. Not much is known about the other side of portal as the tower long predates Belheim. Thoko wishes access to the portal, but its protector, the Ghael is a powerful foe. Inside the tower lies the imperial dragon, the only other dragon on mote.
Thoko has been collecting souls of slaves to free himself from the mountain. He magically takes lifeforce from others to gain freedom from his trap. These souls power a pool, the purer the soul, the greater the power and the remaining body becomes a withered husk. His army can also use this pool to envision a location and teleport. Thoko’s army has been mining out Aerum from the Mote in the mountain, about 3 days to the west. There is a direct way in, and a secret way, to the west, along the river through a frozen waterfall.
Bork ends the conversation with the wyrm, and enters the tower. Fraas and Zinn follow, while Sentinel rushes back to campsite to inform the others. Inside, an open archway, dark, steps leading down, twisting about five or six times into a large underground chamber. The room is very bright, with ribbed dark stone arches. In the back of the room wide steps lead up to a 40 ft tall shimmering portal. Next to the steps, coiled up, lies a silver-scaled, wingless dragon, breathing slow, ragged and chained with barbs.
The dragon lets out a loud roar and Bork, Zinn and Fraas flee out the tower entrance in fear, but immediately regain composure and re-enter. Bork approaches more carefully this time, and notices dragon is missing some of its teeth and its tongue and eyes. The barbed chain is black dragonmetal, unbreakable. Fraas attempts to speak telepathically, but denied “for our sake”. When asked about green dragons he thrashes and whips Bork back. Fraas casually vials up some of the dragon’s blood. With a promise to return, the three adventurers head out to white dragon to ask about the dragon metal. Only a few dragons know how to make it. The creators of the metal must die for the bonds to be broken, in the chain on imperial dragon, those creators would be Lord Garland’s parents, who are south on Dragsuar motes.
Finished at the tower, Bork, Zinn and Fraas teleport back to the campsite.
The next day is one of travel until they reach tunnel to Griffton and quickly escort the former prisoners through to Griffton. After a day of rest, the adventurers head back north. The temperature is noticeably warmer than before and they can spot that the white wyrm is no longer perched atop the dark tower. They reach the lake, now thawing, and make their way into the tower. After another fear-inducing roar, Rand acknowledges the imperial dragon, who answers his questions with only silent gestures. Rand attempts to heal the creature, but its wounds cannot be healed by magics. Shaking underneath Rand’s hand, the dragon asks to be freed through death.
Rand asks about the Ghael of the north, it is unknown if she is free or captive. He is tied to the Ghael, his mate on the other side of the portal and bound for the rest of his existence. The dragon indicates that no one goes the other way into the portal; he was free the last time this happened. It was also at this tower that the encounter with the blood god occurred. The storm giants came to this mote first, and had fought with the original green wyrms, Lord Garland’s parents. They had set the slave trade under way. He knows of the giant turtle and considers it a friend. But at mention of Zidane the dragon thrashes violently. It is clear he knows that Zidane had conceived a child with his mate, but is not hostile to Rand for this.
While the group debates what to do, Fraas and Bork examine the portal closely. Almost bumping the two in, Aven strides into the portal. Zinnaerris darts in right behind.