It’s Dungeons and Dragons time! Here’s the latest installment of the epic journey of our heroines, Danaeryzard and Alaria! (If you’re new here, check out the entire saga in order by reading the chapters organized on the D&D tab of this site!)
The westward path toward Eklatar was through a beautiful forest. Sunlight peeked out between the leaves of thousands of trees clustered together amid large rocks and a trickling stream. Danaeryzard, Alaria and Hendricks lead the horses through the maze of trees while Ragnar flew overhead from treetop to treetop. Dany couldn’t help but think that Hendricks looked rather silly in his Red Dragon Monk robes. She wondered how many different ‘costumes’ he had access to, and how many different people he might be fooling at any given time. Were they a part of those fools?
“The Red Dragon Monastery is right along this path,” Hendricks said, pointing upstream as they walked. “Since we have a few miles to walk through this thick wood, let me tell you a bit more about this… opportunity. I am hoping you two will help me with a little heist that I have been commissioned to complete. It’s rather simple when it comes down to it. All I have to do is write down the inscription that is found on the inside of an ancient artifact in the monastery. However, it’s located in a place that I can’t access without your help.
“You see, the ancient artifacts are in a room that is located deep within the monastery. It is only reachable when new recruits for the Red Dragon cult have completed their tests of faith. That’s where you two come in…” Hendricks winked at Alaria and started laughing.
“What are you saying? We have to pose as recruits for this cult?” Alaria asked incredulously. “How are we supposed to pass the tests? We don’t know anything about the Red Dragon.”
“As a Dragonborn hatchling, I learned about the different Dragons that once ruled the lands,” Dany nervously chimed in. “My family’s clan had worshiped the Gold Dragon, so I don’t know the legends of the Red Dragon specifically. But I do know one thing; they both invoked the power of fire. At least that part wouldn’t be a big issue, since we’re both resistant to fire damage.”
“You’re right. Fire won’t be the main challenge here. Our problem is that all of the Red Dragon monks have taken a vow of silence. You can’t speak, not even a whisper. The only way we can talk is telepathically with our chat rings,” Hendricks explained, tapping on his own ring. “When we get to the temple, you will surrender your weapons to the monastery guards. Don’t worry, we will get everything back. The test itself is easy, I’ve taken it as well. I’ll pose as your handler during the test so I’ll be with you the entire time. We will get through the temple and once I have the inscription, we’ll make a loud noise. They’ll throw us out and you can be on your way! You’ll do this favor for me, won’t you? We’re not far now.”
They were at the foot of a large mountain. As they approached, they could see that the Red Dragon Monastery was carved right into the side of the mountain itself. It was massive and beautiful. Dany and Alaria tied their horses to some apple trees nearby and agreed to help Hendricks with his mission. They decided to stop talking from this point on and practice the ‘monk mindset.’ Hendricks pulled his mask back down to cover his face and they were ready to approach the entrance.
When they reached the guard at the monastery door, Hendricks burst into elaborate body gestures that looked like a strange sort of interpretive dance. Dany and Alaria slowly realized that this was how the silent monks communicated with one another, with this irregular body language. The duo did their best to maintain a straight face and act as though they understood what was happening. When the monks stopped gesturing, they turned and looked at Dany and Alaria with their masked faces. Not knowing what to do, the partners awkwardly bowed and followed the monks inside. The smell of incense smoke was heavy in the air.
Dany, Alaria and Hendricks walked along the stone cut corridors. Despite her best efforts to be quiet, Dany’s Dragonborn feet had talons with long claws, and every step made a loud clicking sound that seemed to echo throughout the halls. Every monk that they passed turned and stared at them eerily with their masked faces.
“Praise the Royals, this will be interesting…” Hendricks whispered telepathically through the chat ring.
They proceeded deeper into the mountain temple until they reached a gigantic room with a vaulted ceiling rising a hundred stories high. They were in the heart of the mountain, and in the middle of the enormous chamber was a powerful furnace. The air wavered from the heat. They walked down to the heart of this Ritual Room and found an elderly monk waiting. Hendricks once again began his elaborate gesturing language and the man responded in the same manner. Then Hendricks took the weapons of Dany and Alaria and lead them onto a platform where they stood together.
“Try to follow along and copy what I do. This is just some religious thing,” Hendricks whispered via chat ring, right before he faced them and slowly did a sweeping gesture with his arm. The partners copied his gesture, and then he moved onto other motions and they continued to mimic. This seemed to satisfy the elderly monk, who then opened the door to the inner temple.
They walked inside and realized that the walls were lined with coal. The heat was growing very intense. Alaria was dripping with sweat. As they walked through the temple they saw elaborate artwork on the fiery walls depicting the Red Dragon, and small Red Dragon statues lined the hallway. Hendricks handed them a map of the temple which showed where the test areas were located and where the ancient artifact room was located. The first test was in a room up ahead. Were they ready?
Inside the chamber of the first test there was a giant mirror that took up almost entire far wall, and six Dragon statues facing the mirror. The mirror was framed with two more Dragon statues. The mirror reflected back the image of the room, but it didn’t exactly match. Something was different about the Dragon statues in the room. The eyes in the statues’ reflection were glowing red, but the actual statues before them were not. Dany and Alaria looked around, confused about what to do. They couldn’t speak so they proceeded to examine the room. Alaria checked behind the mirror to see if it was covering up something, but the mirror appeared to be fused to the wall.
“Where are the rubies?” whispered Hendricks telepathically through the chat rings. Dany looked closely at the statues in the room and realized that the Dragons’ eye sockets were empty, as though the reflection in the mirror was indicating that rubies were supposed to be in the dragon statues, but were not presently. However, these statues were definitely the same as the ones that were out in the hallway leading into this room. Maybe they were supposed to ‘borrow’ the rubies from those statues?
Dany walked out of the room and Alaria followed. They collected the rubies, with Alaria doing a much better job at it considering Dany had talon claws for hands. After popping the rubies into the Dragon statue’s eyes in the test room, the mirror began to glow and melt away, revealing a passage way for them to continue onward to the next test.
Hendricks followed behind as Dany and Alaria proceeded onward. This hallway was made of all stone, and seemed to be getting darker as they walked further. Hendricks held a torch, but soon that was the only light in the passage. They continued on until they realized that there was a wall up ahead blocking their path. There was no other way to go, so they turned around, only to find that another wall had appeared behind them! This wall had the words “Keep Your Eye on the Wall” scrawled in red on it.
Facing this new wall that had appeared behind them, Alaria walked backwards and went right through the wall that was blocking their forward path. Dany thought to herself that this test was silly, the wall was merely an illusion! She turned towards the forward wall and tried to walk through it normally and her face smacked straight into the stones. Hendricks stifled a laugh and walked backwards through the wall the way Alaria did and Dany sheepishly followed suit. Apparently that was the second test, because they found themselves in the final temple corridor, once again lined with burning hot coals.
The third test room contained a massive life-size dragon statue. Behind it was a furnace with a wall of flame lighting the room with blazing fire. Hendricks gestured toward a small plaque that was on display in front of the dragon, so Dany and Alaria stepped up to read it.
Only a pure of heart and mind may become one with the red dragon. Confess what darkens your heart, what haunts your dreams, and what regret falters your step and let the flames erase them from your soul.
With his chat ring Hendricks whispered that they are allowed to speak to the statue. Dany looked up at the Red Dragon, with a face not so different from her own (with the exception of a few extra rows of sharp teeth), and felt an uncomfortable connection. She knew exactly what haunted her dreams: her own family.
“Red Dragon, what plagues my heart the most is my own Gold Dragon Draconian clan. The refused to accept me for being different. I was never taught how to control my sorcery, instead they ignored me and blamed me for all accidents, whether I caused them or not. Granted, I did cause a lot of fires… and I regret this greatly,” Danaeryzard said to the Red Dragon statue with her head bowed.
Alaria stepped up next. “Uncle Biro is who darkens my heart. I am constantly haunted by the fact that this man, my mentor, also murdered my family. He taught me everything I know, and also robbed me of those who I loved the most. I will always regret the fateful decision of mine to steal the key that lead to my parents’ death.” She sighed deeply and closed her eyes, trying to fight the anger and sadness growing inside her as memories flooded her mind.
Dany, listening to Alaria’s confession, grew more apprehensive about their future plans to meet up with this Uncle Biro. Dany knew nothing about him or their history, aside from what Alaria had told her. But she didn’t have time to deliberate on this; their thoughts were interrupted by a deep and low groaning sound that seemed to emanate from the Red Dragon statue. A flash of light sparked from the fiery furnace behind the great statue and on either side of the Red Dragon apparitions suddenly appeared. The ghostly visions were the people that Dany and Alaria had just described. On one side Dany’s Dragonborn father and older brothers stood with their arms crossed, glaring at her and snapping their lizard-like mouths at her menacingly. On the other side was Uncle Biro, a short and round dwarf with large sideburns and mean eyes, holding up an elaborate and ancient looking key. Both apparitions were extremely lifelike and Dany and Alaria were briefly stunned.
But Alaria’s rage towards Biro was strong and she ran at the phantom image, trying to grab the key from his hand. Her hand passed through the apparition with a wisp and the Biro apparition laughed tauntingly at her.
Dany, however, was frozen under the gaze of her family. All of the confidence in herself and her magical abilities had vanished when she saw them. Suddenly she was a cowering victim once again. But she knew she had to do something to pass the test. She walked up to her family’s apparitions and held her head up high.
“I’m not afraid of you anymore!” she yelled at her golden scaled clan members, who maintained their challenging stance. “I have learned to control my magic much more now, no thanks to you! Leaving Dragonlance was the best thing that happened to me!”
But nothing changed. Their personal villains remained before them, looking menacing.
“What do we do now?” asked Alaria with notable frustration. They both looked at Hendricks, who merely shrugged.
“This wasn’t a part of the test that I took,” he tried to explain.
They re-read the plaque and took note of the words “let the flames erase them from your soul.” What did that mean exactly? They looked at the wall of flames at the base of the furnace behind the Red Dragon statue. Dany felt drawn to it. Could the wall of fire possibly be another illusion?
“What if we walk through the fire, and let it cleanse us?” Dany mused. Alaria turned to her partner, slightly confused.
“We are both resistant to fire. We could probably run through it and survive. Maybe this is a test of will… or courage?”
“I can’t think of anything else to try,” Alaria said, fearfully agreeing to Dany’s suggestion.
Together they walked to the blazing wall of fire behind the statue, feeling the intense heat as they moved closer. Hand in hand, they each took a deep breath and ran straight into the flames. At first, the burning pain of hot flames surged through their skin, but it was only for a second. A flash of white light filled the chamber and suddenly the flames were gone and they were all standing in a different room. They found themselves in the ancient artifact room, not unlike the one in the basement of the library in Water’s Edge.
In this room were shelves containing various ancient artifacts from the Red Dragon cult. There were rolled up scrolls covered in cobwebs, rows of what appeared to be dragon teeth, bottles of mysterious substances, leather bound books, and some antique jewelry. Hendricks walked straight over to a crown that looked very similar to Princess Pena’s diadem back in Castle Drachen, only it looked like it had been designed for a prince to wear instead. He lifted the crown and held it at an angle, reading the inscription that he came to find. Alaria could see by the light of Hendricks’ torch that the inscription he was copying down was written in the same language that she had seen when she completed the etching heist at the South Hall of the castle.
“All right we’re done here!” Hendricks said, taking off his mask and wiping sweat from his brow. “Let’s get kicked out.” Without any warning he reached over and knocked a brass vase off of one of the shelves and it fell with a loud clang, then rolled around on the floor making even more noise. Monks were swarming into the room almost immediately. Two monks grabbed Dany and Alaria, holding their arms behind their back. A third monk was gesturing wildly and slapped Hendricks hard across his face.
The monks carried the three ‘invaders’ out of their monastery and tossed all of their belongings out with them.
“Well, that was weird…” Alaria said, picking up her weapons and putting everything back in its proper place. Hendricks handed over the items he promised the partners in payment for their help: a Pearl of Power for Dany and an Immovable Rod for Alaria.
As they were readying to leave, they heard some people approaching. To their surprise, they saw Ezra from the Midnight Ring heading towards them, along with an unfamiliar elf they had never seen before.
“Dany! Alaria! What are you two doing here?” Ezra said, smiling in a friendly way. She turned to Hendricks. “Did you get what you came for?” He nodded and smiled back at her. “Excellent news.” Ezra turned back to Dany and Alaria and gestured towards the elf stranger. “This is Drex, the Leader of the Midnight Ring!”
Drex made a quick nodding gesture with her head. “I have been waiting to hear from you. Come. We have much to discuss.”
And so ends the latest installment of our DnD adventures! Thanks for reading! I hope you like this ongoing storyline lol! If you play Dungeons and Dragons too, let’s hear about your character in the comments! 🙂