Dragon Goddess (Dragon Wars Book 3)

Dragon Goddess
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rusagroh.ru/modules/2019-11-26/3344-znakomstva-v.php King Drake hadn't been seen in public for over a year when I was last in Phoebus, and that was some time ago. Maybe something happened to him. After a long wait, you shuffle onto the block with a host of other unfortunates. You are in better shape than the poor wretches that surround you, and your group is instantly the subject of spirited bidding. You shudder as you are sold to a man with a fat neck for more gold than you are likely to see in a lifetime.

You are led away from the slave auction and linked one to another by a continuous sequence of chains and collars. Presently your new master appears and introduces himself. I am Mog - Mog is All. Abandon all hope of freedom. You are my property, to do with as I please. Mog leaves you to the hands of his slave bosses, who spend the next several weeks attempting to break your spirit.

During this time you are loaded aboard a painfully slow cog and sail to Master Mog's estate. You are afforded a brief glimpse of Mog's luxurious palace before you are led beneath the earth and introduced to Mog's salt mines. Then begins a mind-numbing series of repetitious chores. You are not permitted to leave the mines. You work, sleep, and eat in the same series of identical tunnels, never permitted to see the sun. You are admitted to the camp and immediately pressed into service. The army makes no attempt to provision or train you - it's evident they consider you a band of cutthroats, and that they like you just the way you are.

You are billeted in a siege camp located a few miles south of the walled city of Byzanople, which for months has stubbornly resisted the enlightenment of joining the unified Kingshomer Empire under Namtar and King Drake. The besieging Kingshomer army is preparing to take the city by storm. You are to be among the waves of unfortunates they wish to send over the wall.

You may not take kindly to this idea, but there are many more of them than there are of you, and this is no opportunity to desert. These cramped quarters serve as home for Mog's unfortunate slaves. Men sleep fitfully on the cold rock floor, encumbered by the stout chains that bind them one to another. An examination of your companions proves your chains will never be removed - some of the sleeping men are still chained to companions who have long since passed away. The dying man gratefully gulps water from your cup. His parched lips crack and smear his wrist with blood.

The soles are entirely worn away, but the tops are still secured by stout leather laces. You know the end is near. The last of the guards drops dead and silence claims the mines. A ladder leads up out of the salt mines. In the dim distance you can see sunlight for the first time in uncountable hours, days, or months. Freedom is at hand. But what awaits you at the top of the shaft? Several people are huddled around a fire. One of them offers you some stew which you eagerly accept - it's bland and watery, but it's the first hot food you've had in days and you eat every drop.

After your meal you doze off by the fire, grateful to at last be in the company of charity and good will. When you awaken, you feel as if you've been reborn. You stand before the gleaming city of Lansk. The streets are clean, the people are orderly, and while the city is walled, there is no gate. None of the busy citizens you spy carries a weapon. The city shows no sign of war or occupation. However, it does seem like a very rich place, and you can detect a faint smell of dragon in the air This guard room is occupied by several menacing men who stand when you enter.

We have to 'recapture' them - perhaps several times. This is Phoebus' incredible Temple of the Sun, renown all across the world of Oceana. The sun's warm rays shine into an open atrium, bathing the broad leaves of a variety of exotic heliotropic plants. Acolytes of the temple are busy about on mysterious tasks. The floor is inscribed with a gold design depicting the motion of Oceana and her sister planets. From some unseen chamber you hear the soothing sound of running water. A gold curtain swings aside and a short, swarthy man enters the chamber.

He is dressed in blue robes inscribed with stars and moons, and wears a pointed cap. It seems the man very much wants to look like a wizard, but has no idea of what wizards actually look like. I don't care that you cracked out of Purgatory, but your behavior since entering my city has been intolerable.

This is an open-air slave market, filled with the cry of flesh mongers and the laughter of a perfumed crowd. Here men and women are for sale - people such as yourselves - to the jaded residents of the Dilmun interior. From the gate of the slave market you watch as several young men are auctioned off. They seem less healthy than yourselves - maybe they've been in the city longer than you. It seems a sad way out of this place, to make yourself a slave You scan the crowd, anxious to measure the character of citizens of the Dilmun interior.

Their faces seem cruel and aristocratic, with a faint hint of the more-than-human. Here and there you spot a face that seems kinder than most, but if you were on the block, what guarantee would you have of receiving a kind master? Could you truly live with yourself as a slave? There is a long line of lost souls waiting for the auction block. Nothing will stop you should you decide to join them. The door to this hut is open, and from within you hear someone singing. Entering the hut, you see a simple room Behind the rock you see a sad man who seems very old.

His eyes are empty sockets and both his hands have been amputated at the wrist. You wonder why a blind man burns candles when he's alone. The man stops singing and swings his head in your direction when you enter. Please come in. I'd like to see some new faces You learn the man's name is Carson. He was a sorcerer at the Temple of the Sun, in Phoebus. You talk with Carson well into the evening, pumping him for information.

You learn that Namtar is either a demon or a man - Carson seems to use the terms interchangeably. About a year ago Namtar appeared at the court of King Drake in Kingshome, and was welcomed as the court magician. Within a year, Kingshome had mobilized and began making war on its neighbors. At the same time, Namtar announced a general ban on magic, using his secret police - the Stosstrupen - to enforce the ban. A great magical war ensued, which Namtar and the Stosstrupen won handily.

Ten years learning Sun Magic and it leads to this! All the old Masters are gone Lanac'toor was finally driven over the edge and shattered into a score of pieces; Zaton exiled to the deep wilderness; and Mystalvision He's the High Priest at the Temple of the Sun. Our Order fell to Namtar so quickly Beware of Mystalvision!

You talk with Carson late into the night, but learn little else of value. He is either unwilling or unable to teach you any magic. Heeding his advice, you take your leave of the old man. When no one is looking, you crawl into an open sack filled with disgustingly fresh corpses. You lay still as the sack is crudely sewed shut. The darkness of the tomb descends upon you as the bag is closed.

None too gently, the entire sack is heaved onto the backs of the slaves. Dead arms embrace you, long fingernails claw at your hair, rotting grave mold seems to penetrate your body. There is a lurch and a rasp as the bag clears the wall, and then you fall. Your flesh crawls with anticipation. Will you meet your end, smashed to death with a host of corpses on some unseen rocky spire? Or will you splash into the warm waters of Oceana, at long last free from the stinking hell of Purgatory? You splash. You sink. You struggle.

At last you win free of the sack, and the dead hands that drag at you seemingly resentful of the life you display.

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Lungs bursting, you break from the water at the base of the harbor wall, and quickly clamber aboard some debris you find floating close by and strike out for shore. Mighty oaks intertwine above your head to form a living gateway to this enchanted forest. A fresh coat of sparking dew lays over everything, lending a fantastic quality to the scene.

The ground is covered with an inviting blanket of green moss. Faerie lights glimmer from within the boles of dark yet pleasant trees. This is a magical place. Much to the garrison's dismay, the gates of Byzanople prove little obstacle for you. The Kingshomer army streams through the open gate and makes short work of the outnumbered city garrison. Byzanople has fallen. After putting the garrison to the sword, the victorious Kingshomer soldiers gleefully get down to some serious pillaging.

Buck Ironhead, the commander of the Kingshomer siege camp, appears from the chaos. Now Namtar's control of Dilmun is complete. I'm sure the Beast From The Pit will want to thank you personally. I wouldn't trust you clowns as far as I could throw you! The guards close in. It's an epic fight, but no heroes can long withstand sheer weight of numbers.

Everything goes black as the last of your party falls to the dust. This shrine is formed from rocks and wood and moss - it seems a profoundly natural thing, more an outgrowth of this enchanted wood than a thing built by man. The divinity worshiped here is none you recognize, but the feeling of the place is one of harmony with nature.

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Upon closer inspection, you see dried bloodstains on the rock. The stains are not large - this shrine is not used for sacrifice - but perhaps its resident god is awakened by a token gift of life. This hidden glade is charged with magical energy. The rocks marking this clearing form a ring of deliberately-placed standing stones, the focus of which is upon the earth where you now stand. You feel power rushing from the roots of the earth and into your soul.

Enkidu himself stands and regards you. Old Jack's eyes grow bright when you show him the signet ring. You sadly shake your head, indicating Drake is dead. Tears form in Jack's eyes as he sighs. I knew ye'd come to nogood with that demon Namtar! After showing him your ring, Jack treats you like an honored guest, forgiving all your misdeeds in the forest. But I never like the looks o' that Namtar - he's a very devil, he is! It must have been 'im wot killed old Drake. You've got the ring, so you're it! Old Jack solemnly hands you his bow. Drake gave her to me when we were both boys, and she's never failed me.

Now I give her to you, to shoot down that foul Namtar! You treat her kind. Jack is abruptly eager to leave. He refuses to leave the forest, saying it's his only home. He wishes you all good luck and melts into the woods. After what seems an eternity, you locate the source of the screaming. Nearly mad yourselves, you find a city of the mad squatting on a desolate shore. Feeble huts made of driftwood and debris huddle together in a feeble pile. White-haired loons with wild eyes stumble to and fro, mumbling to themselves or shrieking like cats.

Crazed citizens of the place wrestle with one another, seeming like writhing human serpents. It's a madhouse, and the inmates are running the asylum. A mad artist inscribes designs on the sandy floor of his hut. It's uncertain if he's talking to you, or if you walk in on him while he was talking to himself.

The artist jumps up and bounds about the hut. It's all so clear. At last! The poor man rushes past you and is quickly lost in the village of the lost. Amid the ruins you come upon a remarkable sight. A bonfire illuminates a shattered city square. Scores of people cavort about the fire this is the greatest gathering of people you've seen since arriving in Purgatory. The occupants of the square constitute a cross-section of Purgatory's citizenry. Blind beggars, mad poets, dog-faced children, and drunken priests swarm about the fire like moths to a flame; drinking, singing, loving, bleeding, brawling.

Above them all, seated on a rude throne of stacked masonry, you see the man you surmise to be the king of this place. If he is a king, he is a king of thieves. Astounded by this strange sight, you do not notice until it is too late a score of scoundrels sneaking up on you. Surrounded by rogues, you are urged toward the fire, where you come under the gaze of the figure on the throne. This is the Court of Miracles, gathered to pay homage to the King of Purgatory A group of ragged unfortunates sun themselves on this dismal coastline.

They sit in folding beach chairs, some beneath the shade of colorful beach parasols. All the men and women are dressed in rags. Few have teeth; fewer still have a proper tan. The day is cold and grey. What have we to want for? Boy, that Namtar sure is a swell egg! Similar comments come at every turn.

You find this place is called Toxic Beach, and these poor lunatics think it's some sort of beach resort to which they've been sent as reward for faithful service to Namtar. A few bloated dead rats have washed up on the bleached coastline. An odd tumble of rocks marks the north end of the shore.

The rocks are covered with debris, as if the remains of a shipwreck have washed up here. There is a deep rumbling as storm clouds gather. Abruptly rain begins to fall in relentless sheets, threatening to flood the stone, the forest, the entire world. A supernatural hush falls over the glade.

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Even the pelting rain seems to fall silent. Suddenly you arc surrounded by animals - bears, dogs, deer, ducks, and even a penguin. You turn and see still more animals crowding outside the door to the shrine. You see a lion lay down beside a lamb. The animals are waiting for something. Above the stone appears the ghost of Zaton.

The ghost speaks. By restoring me to the world, the world restores itself. The natural order is reestablished. Man and beast may again live in harmony. The animals begin to excitedly roar, bark, and bray. Namtar is evil! He must be destroyed! To you I grant the boon of knowledge The center post of these communal huts shelters a secret chamber. A skeleton dressed in the royal colors of Kingshome sits on a makeshift throne. Whoever this was, he's been dead a long time. A royal signet ring gleams on one skeletal finger. The ring seems both valuable and important.

A dwarf springs up as you enter the room. He eagerly scans your party, then collapses in disappointment. Poor Josephina is all alone. Namtar stole the eyes from our icon and hurled them into the sea. Every day I search the coast, but never do I find the eyes. Nisir, the Mountain of Salvation, rises above you to an impossibly great height, seeming to rip the sky. Although it is daytime, when you look up you can see stars near where you guess the summit of the mighty mountain must be.

It seems to you the mountain must push through the very atmosphere of Oceana to produce such a sight. A prisoner lies babbling in the corner. The pilgrims stop one-by-one to kneel before this elaborate shrine before continuing. The shrine depicts the image of the Universal God, a faceless deity that looks in all directions at once, and raises its arms to encompass both earth heaven, and underworld.

You note with relief that not even Namtar has dared to undermine the basic faith of Oceana. The pilgrims evidently expect enlightenment and salvation to result from their visit to Nisir. You expect salvation of a different kind - the sort that can come only from sending Namtar to his doom. It is several days' sail to Nisir, the Mountain of Salvation, but the route is easy to follow. The great mountain Nisir seems to rise from the roots of Oceana and reach to the heavens - it is easily the tallest mountain on the planet, and you are in sight of your destination for most of the journey.

The harbor at Nisir is clogged with pilgrim's vessels.

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Several hundred robed figures crowd the docks, slowly passing through the harbor's only exit into the interior. The great mountain of Nisir looms above you, stem and forbidding. You sense a moment of destiny is at hand. You are pressed into service and sent directly to the front. A troop ship conveys you to King's Island, where the walled city of Byzanople stubbornly resists the enlightenment of joining the unified Kingshomer Empire under Namtar and King Drake.

Byzanople has been under siege for several months, and the besieging Kingshomer army is preparing to take the city by storm. Directly ahead you see the semi-permanent camp of the Kingshomer campaign army. The army occupies a valley between two mountain peaks. A wooden palisade has been erected across the mouth of the valley, providing the camp with a measure of protection against raiders from the south.

There is no evidence of an enemy army anywhere in the area. From the looks of the camp, it seems likely this is a base from which the Kingshomer army is besieging an enemy fortress or city. Within this building you find a group of old men gathered around a table. They're playing dice and speaking rapidly to each other in a dialect you can barely understand. You are noticed and welcomed into the game. The men play for the joy of it. There's a complicated wagering scheme involved, but no money ever changes hands, and the men don't seem to care if you're rich or destitute.

After a while, you begin to make sense of their speech. It seems these men are residents of the Dilmun interior, displaced to this island of outlanders by war and oppression. From them you learn a little of recent events in Dilmun. The Dilmun interior consists of several large islands, each of which is dominated by an autonomous city-state. Warfare has been frequent between the rival cities, but no single nation has ever been able to rule all the others. Each city keeps a dragon captive somewhere within its walls - if total disaster ever threatens, the dragon will be let loose.

This would almost certainly lead to the destruction of both sides, but it serves as a deterrent to conquest. Recently, the city of Kingshome launched a bid for empire. Kingshome's imperialism was aided by a sorcerer - Namtar the Beast From the Pit. Thanks to Namtar, all magical opposition was quickly overwhelmed, and Kingshome made rapid gains.

For some unknown reason, the conquered cities never launched their dragons against Kingshome. The youngest of the men arrived at the camp just a few months ago. So far as he knows, nearly all of Dilmun's cities have been conquered or lay in ruins. The city of Byzanople on the King's Isle remains free, although it has been under siege for several months. He also mentions a city called Freeport in the Eastern Isles, but his companions scoff when he does, saying Freeport is more myth than reality.

Nevertheless, the young man asserts he'll find Freeport someday - as soon as he can find a ship bound for the Eastern Isles. Since the war, very few ships travel the interior waterways, and it has become increasingly difficult to use Dilmun's many bridges. You restrain the hunchback and prevent him from hurling the prisoner into the pit. Tears flow from the hunchback's already swollen eyes. The dragon's thrashing intensifies, and the great beast begins beating its head against the side of its pit, setting up a great rumbling through the dungeon.

He doesn't make it The hunchback is hurled screaming into the maw of the dragon You flee the scene as the dragon smashes at the supports of the dungeon, and in so doing at the foundation of the entire city of Phoebus. You find a crazy path to the surface uncovered by the dragon's rage. You flee the vicinity of the city and watch from a nearby hill as the dragon claws its way to the surface.

Before long, Phoebus is a flaming ruin as the dragon takes its terrible toll. The city destroyed, the dragon slowly rises into the sky, and flaps off to the east. This is the office of the supreme commander of the campaign army of Kingshome. General Buck Ironhead regards you from behind his desk. Ironhead is a frightening sight.

His arms are a mass of scar tissue from a sequence of wounds too tedious to list. His face shows no mirth. His hands continually clench and unclench. His head is completely flat - you could balance an egg on it. Ain't ya ever heard of reporting to yer commandin' officer??

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You don't like Namtar, you don't like the army - kid's today!! Ungrateful whelps! Well, I don't care about any of that. I'm here to give you a second chance. Buck comes out from behind his desk and hobbles around his office as he continues. You may think you've got this thing licked, but I know damn well you can't tell your elbow from a dragon's blowhole. You keep your nose clean and serve with some distinction at the front, and I'll do what I can about gettin' you a full pardon. Namtar's a megalomaniac, but he's also a businessman, and he needs creeps like you!

Buck dismisses you. Namtar's gonna control everything sooner or later, so you might as well join the winning side. Namtar's promised a kinder and gentler Oceana, but he can't get on with it until guys like you toe the line. Some bandits were evidently holed up here. Their campfire is still warm. Evidently they were eating a meal when you showed up, as half-finished bowls of gruel stand all around the fire.

They weren't very good bandits, or maybe they hadn't been at it for long. There isn't much loot to be had in this camp. Maybe they were adventurers such as yourselves, turned to crime in these hard times. The magnificent stag lays dead. As you kneel beside your kill, the shaft of an arrow buries itself to the feathers in the sod between your feet.

You look up and see an old but very dangerous-looking man aiming yet another arrow at you. The man keeps his bow half-cocked and watches you closely. He seems to be waiting for you to make the first move. Maybe it would be worth winning his trust. With impossible speed, Nergal grabs the volunteer with both slimy hands. His jaw seems to drop down to his belt as the black maw of his mouth is exposed.

He quickly slips the volunteer's head into his mouth, and clenches his jaw with a sickening crunch. The volunteer's body stiffens, then goes limp, collapsing to the ground without a head. You recall learning of waters like this during your mystic studies. The pool of water ahead fits the description of Apsu Waters Apsu Waters are coterminous with the world of Oceana, the mystical Magan Underworld, and dark dimensions where gods and devils reside.

The slave boss is relentless. He offers you not a moment's rest, nor a drop of water, or even a scrap of bread. All that matters is that the tunnel be completed. No single man or beast may stand in the way of the project. Night and day you are driven to finish your task, with the sharp lash of the whip on your back, and the laughter of the cruel slave boss ringing in your ears. An old man leaps to his feet and lunges for his bow when you enter the shack. The long line of white-robed pilgrims ends at this rocky shrine.

One by one the pilgrims pass before a huge and powerful image of the Universal God. There are no guards here. None are required. The God keeps its own order beneath its own roof. Looking up into the faceless face of the god, you feel the hand of destiny upon you.

Namtar has not yet attempted to supplant Oceana's primary religion The gods risk disaster when they come to the world in person - they must work through champions to see their will is done. The Universal God seems to need a champion, a legendary hero to serve the cause of Freedom. Roba of Freeport was such a hero. Will you be another? You climb the Mountain of Salvation for several hours, but the summit seems to draw no closer. Several pilgrims drop from exhaustion along the path But a fraction of the way up the mountain, the path abruptly cuts into the rock.

A level plain has been cleared in the side of the mountain. This is evidently the place to which the pilgrims travel. Turning around, you look out at the world of Oceana from your lofty perch on the world's highest mountain. To your alarm, you see you have long since risen above even the highest clouds. The sky is purple and strange stars twinkle - the huge bloated mass of the sun fully fills half the sky. Truly, this place is close to God.

In this stuffy bedroom you find a journal. From it you determine the master of this house was a man named Mog, a rich aristocrat who made his fortune in the mining business. By all accounts he was a crude man - wealthy but uncultured - who fancied himself an artist.

The journal is largely given over to a remarkably frank account of Mog's failure as an artist. Mog admits to experimenting with alchemy in pursuit of his art. At one point he confesses using a potion to transform living flesh into stone, but the artistic results were not satisfactory. Near the end of the journal Mog mentions "acquiring an apprentice" by supernatural means. It seems this apprentice was originally supposed to assist Mog in his art.

Toward the end of the journal, Mog admits the apprentice has begun producing incredible works of art which Mog displays in his garden and calls his own. Mog hints that the apprentice demands a terrible price for his art, and that he fears him. It is possible the apprentice might not be human.

Off the beaten path you find this is a temple to the Magan Underworld. This seems a considerably older place than the other structures on this plateau. The Underworld was before there was a was, and doubtless it will still thrive when all of Oceana has long since burned off into the void. Mystalvision has gone mad.

He punishes me and the others for no reason. He has been corrupted by Namtar. Mystalvision has brought dishonor to our Order. These are dark times. You have been unfairly imprisoned. If you are cautious, you should be able to sneak past him and escape. The jailor's room adjoins the cell block. Look for the secret door in the south wall of the jailor's room - beyond is a passage that leads to people who will help you.

I regret I cannot give you a weapon I'll have something for you. This is the jailor's room.

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The fat jailor snores in a drunken slumber. He's slumped over his table, but there is a rope tied to his hand, and a bell tied to his rope. Should he stir, the bell will ring, possibly summoning guards. The jailor is asleep, and doubtless very drunk, but turn-keys are notoriously light sleepers. These are the private chambers of the master of the house. The curtains are drawn across the windows permitting little light to enter the room. In the murk, you can see that this room, like the others in the house, is strangely devoid of wall hangings The Master is in, sitting in his favorite chair.

He wears the garb of an artist - specifically of a sculptor In the dark shadows of the dungeon you find a pit, at the bottom of which is a frothing dragon. The beast is constrained by a series of chains, but it seems to you the saurian could hardly be bound by such puny restraints. Suspended above the center of the pit is a wooden platform, on which a demented hunchback struggles with a bound prisoner. The hunchback is about to push the prisoner into the pit, evidently intending him as a sacrifice to the dragon.

The prisoner struggles as best as he is able, but his hands are tied behind his back, and he is weakened from long captivity. The dragon thrashes back and forth, impatient to receive its meal. There are evident signs this chamber was formerly the lair of a beast or large animal. A pile of straw in the corner indicates where a large creature could have slept.

The walls scraped with claw marks, and the room is pervaded by an unpleasant odor. The room makes you feel instinctively uneasy. This torture chamber is a vision of misery. The walls are lined with chains for securing prisoners in place; the center of the room is occupied by racks, iron maidens, a fire pit, and other horrible instruments. In the corner is a hole into which are hurled the grisly remains of stubborn heretics.

A dying druid is stretched on the rack. You have rescued him from his torture There is nothing you can do to save his life, but perhaps you can ease his final moments? This tower chamber is in very ill repair. The supports are sinking, and half the floor is flooded with inky blackwater. The contents of innumerable vials and potions are emptied on the floor alongside the smashed vials that formerly contained them. What was once a great magical library has been destroyed by fire and water damage. Amid a pile of debris you find the fragments of a journal.

Much of it is in some magic language you can't understand, but a small part is legible. The journal is dated prior to the destruction of the City of the Yellow Mud Toad. You surmise the journal was maintained by Lanac'toor. That pinhead Mystalvision has changed the rules again. Where will I find a vole in this weather? Have resumed expansion of my tower's basement, using Soften Stone and Create Wall spells to clear rock, but this whole damn building is sinking. I keep running into pockets of water. Furthermore, I uncovered an entrance to Magan, and all manner of berserk Underworld denizens are running amok in my tunnels The hell of it is that I've lost my spectacles that Utnapishtim the Faraway gave me.

I'll never see the entrance to the College of Magic without them. They're buried somewhere in the rock. I don't know if I can locate them at this late date, with Namtar's thugs loose and my name on the hit list. I should prepare the city for defense, but I haven't done my laundry in weeks, and it's beginning to smell. You are led to a secret throne room beneath the city of Byzanople.

There Prince Jordan and several advisors huddle around a map in a council of war. Jordan is stunned when he sees his sister has brought you into the heart of his defenses. Jordan's private guards tense as they lock eyes with you. Prince Jordan recovers his composure and listens with interest to his sister's story. He is very interested to learn you are infiltrators recently pressed into service with the Kingshomer army.

No Outlander reaches the interior without going through Purgatory I know because my sister was formerly Governor of Purgatory. Jordan invites you to sit and offers you wine. My father is a peaceful man, and he loves his children My father loves me and the succession is not disputed. I want to see my father die in bed - I do not covet his throne. There is no reason for the King to make war on me. It must be Namtar's doing. Namtar has stolen my father from me; he has robbed you of your dignity. He is our common enemy. I make you an offer - reject Kingshome and join me in my struggle against Namtar.

When my father is restored to the throne, I will see you are richly rewarded. Jordan smiles. He leads you to the map he and his men were examining. You recognize it as a plan of the Kingshomer siege camp. Jordan pumps you for information concerning the camp and the size of the force stationed there. Together with several of Prince Jordan's best fighters, you sneak away from Byzanople through a secret passage.

Only a skeleton garrison is left behind - you realize Jordan is throwing everything into this attack. Using a local guide, you pick your way through the mountains surrounding the Kingshomer siege camp. The guide seems to lead you through solid rock at times, and you soon have little idea of where you are. Suddenly, from ahead, you hear Buck Ironhead bellow orders to a pack of new "recruits". The battle is about to begin! You enter the dusty and perhaps forgotten ancestral crypt of Byzanople. The murky vault stretches off into the darkness, harboring the remains of several generations of royalty.

Perhaps they were buried with treasure? If you listen, you think you can hear a faint rattle of chains, and the raspy sound of a corpse drawing breath. Deep beneath the live volcano, you find the dragon hatchery.

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Here fantastic riches are free for the taking. Your perilous journey across the northern desert, so terrible in its undertaking, at last seems worthwhile. The priests gratefully accept your knowledge and help in restoring the temple. The boots are fashioned so as to resemble the flipper feet of a toad. It will be difficult to walk wearing such thing. In the darkest heart of this palace of the dead you find an incredible sight The bloated white mass of Nergal slouches on a throne of skulls, attended by a score of pallid goblins.

Worms squirm in his hair, bats nestle in his loins, and rodents peer at you from within Nergal's mouth. About his neck, on a silver chain, you see a large and ornate key. Bring them here!! Most entertaining," Nergal laughs. The hideous god raises one fist and his court of freaks - though you just hacked them to pieces - lurch to their feet like puppets on invisible strings. The goblins and ghoulies look ready to fight again That is the law! Just as advertised by the blind juggler, there was indeed a secret tunnel out of Purgatory. Beneath the rock marked with the secret sign you find fresh armor and weapons Here in the open garden you find an unusual statue.

It is of an apparently wealthy man, if the quality of his garments is any clue. He is in poor shape, and appears to be afraid of something. The quality of the work is excellent, but the statue is very unflattering. A massive mechanical brass automaton stands at silent attention in this chamber. It is a flawless piece of engineering, massive yet agile, and heavily armed and armored from head to toe. It would not do to run into this thing in a dark hallway. This vault is filled with slumbering dwarves The dwarves are frozen in all variety of poses - sleeping, eating, working, and just a few while fighting.

It seems the dwarves were surprised by something terrible that turned them to stone. The Dragon Queen recoils when you show the Dragon Gem. When next you use the Dragon Gem, I will respond Peals of hysterical laughter assail your ears. You've discovered the secret under city of Lansk, and where the city above is staid and conservative, this place is a true party town. Citizens stagger about in drunken stupors, angry soldiers wrestle with one another, women and animals run through the streets.

This statue represents Irkalla the reigning deity of the Magan Underworld. It is to her you must appeal if you will long survive in the Underworld. She frequently wars with her consort Nergal, sometime King of the Underworld. Here is a statue of Nergal the cowardly King of the Underworld. When he is not getting along with Irkalla, Nergalis exiled to his palace in the Necropolis, a city of the dead hidden on one of Dilmun's many isles.

Nergal is a bloated and ridiculous creature, but from the look in his eye you surmise he might have a sense of humor. This statue honors the Universal God, the most popular deity of the surface realm of Oceana. The Universal God is a faceless deity with multiple arms and hands. Each hand is posed in a different signal, sending messages of hope and fear to the faithful. The Universal God is said to offer power to those who serve Freedom - it was a patron of the legendary Roba of Freeport.

An ancient shrine to the Universal God on the mountain of Nisir attracts millions of pilgrims annually. Here you find an image of Enkidu the beastman, patron deity of animals and Druids. His worship is strong in the wild places, but has declined in cities with the rise of Namtar and the destruction of the Druid sect. Here you find Lansk's dragon, perhaps first glimpsed from the city square above. Up close the dragon is not nearly so impressive. It is an old dragon - its fire has gone out, and its teeth have been pulled.

It is still a powerful beast, but age or drugs seem to have robbed the beast of its fighting spirit. The animal looks at you with something close to sadness in its eyes. The cave is much larger on the inside than without. The interior of the cave is lined with thousands of natural crystals that crazily reflect the light.

After your long dark journey through the Underworld, you are dazzled by the sudden light, and become disoriented. A voice rings in your ears. Listen closely, for this is what you must do The world has its span of life like any man or beast. The pilgrim Isles of Dilmun have been usurped by Namtar, a renegade demon from the realm of this Underworld.

He has disposed of King Drake of Kingshome and rules in the late King's name, using the King's legions to pursue his path of conquest. He has isolated his enemies, dispersed the magical brotherhood of the world and taken control of the dragons. A reconciliation of sorts must be set between Irkalla and Nergal, for without accord in the Underworld, there can be no peace on the surface.

When all is ready, seek the Mountain of Salvation - Namtar must be returned to the pit of hell from which he came. You sprinkle the ashes on the dark waters of the well, which abruptly begin to swirl. Although the night of the Underworld is absolute, you think you see a reflection of stars in the swirling black waters. The motion of the water intensifies and the ashes are sucked into the depths. You stand back as a ghostly apparition rises from the well. At first the form is a shade, then a ghost, then a spectre, then a living corpse.

Gradually the shape takes corporeal form The meeting of the Dilmun Underground is called to order. All those in attendance at the meeting are cloaked in dark robes, and although you recognize a few voices, no faces are visible. Formerly the imperial court of King Drake, this hall retains none of the splendor of ages past. Where once hung brilliant tapestries, the walls are now bare.

Empty pedestals mark where renowned sculptures formerly stood. Blocks of marble are missing in several places where materials have been removed to construct fortresses for Kingshome's campaign army. This is not the court of a king in residence. This is a private bed chamber. A man wearing a simple robe lays on a divan.

Dragons of Ares

But she has been reborn as something far different from the woman she used to be. Now she can hear the thoughts of the dragons, feel their emotions, and maybe even control them. But first, she has to escape from the very people who made her this way. Rain Mauri is intent on one thing: Saving the man she loves. As both women struggle for survival in the wasteland the world has become, they may find that their goals are not so different. I have just read Dragon Goddess, now waiting for follow up book, do you know what it will be named so as I can watch for it , I love these books and thank you for writing them.

Regards Cheryl. Hi Cheryl! Thanks for reading. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.