Duke Raus of Rone was at war. He asked Grom and his friends to start drilling his mercenaries, preparing them for possible tunnel fighting, while Daine, his chief of mercenaries, embarked on a scouting expedition of Five Eyes Temple, the fortress of the newtlings who had proved so resentful of the human settlement of the middle valley. Needing another scout, Daine had summoned Tarnak, the now one-armed “Mayor” of Weis. More surly than cocky now, Tarnak promised Xaraya that he would soon do something to make her think of him as a true hero.
Several days later, Daine and Tarnak had not returned. The Duke decided that it was time to move on Five Eyes, but still regarded a scouting mission as essential. He asked Skye, Grom and Xaraya to undertake the mission, along with the Stepson mercenary Harmodius (or Harmo as he preferred to be called). The Duke would lead his troops personally to the valley below the temple and await the return of the scouting party before leading the assault.
The party chose the second of the “Eyes” that legend said led to the temple. Skye, who had visited the temple before had been unconscious when she entered the temple and blindfold when she left it, so was unable to help pick the correct entrance. It soon became apparent, thanks to Xaraya’s remote viewing, that this eye was not an entrance to the temple, but to a disused troll shrine. Although friendly to trolls, the party decided that angering troll spirits was not a wise move at this point and moved to the fifth eye.
After dispatching a chaos snake with some ease, the party discovered that the next obstacle was far more serious – a shimmering giant in gold, the dream of a dragon. This creature, which itself had been sleeping, woke and drew itself up on its forelegs. Looking at the party, it asked them to leave their best singer behind and get out. All except Skye were terrified by this manifestation of their deepest fears, but Grom agreed to stay behind to buy the party time, by his death if necessary.
The remaining three members of the party moved on to the third “eye” and were relieved to find a less fearsome adversary in the next cave – a man-beast, seemingly stitched together from man, lion, and scorpion. The party got the drop on the creature, which had been enjoying a meal, and dispatched it quickly.
Meanwhile, Grom was singing lays of ancient Sartar to the dragon, whose name he learned was Krang. The dragon was impressed, and decided not to eat the Humakti. In return for another song, he told Grom three truths:
- He would need to visit Hell
- That the red-haired dragonfriend should visit him [Krang] soon
- He should turn left, then right
With these mysterious words churning through his mind along side the fear*, Grom passed by the dragon and entered the tunnel behind him. Grom soon came to a fork in the tunnel, where he went left. After a short while, he found a small opening on the right, which he ignored. Continuing down the tunnel, he eventually came to the bottom of a well-like opening, at the base of which were mounds of rotting and rotten foodstuff. Grom proceeded to climb up to the opening.
Xaraya, Skye and Harmo were meanwhile carving their way through the newts of the temple. Eventually they found the main temple area, a large partly-flooded chamber with a continually-flowing source of water, where they were ambushed by a large force of newtlings led by two small specimens clad in religious regalia. Skye recognized the older one as Croaker, the shaman who had ransomed her. After a short and bloody battle, in which the younger shaman was badly wounded by Xaraya’s arrows, Croaker called for a truce, and invited the invaders towards the water source where he stood for parlay. Xaraya reluctantly agreed.
In the meantime, Grom had crawled out of the well to find three newtlings armed with tridents and nets surrounding him. They called on him to surrender, but the Humakti was not about to do that. At one point in the ensuing combat, Grom was on his back (where he ended up repeatedly), with nets entangling his shield arm and left leg. However, with his sword arm free, a follower of Humakt is never beaten. Moments later, three newtlings lay eviscerated at his feet.
Back in the temple, Xaraya’s suspicions were confirmed. As the three adventurers set foot in the water, Undines (water elementals) surged at them at Croaker’s command. The remaining newtlings charged with tridents and nets at our heroes. The other shaman called forth the Water Horse spirit, while Croaker climbed to the roof of the temple. Yet while Skye and Harmo held off the attackers, Xaraya shot a crippling blow at the younger shaman. Desperate to summon a healing spirit, the young shaman staggered through the door at the back of the temple…
…where he ran straight into Grom, who had been searching the rooms at the rear of the temple, looking for the right turn the dragon had told him about. Grom dispatched the wounded newtling quickly (at which point the fearsome Water Horse was freed from his command) and picked up the body. He entered the temple holding the body of the newtling leader above his head, saw Croaker on the roof, and threw the body at him. A good hit dislodged the elder shaman from his perch, and he fell to his death 20 feet below. The elementals dispersed and the other newtlings surrendered.
A search of the remaining temple rooms found several prisoners in the cell where Skye had been held, and a dragonewt embassy. The resulting conversation was as mysterious as interaction with dragonewts always is, and almost came to blows. Cooler heads thankfully prevailed.
With Grom still certain he had missed something, he, Grom and Xaraya returned to Krang, while Harmo marshaled the compliant prisoners to return to Ronegarth. Krang was delighted to see Skye, and asked Grom and Xaraya to leave them, indicating to Grom that he should retrace his steps.
Krang told Skye that she was the left hand of the dragon, and revealed to her certain draconic truths and insights that no human had learned for an age. She gained a degree of Draconic Illumination, and learned the secrets of a form of draconic magic that allowed her to breathe fire, although its use required a morning ritual (one that Skye has repeatedly failed to perform…)
Grom and Xaraya returned to the small cave that Grom had bypassed earlier. In it, they found the body of Daine, stabbed in the back with what Xaraya recognized as Tarnak’s knife. A small tunnel led to a cave that proved to be the final resting place of Xaraya’s would-be lover Tarnak, spliced in two by Daine’s iron longsword. On returning to Ronegarth, they learned from Daryli Godtalker that Daine’s sword possessed an enchantment whereby it would strike with terrible force on its own against anyone who slew its owner. Duke Raus gave the sword to Grom in recognition of his role in ridding the Duke of this thorn in his side, although he kept Daine’s iron plate armor.
*All characters from lands previously affected by the Empire of the Wyrms’ Friends have a Passion of Fear Dragons at 70%.