Chapter 12. The Second Burning
The party hear that the Knights of Peros have called a crusade upon Draksylvania believing that dragon activity, at an all-time high in the region, may lead to a repeat of The Burning incident that occurred centuries ago. With the Knights of Peros, the Wardens and some of Krade’s men backing them, the party attack and liberate Happiness. Happiness which had been converted into a military camp was deserted after the battle. The party discover though Montios’s body inside of his house, the one house that hadn’t been torn down. After paying respects to the deceased cleric, who had provided them with so much insight and guidance, the party continued on to Castle Rondo.
Though heavily fortified by the Draksylvanians, the party members used the Gredixian tower and collapsed the structure on top of Castle Rondo punching a way into the city. While the Knights and Wardens fought in the city, the party infiltrated the castle and faced Nishkov and his black dragon mount. To the party’s surprise Nishkov himself was a black dragon, and revealed that he was one of the 5 black dragon brothers, Night Terror. The youngest of the 5 siblings, he told the party of Rasper’s plan to revive his mighty eldest brother Deathgaze. Deathgaze, who had led The Burning centuries ago had been imprisoned in Mount Alexandros, by the red dragon of the same name. Alexandros, the Traitor King had sacrificed himself to defeat Deathgaze and in the process had created one of the largest semi-active volcanoes in the Dragonspine range.
The party defeat Night Terror and rout the Draksylvanian forces in the city. Taking it for their own, the party investigate the jails where they find Brakov’s sister and his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth is not pregnant, her baby and Brakov’s fourthborn forcibly extracted from her. Elizabeth relates a horrific tale of how Anth, Rasper’s second in command, removed the child and promised to raise him in the way of the cultists and had then left Elizabeth to die. Apologizing to Brakov for being so angry with him to trust the cultists of her own life, she expires in his arms after one last kiss.
Brakov’s sister tells Brakov that Rasper is planning on sacrificing his firstborn son to Mount Alexandros. She tells him that after Brakov’s father sent him away from Draksylvania, Nishkov working with Rasper took over Draksylvania. Taking orders from Rasper, Nishkov executed all of the men in Brakov’s family by sacrifice to the volcano. Rasper had been attempting to awaken Deathgaze through sacrificing the firstborn child of the living generation. But he had failed to sacrifice Brakov and after Brakov had a child, he had to sacrifice the first born. Esteban was in danger. The world was in danger.
The party rushed off to Draksylvania. They arrived in the city and proceeded to attack it with the tower as well as their army. Drawn to the mountain paths though, the party went deep down the paths, following a line of peasants and cultists who beckoned them to the final showdown.
The party find Rasper at the foot of Mt. Alexandros, at a sacrifical alter in front of a chasm of lava. Rasper congratulates the party on getting this far and reveals himself to be Montios. Weston who is with the party goes into shock at the realization, reliving old memories of their adventure together. Montios retells a tale of how he, Weston and Moaiff were once an adventuring party and how they had once fought a group of demons. Montios had been dragged away into the Abyss at the end of the battle. Weston had abandoned the prospects of saving him but the woman he loved who was also adventuring with them at the time, created a portal and jumped in to save Montios. She didn’t make it back in the attempt but Montios did, a fact Weston could never come to terms with. It was after this event that Montios changed his specialization to extraplanar dimensions and travel.
Unfazed by the revelation, Moaiff encourages the party to strike down the corrupted cleric stating that he is not Montios anymore but something else. Rasper reveals Esteban Gonzalez on the sacrificial alter, then uses a powerful Mass Hold Person to prevent the party from moving. The party watch in helpless terror as Rasper holds up a sacrificial knife and proceeds to recite a ritual prayer. He then invites Scree to come up and finish the ritual, plunging the knife into Esteban and hurling the child’s corpse into the volcanic lava.
To the party’s amazement Scree easily walks up the altar. Rasper then reveals to the party that he has been helping Scree since after the Draksylvanian invasion of Rondo. While staying the Wildlands, Scree had met with Rasper and the cultists. It was Rasper who guided Scree to meet up with the party and ultimately led the party to the Titan’s Run. It was also Scree who had told Rasper of Esteban’s existence and of Brakov’s half-dragon lineage. Rasper hands the sacrificial knife to Scree and Scree prepares to plunge it into Esteban.
But instead he stabs the blade into Rasper, using all of his rogue talents to unleash a devastating sneak attack. Rasper falls back off the precipice of the sacrificial site into the lava. The party feel movement return to their bodies. Brakov quickly rescues Esteban and Cliff Edge stores the child in Mecha Dragona’s compartment. The party try to leave but feel a wall of force preventing them. Then from the lava rises Rasper, transformed into a nightmarish creature.
The party proceed to fight Rasper and soon find that using any magic against him leads to it being reversed on the party. Rasper unleashes the miasma on the party again and again in the form of a poisonous liquid that turns into a curse. The party manage to hack off Rasper’s limbs hanging onto the sacrifical alter and send him scrambling down the chasm into the lava. Rasper though uses his body, which is fixated in the very cliff of the sacrificial site, to capture Moaiff and Weston and pulls them under the cliff out of site.
The party take a quick reprieve before Rasper returns in the form of an ominously hovering cleric. Covered in a black shell of miasma, the party also find Moaiff and Weston facing them. The party then fight Moaiff and Weston and manage to break them out of the shells of miasma. They also defeat Rasper incarnated as Montios and drive him under the ground again.
Rasper then shows his final incarnation, a smaller version of his first form but replacing his head with a giant gaping vortex of a mouth. In this fight Rasper kills Bearington the II and heavily wounds the party. Rasper manages to pin Davy the druid under one hand, but Cliff Edge uses a lightning bolt to free Davy only to have Rasper turn it back on him. Cliff Edge falls to the ground unconcious, but because of a magical failsafe he made, is immediately transported to the plane of heaven.
The party believing Cliff Edge dead, batter the monstrosity in front of them slicing off Rasper’s arms. Rasper then falls. From his chest explodes thousands of tiny scrawny blackened arms, attempting to save its body from the burning lava. Only one pair manages to cling to the edge. Rasper falls into the lava and is consumed and only a weak Montios clings to the edge of the cliffside, begging for help.
The party strike down Montios. His last words as he falls though are directed at Scree. “You who have betrayed me, I curse you! Take this gift!”
The party watch as Montios’s body is consumed by the lava. Suddenly Mt. Alexandros begins to rumble and shake. Its summit explodes and purging lava runs down its sides. The party escape quickly. Cliff Edge, who had been greeted warmly in heaven by celestial adorers and fans, returns to the party well and alive.
Together they watch as Draksylvania is once again purged by lava as it had been centuries ago during The Burning. The Gredixian tower slowly melts away along with Castle Draksylvania and the other buildings of the city. The population flees westward to Castle Rondo and there, Brakov states that he is king of what is now New Draksylvania.
The party then take a rest. Their battle finished. The world saved.