Resting after the Tiger Attack, the party caught a short rest, and spoke with Tolhesten about his time in the garden and his goal of reaching the Maintenance layer of the garden.
As for the gardens – well, you’re in the spire. The pedestrian fun, that was all in the outer gardens. The inner spire is entirely separate from the outer gardens. Many Geslo ago, long before what the Mesians call ‘the first’ Geslo, our ancestors were worried about the destruction of the flora and fauna, and built the gardens, and protected them with a great strong magic – hundreds of our greatest ancient mages sacrificed themselves to the construction of the magical barriers that protect this place.
As we constructed it, we knew what a marvel we had created, and wanted to share it with all the people of our capitol, as a memorial to the sacrifice of the mages – but all the plants and animals in the world meant many too dangerous for the public were collected as well. And that’s where the spire comes in.
The spire stands, totally independent, and contains the true dangers – the things we could never risk exposing to the public. But then, three hundred years ago, when the Great Plague began, we shared access to the spire with the royal mages of the great kingdoms of this continent, as well as Pretor and Igerron to the south.
The plague was horrible – for 200 years, it broke us in a way that the Geslo and it’s milennial rains of stone never could. We, elves, of course, suffered greater than most. Once we heard news from Galo Serin that every left one of us in the capitol fell, a few of us decided to hide here, and raise magical barriers preventing any elves from entering.
I’m one of the last of our kind older than the plague – I’m glad to see our lines have survived, somehow.
But….my time is near an end. I strive now just to make it to the control floor…to lower the barriers, and allow outsiders into the Outer Gardens again.
I don’t want this place to be lost to the ages, if we’re going to return from the plague, we should have our beauty available to us.
He warned the party, however, first they would have to cross through the next floor of the spire, a swamp guarded by a young black dragon, filled with clouds of acid.
But before ascending, the party found some scrolls, Tales of Kisde, bearing the same logo (an array of alchemical symbols) as the notes found in the Cave long ago which contained reference to the Sunslayer legend. They gathered the scrolls, and headed up the stairs, into the swamp.
Across a river of knee-deep much, they saw the dragon – and it saw them. Lilli immediately cursed the dragon, and struck it with her eldritch blasts, and the dragon took flight.
Roaring into the air, it approached, spewing a line of it’s acid breath through the space between Callista and Lilliana, striking both – Callista is badly hurt, and Lilli knocked out.
Morel rushes to Lilliana’s side, and cures her wounds a bit, bringing the warlock back to her feet. Seeing Morel tend to Lilli, Emilia chants a song of healing for Callista, and changing her tune, takes cover behind
the Dragonborn while inspiring him with her voice to move with Haste.
The Dragonborn bursts running at great speed through the swamp, then lays into the Dragon with three rapid blows of greatsword, each striking true. With a menacing roar on the final strike, Harsgalt drives fear into the dragon’s heart, and the dragon retreats across the swamp.
Tolhesten bolts forward, making his way towards the steps as Lilliana casts hex and lashes two Eldritch Blasts into the retreating dragon. The blasts shaking him back into focus, the dragon roars back at Harsgalt, disgusted another with the dragon’s blood would strike him. Cursing in draconic, the dragon breathes a rain of acid at Harry, knocking the Dragonborn out as acid pours in through his arm.
Morel rushes to Harsgalt’s side, reviving him quickly, as Emilia sings a dissonant tune in the dragon’s direction. He shrieks, fleeing further, beating it’s wings and hiding in the far corner of the swamp as Callie heals herself and Tolhesten makes his way towards the stairs.
Lilli blasts the dragon again with the force of her dark gift, driving the dragon into a rage. It flies at Harsgalt, and bites him viciously, then after one swipe with a claw is dodged by the dragonborn, the other claw strikes critically, and Harsgalt is downed again.
Emilia rushes forward to revive Harsgalt, and Callista uses a misty step into the ether to advance quickly on the dragon. Harsgalt, reluctant to slay his own kind but seeing Lilli’s most recent attack has left him quite wounded, begins to argue in Draconic, hoping to intimidate him – the Dragon stands, roaring back, ready to attack.
Tolhesten hangs is head, sad to see a mighty creature fall, but relieved to be safe. Emilia finds a book on dragon physiology in the swamp, and the gang continues on their way, up the stairs.
They find themselves in a large warehouse space, where little brass spider automatons wander amongst fully form trees, rock piles, even snow – the maintenance layer of the garden.
Also in the garden, the glowing control orbs – five of them, which contain the spirits of the elders that protect the garden. Tolhesten has come to destroy them, and allow the garden to be open to the outside once more.
Possessed by her Patron, Lilli has other plans – she works to stop the