Low Hanging Fruit
Following the map retrieved from the Kobe No Maru we sailed south along the Draconic Coast in search of this mysterious Lizardfolk town of ‘Gold Town’. We would later learn that this village was called ‘ Oratlan’ but at that time, our minds were set on one very important thing: gold.
Finding the village was easy enough, the map was detailed enough to allow us to identify the estuary where Oratlan was situated. The Captains called a meeting of the Officers to formulate a plan. It was decided that a night-raid wouldn’t be a great idea, despite several suggestions to do just that due to the Lizardfolk propensity for intimate knowledge about their lands. Instead it was decided that an all out assault in the early hours would represent our best chance at catching the Lizardfolk off-guard.
We were wrong.
The next morning, the Bastard was sailed right into the mouth of the river on which Oratlan was constructed. We were met by a dug-in and very ready militia of Lizardfolk warriors. They were armed and protected by over-turned canoes and other hastily constructed earthworks. The Lizards must have seen us arrive the night before. They had even moved their women and young far out of our way. The Lizards had a large militia of determined warriors led by a big warrior and a canny witch doctor who wore a skull mask. The Lizards lived up to the name of ‘Gold Town’- most of them had Gold Dragon heritage and the gleam of gold was constantly visible from the bodies of the warriors and the large statue at the centre of town which kept the gaze of most of us.
The long wait over night had built the crew up into a ‘plunder lust’ and despite the shouted orders to halt from Titus, the shore party leapt into the shallows and charged into Oratlan.
The preemptive move by the majority of the crew forced the hands of the officers and the attack was underway. We fought hard but took many casualties. The ballistae on the Bastard helped keep the defenders pinned down but pressing into the town proper was hard going. Ratline took a spear to the gut and died before I could get to him , while Jape, Tilly, Shivikah and Fipps were also injured badly and would require ongoing treatment. Even the officers were badly injured- Jasper lost an eye from an exploding potion thrown by the witch doctor and Captain Eikou’s leg was broken after a nasty underwater tussle with a summoned water elemental. Titus, Gian and Kaheed were also badly bruised and bloodied after a long, hard fight.
Eventually the last of the Lizards was taken out. Some captives were found from amongst the injured, but they were killed by some of the more bloodthirsty of the crew before the officers could tell them otherwise. The lack of discipline from the crew continued to be a problem as they immediately set about looting the village and burning down huts. They were brought to heel by a particularly angry Titus who must have burst a blood vessel after screaming at the crew for a good ten minutes. As a punishment for not listening to the orders at the start of the fight, the crew lost their looting rights and all plunder found was to be given over to the ship for sharing out.
Meanwhile some of the officers, while searching the Hetman’s hut found two captives in a dingy earthen cell: Nobuhara and Dartak. We didn’t have time to interrogate them much but it would appear that they were held by the Lizards for infiltrating the town and killing the Gold Dragon who once defended the town! Quite a claim! We were rather distracted at the time however as not a minute after we had pulled the two up out of the ground, did a bone-shaking roar echo through the trees.
The silhouette of a large dragon was visible through the smoke from the burning village flying into the sky from across the river towards us at some pace. It would seem that the town was not without a Dragon defender after all…
We stood there for a few seconds, mouths agape. ‘This can’t be real’ I remember thinking. As the dragon got closer though, the severity of the situation rapidly re-asserted itself into my body along with most of the others around. We scattered to the nearest shelter under trees, behind over-turned canoes, into the river wherever we could go to break line of sight to this monster. Some of the officers took shelter in a small wooden shack which had already taken a pounding from the water elemental’s assaults earlier in the fight. Captain Eikou dragged the two captives into the shack behind her and I ducked in behind them just as the dragon’s shadow fell over me. Its’ roar was terrifying and I immediately began a prayer to Besmara for deliverance. The glittering bronze scales of its’ hide were visible from any angle on the beach as it swept by overhead, venting its’ rage at our transgressions.
Captain Van Helgen clearly read the situation very differently to the rest of us. As we cowered and hid, he remained in plain sight- musket slung casually over his shoulder and began to hail the dragon! What was he thinking!? I should have had faith in him though, if this happened again today I know which side I’d back. As the dragon circled, peering down at the ruined town, Van Helgen shouted up to the dragon that they could use its’ help as the ‘one who did this’ indicating the village, had ‘got away’. The dragon actually believed the ruse, and landed to begin conversation. Needless to say the parley didn’t last long, as up close the dragon was able to more accurately survey the damage to the town and the big piles of loot being prepared near our ship. The next thing I know there’s aloud bang and the dragon is bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest while Edward sprinted away, frantically reloading his musket. Combat then.
The dragon mauled at Edward, tearing strips from him but still he fought on, pumping shot after shot at point blank range into the mighty beast. Eventually the dragon took to the skies once more and disappeared over the jungle canopy, large footprints and a trail of blood on the sand the only evidence of it ever being there. A tentative cheer went up from some of the more short-sighted crew. The officers remained tight-lipped and took the momentary pause to dress wounds and catch their breath.
The dragon reappeared a minute or two later but this time, a robed female Lizardfolk rode atop its’ back. They swooped low over the beach but this time we were ready. Titus gave the order and a volley of crossbow bolts, musket fire and even a ballista shot from the Bastard were our reply. Still the dragon came on, with a deafening thunderclap it opened its’ maw and released a bolt of electrical energy right at the hut where most of the officers were still taking cover. At the same time, the rider unleashed a magical assault sending a fireball arcing into the hut. The combined explosion of electrical and thermal discharge blew the hut to shattered splinters and sent the crew and officers hurtling through the air and taking most of them out of the fight.
The dragon continued to circle, the rider launching more spells at the survivors while we continued to return fire with everything we had. A lucky shot nicked the dragon’s wing, causing its flight to falter slightly and forcing it to land on the beach. It was all the excuse we needed, Kaheed and Jasper immediately sprinted towards the injured beast sensing an opening while the rest of us that could, continued to open up with our crossbows. Kaheed leapt atop the dragon using its scales as natural finger-holds to climb onto its back, acrobatically kicking the rider off as he went sending her tumbling off into the sand. The rest of the fight was a blur as I was busy tending to the wounded and dragging people out of the wreckage of the beach hut. When I looked up, the dragon was dead and somehow on fire itself. Kaheed was also marked with burns and had the Lizardfolk rider tightly grasped in his arms, frog-marching her towards the ship. Besmara be praised she answered my prayers once again. If I was going down in a fight it would be against a beast of the seas not some flying lizard!
We rounded up what loot we could, but there were no captives other than the dragon rider who turned out to be the village priest and so would fetch a good price at a slave market which kept some of the less scrupulous crew members happy.
The officers interrogated the priestess and she quickly divulged the location of two other places where loot might be held. The dragon’s lair south of the river (where the beast likely kept its hoard) and the town temple further up stream (where the gold dragon killed by Nobu and Dartak was currently being intered). The officers explored the lair and returned an hour later with armfuls of coins and reported no resistance. Made a nice change! We rested a while aboard the ship before the officers decided to head off to explore the temple upriver, spurred on by their easily-won treasure at the dragon lair. What they found there, they certainly didn’t expect, and when they returned, they were changed forever…