The group of adventurers stepped out of the final Earth Trial victorious. Well not all of them. They were handling the trial well till the ceiling started collapsing. Suddenly a test of standing still became a test of dodging chunks of rock being hurled around the chamber. Their paladin was caught off guard by an unlucky rock and plunged over the edge of the platform into the darkness below. The group left the chamber with cheers from the crowd but without Salah.
Once in the hallway they were greeted by Aiden who congratulated them on completing the trials and informed them that their friend was not gone forever and they would be reunited at the closing feast that night (there are a lot of feasts involved in the Earth Trials, it’s a big spectacle). Lieutenant Jonah seemed almost jovial for once and kept chuckling to himself that this was the best trial he had seen in a long while. At the feast they were in fact reunited with Salah who looked a little paler and more jumpy than usual. He informed them he woke up in a healing ward after shaking off the effects of the darkness. As he fell off the cliff, he remember the darkness swallowing him and all life being sucked from his body. He was recovering but still had some lingering effects from the shadow disease. Not many in the recovery room were as lucky. Many lost their sanity and would never be the same again. A few days of rest and some healing would see him make a full recovery (although he he still occasionally wakes up in a cold sweat from a nightmare of the darkness eating his soul).
The next day was the closing ceremonies for the Earth Trials. Each team that passed was called up and given their reward; full access to the Alchemist Teleportation Circle in Portakal, and their choice of a tattoo upgrade. For passing the Trial of Strength they could choose a permanent +1 to Strength. For passing the Trial of Endurance they could choose permanent training in Endurance and Dungeoneering. For passing the Trial of Steadfastness they could choose the Dwarven racial trait “Stand your Ground.”
Aiden informed them they would have some options now. He recommended they take the Iron Wyrm up the Spine Mountains to Briggs the Adamantine Citadel. From there they could get on a ship headed toward the Flame Pillar and the Fire Temple of Kizil. They could also travel the dark tunnels toward Koyu but it would be a journey fraught with dangers. They could also head west into the desert and try to get to Mavi, the Water Temple. However it would be difficult to find passage that way. Not surprisingly the group chose to head for Kizil next and as a parting gift, Aiden booked them all passage in the first class compartments. The journey was mostly uneventful. A Minotaur Ranger joined the group when Bixby found him on the Wyrm and claimed him as an old acquaintance. An old Shifter woman told everyone their fortunes. Everything was going smoothly right until the Iron Wyrm slowed and came to a halt about a week’s walk from Briggs. After some investigation the group found out a young dragon had just moved into the tunnel and was claiming it as it’s den. The guests were told not to worry as the Dragon Guard of Briggs was on it’s way and would arrive in about a week’s time. But the impatient group of adventurers would have none of that and sprung into action easily disposing of the young Adamantine dragon (Gir). When they arrived at Briggs they were placed under arrest instead of being welcomed as heroes. The Dragon Guard’s job was to guard the dragons and it turns out the group had unwittingly slain one under the Guard’s jurisdiction. The mother of that dragon was Raksha, the Adamantine Guardian of the Citadel. The meeting with her was tense but she revealed that Gir was her least favorite child and she knew it was only a matter of time before he got himself killed. The problem was now she was short a child which weakened her position amongst the other great dragons. So she proposed the group take out another young dragon that had recently settled along the coast. This blue upstart was raiding ships that were sailing for Briggs with trade goods and plundering it all for himself. She could do nothing about it as killing another dragon’s child would start a war and she was not yet positioned to want that. She declared that if they could take out this young blue dragon, then their debt would be void and they would be welcome in the Adamantine Citadel again. Also, she mentioned that this dragon had been plundering ships for a while now and probably had a decent amount of treasure that they could help themselves to. She just wanted them to bring back an Orb to as proof that the dragon was slain.
And so the group begins the task of finding this dragon so they can continue their journey…