Diablotin: The Dragon's Skull

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A one-shot adventure run in November 2017. Set some 1700 years prior to the main campaign, in the aftermath of the Dragonfire War, on the remote Iles Furneaux.

Background

Duchess Fiousa Menomonie is the ruler of the Iles Furneaux, at the young age of 17. Her father, Duke Verlangis, died in the Dragonfire War of 567-568, leaving her in charge of the islands, one of the most isolated (and tenuously-held) parts of the Aveyrone Empire. It is also perhaps the only breeding site left for the mysterious and rare sea dragons, which come to the rocky islands off the coast once every seven years to lay their eggs. The sea dragons, like all dragons in Aveyrone, are endangered - their numbers decreasing for reasons that are not entirely clear. Perhaps human incursion into their territory threatens them or is causing them to withdraw from their previous homes, and certainly some humans consider hunting a dragon to be a marvellous challenge. However some of the great noble families have formed alliances with the dragons who live in their lands, with relationships ranging from wary tolerance to genuine friendships.

The relationship of the Menomonie dukes of the Iles Furneaux to the sea dragons is a more troubled one. The semi-aquatic creatures are not evil, but can be capricious and have a temperamental nature, which can lead to problems with the ship routes that keep the islands linked to the mainland. When the Aveyronnais nobles first conquered the islands about 150 years ago, they initially considered the dragons a nuisance and tried to drive them away. The late Duke Verlangis, however, attempted to improve relations with the powerful and intelligent creatures, to the point where he was able to form an alliance with a mighty dragon named Kaldruss. Unfortunately, both the duke and the dragon were killed in battle during the war of succession that followed Emperor Verel's claim to the throne. This tragedy has caused relations with the sea dragons to once again become strained.

The indigenous inhabitants of the islands, the Askuo, have long had a more mutually beneficial relationship with the sea dragons (and their smaller, less dangerous brethren such as the tidepool dragons and fog dragons). The Askuo shamans view the dragons as manifestations of the Great Serpent, the all-powerful force that binds the universe together. When the Aveyronnais first came to the islands, the Askuo tried to befriend them, seeing their Lizard god as perhaps another embodiment of this concept, but they were rapidly disabused of that notion. The Aveyronnais have worked to convert the natives, whether by words or by the sword, and there are relatively few left who still follow the old ways. Those who do stay mainly in the more isolated areas of the islands, rather than in or around the busy Aveyronnais port city of Eleucina.

This spring is the season when the sea dragons would normally return for nesting. Duchess Fiousa wants to make an appropriate offering to them, in particular to their eldest female, a majestic elder dragon named Ynithrenn. Among the items that is to be offered to them is the skull of Kaldruss, who was Ynithrenn's offspring. The remains of dragons are very important to their kin, and it is an important gesture to return Kaldruss's skull. The offering was to take place at a temple on the coast and near the dragons' nesting grounds. However, the skull has mysteriously disappeared from the temple. Obviously this loss would be a great affront to the dragons, and might irreparably harm the relationship with them. The duchess offers a reward to anyone who is able to recover it before the dragon delegation arrives in three days' time.

Characters

Events

The characters questioned the priest at the temple where the skull was being kept, and he spoke of a mysterious woman who had attended the previous night's ceremony. He didn't recognize her, which was unusual. He felt a bit uneasy and tried to approach her to talk to her. When he did so, two other cloaked figures appeared from the shadows (they smelled strongly of rotting seaweed and brine) and he was struck with a sudden weakness and fell to the ground. He was able to see the three figures lift the skull, although he passed out as they were removing it. They learned that animal activity in the area had been low lately, and there had been other unnatural disturbances. They learned of Ukonkivi, "The Eye Within The Island," formerly a holy site of the Askuo but now used by the Aveyronnais for peat harvesting operations. On venturing there they encountered a ship that had been wrecked and rescued a stranded sailor who spoke of a mysterious woman who took the drowned bodies of several of his crewmates.

Arriving on the island within the island, they spoke with a peat farmer there whose daughter was infected with a strange disease that turned her hair red and weakened her bones. After healing her they were allowed to camp in the family's barn, where the peat was stored, and where they were attacked by a bog mummy. Finally they arrived at the sacred site, a yet smaller island, where they found a house made of bone with the dragon's skull as a roof. It was being used by a coven of three hags in order to perform sinister rituals to raise the dead as bog mummies. Upon defeating them, the group were able to recover the skull and return it.