As the dragon’s eye opened and it spied the adventurers, standing at the ready in combat poses since they had been attacking the yuan-ti only moments before, it asked lazily in yuan-ti, “Are these subjects for the next ritual?” To which the yuan-ti replied no, but perhaps they could become such were they defeated. The dragon yawned and nodded, apparently feeling that it had done enough last night, and the sun was warm, and it was basking. Caffeine Kage, however, had a wake-up call for this beast. He can speak yuan-ti, and was not going to stand for such further ritual shenanigans. He rushed up to the still sleepy dragon, and drove a katana into its flesh, accompanied by a crack of lightning from his ki power. This woke the dragon up rather spectacularly, as with a howling roar it took to the sky, and after speaking its harsh draconic language, its skin shifted and greyed, becoming like stone.
Likewise, the older looking Lendle had awoken amongst the ruckus, drawn a scroll from his pouch, and the same stony appearance came over his skin. The yuan-ti attempted to bind several of the adventurers in holding spells, but NubNub crawled out from among the swampy muck in his full plate, and freed them with his merciful prayers to Hesed. Both Shu and Kage attempted to beat on him, but he just laughed at their incompetence, the blows raining on him but doing him no harm. Vargas, who had been stuck in the mud, freed himself long enough to be beset by skeletons rushing out from the swamps to attack him and other members of the party. Utuk was able to paste a skeleton attacking Blueblood, Mellvin continued to remain held by the spells of the yuan-ti, though they had been chopped down, and was also beset by a couple of skeletal dwarves from the swamp. The dragon summoned a darkness over the battlefield, but NubNub was quick to dispel it, much to the chargrin of both magic-using enemies for some reason. Lendle attempted to turn Vargas into some sort of shetland pony but, for good or ill, it did not hold, and he remained a centaur.
The battle continued. Once the darkness was lifted, the dragon actually swooped down from the sky and let out a terrifying stream of acid, spraying over Kage and Shu, not only burning their skin, but melting their equipment as well. Shu was left buck naked, and while Kage’s Phoenix robe survived, his katanas, both of them, dissolved, crumbled, and fell to pieces. He was once again distraught – for the third time in a major, deadly combat, he had been robbed of his lifeline. Also, his hat was destroyed. The dragon then scooped up Lendle, and flew off with him into the sky, to use him as some sort of magical airborne artillery service. While NubNub concentrated on freeing Mellvin from his hold so he could fight off skeletons with most of the other combatants – including Utuk, who had taken to the undead with his holy mace, and was getting a growing feeling that his god hated and despised these abominations – a trio of evil-looking gibbering undead kender beset the party.
Blueblood pondered over his few remaining spells. He let off a barrage of magic missiles against the dragon, who responded by flying down across the party to attack once more. Lendle summoned some massive, rubbery black tentacles from under the muddy plateau, which grabbed and grasped at the party. Utuk copped one around the neck, dragging him face first into the mud. NubNub was grabbed by another, which dragged him waist deep into the slushy ground! Thankfully, Shu was able to artfully dodge the offending tentacles, before moving to assist the kobold, while Kage sought to wrestle valiantly against the tentacle choking Utuk with only his bare hands. Blueblood sought to catch the dragon in an ice storm, and actually succeeded, but its accursed magic resistance protected it, and it flew through the storm without injury, slapping Shu and Vargas with its mighty wings. Skeletons were dispatched, after causing some injury and a great deal of distraction. Tentacles were dealt with, in the main. Kender ghouls were by and large defeated. The party were tired and sore, but they now only had two enemies in mind. The dragon once again sought to summon darkness, this time at the other end of the plateau, but was once again foiled by the kobold cleric, and both mage and dragon were highly upset now.
And that was when Lendle decided it was time to use a fireball. The tiny pea-sized spot of orangey-red hurtled down, growing in size, aimed at the still half-buried NubNub, exploded and engulfed much of the party in a hot, deadly conflagration. If Vargas had been in the explosion at the time, and not helping Mellvin fight off his skeletons, he would have surely died. Utuk fell, clothing smouldered, gasping a last breath, knocking at death’s door. Surprisingly, NubNub buried himself even more in the mud, and escaped with minor injuries. The dragon followed up, and poured out another terrible breath of acid on Shu, noting how unaffected he seemed to be by the spells flying about, and stripped the bugbear of his life as well. NubNub managed to crawl his way out of the mud, and Mellvin threw him over to heal Utuk, but things are looking grim… and the dragon with the gnome wizard handgun is wheeling around for another pass. The party took some cheer in knowing they had survived against the odds… but the real battle was only just beginning, and the party was on its last legs.