The next day, as our heroes were just rising from their slumber after returning from the Fortress of Arkanon, alarm bells rang throughout Guardian’s Peak. Quickly, our heroes rose to action, learning from random guards that Black Dragons were seen approaching the Peak. After meeting up with the Seven Sisters, our heroes form a defense plan with them and stand before the front gates of Guardian’s Peak, ready to intercept the dragons should they come.
The black dragons landed before the gate, and from there backs dismounted two Warforged bearing a striking resemblance to Ten, and then a lich, who Ten finds familiar. The lich acts as the messenger to the party, informing them that he wants to form a partnership with them to send this fortress to “the Worm that Walks” back under the sands. He explains that long long ago during the reign of the great Dragonborn empire of Arkosia, this Fortress first became a stronghold of Kyuss, and then the threat was such that all of Dragon-kind united to stop the evil before it could corrupt the land too much. They used a powerful ritual invoking the Platinum Dragon to bury the Fortress deep below the sands, supposedly never to be risen again.
However, the same weakness of the Primal Spirits that is allowing all the oddities in the Dry March to occur allowed followers of Orcus to shatter the ritual and raise the Fortress once again. There is no love between the dragons and Orcus, and whether the Demon prince’s forces can control Kyuss is irrelevant: the threat the “Worm that Walks” poses to the world is too great for anyone to ignore.
Our heroes contemplate the lich’s offer, but have many misgivings. Caelestis Nailo and Ten both want to kill the lich on sight for being such a horrid offense against the Raven Queen, though both stay their hand to hear him out first (also, they figure the concept of fight a lich, 3 adult black dragons, and two warforged of Ten’s quality with only five of them might not go well). Norlan Donaaran sees the validity in the lich’s proposal, but at the same time his clan loyalties cause him to question the honesty of the dragons, as well as wonder if they can’t get help from their friends in Bahest instead, especially since his betrothed, Kulia Silverspear, is a member of The Draconic Guard. In the end, they temporarily decline the lich’s offer, saying they’ll use the Sending ritual to contact them if they change their mind.
The lich begrudgingly accepts this outcome. Before he leaves however, he and Ten have a conversation that results in this lich claiming to be the true Brandis Aldrin, his original creator. Brandis introduces Ten to the warforged, claiming them to be a part of “Gamma series” and continues to call Ten “Alpha Ten” as if to suggest he belonged to an “Alpha series” of his creations. The two warforged with him were “Gamma Twelve” and “Gamma Fourteen.” The lich claims that the Brandis our heroes killed in the search for the Arcanist’s Compass was really his apprentice who was given his identity to keep Brandis’ “ascension” to lich-dom a secret. Said apprentice went AWOL eventually and the lich thanks the party for “putting him down before he could have caused more harm.” Cealestis uses this opportunity to force a thanks from the lich’s sarcasm, and is quite amused with herself.
Our heroes then fly off to Bahest to talk to Kulia and the rest of the Draconic Guard. After filling them in on the situation, they talk things over with the gold dragon brood. In a matter of hours, they have organized a plan to assault the fortress using two units of the Draconic Guard. Twenty members of the Draconic Guard in total lead the assault, and 5 young gold dragons who do not yet have riders ferry our hero’s group, Alia Dawnedge, Caelestis, Eve, Norlan, and Ten to the Fortress.
Our heroes lead their dragons into battle against Vrock demons that move to interrupt them, as the dragons dodge the anti-airship harpoons firing at them. After the long battle, the dragons drop our heroes off before the final tower. Within the tower a multi-headed demon waited, and confidently engaged the party. Little did it know that it’s attacks would prove nearly useless against Ten’s defenses and furious onslaught and the party’s combined assault. Even as it grew more heads, it didn’t stand a chance. The monster tried to bargain for it’s life, but ultimately it was slain, its treasures claimed. Norlan had to BS the ritual to re-seal the fortress since they killed the demon before he could reveal the secret, nor did they get that information from the lich, but luckily they were able to re-complete the ritual, and the fortress sunk into the sand in a whirlpool, as three black dragons watched from afar. Victorious, our heroes spent the night in Bahest before returning to Guardian’s Peak the following morning.