But first, they had to get permission from the new outpost commander.
|Wait...if Myrtani kidnapped Sir Karl, wouldn't it be wise to search for him since it would lead to Myrtani? I'm confused.|
Sir Mathias made it clear to the party that they could help search for Sir Karl, but only if it did not interfere with their mission to uncover what Myrtani was up to. Overall, the party was not happy with what Sir Mathias had told them, but they agreed it was wise not to abandon the whole mission.
As they left the office, though, Maya returned...
|Of course we know what happened. You told us!|
Maya informed the party that Myrtani had taken Sir Karl to Neraka. How she had come about the information was anyone's guess. She suggested that with the party's help, they could penetrate the enemy headquarters in Neraka and free him. Without a moment of hesitation, the party pledged to help Maya.
She was grateful, and lead them out the gate. She told the party to follow her and she would show them the way to Neraka.
|The party wisely avoids the road.|
Though the journey took nearly a day, the party pushed themselves toward Neraka. For Maya's part, she barely spoke during the trip. Any attempts to engage her in conversation ended quickly, as she informed any who asked that she did not want to be bothered and instead wanted to focus on the task ahead of her.
Wil Dhargon attempted to cheer her up by showing her a magic trick, but somehow the kender only managed to set fire to to his own cloak, which slowed everyone down while they stopped to put him out.
Eventually, the party arrived at the gates to Neraka. As they approached, they quickly discovered that the place had not been left unguarded.
|What a surprise!|
Shouting in glee, Draconians descended upon the party as they approached the gate. Lord Benjamin ordered everyone into formation and lead the group into the attack. But, something happened that he did not expect.
A loud roar sounded from behind. As the party whipped around, they saw Maya changing shape. Her body twisted and grew until she took on the form of a large silver dragon! She howled loudly as ice flew from between her lips and struck at the Draconians.
|Love the new look, Maya.|
The Draconians were no match for the might of an angry dragon. With the party's help, the Draconians were quickly defeated, as Maya used her incredible strength to knock aside the gate. Once the battle was finished, she transformed back into her human form and approached the party.
|Why would he be embarrassed? It's obviously awesome!|
She said: "Well now you know, I am a silver dragon who loves a mortal man. I dislike keeping secrets, but I knew Sir Karl would be embarrassed if my identity were well known. I hope you will understand."
The party agreed that her secret was her own business. They told her that, for now, the top priority would be rescuing Sir Karl. She agreed.
"He will be in the main headquarters. We should head there."
Finding the headquarters turned out to be easier than the party thought. Once there, Maya once again transformed into a dragon and defeated the few guards who stood in the way. The party opened the door and headed inside.
As soon as they entered, they were met with a terrible sight.
|Well, this rescue isn't going as planned, is it?|
Sir Karl staggered up the stairway ahead of them, covered in blood. He collapsed at the top of the stairs as the party rushed over to him. "The slaves...they must be freed from below...help them..."
Tamera tried to aid him with divine healing, but it didn't seem to do any good. He kept speaking: "They tortured me to get information, but I gave them nothing. Killed my guards when they came for me again. Afraid I didn't quite make it all the way out...."
"Maya, I love you," he whispered. His eyes suddenly glazed over and his breathing stopped. With those final words, Sir Karl Gaardsen was dead.
|She is understandably upset.|
Maya broke down and started crying. Then, her face contorted angrily. She shouted loudly that she would kill Myrtani and the other Draconians.
With a scream of anguish, she transformed into her dragon form while the party watched. She reached out and picked up Sir Karl's body, cradling it between her claws. Her wings shot out, and she kicked off the ground, flying back out the front door and into the sky.
With that, Maya and Sir Karl were gone.
Stunned, the party quickly regained their composure. If nothing else, Sir Karl would want them to rescue the prisoners. It had been his dying wish. The party pulled themselves together and headed down the stairs.
As soon as they hit the bottom of the stairs, they heard the sounds of battle from somewhere nearby. Weapons ready, they rushed down a dark hallway.
At the end of the hallway, they found a single half-elf wiping out a group of Draconians. He had a couple of prisoners in tow behind him. He was surprised to find the party behind him, but recognized that Lord Benjamin was a Knight of Solamnia by his markings.
"I don't know who you are," the half-elf said, "but if you are champions of good, then you are friends of mine. As for myself, I am called Tanis."
|Sounds like a plan! Who are you again?|
He told the party: "I had heard of slaves being taken in the area, so I disguised myself and arranged to be captured. I have just managed to free the slaves here, but more are held to the south. I will organize the slaves here while you free the others. Then we will arrange a diversion to allow the slaves a chance to escape."
The party agreed, remembering that they were doing this in memory of Sir Karl. They vowed to Tanis that they would return soon with the rest of the slaves.
NEXT TIME: The party helps Tanis free the slaves...