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The Dragon and the Witch

19 Mar

This battle occurred during my son Joshua’s Icewind Dale D&D 5E campaign he is running from a Wizards of the Coast adventure book.

Here there be some spoilers!

 

The dragon chased us to Good Mead.

He had cut us off from Easthaven in the pre-dawn, so we turned our horses and made for Good Mead. We started out with a half mile lead. To our good fortune, the dragon never took wing but pursued us on foot. We made it to the gate with only a quarter mile lead. The gate closed behind us. I climbed the stairs to the rampart. Clarisse and Granela followed. Varus, Cass, and Glacia stayed on the ground behind the gates.

The Ice Witch rode the dragon, which was close enough to see clearly now even though the sun was still below the horizon. This was like no dragon of which we had ever heard. This dragon was mostly skeleton with bits of dried skin shrunken tightly to its frame. He had not flown because most of the membrane composing his wings was gone. His wings were mostly a skeletal frame, with only some pieces of dried skin taut between the bones like a drum head. The sight was horrifying to behold. However, if this decomposed but animated dragon corpse could not fly, then perhaps its state of decay meant it could not unleash fire or frost from its terrible maw, either.

The dragon charged the gate, and the witch looked up to see us on the wall. Her popular name, Ice Witch, fit her well. She looked unnaturally white. She raised a hand and pointed a finger. A fog cloud grew out of the damp air and enveloped the battlements, blinding us to what was going on outside. We felt as well as heard the dragon hit the gate. I moved left along the rampart to try and get out of the fog. Clarisse and Garnela followed. As soon as I cleared the fog and could see the Ice Witch, I snapped my fingers and pointed at the witch, hurling a fire mote at her head. She ducked as Clarisse also fired her crossbow. My fire bolt and Clarisse’s quarrel both missed…but Garnela’s eldritch blast did not. The bright energy bolt lanced out from Garnela’s wand and connected squarely with the Ice Witch’s shoulder.

The Ice Witch flinched and took the blast. She looked on Garnela with cold fury. The witch waved her hand. A swirling glow stretched out and took on a spear shape. The Ice Witch hurled the spear at Garnela. The spear, a monstrous icicle, flew impossibly fast to the top of the battlement. Garnela had no chance to dodge as the ice spear took her solidly through the chest. Garnela fell back from the battlement in a splash of her own blood.

Everybody on the rampart ducked. The wall shook again as the dragon once more hit the gates. This time, the gates did not hold.

The dragon and the Ice Witch entered Good Mead.

There was no way we were going to last under the onslaught of both the dragon and the witch. The witch’s magic was clearly more advanced than mine to have any hope of winning a mage duel, and her Ice Spears were capable of dropping as hardy a soul as our tiefling, Garnela, in one blow. I had to get the witch out of this fight somehow.

Recalling a drow tactic which I had discovered when researching The Shard, I scooped a pinch of bat fur and pitch from my spell pouch and rubbed them between my index finger and thumb as I spoke the word of Darkness. I centered the black globe on the Ice Witch’s head.

She can’t hit us if she can’t see us. I hope.

Cass, Glacia, and Varus threw themselves valiantly at the dragon. Cass’s glaive bounced off a dragon’s rib, and a sweep of the dragon’s tail sent the elf warrior sprawling. Glacia screamed her war cry and furiously chopped away at the dragon with her axe.

Clarisse knelt alongside Garnela’s fallen form. She still lived, but not for long unless she received immediate aid. Clarisse reached into Garnela’s pack for a flask. The flask contained not brandy, though brandy would have been most welcome, but a healing elixir. Clarisse spilled some into Garnela’s mouth. The bleeding stopped. The rent tissue of her chest knit closed. Garnella’s eyes opened, and she picked her head up.

I concentrated on maintaining the darkness surrounding the witch, but I realized that this was only a temporary help. At some point, and probably sooner rather than later, we would have to switch to the offensive. I edged along the rampart while concentrating on the darkness globe. When I dropped the darkness spell, I needed to be close enough to the witch to engage her with a witch bolt electrical blast.

Having healed Garnela, Clarisse drew her two rapiers. She sprinted along the rampart and leaped with a cry onto the dragon’s back. She advanced with the rapiers into the black globe, knowing the witch was in this fifteen foot sphere. Clarisse felt a tug and a tear along the upper arm of her tunic. I saw another ice spear fly out of the darkness globe and sail over the battlement into the darkness beyond.

The melee on the ground between the two elves, the barbarian, and the dragon raged. Claw bashed on shield. Glaive chopped at bone. Axe bit into rotten dragon flesh and bone. Teeth snapped at Glacia. Glacia staggered back, then shook herself, howled again, and threw herself once more at the dragon with renewed fury.

Suddenly, the temperature dropped. I heard a howling wind, though I felt no accompanying blowing. Then the sleet hit me in the face. And the arms. And legs. I was surrounded by a whirling, blowing sleet cloud. As I struggled to keep to my feet, my concentration was disturbed, and the darkness globe surrounding the witch fell.

I suppose the Ice Witch didn’t actually have to see me to throw that one.

At this moment, our mighty Glacia delivered a final glorious blow up through the chest of the dragon, nearly cleaving the beast in two. The two halves shuddered and dropped. Thus ended the dragon.

Clarisse and the Ice Witch faced each other as they rode out the dragon’s fall. Off balance from the jarring of the dragon’s fall, Clarisse delivered weak thrusts with her rapiers. The Ice Witch began moving her hands. We had no idea what was coming this time. Would it be another Ice Spear, or something worse? Garnela, on her feet now, cast an eldritch blast that staggered the witch, but the witch’s hands continued their arcane motions. Suddenly from the ground, a flash of light leaped from Varus to the witch as he spoke a word of divine magic and pointed with a flourish. The witch was wrapped in an impossibly bright light. She screamed. Her form seemed as a snow carving, then melted and broke apart in the light. A pile of snow remained where she had stood on the twice-dead dragon’s back, and then even the snow disappeared.

It hadn’t been the real Ice Witch–merely a form of the witch she had sent in her stead. A wizard that could create such a form was far, far above my own powers. And she was still out there somewhere.

I carefully made my way down the stairs through the sleet slush. On the ground, I approached one of the town guards as he stood immobile, jaw agape at the battle he had just witnessed.

I asked, “Good Guard, where is the nearest place I could get a beer?”

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