The party on their Draconic mount emerge onto the plateau into cold bright sunlight reflecting from the clouds, and the great being moves smoothly forward towards the sheer drop before leaping out into the wind currents and starting a fast easy descent into the clouds towards the shadowed valley where the hags reside. The experience is unlike any the party have experienced before and is both exhilarating and anxiety inducing all at the same time.
They are deposited quietly by the Dragon nearby to the valley ruins, and the dragon uses her own powers to hide her presence, as the party prepare themselves and then head with brave purpose into the shadows. It is not long before they are met by the leader of the Night Sisters, Erikada the Fair; she has come to claim her prize, namely Saressa Valley-Born. He moves towards her as she triumphantly reaches out to him, no doubt to commence her dark plans, but so focused is she upon his face and apparent submission that she does not see the magical silvery glittering blade up his sleeve until he slides it quietly and without fuss into her ribs and so her heart. The party are close enough to see the look of surprise, fear and realisation on her face as her final death takes her. She falls back and shatters into thousands of dark shards that seems to turn into whorls of smoke and vanish forever.
At the same time, they hear the howls of rage and challenge from further in the gloom, but also the sound of their Dragon ally who flies over head, breathing magical energy out into the ruins, as they feel the ruins start to rise out of the valley towards the sunlight world. What follows next is a battle between the 4 remaining Night Sisters and some of their ghoul allies on one side, and the party themselves on the other. Injuries are taken by the heroes, but they vanquish their now vulnerable foes with cleverly aimed missile fire and skilful melee. As the last of the Hags and their allies fall, the party now stand in blazing sunshine amongst the ruins, the last of the evil shadows banished. The dragon approves and advises that she shall now lair in these ruins and may herself act as a guardian along the path to those who seek Varrax Pyrofer. She then once more bears the heroes on her back and takes them back to Cold Eye Water, the western meadows to be precise where there are likely to be few beings (other than herd animals) to note her and the heroes arrival.
Once deposited on the ground again, the Dragon bids them well and leaps into the air again, flying north with great beating wings. The party walk the couple of kilometres down the meadow trail to the township with the familiar winding waters of the fjord to their right. They do see Satroms Bellow moored at the wharfside as they approach, and so know their transportation back to the The Armavine Empire is intact and ready. They greet the Chieftain and the townsfolk who are glad to see them alive and all note that the heroes have all changed in one way or another, but then again the people of The Wyrm Peaks know those who meet the Dragon are always changed, one way or another.
Some gifts are given back and forth between the heroes and the townsfolk, and much goodwill is engendered. Here also is where the party part company with Saressa, who wishes them well and all the best that the gods and spirits have to offer. Karragas welcomes them aboard, and explains what has happened to him and his crew since last they met; he escorted the Quoriente Adileii Qamasque back to the Empire and in return for this (and the making sure the party themselves get back to the Empire when they appear again) he is given much cargo and trade goods, certainly enough for his crew and he to retire upon (theoretically). He advises the party that they can leave on the afternoon tide and this they do, bidding farewell to the Wyrm Peaks for now.
The journey back to Imperial Waters is uneventful, though they do pick up an escort of 2 Armavine warships several days out of the capital, and in fact these ships signal that Satroms Bellow is to fall into formation with them and accompany them. Without the will (or indeed the capability) to refuse, they are escorted to an isolated stretch of coast, looking for all the world like farmland and some small fishing villages. The party do note that as they head up a river inlet that it is in fact a cunningly disguised military encampment with siege engines hidden within fake houses, and soldiers disguised as peasants and workers.
They are ferried by the ships to a cave in a hillside that the river issues from, and within lies a military installation, with Armavine Legionaries (no insignia for unit or legion upon their armour) and sailors going about their business. At the quayside in this place they bid farewell to Karragas and his crew, though by what the Minotaur says, they may well meet him again in future, for he seems to anticipate war and hardship against mutual foes.
They are met at this point by the familiar figure of Palidus Marcorius, flanked by 4 members of the Fist of Armanixes. He greets the party and quickly coinfirms that they have the sealed scroll of reply from Varrax about their person, and is very relieved that they do. He is to escort them to the capital, and indeed into the Vaunted Palace where they are to meet with Palidus’ master, the famous (or infamous if you will) Chancellor Asceppius Diotys and give the scroll to him.
To this end, the party travel to the capital by canal aboard an Imperial transport barge such as used by dignitaries, guaranteeing their anonymity and security against possible threats, for much has happened in the few months since they were last in the Empire; palidus advises them of the quietly efficient purges of corrupt Quorientes and the “questioning” of their families and associates. Unfortunate he advises, but sadly necessary to unearth the dark heart of evil nestling amongst the body politic of the Empire.The old quote “Great Empires are not maintained by timidity” is very much the watchword for now. By the evening, the barge makes its way through the lesser known canals and byways into the Vaunted Palace, one of The 8 Imperial Wonders and the heart of this great empire.
Deposited at a wharfside within the Palace, they are escorted through numerous and thronged hallways, avenues and streets until they are admitted into a large and ornate garden of immense wealth and taste within the Immaculatii Quarter. Within they are gently ushered into the presence of the third most powerful person in the Empire (and arguably the Inner Sea for that matter), Chancellor Asceppius…