The party alight at Cold Eye Water, and become accustomed to the austere and wary ways of the locals, meeting the Chieftain and his people, all of whom seem accustomed to meeting outlanders with a view to venturing into the interior; they also seem to have a good idea what brings the party to their township. The party quickly establish that they shall need guides for the interior and so meet with members of the Lodge of Storm Hunters (sometimes called Storm Wardens), the renowned and respected (at least within the peaks) messengers, couriers and guides between the various settlements within the Wyrm Peaks. After speaking to them, the pair who the party end up taking on are an odd couple, one being an Orc named Shurmasskhah and the other being a half nymph called Saressa Valley-Born. The guides arrange for them to undergo the Ritual of the Mountain Heart which will allow them to better endure the cold, altitude and rigorous ways of the mountains.
With the day long ritual completed (which leaves the party tired yet feeling like they could take on anything) and various items of equipment sorted, the party are ready to depart. Before they do, Adileii Qamasque asks them for a favour; permission to hire their ship to get him, his family and any of the liberated prisoners back to the Empire, as he has information to relay to the Quoria and the authorities, not to mention safeguarding his own position and property. The party allow this, and know that they have made an indebted man into a firm friend in the doing.
They also manage to sell the captured orcish galley to the Chieftain for a decent price, for such a thing may enhance his own prestige, not to mention be of use within his fjord perched holding. This all being done, they prepare for what they need in the journey ahead, with supplies, appropriate clothing and tools acquired with the advice of their guards.
The party set out the next day, watched by wellwishing townsfolk, and begin their journey. The journey is long, and takes in so much that they see and do; they encounter Giants, the evil forces of the Snake Brother tribes, the threats of the Harrowing Winds that can suck the life and soul from the unprepared, slipping sideways into the Other World and much more. They kill Head Hangers and save souls of the fallen, witness the fall of the corrupted city of Hracen to a coalition of Mountain Orcs and Giants, escape with the aid of Dwarves and make friends along the way with the beleaguered human inhabitants of the Wyrm Peaks. Their Orcish ally parts company with them during the escape from the Orcish Horde that takes Hracen, though Saressa still accompanies them.
In the Slipping Sideways into the Other World, they see spirits, witness battles between Snake Brothers and the Fey Folk, observe the Luathans (the ancient giantlike former inhabitants of the Peaks and builders of the ancient stone settlements humans still cling to in the Mortal Realm) and hear their Singing Down the Sun, hear the battles between a Dragon and a Demon of Hell (thankfully too far away to see), slay a Stoorworm and much more.
The last barrier to their progress is the Fallen City, a Luathan city that had collapsed into a valley thousands of years previously, and now is a place of darkness apart from the world yet still a part of it; here dwell the 5 Night Sisters, Hags who have become powerful and monstrously cruel over the ages, and who must be treated with to continue. The party can only meet Saressa at the other side of the valley, for the Hags would dearly love to get their hands upon a half nymph.
What happens within the darkened city of evil resonates with the party, as they have magical items removed (supposed “gifts”) by the hag known as Black Shap, set life threatening tasks by other hags like fighting a pack of Broo and climbing an ever changing and shifting tower and back and finally one of their number, Taturii Asamakiiro has her right arm bitten off, is scalped of her long red hair and has her face stolen, all by Black Shap. The party try to come to her aid, but the overwhelming power of the Hags will stops them frozen in their tracks. The party would have been slain there and then, but for the intervention of Saressa and some “allies” he had encountered, namely a Dark Troll Matriarch and her Warband of Dark Troll Warrior protectors (who had been tracking the Broo the party had just slain). In exchange for their being spared, Saressa would return of his own free will and surrender himself to Erikada the Fair, foremost of the Hags. This is granted and party press on, gathering up their grievously injured comrade.
With Taturii made ready for travel, the party press on, and spend the night before the ascent of Her Throne (the mountain that the Dragon is supposed to lair atop) around a campfire. There, Solimara appears to them and assists Taturrii by gifting her peaceful sleep with good dreams (so the touch of the Hag would not harm her or corrupt her), and also advising szletko that the curse of Ill Fortune placed on him by Patch has been lifted, largely due to her and Sensu’s persuasion. She wishes them well for the future and departs.
The final ascent to meet the dragon is hazardous, demanding and calls upon all the experience and practice they have earned through the weeks of travel, made all the harder for having to carry an unconscious Taturri. The ascent takes 3 days of danger, bravery and grit, but at the end of the third day, they make it upon to the large ledge near the summit, and as the sun sets, they look back to see the clouds beneath them and the occasional mountain peak thrusting up from the sea of white. They are tired and hungry and so decide to camp overnight, gathering themselves for the next day and the culmination of what they have struggled for.
The sunset and following sunrise are sights that shall live long in their memories as they seem to resemble seas of fire, as the suns light illuminates the clouds. After a breakfast, they turn to face the great yawing cavern that leads to the Dragon, and they enter.
The cavern winds into the mountain, dark and deep but also possessed of a great and welcome heat from the walls and floor, and many tunnels and winding passages twist away from this central area. Large and dimly detected figures move in them as they walk slowly along, and the feeling of watching eyes is ever upon them. The passage continues on for many minutes of slow progress, but it starts to widen out, until it opens into a colossal wide open space, and the way ahead descends into this space; the glitter and glister of an immense mountain of gold, coins and various artifacts raises the ambient light of the room, but the first thing that really catches their eyes is the enormous figure that lies upon this trove, who can only be one being and one being only; Varrax Pyrofer.
Her fathomless and impossibly black eyes gaze down at the gathered party, and welcomes them in a voice trembling with restrained power. She also invites 2 nearby hidden watchers to make themselves known and watch but not speak nor interfere, and at this Solimara and a short stumpy hunchbacked old man appear and sit to watch events unfold.
What follows is the petitioning for gifts and favour, in return for becoming one of the Dragon Touched. They are made aware that to be Dragon Touched means to accept the occasional commands of Varrax to do her will from time to time, largely to confront and oppose evil and other threats to the world; she never asks a person to go against their devotion to their divine or spiritual beliefs, but short of that her will must be heeded.
All this being said, one by one the party approach and are changed by the breath of the dragon.
Abbas Jalil asks for more Intelligence, all the better to become a great Sorceror. At the dragons breath, his Strength and Constitution are lessened, but his Intellect is massively expanded, and the ability for his soul (Power) to increase is enhanced. Still dazed by the rush of new thoughts and ideas in his head, he sits down for a while to allow it to settle in.
The Altai both step forward and ask initially for the ability and opportunity to slay the 5 Night Sisters, to gain revenge for what they and especially Taturrii have suffered. In addition to this, Szletko asks for the means to help lead his people and defend them against their foes, with Czerlai asking for the means to better personally slay and oppose evil. In turn, the dragon breathes upon them, and Szletko is granted information on the movements and ways of the Tarmaki Horse Lords (the sworn enemies of the Altai) , knowledges on how better to lead people, and also made stronger and more commanding. Czerlai is made immune to poison, disease and bolstered against the attacks of spirits, additionally made more skilled at some weapons and tougher against the blows of weapons.
Cassio of Padiha asks for the means to assist and lead within his own peaople of Padiha, and so is granted knowledges and skills to lead, including 1 million lara’s worth of treasure and wealth, all the better to gain votes in Padiha. His appearance and manner also greatly increase, and now Cassio has greater charm and personal charisma than he had previously.
Taturri is healed of her wounds, her body restored, and at this, she pledges herself unconditionally to the will of Varrax. Her only wish was to be a better warrior, the better to slay evil and oppose her new mistress’ enemies. This is granted with the dragons breath, and also one further gift, Kenjaii’s Breath.
Finally, Bucephala Clangula decides to join his comrades in becoming Dragon Touched, and so is granted greater strength and endurance, tirelessness in battle and also great potency in learning the ways of a priest and acquiring the magic a priest would use.
With all of the party seen to, Varrax reads the scroll the party have borne from the Empire to her, and embeds her reply within it. She also advises the party that they are now part of her network of people sworn to oppose the coming evil, as the peoples of the Inner Sea will have to face the combined powers of Thanaxta, The Natri-Bro-Addah Hegemony, The Tarmaki Horse Lords and the Brosengyn Hordes from The Ferocious Northwest, Crucible of War. Varrax also shows them a scene occurring at that very moment in the Armavine Empire (by use of Draconic scrying magic), with the Emperor appearing before the massed Quoria and beginning a thorough purge of spies, agents and corrupted amongst the Quoria.
Lastly, Varrax advises them that she will have use of them within a years time, so they may head back to the world and do what they will in preparation of this. The party are given leave to ride the Dragon Keenorax Aggressifer (one of Varrax’ younger children) back to dispose of the hags, and then onto Cold Eye Water. The party give their thanks and clamber onto the great heated back of a rather ungracious and surly Dragon, and as their “mount” bears them away, Varrax speaks briefly to Saressa before he catches up and climbs on. They exit the cavern onto the great plateau into the open again, and prepare for what happens next; Dragonride!