Tempest Rising

Uruk-Hai tide
Or-- Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the (under) world

c2837cd2ae43f2e27fbf050156341144.jpegOur heroes spent a day trying to direct their new ship toward Wytchport under the command of Luix, with minimal success. While the big northerner was best equipped to deal with strength-draining power of the helm, his lack of sailing knowledge slowed their progress.

Their experiments with connecting the helm with the notes found in Menso’s belongings made little progress as well. So they stayed in sight of the shore, kept a watch on the horizon, and made as much progress as they could.

Luix was still at the helm, refreshed by Celeste’s divine powers, in the deepest part of the night that is sacred to the lady of the Veil. A strange mist rose up around the vessel, not following the trade winds. Out of the mists four outrigger canoes splashed up, rowed by dark humanoid figures. There were archers as well, and black-fletched arrows began raining down on the deck.

Boomah and Celeste cried out to wake their comrades in the cabins, and prepared to defend themselves. The goblin took flight and launched fiery bombs at an oncoming canoe, revealing cadaverous orcs bloated with sea-water rushing toward their ship.

More arrows clattered down as the canoes got closer, and others came out on the deck to defend the ship. Out of nowhere, a huge wave lifted one of the canoes above the swell and crash it into the rigging, leaving its passengers to drop on our heroes.

Their sodden claws tore at their enemies, and the wounds seem to fill with black water and disorient their victims. Kallius appeared on deck and launched fireballs at oncoming boats while Boomah continued his fiery barrage.

The wave-soaked deck was soon crowded with orcs, who seem to have been drowned and dragged back out of the waves for this attack. Both Dremahl and Celeste called on the power of their patrons to strike down the undead, and their advance faltered.

Meanwhile, the warriors grabbed their weapons and started hacking away at the monsters. After nearly a full day at the helm, it was a test of will for Luix to release the enchanted wheel. But he succeeded and soon the comforting feel of his flail was at hand.

As quickly as the danger appeared, the swords and spells of the defenders removed the threat from the vessel. They dumped the bodies overboard, and continued on.

Concerned that perhaps Mephitas was not going to just let them keep her sacred ship, they decided to focus efforts on reaching Wytchport as quickly as possible. Giving the helm over the trained sailor Kallius, and using a fan token that Boomah had collected, the Longshadow leaped forward and made hast around the northwestern reaches of Malabar and up the coast to the city.

As dawn approached, the came in sight of the isle of Drakona, home to multitudes of small flying lizards. Seeing them swarming in the trees along the shore, our heroes took to the main island coast and gave the creatures a wide berth.

By late afternoon they were seeing small fishing boats beached in small coves, and makeshift buildings put up on what was once desolate coast.

Deciding that they did not want to be seen in a ship dedicated to the goddess of lies, they found an abandoned stretch of short and beached. They decided to completely dismember the helm and destroy any remnant of the rune circle Menso had scribed. They also thoroughly minimized any chance of the wizard returning, too. They believe that the secret to the extra-dimensional capability of the ship’s cabins is in the door-frame, so they took diligent effort to removed it intact, and dragged it up the shore.

While they were stripping the ship, a trio of beachcombers were spotted on the edge of the clearing. They welcomed them over, and learned that many fisher folk and other poor Wytchport residents had been pushed out of the city due to overcrowding from Aerinorn nobility and their retinues. It seems as if the Crown Prince has not begun his march to Cyr Regus, and the delay has swollen the population beyond its resources.

It is said there is a ‘dragon’ loose in the Erarohn forest, and it is not yet safe to travel. A few groups of knights, including the seraschal Telline, have been dispatched to either slay or disprove the creature, but neither of these goals have been achieved as yet. Many of the smallfolk believe this is one more trick of the Otter’s, to delay the prince and his old world parasites while he can concentrate his power and reinforce the capitol.

The beachcombers agreed to give the group passage on a fishing boat close to the city in exchange for the fittings and fixtures of the Longshadow. It was agreed, and the end of a long journey was nearly in sight.

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Come Sail Away
Or-- A draining voyage

f563b356653ed7e2518be11e7bf8881f.jpgFollowing their harrowing fight near and on the harbor at Otterdam, our heroes surveyed the damage. Menso had been slain, and lay lifeless on the deck. A handful of sea devils littered the deck and the pilings below the warehouse, and Burl and his cultists had been left above.

They quickly moved through the emptied space collecting interesting items. They found a small bedchamber under the warehouse where Menso had apparently slept. There they found the ancient book and notes, but not Menso’s spell book. The old wizard’s book had been marked with a dagger blade, and the page featured a simple divination ritual and a strange rune combining both the dragon and human primal runes. Otherwise, they gathered they weapons and other items from their enemies, and a collection of strange, small objects from the Mephitan oracle Burl.

Back on the ship, Boomah grabbed the wheel and the vessel took off. He managed to break free, and the sails went slack, and he was officially worn out form even that small effort.. The group rigged the helm with ropes so they did not have to touch it, and sailed out of Otterdam in the middle of the night. Once they explored the vessel, and learned that its aft cabins far exceeded their temporal space, they realized the ship had been shrouded in illusion, and was indeed a well-maintained ritual vessel sanctified by Lady of the Veil.

After some experimentation, they learned that the ship could be ‘manned’ by merely grasping the helm and allowing magical forces to work as crew. But this drained the life force of the helmsman. They soon figured out that Celeste could replenish this as quickly as it was drained, so they drafted Luix to take the helm.

The sailed all night that way and rested. They brought out the gold dragon statue and asked it about the helm. They were told that it was a ‘Hound’s Helm’ and used blood or valued items of people to track them wherever they were. They also asked about the four dragonstones, but it did not know much more than they do — that they are keyed to various dragon types and bound by platinum which could signify the dragon ruler. 

The night passed, and they made their way across the Gulf of Niktas toward Wytchport, and the political turmoil they left behind more than a month ago.

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Rock the boat
Or-- Something fishy going on here

29d870c7c24248b0f1476a26f64cc131.jpgWith the mysterious shipwright and his masked underlings defeated, and the flying sharks brought down, our heroes had a moment of rest. Unfortunately, Boomah chose to explore the hole down to the water rather than resting.

There he found a small group of assuaging warriors standing guard on rickety docks, and they opened fire with crossbows as he flew back up into the warehouse. The others became aware of the danger as bolts rocketed up through the hole and stuck into the ceiling.

Undaunted, Saerin leaped through the hole to face the danger, followed by the flying magus and the big northerner. As they faced off against the enemy, the area was rocked by a sonic blast from somewhere beyond the warehouse pilings. The warriors pressed on, and began carving a path through the sea devils toward a small ship that was moored just beyond.

As their enemies fell, the area was blasted again, this time by a burst of cold that filled the pilings with ice and sleet. Boomah flew out from under the warehouse as the ship began to pull away. He spotted the wizard Menso at the bow, along with another sahugain. Two other sea devils were aboard, one manage the helm and the other standing guard. The lines and sheets of the small ship were swinging and filling of their own accord, untouched by visible hands.

Luix and Saerin both jumped across the derelict moss-covered vessel, and clambered over the side. Boomah and Kallius remained airborne and tried to harass the enemy progress from above. One sahuagin warrior charged unto defend the ship, while the other held firm to the helm. The ships boom swung about and nearly sent Luix tumbling into the sea, but he deftly ducked away from the blow.

Menso cast some kind of illusory web over the deck, and Saerin found himself stuck in place. But not so stuck that he could not slash out at the guarding fish man.

Menso flapped his grafted wings and took flight, imploring the group not to continue the fight, and offering to work together toward common goals. Our heroes did not concur.

The lead sahuagin channeled the power of the Veil to keep her minions in the fight. Luix hammered the helmsmen to the ground, and when he did the sails went slack. Menso blasted the stern with another cone of cold, dropping them magus, and the priestess drew her long curving blade and rushed into the fight.

Fearing the wizard might escape again, Celeste spoke her Oracle’s Curse at him and struck him blind. Dremahl gifted Kallius with his healing, and the elf leaped into the air after the wizard. All available attacks were sent toward the now blinded wizard, and he faltered. Kallius’ final extra efforts with his now-ununenchanted rapier dug two new rents into the horrible hybrid creature and he dropped into the dark waters.

Meanwhile, the sea devil priestess had jumped overboard. Boomah feared she might try to recover and heal their enemy, so he dove down to retrieve the corpse. He grabbed up the lifeless foe, and dropped him unceremoniously on the deck of the small ship, now bobbing in the waters off the pier.

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Sharknado!!
Or-- Sushi the hard way

Shark.jpgWith our heroes facing skeletal enemies in a mist-choked warehouse, Celeste quickly summoned an air elemental to disperse the swirling vapors. Boomah rushed though the haze and burst through a door darkness beyond.

He ended up on a catwalk over a crowded storage space. Suddenly, his brain felt like claws had torn into it and starting tearing it apart. He could tell that the force originated from a stack of crates below, but could not see the enemy. So he flew over and bombed the general area.

Saerin forced his way through the fog on the far side of room and crashed through a second door. He was surprised by a hiding foe and stabbed from behind. The enemy then jumped off of the catwalk to the floor below. The ranger, undaunted, followed and crashed down to face his enemy.

Not far behind, Luix jumped down on top of the skull-masked enemy and the two tumbled to the ground.

Dremahl followed Boomah into the chamber, and the same hidden force struck him with unholy energy. Kallius followed him, flying above the crowded warehouse floor.

Then, from an opening in the floor decking, flew up a number of vicious air-breathing sharks. The fierce predators immediately set on Luix, Saerin and flying Kallius. The magus sized up the danger and fireballed the corner of the warehouse, catching two of the sharks. Luix hopped up from his fallen enemy and swung at the flying fish.

Meanwhile, Dremahl was struck by dark energy and was slain. But Boomah discovered that the spell caster was hiding inside the crates. Celeste managed to stave off the death of Dremahl, and soon he is fighting fit. Boomah spit his adhesive loogie at the fleeing spellcaster, and stopped his momentum.

b94f67f95e528d0705272179302a2ccf.jpgThe enemy, presumed to be Burl, lashed out at the alchemist’s brain with the cold of interstellar space, but the goblin stood against the attack. Luix’ flail pummeled the shark that thrashed around him, and he turned to take on the revealed enemy.

Kallius let lose another fireball and takes out the a couple of sharks, while leaving the corner of the warehouse ablaze.

Luix’s attack on Burl set off some kind of defensive shield, and he is showered in electricity — but he pressed on. Kallius dropped in on the battle, and buried his electrically charged, keen rapier deep into the foe.

This proved too much for the servant of Mephitas, who fell before the attack. With the immediate danger passed, our heroes returned to the task of the hunting down their quarry— Menso.

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Down the Shore
Or-- Rockin' the Docks

skele.jpgOur heroes gathered around the elf Selvyn’s balcony and planned their attack on waterfront warehouse, using the hobgoblin labor dispute as cover.

They decided to attack from the sea, with Boomah and Kallius flying invisibly and the others reduced for easier carrying. They landed safely without alerting any obvious guards.

Celeste summoned a water elemental to scout the surf under the building. It did not get far before it was shredded by a shark attack, and the group reconsidered that approach.

The lower door was blocked by boxes and crates within, and when Boomah stuck his head through, he could see skeletons patrolling on catwalks through the gloom. They moved up to the larger doors on the higher level and forced them open.

They were met by two men wearing leather skull masks, who moved to attack. Boomah was grappled, but he flew to the ceiling to shake off his captor. The enemy commanded him to fall, and the two dropped to the decking. The others encircled him and he was overwhelmed.

A thick mist filled the room as the other cultist moved to escape. Three skeletons covered his escape and closed with the group. Their blows ddi not breach our heroes defenses, but the did slow their advance.

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Shore Leave
Or-- Otterdammerung

pirate_tavern_by_88grzes-d9xyh6c.jpgAfter escaping from the muddy hole they appeared in, our heroes made their way toward the haze they hoped indicated the village of Otterdam.

They came upon a logging crew in the woods and offered to travel with them, but learned that they were no more than an hour walk from town. So they followed the Faelit wash into the village.

The first thing they saw was the lumber yard that the rough timbers were floated to, manned by burly — but free— orcs. The chose to avoid contact and walked around it. The soon came to a collection of hovels and small houses, and bustling commercial activity. There they sampled local sea cucumber liquor, and learned that the community was a center of rebel activity, and that no one resembling Menso had recently arrived to threaten the peace. A shipload of elves, however, had recently landed and demanded that their brethren join them to claim stewardship over the mainland. And then left, talking most of the villages elves with them — whether they were eager or not.

Following directions toward the docks, the passed the former Lutro manor house which had been converted to some kind of gambling hall. The gave it a wide berth and moved to the center of town. They found the shipyard of Burl & Knotte, covering a few piers and a rocky rise commanded by a lighthouse. They noted heavily armored guards at the end of the piers and walkways, and chose not to engage them.

Everyone they asked suggested such well-heeled travelers should stay at the Brightside Tavern, in the former Lutro guardhouse. The first thing they noticed was a recessed fighting pit in the center of the taproom, and Luix resolved to stat out of it.

Kallius noticed an elf working in the tavern’s kitchen, and asked the waitress why he hadn’t fulfilled his responsibility. She rebuffed him, and stormed away.

Celeste and Saerin talked to the locals, and learned that an older couple that lived in the woods near the Si’ang symbol were found stuffed in a well on the dockside. No suspects were found.

They tried to lay low, and Boomah stepped outside to see the town by night. Saerin decided to go around the back on the inn and reach the kitchen through a rear door. Along the way he spotted a group of hobgoblins gathering on the shore across a darkened waterway.

Boomah saw the elf leave and followed him around back. Saerin pushed through the door into the kitchen, and the elven cook tried to cast a spell on him and failed. Seeing he was a caster, they pulled up short and asked to talk.

The elf Selvyn — who had decided the party was bent on causing a disturbance in ‘his’ town — invited them up to a balcony on the tower rising up from the inn, and promised them answers. If they would do the same.

They all came up, and told Selvyn that they were here to hunt down Menso, and not to kidnap elves or cause any other trouble. They also told him about the hobgoblins and the threat of fire, and he told them it was none of their business.

They pushed, and he explained that the hobgoblins were in a dispute with their ship captain over shares of loot, and it would be settled among locals. And made Boomah promise he would not get involved with any fires.

He also told them about the shipwright Burl (who they believe is Menso’s contact Beryl) who is known as mean and volatile, but is doing quite well in these violent times. He has recently bought the old lighthouse and the land around it, but still seems to live in a rickety old boathouse on the docks.

Our heroes decided to use the hobgoblin raid as a diversion, and to make a night-time foray into Burl/Beryl’s compound.

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Mother Knows Best
Or-- Assisted suicide, the gift that keeps on giving

Pale_Mother.jpgAfter resting and regaining their strength, our heroes moved up to the massive oak tree in the swirling mists. When they approached, three huge, man-shaped roost clusters rose up from the ground to block their path toward the trunk. Dark eyes in what [passed for faces seemed intelligent, but they did not speak.

They did learn that the creatures were no fans of the spiders, and the heaps of arachnid corpses surround the tree attested to that, but could learn little more. Boomah tried repeatedly to engage them, but all he received for his troubles were stares.

In the end, he decided to stretch his new wings and find an alternate method. As he rose, he could see knot holes and other rents in the tree opening at his passing. Finally, a large get in a branch opened and a massive manticore climbed out to intercept the goblin. Not wanting to fight alone, Boomah returned to the party and tried to speak with leonine beast.

The monster responded, and once the party assured it that they were enemies of the spider and Menso, it agreed to let them speak to Pale Mother. A long seam in the huge oak’s trunk opened up, and a 15-foot-long slug-like creature with the head and torso of a bloated woman squeezed out.

She spoke thickly and seemed a little erratic, but the group found out that she was the apprentice of Sciao Si’ang, who came to this land more than a thousand years ago to find the Well of Infinities and ascend into some kind of draconic being. The noted that Pale Mother was in fact a simulacra, but they did not learn the fate of the original.

He knew that in ages past, a group of dragons called the Bloodwyrms had tried to merge with humans and gain the power of free will, but were defeated by the other dragons and an order of outer plane spiders known as the Weavers of Fate. Some of these Bloodwyrms were imprisoned in the new world, under the guard of the Firstborn.

Apparently, she said, without the Firstborn these seals were weakening. She did not know what would happen if they Bloodwyrms returned.

When questioned about how someone might have dragon-blood without these rituals, she suggested that bloodlines from these wyrms may still exist, but the Weavers had always worked to root them out and kill them if powers ever presented themselves. She added that it would be best if Celeste kill herself right away, to save another spider assault and the collateral damage it might cause. Celeste declined her offer of assistance.

About Kallius, Pale Mother merely said he was “something else”. And that he too should be killed at the first opportunity.

They told her that their priority was the destruction of Menso, and she endorsed the plan. To aid them, she taught them how to work the symbols that Great Master had placed throughout the Vale and how to travel between locations.

Returning to the lab, they went through Menso’s scattered notes to find a clue about his destination. Among the blood magic and dragon-breeding madness, they found more mundane notes about his business dealings and contacts in Gilt Hall and in the port town of Otterdam.

The decided to follow up on the name Beryl, who was reportedly a ’squib’ who disguises and alters stolen ships in the pirate haven.

But first, the group used the symbol to return to the mongrel village and let the creatures know of the fate of Pale Mother, and not to worry. Boomah then taught them the secret of the symbols, and how they could travel around the Vale quickly.

Then they moved on toward Otterdam, the former holding of Hammich Lutro the Otter. Lutro now sits on the throne at Cyr Regus, in defiance of the returned Aerinorn crown prince. They found themselves in a murky pool in a coastal jungle. The smoky haze above the trees showing the location of a village.

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Armed and Dangerous
Or-- What's behind Door Number Three

Athach.pngInvestigating the ancient wizard’s complex, our heroes were brought up short by a magically locked door. The room beyond was also beyond Dremahl’s second sight as well, which only increased their curiosity.

After several failed attempts, they pooled their resources and had a reduced Saerin unlock the door with aid from spells and Boomah. He resumed normal size, and they opened the door.

The chamber beyond was filled with wreckage, all broken beyond any guess at its original purpose. And lying on the floor in the center of the room was a gaunt, seven-foot tall creature. With three arms.

It immediately lurched up when they opened the door, and launched itself at them. The goblin threw a fiery bomb and the magus flashed electricity, which simultaneously harmed and then healed it. The fire slowed it down, but it lashed out with its strangely articulated third arm form the doorway.

The creature was not alive, but constructed, and clearly out of control. The warriors managed to encircle it — and Boomah repeatedly set it ablaze — wearing away at the monster until it finally fell. Tripped by Luix’ flail, the group pounded on the beast until it moved no more.

Digging through the destroyed furniture, they decided that this was once a lab. In it they found the shattered remains of a frame that abetted summoning magic, and chimes that seemed to be tied to the planes or air, water and the Abyss. They carried off these items and continued their exploration

The last room they found was eerily silent, and contained a single stature of a woman. Close inspection showed that she was dying of some wasting disease that had eaten much of her flesh away. The statue reflected very old conjuration and divination magic, but nothing they attempted caused the state to react in any way.

In the end they decided to rest here, and face the fallout from the spider attack the next morning. The night passed without incident, and at sunrise they emerged from the complex.

The mist had regained its strength, but no new violence seemed to have come to the Vale. They moved their way upriver passed Menso’s destroyed hut, and saw the shape of a massive tree resolve out of the swirling mists.

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Looking for Trouble
Or-- Goblin Trap Detector

550px-Gelatinous_cube.jpgWith danger at least temporarily averted, our heroes dug through the rubble of a small hut torn to pieces by the spidery creatures. In the broken remains of what seemed to be Menso’s personal effects, they found a wand and a large leathery bag with a sealed brass enclosure covered in strange runes.

Giving the party a little distance, Boomah tore open the seal to see what was in the bag. A small swarm of black scorpions trust out of the opening and began to sting the goblin mercilessly. He fled, rapidly outpacing the tiny vermin and they were destroyed from range.

The bag contained arcane scrolls to be used against good creatures and a strange spell called memorize page.

Returning to the entry to wizard’s lab, they used summoned sacrificial ponies to defeat its guarding glyphs. The lab showed signs of a hazy departure, and the ancient wizard’s spell book and much of Menzo’s notes were gone. Boomah tried to slide the remaining articles into his bag when one scroll leaped into the air and wrapped itself around his face.

They circled the little alchemist but could not get the scroll to stop smothering him. Dremahl commanded the creature to fall, and with it temporarily still, they shredded it. Boomah buried the pieces in separate locations (and kept a few) to ensure it would not come back and haunt him.

They moved through an empty hallway apparently dug by magical means, and found an empty cell where Menso kept some of his more unruly creations.

Then they came to a storeroom filled with old wreckage, with but two glass cases still in good repair. The noted that they radiated necromantic magic and contained biological samples, including blue and red dragon scales. The other contained several jars with some kind of swirling fluid, and a large steel box radiating conjuration magic.

The curious goblin opened the box, freeing a gelatinous cube that had been stuffed into an extra-dimensional space. He tumbled free, and the party fled down the hallway.

They waited for it to come at them, but it instead it decided to stay and eat the samples laid out for it. Seeing it eat their booty, they attacked it in earnest until at last it dissolved, leaving them only damaged dragonhide for their trouble. 

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Judge Dreadful
Or-- Disobedience is fundamental

675645_orig.jpgFollowing a night in a cave, while chaos raged over the misty vale, our heroes decided to return and see what took place.

Entering the misty cleft, they came across a number of spider corpses, Menzo’s ankeg hybrids and other strange creatures. They found the dead behir aberration and noted that it had been slashed by something with long blade-like edges, not spider bites.

And, its head was removed.

Nearby, they saw that the dark entrance to wizard laboratory was strangely clear of violent remains. Closer inspection showed a hemisphere of dead spiders surrounding the doorway in a 5’ arc. Boomah set about removing pieces from the behir, while others inspected the area magically. Saerin looked for tracks of other creatures.

While most of the party was otherwise engaged, the ranger saw a number of hobbit-sized spiders lurching toward him from the mists. He shouted in time to catch them before they overran the party.

He and Kallius took the front, while Boomah stepped back for fire support. Another wave of spiders came on, and the ranger noted a large darkly shining spider with four eyestalks appear from the shadows of a ruined building. It charged, and nearly froze his limbs when its eyes locked on him.

Warriors and spiders were clashing, and Celeste summoned a lantern archon to join the attack. The otherworldly spider stayed behind, and tried to freeze the ranger with its eye rays again— and failed. Celeste sent her minion to attack it, and the tiny outsider refused. She demanded to know why, and it said that it could not attack, as it was not for its kind to raise arms against it. Again, she asked why and it said that it was ‘fundamental’.

More spiders charged and were slain nearly as quickly as they appeared, but not without inflicting damage on our heroes. The priests were diligently working to stem the tide and keep the front rank fighting. 

The strange central spider suddenly launched forward, scuttling up the canyon wall and biting the magus from above. Its mandibles dug deep, and he was wrapped in its cruel embrace.

The others were still fighting off spiders as the beast backed up the wall, unleashing its full fury on the elf. Dremahl managed to jump up and heal the elf, keeping death at bay for a bit longer.

The creature moved even further up the cliff, out of reach of the group, and continued its attacks on the magus. Boomah swallowed his infusion, ran up to the ranger, grabbed him about the waist, and levitated up the monster’s level. Saerin channeled all of his energy into a single blow, splitting the beat in two. Rather than merely dying, it it seemed to break at the seams and dissolve into nothingness.

They quickly dispatched the last couple spiders, and reviewed the situation. Celeste wanted to know what the archon meant by “fundamental”, and the archon postulated that it was part of the fabric of the universe. Yes, it was older than dragons, but not as old as gods. When pressured for more information, the overtaxed outsider burst burst into a shower of sparks.

Boomah pulled out the dragon figurine and asked it about the spider-beast. It said that it was a lesser servant of beings called the Weavers of Fate, and that they were the enforcers of the laws of nature. Laws that they interpreted themselves.

They asked if mingling mortal and dragon blood was against those laws, and it said while many claim it is not possible, it is merely extremely difficult and rare. And yes, probably seen as breaking the laws of nature. 

They decided to explore the ruined hut before trying to breach the wizard’s workshop.

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