Chapter One: What Lies Beneath
The market and tavern life of Volos is alive with regular activity: items to buy, sell, trade and learn from. Everything and nothing catch the eye of Lazura as she made her way from stall to stall, eventually finding relief from the crowd in one of the quieter taverns. Her eyes adjusting to the dark, she is surprised to see a familiar face at the bar: the swrod for hire Uther DeBarco. Her presence is enough to rouse Uther from his stupor, and the two reminisce of their previous adventures rousting Dire Badgers and laying Wights to their final rest. His bottle near empty, Lazura is able to coax them both back out on to the street, to explore what the market has to offer.
The Volos trade community is an excellent place to find maps and documents of unique magical importance, and many young scholars travel here to research tomes and return the information to their cloisters. The young man known to some as Preacher is no exception, and were he ever to pull his nose from the latest book or ancient scroll, he might have noticed either the fanfare or the surly man he walked headlong into, knocking himself to the ground. By some divine chance of fortune, Preacher looks up to notice the man is Uther and his companion Lazura, whom Preacher had shared in the adventure with the Wight, and he immediately conscripts them into his mission to reveal the secrets of his newfound half-map. Amused at the circumstance and with nothing else to do, they accept.
After a stay over to approve of his new quest with his superiors, Preacher leads the group to Isard, a major port city that is home to the greatest wizarding academy in the region. Much of the city was sieged during the last great war, and the magical community worked to fortify the walls for their mutual protection. Preacher pays the way for the group into the city walls to establish the next leg of their journey, and that night Lazura makes camp in the nearby woods, with Uther offering to take the first watch.
As Uther sits, he becomes aware of a scuttling sound slowly moving towards their camp, but the darkness reveals no visible intruder. As the sound gets closer and seems to be coming from all points around them, Uther rouses Lazura and the two step out by the fire, just as an ankheg burrows through the tent, attacking the party. With lightning speed, Uther attacks the beast, fnding himself taking much damage throughout the fight. Lazura joins the fight, transforming into a monstrous kimono dragon, slashing and biting at the great beast, while Preacher, between commentaries on the ankheg, uses his magic to fortify the combatants.
Eventually, the ankheg takes enough punishment to flee back under the ground, but does not make it far as Uther stabs it in the head, killing it. The group is left to regroup and lick their multiple, multiple wounds.