Our heroes, now joined by the new God of Darkness Lord Humungus, continue sailing for Dail and the town of Briartop. Here they hope to convert the locals, probably by cutting their legs off at the knee and sending them to inform the surrounding villages.
Rache casts detect scrying again. This time he sees that the Reclaimers are spying on them in addition to the Dorians.
When our heroes near Briartop, they see an immense pillar of smoke. The village and the surrounding area has been leveled, and pools of yellow liquid still burn. Layric recognizes the metallic smell from his scratch and sniff monster manual: A red dragon, likely a Wyrm or Great Wyrm (CR 20+). Probably out of our hero's pay grade.
Our heroes make their way to the town, which they find completely leveled. After some searching, they come across a stone cellar, where the two survivors have been trapped: Vera, a large, blonde woman, and her 6 year old son Jericho. After being given some food and water, Vera explains that the great Red Dragon Varaug has claimed this area, and most of Dail, under his rule. He requests two things: Monthly payments of gold, and free reign to eat any he chooses.
For years, the citizens of Briartop went along with this, terrified of the massive dragon. Then Vera's older son, Michael, decided enough was enough and formed a mob. They killed the mayor, then set about to protect the town. When Varaug found that his monthly tribute was not ready, and that the villagers were armed and poking sticks at him, he leveled the entire town in a matter of minutes. A single scale is all the damage the thousands of townsfolk did, and Lord Humungus grabs it for later scrying purposes.
Our heroes discuss what to do. At their current ability, they determine that attacking the dragon would not be feasible. Perhaps caution is the better part of valor, or whatever. You know. They slink away from Vera, then head back to their boat. Perhaps the Dorians and the destruction of Kathmar are next on their list?
That night as they get ready for sleep, the avatar of Avaryn, the Night Queen, appears before them. The avatar is a bow-wielding half-elf, and she marks them for death, then attacks. The fight seems fairly straightforward until the moon goes behind a cloud and the avatar turns invisible. Then, it becomes fairly straightforward again with an application of glitter dust. Jeptha keeps the avatar prone and unable to unleash her 5 attacks. Surrounded by Rache, Jeptha, Lord Humungus, and an Earth Elemental, and getting shot at by Layric and Swaggles, the Avatar falls without too much trouble.
It is now May 25th, 2015 A.C. Our heroes played this session at level 14, Ascension Level 4.
After the session, we ran a mock fight against the CR 20 Dragon. The dragon's 22d10 fire breath was incredibly deadly (no surprise there), but the heroes were able to overcome him with extensive injuries and no casualties. There were however, a few things that made this significantly easier than the real thing. The dragon was not buffed, and our heroes were fully buffed. Also, I will be running the Varaug with double the HP of the standard CR 20 Dragon.
We ran three or four rounds in about 10 minutes though! Amazing!