The Order of St George, having instructed the team to prepare to raid one of Alamais’ lairs while it is attended only by spirit guards and young dragons (if any), also tells the team that they will provide access to any equipment or weaponry needed, at a reasonable price. They stock up, TY getting a gyro-harness and HMG with APDS rounds, and everyone else getting survival gear and the like. The spellcasters all learns some new spells, specifically slay spirits and dragons. They opt to HALO jump in, and then get extracted via attack helicopter. The Order volunteers that if the team should encounter any drakes that they can’t handle, the heli can take some shots, if the team can lure the drakes outside.
They drop in, with Saul using an air spirit to help keep them all on target, and make the LZ without taking much damage from the cold, buffeting winds, and hard landing. They are almost immediately attacked by a powerful earth spirit, who they defeat, and then by a water spirit of equivalent strength, who they also defeat. They also kill 3 out of 4 watcher spirits present, but one escapes. After it is disrupted, they assense that there is a powerful illusion spell seemingly blocking a cave entrance, which was previously concealed by the spirits. They manage to pass through it, with Rooster having to coax TY, who is troubled by what feels like pushing through rock. Once inside, they defeat 2 air spirits, taking moderate damage, before they are trapped by some anchored spells dropping loads of earth over each end of the tunnel. Zuberi shapes the earth and stone back aside after the party heals (but before they suffocate), and they continue, fighting 3 more powerful spirits in the next cavern.
Another concealment ends with the spirits, and Zuberi begins shaping aside a massive 30m round by 10m thick stone plug blocking a smooth vertical shaft descending. LS sends Mordin down to investigate, but he is quickly banished by what seems to be a young feathered serpent in the cavern below. They descend on a stone elevator that Zuberi makes, sending their remaining spirits slightly ahead to attack the dragon in astral space and distract it. Their elevator is counterspelled and crumbles, but Zuberi holds it together long enough that they only drop a few meters, and avoid most of the damage. Their spirits begin the assault while the team launches spells and bullets, and Rooster buffs their courage using his abilities, to counteract the dragon’s fear effects. They are heavily injured, and some nearly killed, but they do defeat the dragon, and begin sizing up the hoard and transporting it to the surface. They find 6 pieces of valuable seeming-art that are boobytrapped with anchored spells, as well as 2 powerful artifacts (a celtic design warhammer that seems to trigger a combat spell, and a golden ring that seems to have a manipulation spell effect), and an assortment of other wealth in various forms.
TY calls it in and requests pickup, and is told to bring all the treasure except the trapped art to the surface, leave the dragon corpse alone, and destroy the boobytrapped stuff with grenades once they’re clear. They do so, Zuberi sadly leaving behind all the powerful reagents contained in the dragon’s corpse. Once in the open, Saul tries out the hammer, shooting off a powerful lightning bolt, but heavily injuring himself as he is forced to resist the massive amount of drain from the spell. He ID’s it as being possibly related to/a basis for myths of Thor’s Hammer, Mjolnir. They hear a sound approaching, and at first think it is the heli, but then recognize the sound of wings, rather than rotors. An adult dragon assaults them from over the mountains, and they desperately dodge and weave to avoid it’s spells and acidic breath. LS nearly dies, with only luck (and a friendly spirit intervening) saving him- most disturbingly, he sees where he is being pulled while dying: Dark Realm, a swirling night-black vortex of pain and suffering. There are no intact astral forms there, and it seems that anyone killed while using the dark ritual are being destroyed to feed the slaughter spirit that Zuberi’s ancestors pacted with.
Zuberi picks up the hammer, and puts on the ring: sadly it seems to be a trap of some sort, as he turns almost entirely to gold. Rooster is able to break his finger and remove the ring (and the upper 2/3rd’s of his finger), turning him back. He was lucky to have grabbed the hammer first, as it seems to have been the only thing keeping him partially ork. uses the hammer to deal a mighty blow to the dragon, before it ko’s him- he lies bleeding out, Saul is down, LS is near death, and TY’s hmg seems barely able to dent the dragon. Their spirit allies are defeated, and the situation seems truly dire, when the promised attack heli fires a missile salvo at the dragon (it seems heavily masked and obscured by active camp). The missile seems to spew out some sort of cloud, and the dragon seems to be crumbling or falling apart a bit, when Rooster saves the day and explodes it with another swing of the hammer. He nearly kills himself in the process, but hey, he killed a dragon. TY urgently stabilizes LS and Rooster, while medics come over from the heli with gear and stretchers. The side gunners begin loading the treasure aboard.
They take off, and head for the hospital. LS calls Ehran the Scribe and tells him of what he has learned of Zuberi and the Dark Realm. Ehran agrees to send some ex-Tir Paladins he knows to provide security when Zuberi is confronted with LS’ new info, to see how he responds. Obviously, they need to deal with this issue, and Zuberi could be a powerful asset, if he cooperates. If not, he may need to be killed. LS agrees, and they keep Zuberi in a medically induced coma until the Paladins arrive. The team is well paid by the Order, and are told there will be more work in the near future. Ehran also tells them to get in touch when they’re ready to chase down the next artifact, and they still have the Detroit job that Rooster owes to John Caruthers as well.