The Redeemer Rears his head

We’d barely even started to clean up our mess and search the bodies when something strange happened - the dragon we’d just defeated began to evaporate, to burn away into smoke. Tibles said it looked like its soul was being reclaimed somehow. In the resulting debris pile, it left behind a small, shiny green stone. Moira pounced on it, and started to appraise it.
The thing seemed to be contaminated with some sort of compulsion magic. It wasn’t easy to separate moira from it. I touched the thing, and found it hard to let go myself. We gave it to Tibles for safekeeping, as he was probably the most likely to stave off its effects.
Just then, a thick fog rolled in, and the artillery overhead stopped dead. We spent a couple minutes regrouping, and then decided to head towards the parliament building. Our boys would probably take this opportunity to gain a tactical upper hand.
We headed in the direction we thought quickest, and arrived at a wrought iron fence. There was a note stuck to the gate, requesting that food and water be left for ‘the children’ here. It was signed by a man named “Filipe.” I knew that name - he was a catfolk, the zoo’s owner, and a legendary hunter.
We climbed the fence, and quickly learned that this wasn’t any ordinary section of the city. We were in the royal Zoo. Exotic birds flew overhead, freed from their cages by stray artillery fire. We trudged through the misty pathways until we came to a speakerphone device that was making noise.
It was connected to an acoustic pipe somewhere in the zoo, and Filipe was calling out a repeated SOS. We answered his call, and nabbed ourselves some information about the zoo. Filipe was hosting a makeshift safehouse in his fortified bunker underneath the zoo, taking care of children caught in the city.
Our conversation was cut short by a pack of wolves emerging from the fog. A quick headcount told us there were nine of them. Moira and Peregrine tried to use their knowledge and magic to placate them, and two of the wolves stood down. The others had stronger will, but not strong enough to weather Tibles’ mental onslaught. D’arcy, Peregrine, and I cleaned up the fight. We walked back to talk with Filipe, but Peregrine had said something to upset him, and he hung up. We managed to persuade him to pick up again, and explained our plight. He understood, but was still reluctant to let us in.
Just then, we heard a thumping. Several birds took flight. We described the noise to Filipe, and the direction from which it was coming, and he identified it as a Condacalabra. A gigantic animate carnivorous plant monster. We ran.
We arrived at the phoenix statue in the middle of town, where Filipe was hiding. There was another speaking tube, and we pleaded with him to let us in. He eventually gave in, on the condition that we bound Peregrine’s hands. We obliged, and were let into the sewers, where he unlocked his doors for us, and led us into a lavish safe haven. The children were nowhere to be found.
We offered a modest spot of food, and he rewarded us with a pair of magic goggles. Then he gave us advice on passage through the sewers, to the parliament building. Before we left, we showed him the strange green stone, and he consulted his library. Apparently the stone was some sort of dragon egg, and it was naturally enchanted with a charm that would make creatures wish to care for it. He warned us to make no mistake, however. This dragon would be evil incarnate. We bid him farewell, and wished him good luck.
We arrived on the surface, behind a bishkan line. Their cooking fire was still burning, but they had apparently all disappeared. Tibles did a bit of investigation, and deduced that they were airlifted out. Bishk had something planned, and we were clueless.
As we walked towards the parliament building, I tried again to blow my silent whistle for Volkin. After a moment, I heard the sound of horse hooves, and was overjoyed. Then I heard the sound of two sets of horse hooves. And then twelve. We all scurried for cover, but it turned out we didn’t need to. Emerging from the fog, we saw Coraline mounted on Volkin, followed by 13 Lavandan knights, all mounted. We rushed to greet them, and got a full report. Apparently, the fog had descended, and the Bishkan forces had simply disappeared. It was much too early to call this a victory, however.
Our reunion was cut short, however, by another psychic link opening with my old friend the Redeemer. He had explained that the Bishkan forces had retreated for reasons that he wouldn’t tell us. We exchanged venom, and then he landed in front of us, on a giant male magma dragon.
We readied ourselves for a fight, and then the Redeemer dismounted, lifted his blade, and challenged me to single combat. I accepted, and he formed a magical barrier around us. This would be single combat. A fight for the ages. No doubt he was hunting for revenge for that time I collapsed a building on him.
Outside, I picked up the sounds of conversation. The dragon that The Redeemer was riding was confronting the rest of my company about killing his mate. Tibles, thinking quickly, drew forth the green dragon egg, and held it at gunpoint with Peregrine’s flintlock pistol. This, however, only seemed to enrage the dragon more.
My thoughts were interrupted by Coraline’s warcry. It was a sound I hadn’t heard in ages. Wheeling around, I saw her charging up to the barrier. The redeemer waved his hand, and allowed her passage within. Before I could shout in protest, the redeemer had turned her assault with some form of witchcraft, and cast her aside with a flourish of steel. She fell to the floor, and her weapon clattered beside her.
That was the Redeemer’s first mistake. I readied myself, ignited my sword, quaffed a potion, and limbered up my muscles. It took all my willpower not to go berserk at the sight of my fallen comrade. I needed a clear mind - just like she herself had taught me. Coraline would survive. I would make sure of it. This would be a fight to remember.

—Richard J. Buckles

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