After three days of training, the Scalesworn are approached by a young boy delivering a message from a ‘right frightening beast woman out in the sand’. They quickly realize this must be the same Jakali that lead them to the mountain before. With no reason to distrust the message, they head out to meet with the gnoll and find out what she wants.
The Jakali leads them back towards the Cloud Peaks, this time deviating just before they reach the foothills of the mountain they visited before. Here, they find another ruined gnoll village, burned and devastated like the last. This one, however, is not uninhabited. There are a few dozen humans here, familiar with their leather clothes and blue tattoos. These are the same people the Scalesworn found in that cavern aerie, the ones that were tending to the wyverns.
Rather than react with hostility, these humans are too battered and wounded to offer much of a fight. The Jakali explains that they were set upon, betrayed by the orcs and their strange magically-disguised leader. If the Scalesworn help these people, they might be useful allies against the area’s common threat – those who worship the power behind that red, five-headed mark.
The Scalesworn agree and spend themselves healing and tending to the injured. In return, the tribal leader calls them together and tells them all he knows about the orcs and their leader, whom he overhead them referring to as the ‘Avernal’.
The Scalesworn learn that the wyvern tenders are a tribe called the Skyborn and that their precious wyverns (‘wind dancers’) are mounts and partners, bonded for life and part of their culture. They have no blue dragon alliances and actually fear the coming of any such creature, mostly because any true dragon would treat their wind dancers as nothing more than food or rival predators. It was this threat, along with simple distrust, that caused their dealings with the Orcish envoys to sour.
Betrayed and driven from their homes, the Skyborn fear for their wyverns still trapped in the aerie and for their pregenitor, the Matriarch. The Chaiftain tells the Scalesworn that the Matriarch is deep in the Mountain, in a cavern called the Silverheart. He closed the passage to the Silverheart when they were betrayed but never got to seal the way.
After securing a promise from the Scalesworn to finish the sealing, he teaches them the ritual to do so and tells them of a secret way into the mountain. After a quick rest and a much needed meal, the Scalesworn set out to fulfill their oath and protect the Matriarch.
The Jakali woman, known to them only as the Stalker, joins them without asking. “We have the same enemy. You are all walking the path that leads to my revenge.”
The path to the Silverheart is not as secret as the Chieftain had hoped and after a while travelling through the hidden passage, the Scalesworn encounter resistance in the form of more humanoids. Kobolds and goblins assail them again, all obviously drawn from the same tribes as the others they have encountered. Battling through these threats, they are ambushed by orcs, powerful foes with excellent arms and armour.
With no quarter or surrender offered to them, the Scalesworn have to fight their way past nearly a dozen Orcish warriors and archers, all backed up by a deadly shaman wielding draconic spirit magic. Though a potent foe, they manage to defeat him and win their way past into the chamber of the Silverheart Gate.
There they come face to face with the Avernal, a dark crimson robed figure with a hidden face and a staff carved from black bone. While he works on trying to force the Gate open with the help of a fiery-winged woman, his bodyguard of several more orcs descend upon the Scalesworn.
Their battle is hard-fought but the Scalesworn win past the Orcish guard. Upon seeing the last of his defenders slain, the Avernal sends a surging ball of flames to cover his escape. He addresses the winged demoness, “Sarith, love, it is time to go.”
The ball explodes, scattering the Scalesworn as the woman wraps her burning wings around the Avernal, also called ‘Kerr’, and they vanish. His last words summon a final challenge for the Scalesworn as he disappears.
“Spirits of stone and wind and fire.
Destroy these fools that risk my ire.”
Three elementals rise from the spot where the Avernal faded, one of each form named. They are powerful foes, all the more deadly because when they are defeated, each one collapses into a sphere of magical energy branded with the Pentalith, and explodes with draconic fire. Though the Scalesworn survive this scourging by the elements, the Stalker is not so fortunate. She is burned down, slain by the fire elemental when it erupts into dragon’s flame.
With no time to mourn the dead, the Scalesworn move to the Silverheart Gate and recite the ritual. The gate locks and the mountain’s ancient magical defenses activate. All through the caverns of the Skyborn, the Avernal’s invaders are slain or forced to flee.
Before they can even catch their collective breath, the Scalesworn all feel their rings flare to life. A magical pulse runs through each of them, arcing across the chamber to the body of the Stalker. Slain by dragons and consumed by revenge, the Jakali has been chosen by their Master to become D’acharn.
Though it may be some time before their paths cross again, the family of the Scalesworn has gained a new sibling…