There is a dim glimmer of rage in the lava-red sclera lurking in the eyes of the dragon. "You would not treat me so when I am fully grown...!" The drake tries to twist out of your hold, only to trumpet in pain as you apply more pressure to its arm.
"You want to know, eh? Mitera has always said you elens are endlessly curious, and she is right, as always. Very well! The efreet fell from grace because they had the audacity to try and protect Sky when Volcano had decided that Sky must die. Sky is Fallen due to the will of Volcano."
Karoff rumbles its laughter once more. "Yes, the dragons know of this..."
The drake's segmented talons scratch at the scales of its lower snout once more, thoughtfully. The smoke escaping its nostrils changes to blue, then a pensive purple, still thinking. "But this is another form of strength, is it not? I have something you want, that you did not wrestle for, yes?"
Karoff takes the time to properly set up the ifrit tea, with a thin layer of oil on top, which the drake lights with a puff of fire. It passes one of the fiery cups to you. Saluting you with its own cup, Karoff drinks the boiling beverage in one swift gulp.
your fire resist means you take no damage from this, if you choose to partake, it's a relatively common thing in higher society
"Now, the things you wanted to know. Uncle Ibinu has two close allies - his chief guard, her name is Sophia. There is a funny sylph who does things with potions, called Culkin. You can find them both at the Temple, though I think Culkin sometimes visits the, err, Mister Makers? The alchemists who make things? Some kind of lab."
"Inam, the one with the annoying bird, she also has an important guard, her name is Edoardo. She has very good manners, knows to treat me and the bird as the emissaries of Volcano that we are." It shines its scales with a napkin as it says this, like a preening parrot.
from its comments, you think that Karoff is not especially well-versed in the gender of elens
"Inam also trusts an old priest. His name is Antioco, and he sits in on the Council in Ianm's absence."
"Kallik, I do not know so well. There is a child I have seen her with, but if I understand elen breeding customs correctly, it is not her offspring, which I find strange. There is an old ele who sits on the council for her right now. Her name is something like Down How Eep, but it does not stay in my mind. She lives in the Stems, where the Steam used to be and where the big tree is now."
Karoff throws its head back, showing two rows of teeth as it laughs in basso. Yellow smoke drifts from its nostrils, and a guttering of flame shows for a moment or two.
"You elens are such surprises! Yes, a good lesson in strength. Thank you."
It stands up, stretching and groaning, flexing its back in a strange, inelen way. Breathing deeply, it suddenly shouts, "TEA FOR ME AND MY-"
But just as suddenly, it stops, and mumbles to itself. Then, in a more moderated tone, the drake says to a nearby attendant, "Ah. Please bring tea for me and my guest. She has beaten me in a test of strength, and I would show her honor! Bring something sweet as well, to celebrate!"
the attendant brings food, a table, and chairs for you and Karoff. No chair for Marianne, but she says nothing, just rolls her eyes and keeps watch all around.
"Yes, Uncle is teaching me these things as well, the different kinds of strength and power. But I am sometimes a slow learner." It taps one of its claws against its chin, a curiously elen-like gesture. You notice the drake has only three fingers--or more accurately, talons--on each claw, spread in radial symmetry. "I am speaking of my Uncle Ibinu, yes, he is one of the Blessed. They are the strongest in the Land, and that is why they rule. The Darkness cannot hurt them!"
Stomping its feet on the packed earth, it says, "And I am Karoff, borne of Ssarkofaugos!" The names are pronounced and accented strangely, almost like barking sounds.
The drake crouches low, its long, scaly arms outstretched. "And you will push me out of this circle before we have any more of your "politics" talking! To victory!"
you think this is a friendly challenge - it does not seem angry
Within the circle, Karoff the drake lunges at his opponent, a muscular ifrit el. Grabbing the soldier around the legs, Karoff picks him up and throws him a good ten feet through the air. He lands with a clunk of armor and a whoosh of expelled breath, well outside the circle.
"Ha ha! Dueling every day I say! Uncle will not want us to grow weak while he is away!"
Ibinu, out in the open winter air, Karoff runs ahead to a corner of the temple courtyards and jumps bare-clawed into a snow drift. "Haha! With the protective magic upon me, it only feels tingly and sandy. Like a fine minty dessert for my claws!"
It goes quiet for a moment, staring past your shoulder, back at the Temple. You see the black obsidian colossus reflected in its lava-bright eyes. "Uncle, this may be a wrymling's question, but what is the purpose of accumulating more power? What if you had all the power you could possibly get...what would you do?"
Karoff instantly responds to your tone, flinching dark yellow smoke for a moment, then paying complete attention to your words. You can tell that it does not understand everything you say, but asks no questions for now. The faux council works much better - you can tell the abstract concepts and rules make an impression as the drake goes through the motions.
At the end of the lesson, Karoff asks, earnestly, "When next I go to council, would it be better to say nothing at all and just watch? Like when first learning how to claw and how to flame?"
A saurian bellow, "MORE WOOD IS NEEDED! MORE FIRE IS NEEDED! OBEY YOUR COUNCIL!"
As the echoes from its shout fade, Karoff asks you in a normal voice, "Uncle, a drake trains for war with sparring - practice by doing. So what is this book for? I will not be reading at council meetings, so why am I practicing reading instead of better yelling?"
Karoff takes the simply-written book with one of its three-taloned claws. Idly, the other claw scratches the side of its scaled face as the drake entertains a slow, inchoate thought. "Powerful words...hmm..." Brow clouding, it turns to the librarian--a bookish ifrit with round glasses whose name eludes you--and yells, "THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS BOOK!" The draconian roar manages to fog the librarian's glasses, even at a distance of several feet.
Karoff turns to you. "Is that how to use words powerfully? Like how I won the council by yelling?"
claw 1: 1d20 + 3 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 3 + 4 = 18
damage: 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
claw 2: 1d20 + 3 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 3 + 4 = 25
damage: 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
claw 1: 1d20 + 3 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 3 + 4 = 19
only one hit over 2 rounds, 4 damage
Ibinu's magic, supplying him both arcane health and unseen armor, allows him to best Karoff's unrefined, raw attacks.
having lost more than half of his health...
two hits, so Karoff takes 18, minus a little DR
"Ho ho! You are ferocious, Uncle!" Karoff seems delighted by the wounds.
claw 1: 1d20 + 3 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 3 + 4 = 22
damage: 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7
claw 2: 1d20 + 3 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 3 + 4 = 19
damage: 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
one hit it looks like, so 7 damage, counts as magical
let's do two rounds worth of attacks each - I think we'll reach the conclusion a little faster that way
Karoff walks up, having seen the other nominee do the same. It raises its thick arms into the air, like tree trunks with claws, and bellows, "I WILL MAKE OUR ENEMIES FALL!" It ends with another blazing belch, this one intentional, which shoots up into the ceiling. You all feel a scorching heat for one moment, like an oven opened too quickly, and then it is gone. The ceiling, made from the true obsidian of the Temple, remains unharmed.
Karoff steps back, walking proud and upright.
assuming Kallik opens the door and lets sequoya in - everyone else is already gathered
Karoff starts laughing uproariously, belching bright yellow smoke, holding his sides in sudden mirth. "Is that a cat?" He stands up, knocking his chair over in his haste. "Mitéra showed me pictures of them! Said they were soft to the touch, like a nice pillow! Is this truly a cat?" He is looking at Mishipeshu eagerly, though keeping a respectful distance.
"What is your name, lovely cat?"
Karoff walks in a few minutes late, giving his Uncle Ibinu a brief yet strong embrace. It is a strange creature - mostly elenoid in shape, but with several differences--scales, claws, teeth--that mark him as clearly draconian. The drake crackles a good morning to Etrah in High Ifrit.
After listening to Ibinu's plan, He clacks two of his multijointed claws together - you get the impression this motion is similar an elen child raising their hand in a classroom. "Uncle? Is this position one of strength? One I can use to attack our enemies?"
"It is called Kapnós, spoken by the kapnistés. I think in your tongue it would say 'Smoke' or 'The Smoking Throat' maybe." Karoff turns to you, chewing the last few splinters sticking from his mouth. "But how can you not know it? Did not your mitéra teach you what is right?"
no big deal about busy weekend. The blood and the description of Gabriele's dead wife will be arriving at your quarters, and we can prepare for your next jaunt into Igniscoeli this week
Karoff does not respond, but Edoardo encourages the pogonas to go faster. You make the Temple quickly. Inam and Edoardo, as the two strongest elens in the group, help Karoff to his feet. He is not quite dead weight - his legs hold some strength. His step is so slow, however, it is like guiding a golem made of rubber and springs. You make your laborious way up to the second tier, where the refectory fires and kitchens await.
The steps are thankfully clear of snow - the sweeper sylphs are faithful as always, even in a mild blizzard such as this. Eyes drooped in saurian somnambulism, Karoff mutters in his unknown language. "Mitéra...κρύο." Sophia walks ahead of the trio, holding the door to the refectory open.
Inside, there is a roaring fireplace. After a moment in front of the blaze, Karoff stirs. His eyes blink open. With invulnerable, heedless claws, he snatches a mid-sized branch from the fire. Creaking open a mouthful of daggers, the drake snacks noisily on the flaming branch. He gives a smoke-stink belch several seconds later.
"Ha ha! Better!"
It is twentieth candle.