The Iron Wardens opened the small panel at the end of the corridor and slid through, emerging at the top of a chilly stone staircase. They descended slowly, careful to keep their balance on the slick rocks. The air got colder with each step, and soon each breath puffed into mist.
When they reached the bottom, a voice chilled them more deeply than the freezing air: “You don’t smell like kobolds!”
The chamber at the bottom of the stairs was large, with crumbling pillars flanking a small ice-covered pond. On the other side of the chamber, a shadow unfolded its wings and, with several harsh flaps of its wings, flew low over the ice, coming at the heroes.
Zev took the opportunity to divert the flow of chaos within him, temporarily exchanging his daily affinity for necrotic energy for an affinity for cold. He channeled some of this into Emer, who charged the dragon. It was hard to image that she would have charged the dragon with any less ferocity if she had not been protected from its cold.
In the ensuing melee, Emer spent a lot of time rushing around the ice to get at the dragon as it flew back and forth, using its flight to split up the Iron Warriors. Kam kept steadily after it, blasting it with Moradin’s holy light from afar and, when the winged lizard closed to striking distance, delivering mighty blows fueled by his deity.
Emer found herself often the target of the dragon’s crackling frost-breath and vicious claws and bite. While Kam kept up the holy attacks, he also channeled healing energy to Emer, which allowed her to continue the fight. When the dragon strayed too close to the dwarf, he raised his hammer over his head, held aloft his symbol of Moradin, and shouted out a prayer to Moradin in the tongue of the dwarves. Though Zev and Emer had no idea what he said, it was an impressive display nonetheless.
Zev kept his distance from the combat while keeping up a steady barrage of chaos bolts. He moved about the chamber, staying mobile to ensure that he did not get too close to the dragon.
Thinking quickly, Emer drew out a sling and a glue-shot she had taken from a kobold. Remembering how annoying it had been to be rendered helpless, she figured that it was payback time and slung a shot at the dragon. Amazingly, the sticky substance splashed over the vicious creature and brought it smashing into the frosty ground. Emer happily dashed for the creature and took the opportunity to get in several deep strikes before the furious dragon snapped the clinging strands and took to the air once more.
After a vicious battle, the exhausted heroes finally killed the dragon. As it slumped to the floor, Zev wandered off in search of the dragon skin they had been searching for while Kam and Emer started to skin the dragon. Emer showed more enthusiasm than skill, but thanks to Kam’s gruff instruction the two managed to get the skin off without ruining it.
Zev, meanwhile, found a chest containing the dragon skin, a magical sword, and some gold and gems. “The chest’s empty!” he called back.
“What did you say?” growled Kam, walking over covered in the dragon’s gore and holding its head.
“Look at all this gold and jewels!”
Emer inspected the sword, weighing the option of using a magical sword against her trusty but nonmagical axe. She decided to take it back with her, just in case.
Back in town, the dwarf who had hired the Iron Wardens was very happy to get his dragon skin. When Kam asked him about getting a price for the other dragon’s skin, he offered to look around and let them know what the going price of a freshly-butchered dragon skin was.
The Iron Warriors sat back and reflected on a job well done. They had survived their trial by ice, as it were, and were now truly a force to be reckoned with.