Scaled Down Scales

The Dragonpinner Teaches

...A Bone Naga...

…How to Read

As soon as Andrea Ravn saw the glowing eyes of the skull on the top shelf of Acererak’s library, she yelled “Charge!” and ran toward it. That might have been why she failed to notice that the pile of bones between two of the bookshelves was undulating in a snakelike motion.

Nox seemed to notice, however, and soon Andrea was caught in the Bone Naga’s aura. The undead creature was able to daze the Warlord with both its rattle and its swaying, hypnotic motions.

Then a Sword Wraith stepped through one of the walls, and she knew they were really in trouble.

“At least they’re all undead,” Andrea told the others, noting the radiant energy she had put on her sword seemed to be working well when she hit them.

But the creatures seemed to be able to keep them all dazed and dictate who she was hitting.

Then they realized the wraith was healing itself. Nox managed to get free of the naga and position himself on the far side of the room and concentrate his fire spells on the wraith — with a little left over for the naga.

“We’re getting our butts kicked,” observed Nox Rhasgar as he tried to get out of the spells of the Bone Naga. The creature’s Death Rattle kept them dazed while Acererak’s Sword Wraith and Flameskull kept hitting them. And even when they got outside its range, the others could still be dazed by the swaying motion of its most powerful attack.

Shade was handicapped by the Death Sway of the Bone Naga more than the others. She had to concentrate all her effort on maintaining her Shadow Form.

The Shadow Form was good at preventing her from getting hurt, but she needed help getting out of the aura of the Death Rattle and the Death Sway.

And she wasn’t getting that help from her teammates. Not that she had helped them much earlier when she forgot to tell them about the Letter from Amyria. She told herself, “It just slipped my mind,” as she remembered how excited she had been to see the laboratory.

She knew that on its tables someone might have fashioned a bone masque much like hers. Or, hidden in this library, might be the answer to all her questions about about the masque and why the Raven Queen gave it to her.

But for now Shade was just frustrated by the naga. Constantly dazed by its rattle and swaying dance, she could do little except pile her shrouds on the creature and concentrate on maintaining her Shadow Form.

Usually, Shade was able to escape from such predicaments by slipping from shadow to shadow. But in this dazed condition she couldn’t manage that without giving up what she thought of as her true form.

Finally, Relvain convinced her to abandon the protection of the Shadow form. Still, even after she slipped away into the shadows, the creature was able to frustrate her. All it had to do was edge toward the shadow where she was hiding and she was dazed again by its Death Sway.

“I’m telling you,” Jerath insisted, “it doesn’t make sense. Roland was a sneaky bastard, and he clearly was taking orders from Tiamat. But he could have killed Markelhay without anybody knowing. He was angling to marry Belinda and take over as Lord Warden one day. Why would he kill her father in a way that made it look like he did it?”

“I wonder if I could use this bookcase as blocking terrain,” thought Relvain Blackaxe as she remembered what she did to the dragon Chillreaver.

Using her shield to trap the naga against the books, she was able to hold it there against all its thrashing efforts to free itself.

“The creature is strong,” she observed. “But it has no training in Athletics. So it cannot use its strength. And it is dextrous. But with no training in Acrobatics, it cannot use its dexterity.”

Relvain was still dazed by the rattling, but all she had to do was hold on and maintain the pressure her shield had on the naga’s neck. The rest were all able to edge out of the influence of the rattles and kill the wraith and then the Flameskull.

The naga never did break the hold. Chillreaver had broken it — but Chillreaver was an Exarch of Tiamat. The two-headed white dragon was able to flee Icehome once Krasire broken its mirrors and destroyed her iceberg.

After they killed the wraith and the skull, Nox and Shadowfox — and even Andrea — were able to pile on enough damage to kill the naga.

They found some old tomes in the library the magic-users insisted would have considerable value if they brought them back to their own time, but Andrea insisted they keep looking.

The Warlord was convinced the bookcases along one wall concealed a hidden door. She seemed to think the blue gem was telling her of a secret room where another piece of Sky Metal might be hidden.

Sure enough, persistent searching found section of bookcase that swung inward and revealed a room filled with statues. And in the middle they saw a piece of the strange metal on a pedestal.

They were nervous about the statues, but they got the Sky Metal out without problem. Then they went back to the stairwell to climb to the next level of Acererak’s manor house.

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