The Shadow of Iron Hills
Tales are leaking from below the Iron Hills, that an unnamed winged terror can be seen on the sky on the darkest of nights. What creature it is, nobody knows, but some of the disappearances in the harsh place are said to be its work. If the moon is hidden, nightly travellers are warned to stay from roads and open places.
The Academy of Necromantic Magics (see the Valley of Undead post) had, in its short history, always attracted men eager to prove themselves and their art. When the news reached them, that bones of a massive creature have been found, all raced to the location to have a try.
What was in the unnamed pit under the mountains, has surpassed their wildest expectations: the remains of a dragon, far more than any of them could take command of. Once they joined their power, the body has started to move... but something of his inhabitant's presence stayed behind, hating any attempt of being controlled. The skelet lashed out at its new masters, and quickly fell apart as they withdrew their magical support. Most were not wounded at all.
Full Item Description
This has been a young dragon. If the skelet was inspected with care, a violent death can be deduced from the scratches and broken bones, something brutal and larger the cause - like another dragon.
The bones connected with wires, iron plates where they have been broken, black cloth covering most of the form, the 'dragon' is usually dormant. The bones have been alchemically treated to prevent dessication.
When in use, several forms would be seen on its back, bound in place to not fall. The flight, directed by humans, is far from the majestic gliding of its kind, the frequent flapping of wings and unstable hold make it an uncomfortable ride. The speed, though, is amazingly high.
Since there was no permanent way to silence the random, mindless urges of the remains, it is kept inert most of the time, not more magical than common dragon bones. It requires two adept Necromancers (or one master) to fly - one to animate it, the other to keep it under control.
As long as it can avoid sunlight, it is the fastest form of travel mortals are able to achieve now. Sadly, it is too fragile for any real combat, it would not survive contact with a real dragon for but a second. To humans it can be dangerous, but even there it shows how far it is from a living specimen; the largest potential on battlefield would be the pure shock of seeing one.
After frequent enchanting, the bones accept the animation spell easily, control is hard as it always was.
For now, it stays a well-kept secret of the Academy. It is sometimes used for special missions, carrying spies or sensitive goods, able to transport several men with supplies in a radius of a few hundred miles from its base (a well hidden cave deep in the hills).
The Academy does not use it too often, fearing that other powers may learn of its existence, or, a living dragon - both cases resulting in its destruction.
- IT was seen again! This time, by somebody more trustworthy than a drunken peasant. A veritable dragon-killing fever has spread among the adventurous and stupid, with several groups combing the wilderness and watching the nightly skies in search of the UFO... errr, dragon. The PC's may join the hunt, or be quietly hired by intermediaries to stop the whole uproar.
- Bad Dreams - a fitting PC has started to have dreams with a powerful, alien presence. Obviously, it is the spirit of the dragon, that cannot pass away completely because of the link this world. It asks for help, as it can contact only a certain personality type. It will draw the contact to its remains, so they can be destroyed, or a banishing ritual performed to sever the link. This can be an opportunity to gain a rare spirit guide (and the enmity of a powerful organization).
- Bad Dreams come true - caused by the ritual above, or another experiment of the Academy, the dragon's mind has fully returned to its body, and it is very angry. While not as mighty as a living dragon, the creature needs to be killed as soon as possible.
- The secret is out, and now it's necessary to destroy the thing, steal, or move it elsewhere, depending on which side pays the most.
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? Responses (8)
Yay-a skeliton dragon.
A glorified dragon-kite, very interesting but lacking the usual level of polish.
Amazingly, I'm thinking this one, though short, is almost complete. The only things I can think of to add might be a plot hook or something. Otherwise, I like it. Good work Manfred.
I like the catch - no permanent enchantment, and the constant struggle for control. It lacks a WOW moment though, something to really set it apart.
It is an old piece, I admit. Had never reason to expand it - but as always am open to your suggestions. :)
Added a few plot hooks for your convenience.
Quite a flavorful piece, imo. Subtely evocative.
An interesting bit of necromancy that I had not thought of. ossified marionettes with powers... excellent.
I think is really cool - it may not be fleshed out (heh) but it paints the idea clear. It could be a mystery at first for PC's and perhaps later once they perhaps work for the group that has it, ends up being used by them.