Don’t Mess With Clergy

Upon reaching the Citadel, Damir talks his way past the priests guarding the wards there. The party enters the city to survey what they're up against. They find the city nearly cleared out, but a pack of Ghul howlers in the area gives them some trouble. As they approach the gates, Peregrine notices that there are archers in the towers around the gate. The party sends Amilyn over the wall using Emby's Wings and Invisibility, while the rest of the party sneaks up into their blind spot up against the bottom of the gate. Amilyn opens the gate, allowing the party into the inner walls. There they encounter skeleton archers with some ability to strategize and think; they're very tough, especially due to their resistance to Damir's and Peregrine's weapons. The party eventually kills all 18 that attack them, but while in the tower attacking the sniping archers, Damir notices a ripple in the moat out of the corner of his eye. When he turns to look at what is causing it, a small black dragon jumps into the air, catapulting itself at the party. It attacks but is wounded by missile fire from the party, so it charges Damir (who is standing on the inner wall). Damir dodges briefly but is caught by surprise when the dragon strikes again; he is tossed off the wall and falls 40', crushing him. Peregrine attacks the dragon with holy arrows, burning serious scars into its hide, but the dragon then charges him and flings him down off the wall, dropping him 30' to the ground below. A nearly crushed Peregrine attacks one last time as the dragon sweeps overhead, raining acidic breath upon him; Emby and Amilyn, previously undercover, rush to his and Damir's aid. Amilyn stabilizes Damir as the dragon takes flight over the wall; Emby fires a magic missile volley at the dragon as he disappears over the wall, and a satisfying thud resounds through the compound. The party quickly calls to the priests for aid; the dragon's carcass is dragged from the city, and the party limps back to camp to heal. Emby is understandably upset by Damir's near-death, but she has begun to handle herself quite well, facing the situation with determination. The next morning, the party cleans the dragon's corpse to prevent it from rotting, leaving its head on a pike and its hide staked out to tan. The carcass is kept a moderate distance from the priests' guardhouse under what little brush cover they can find.
For the next few days, the priests venture into the city to ensure that it's clear. The party spends those days in large-scale warfare with the skeleton archers that remain inside the inner walls, all 108 of them. The warfare drags on for four days of out-and-out battle, but the party eventually destroys the last of the skeleton archers and drags their weapons out of the city. The party deliberately avoids the graveyards surrounding the temples, which the skeletons use as a retreat point. Each day, while the party has pushed the skeletons away from the moat, the priests sneak into the city and purify the waters of the moat as much as they can. After the skeletons have been cleared out, the priests continue to cleanse the waters, but the party takes over the sweeps of the city. The party sets up garrison-houses inside some of the more-intact buildings during the days that the priests spend clearing the water. The first day of this plan, however, the party's sweep is interrupted early on when the black dragon from the Necromancer's hideout appears and attacks the priests' guardhouse (having seen its young's corpse). The party rushes to the priests' aid, Damir informing Malicor through the earring that the dragon is away as he casts an illusion of a bronze dragon approaching. The black dragon is driven off by the illusion long enough for the party to help the priests escape into the city walls and hide inside some buildings. Peregrine and the priests hide inside one; Emby, Amilyn, and Damir hide in another, nearby. When the illusion falls, the dragon sweeps over the city and begins to demolish buildings with its breath, tail, and claws, looking for the party. It destroys the building in which Peregrine is hiding, tumbling the walls and roof onto him and the priests. It pounces and pins Peregrine, crushing him beneath its massive chest as the priests cast some spells and attack. The priests are beaten off by the dragon's tail slaps, but an invisible Damir charges in, rapier flaming, having cast Haste and Dolorous Blow (Emby had made Damir Invisible earlier). Damir drives his blade into the dragon's left eye, partially blinding it, then climbs onto its neck. The dragon lets up slightly on Peregrine, who scoots out from under it. Damir attacks from its back, blinding its other eye. The dragon then jumps into the air and Damir lets go, falling into the debris as the dragon takes wing over the mountains. Peregrine fires a parting shot, hitting the dragon as it disappears into the distance. The party and priests heal each other and continue their vigil and cleansing actions. After a few more days, they clear the water enough to see and locate the juvenile black dragon's lair. Peregrine and Amilyn explore it quickly, finding some treasure. They return to the surface with it, and the party divides it up. They locate and repair a wagon in the city and load up the crossbows, bolts, and broadswords that the skeleton archers were using. These they plan to take to the priests for the war effort. Emby acquires a rod of negation, a wand of knock, and a scroll of silence from the dragon's horde. Amilyn gains a scroll of Cure Serious Wounds. The party also divides up some gems and gold, with Peregrine taking a sapphire, Amilyn a ruby, and Emby a diamond. Damir gives the priests 25 GP for their troubles and promises them more later. The party then makes plans to enter the keep the next day.

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