Our heroes return to Wozington, after exploring a cave full of reptillas, a fire-breathing anklyosaurus, and an alchemy lab where they found a map that leads to a fortress out to the west. They report back to Leo the Younger Elder to give him an update.
Leo recognizes the fortress. It had been abandoned for decades and has been given a rather obvious name: the Western Fortress. Suspecting that bigger and stronger fire-breathing dinosaurs were in their near future, the players ask if the village guardians, Leo the Younger, Feyrow the Elder, and Boqqle the Smith, could accompany them to find and capture the alchemist. Leo didn’t want to leave his village entirely defenseless, so he agreed to have one guardian come along. Although Boqqle is a fierce fighter, and Feyrow is a wonderful wizard, the players asked Leo to come with them, noticing the lack of healing abilities in their party. Leo agrees to leave with the party the next morning.
The players spend the night at The Emerald Ape. In the morning, they meet a humanoid feline, a rakshasa, named Jerome. He overhears of the party’s plans to go to a fortress that day and enthusiastically volunteers his help. He joins the party with Leo towards the Western Fortress.
A six-hour trek through the woods (no random encounters) takes them to the Western Fortress. There is no obvious entrance, but BetterBorn found a secret tunnel obscured by some bushes along the wall. They explore fortress like true dungeon delvers, one room after another (Western Fortress dungeon notes here). The adventurers encounter a fair number of tiktoks (clockwork men), which surprised Leo because he hadn’t seen one operational for decades. These automated robots appeared to be enhanced with potions of strength. Some of the tiktoks present a puzzle to the players, but the rest just wind up their metal fists to fight (to wind up a punch, they literally wind up; clicking noises from internal gears and springs can be heard before a tiktok is ready to lay out a punch). There is also a room of flying apes, with one of them being emerald-colored.
The heroes find a clockwork goldfish, which led them to a secret room filled with paintings of dragons, giants, beholders, and other monsters. There is also a framed certificate, indicating that the recipient is a recently-initiated member of The Fury. Later, hey encounter an illusion of a drow who introduces himself as “”/characters/elphabon-the-war-alchemist" class=“wiki-content-link”>Elphabon, the Great and Powerful," and he reveals his tremendous pride in his creation of the fire-breathing dinosaurs. The heroes now have a face and a name to this evil alchemist. They also find dozens of different potions, and BetterBorn keeps each one in his bag to use for later.
In a large dueling room, the players find a stone triceratops, flanked with four pedestals topped with glass orbs that contain a purple potion. The players were pretty sure what the potion would do, but seeing no other way forward, they crack the glass orbs, allowing the potion to spill to the center of the room. The stone on the triceratops melts away, and the players unleash their strength and skill against it. Booth and BetterBorn were able to get very good hits on it, and everyone was able to survive the triceratops’ line of fire (literally a line of fire). In the end, Slade leaps on top of the dinosaur, and drives his sword into the back of the beast’s neck, dealing the killing blow. The clockwork goldfish then led them (through a series of loud and soft clicks) to a secret staircase. The players decide to rest here before continuing on to the next floor.
The second floor of the fortress turned out to be much smaller than the first, with large containers, vats, and basins of various alchemy ingredients brewing and boiling through a pipe system on the walls and ceiling. BetterBorn tries to ruin the alchemist’s work by urinating in a couple of the large vats. While this causes some of the potion mixtures to lose color and potency, one mixture became more potent from BetterBorn’s wee little scheme.
Among other things (such as a library with an acid trap and a storage room with a mysterious hourglass), the players enter some sort of strange shrine. A clockwork black dragon activates upon their entrance and recites these menacing stanzas:
“The ancient earth they now subdue,
With order and appliance.
All they (refuse!) declare on cue,
‘Here, there be science!’
Yet soon the vernal sun shall fail,
We’ll fill the bitter flagons,
When all the world will weep and wail:
‘Here, there be dragons!’"
The heroes say nothing as BetterBorn inspects the old tome on a small pedestal. The tome appears to be an allegorical story about a female druid being tortured by a civilized man, but the woman promises vengeance against the man (civilized society). A few moments into this study, the black dragon automation says, “Who run the world?” One of the players took a stab at it: “Dragons?” Apparently, it was the wrong answer because the dragon starts to spray acid throughout the room, but the players were able to escape quickly enough to suffer minimal damage. They also find a pair of alchemy jugs, which BetterBorn takes with glee.
Finally, the adventurers find Elphabon, the evil drow alchemist, sitting at a desk. The drow had a bag around his shoulder, a potion in his hand, and a confident smirk on his face. “Well, it’s about time,” the drow began, and he threw his potion onto the desk. Magical flames spread and engulfed the walls, revealing more space in the room to battle. Two tiktoks in the room come to life and Elphabon begins to take potions out of his bag to gain the upper hand. The tiktoks proved to be hard to hit, and even many attacks on the drow kept missing. The players got worried when Elphabon used an invisibility potion. BetterBorn decided that the best option was to drink a Potion of Fire Breath and spread a wide cone of fire at one of the tiktoks, as well as the area behind it. The fire was forceful enough and the cone of attack wide enough to his Elphabon, which was evidenced when the players heard a scream of pain followed by Elphabon’s loss of invisibility, as well as consciousness. Leo takes Elphabon’s limp body, and the party returns to Wozington, where Elphabon is taken to prison to be questioned when he comes to.