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Travel Series: Hatchling Aerie
Written by Trurien
Hatchling Aerie (Code: CHL)
Southwest Mesolar: 10, 24
Between the River Angor and the Coastfollow Road, far to the west of the city of Aylor, a vast expanse of burned-out field bears the imprint of dragons. It was said that a tower once stood there, occupied solely by dragons and their human slaves. It is still possible to make out the shape of the tower, but it seems somehow to have melted into the cracks of the mountain on which it was built.
The Ngleanntan Tuir has never recovered from the dragons' occupation, and the latest rumours were that the dragons continued to exist on that mountain, and their erstwhile slaves had long disappeared. Whether they were freed or eaten, nobody knows, but the signs point to the dragons' dominance of the area.
Approaching the mountain from the south, one notices the change in atmosphere at once. Literally. There seems to be a wall of mist swirling about which the wildlife appreciates - it certainly provides some cover from the stray hungry dragon looking for a snack. Bears, foxes and rabbits can be seen. Strangely, the usual hunting activity seemed muted. Maybe larger predators nearby forced an unnatural peace on them, who knows?
Now and then, a mage could be observed gathering herbs, as though unafraid of the lurking threat, or blissfully unaware. No more comment could be elicited, except that dark flowers around could replenish one's energy. Really, they've got better things to worry about, one would think. (Note: those flowers WERE really good! Bit brief though.)
After a long confusing walk through the plains, the base of the mountain will be a welcome change. Only - up or down? That depends on what the explorer is seeking. The tunnel leading upwards seems to be more hospitable, and while it is possible to head down, coming back up might prove a bit of a problem.
Reports from those who have magically escaped the path leading down seem hard to believe. Word of undead explorers, wisps of smoke and talking lava is not something to take at face value, though there definitely are dragons in those underground caverns. A Mefisto, a mage, seems to want challengers to take on the dragons. It is not clear what his motives aredragon priest, attendants, guardians watching eggs and hatchlings scampering about in the warmth didn't seem too hostile, though the goblins were somewhat suspect.
The rocks are slippery, though the persistent adventurer might indeed be able to find a way up into the caverns. After a couple of slips it is easy to find footholds en route to a huge cavern. There, dragon whelps of every hue bustle about from room to room for their lessons.
Keep an eye out for the dragon whelp bully in the middle of the cavern. There is an overseer nearby, but rough play is considered acceptable for whelps and is ignored by the overseer. Most adventurers may have trouble ignoring that, to be honest.
A shaft in the middle of the cavern etched with footholds lets the dragons taking their flying lessons get a good running start before they take off into the air above the mountain. In the distance, an annoying dragon called "Puff" can be seen being destroyed by the more mature whelps.
The regular tunnel up is a lot easier for most, and leads to an egg incubation centre and kindergarten (?!) staffed by gnomes, elves and dwarves. The dragons certainly have it all set up in this mountain. The kindergarten is connected at the north end by a narrow cave to where the whelps have their lessons.
Through the whelps one reaches a four-way junction. Mefisto, a mage, seems to want challengers to take on the dragons. It is not clear what his motives are, but a helpful sign points the way for those who do decide to take the mage's offer and venture on.
From Mefisto on, it is no longer accessible by land, so some sort of flying potion or ability is recommended to further explore this mountain. Be sure to buy sufficient insurance before exploring north, as the impartial dragons in that section of the mountain can be quite a handful.
This mountain is not the place for a cheerful vacation, and while the black flowers may somewhat appease the chemical buff, the overall atmosphere is not a friendly one. Prior preparation is necessary to climb the mountain where the whelps reside.

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