Rhyaexthadarsh, A Wyrm of the East
Dragon Magazine #356
By Brian Cortijo
In the northern reaches of the Sunrise Mountains, a few miles south of where the foothills rise up into frosted peaks lairs the scarred dragon Rhyaexthadarsh (CE ancient white dragon). Smarter and more foresighted than most of her breed, Rhyaevthadarsh spends much of her time rearranging her horde and preying on passing caravans and choice deliveries of foolhardy adventurers.
Rhyaexthadarsh's enhanced intelligence comes from a headband of intellect +6 she recovered from a wizard some six centuries ago. Slipping it onto one of her talons as a sort of ring, the dragon slowly realized that her thoughts had more depth and consideration behind them and that - while still motivated by draconic instincts like hunger and greed - she was no longer dominated by baser motivations. She could plan now, and plot, and observe the creatures around her to better influence her domain.
Beginning with the mountain peaks, Rhyaexthadarsh eliminated two young silver dragons who laired nearby. A decade later, she claimed dominion over a small clan of frost giants that had taken up residence in the southern Sunrise Mountains. When they rebelled against her, the dragon slew the entire clan and began looking for lesser creatures to carry out her will: remorhaz, winter wolves, and eventually a frost worm deeper in the mountains.
Bored with the domination of lesser creatures, Rhyaexthadarsh began to ignore her "subjects," focusing her attention on the caravans that crept past the northern end of the Sunrise Mountains every spring and summer. Picking off a few, she discovered that these traveling merchants carried trinkets and goods that she could add to her hoard. The vast collection silks, exotic coffers, and books of various languages is testament to her love of the materials the caravans carried; most of the larger mounds of coin in Rhyaexthadarsh's lair are capped with silk or fine textiles of some sort.
At first Rhyaexthadarsh killed the members of these caravans fairly indiscriminately, eating their mounts and pack animals, torturing (and then eating) the humanoids, and claiming all the wealth and goods the wagons carried. In time, the travel slowed and eventually stopped, as merchants determined that the time saved by cutting across the foothills was not worth the danger of a rampaging dragon. Realizing this, Rhyaexthadarsh stopped her killings for nearly a century, waiting for trade to begin again.
Once the caravans resumed, the dragon began attacking again, but took a more reasoned, careful approach to her killings. In more recent years, Rhyaexthadarsh has established the following pattern: eastbound caravans she attacks swiftly, freezing the humanoids and picking off most of the horses for her own food. After directing a pack of winter wolves to attack the remaining creatures, she returns to the site and picks through one or two wagons for choice goods. The remainder she leaves as a warning to other travelers: not that there are dragons present, but that wolf packs roam the foothills, requiring extra horses and defenders (extra food for dragons, that is).
For westbound caravans, Rhyaexthadarsh's pattern changes. She kills or, drives off any living thing - slaying whatever intelligent creatures she finds, but leaving horses and other unintelligent beasts for her wolves - and claims all nonliving material for her hoard.
Rhyaexthadarsh responds to powerful opposition or unexpected resistance with evasion tactics and careful observation until she can determine the best means to eliminate the threat. Outside her caverns, Rhyaexthadarsh is often accompanied by a small pack (1d4+2) of winter wolves, and she unleashes her breath weapon and spells to confuse her prey and inhibit action, such as slow and solid fog. When encountered in her lair, she often protects herself with resist energy (fire), employs her breath weapon, then unleashes attacks with a helm of brilliance she has hidden in the roof of her ice cave.