Guest Blog by Max Bryans
Our Cast of Players:
- Aaron (Dave Marasco): Human Priest, level 10.
- Albrecht (Alan Bates): Human Priest, level 10.
- Artan (Dave Marasco): Dwarf Warrior/Thief, level 6/9.
- Edward Nevar (Ricky Paginton): Human Paladin, level 10.
- Elfire (Max Bryans): Human Warrior, level 10.
- Kaji (Ian Andrews): Human Wizard, level 9.
- Patroclus (Jason Paginton): Human Warrior, level 10.
- Pioden (Craig Baynham-Evans): Elf Warrior/Wizard/Thief, level 4/8/8.
- Rashid (Max Bryans): Human Thief, level 10.
- Nogri: Human Warrior, level 2.
- Tal: Human Warrior, level 2.
- Uthilian: Elf Warrior, level 2.
- Vermox: Human Warrior, level 2.
Total XPs awarded from the previous session: 255,880
Elfire does not delay, he strides into the foetid cell and uses the Ice Trident to smash the skull of the face down ogre corpse. After all, you can’t trust the dead to stay dead otherwise. As he does so, the emaciated Ogre rattles his chains and paws at the air. Now he is closer, Elfire notices that the chains are not attached to the wall at all, this monstrosity is actually free.
With a shout of warning to the rest, Elfire pitches forward and strikes the fell creature down. Normally that would herald the end to such a one sided fight but this creature, curiously frog like, has a final surprise. As Elfire’s killing blow lands, the Ogre’s head and chest explode in a torrent of high pressure green, sticky slime. This slime coats the erstwhile Elfire from head to foot and with horror he feels it start to envelope and subsume him His armour and items offer a little protection, but just delay the inevitable. Where the slime makes contact with his skin he feels it burn, spread and denature his flesh. It is going to change Elfire into a slime monster!
As the large man starts to scream, he thrashes around the room. It is the quick witted Kaji who is fastest off the mark. He unclips the Decanter of Endless Water and throws it to the fleet footed Pioden.
“Pioden”, he shouts, “Try this as I think up Plan B.”
The dexterous elf snatches the decanter in mid-air and dives into the cell. He braces himself with his back and the decanter square against the wall and flips the lid open.
The resultant torrent of water is indeed both endless and torrential. With Pioden guiding it the cascade blasts Elfire’s flailing form but it quickly becomes clear that the slime is not affected by mere water. It is sticky enough and burning ever deeper into Elfire’s armour and flesh to remain in place, plus its surface seems to repel and disperse the water jet.
As the two clerics prepare for the worst with a Bless, Rashid jumps into action. As he darts forward he activates the Flaming Dagger and, once by Elfire’s side, he dodges the warrior’s flailing arms and applies the flat of the flaming blade to a section of the Ooze. But although the blade looks to be flaming, and would certainly hurt if someone where stabbed by it, the weapon by itself does not offer any potentially cauterising heat. Besides, Elfire is covered head to foot in the stuff, is thrashing around violently in agony, and is likely to be beyond help by the time a dagger has been applied to every part of his body. Seeing his efforts are in vain, the Asian thief retreats to the corridor once more.
“Plan B it is then,” announces Kaji, as he flicks through the Book of All Spells. “I really didn’t want to have to do this.”
As he turns his attention to the book, he begins an incantation. The magic script from the page he has selected dissolves, routes though Kaji and out from his fingertips. With a colossal “Whump”, the cell (with the increasingly desperate Elfire in the centre) bursts into a massive ball of flame! Everything in the room is subject to a vicious blast of heat. This blast melts a few of Elfire’s items (his ring of missile protection, rod of command and other more minor bits and pieces) but in his current state that is the least of his worries! The scorching heat replaces the acidic stench of the slime and, as the pain of that recedes, he realises the slime has gone – Kaji’s desperate plan has worked! It has been blasted and cooked off him and he is free of it, although knowing this does not improve his mood! The smouldering giant staggers out of the chamber and into the waiting care of the clerics.
As Aaron restores Elfire to some semblance of fighting fitness (including ensuring he has not been diseased by contact with the ooze), Rashid proceeds down the corridor to the next door on the southern wall. With his usual diligence he checks carefully whether it is trapped.
“All clear,” he announces.
“Well open it then,” answers Edward.
“No. You can have that pleasure,” retorts the thief.
“Are you for real, Rashid?“, barks an increasingly testy Edward. “What the hell is the point of you if you don’t open doors?”
“I make sure the door does not kill you. You make sure what is behind it does not kill me,” replies the equally peevish thief. “Besides,” he opens his cloak to reveal his arsenal of small but immaculately maintained blades, “I am best as a knife from the night.”
“Is that a threat?” scoffs a reddening Edward. “You little pipsqueak!”
At this point Albrecht feels he has to intervene. It is clear this complex with its multitude of buzzing whispers is getting to even the best of them.
“Calm down, the pair of you,” he yells, then in a more measure tone continues, “Of course it wasn’t a threat. Was it Rashid?”
But he gets no answer as the small thief returns to Kaji’s side. His body language indicates he is seething and only just holding it together.
“Bloody thieves. Hang the lot of them, I say,” mutters Edward as he goes to the declared trap free door, gives it an elbow, and prepares to murder whatever is on the other side. But he is disappointed. It is hard to murder a barren 50 foot corridor with yet another door at the end.
“Oi, Rashid! Get your rat face down here and earn your keep!”, he shouts as he moves further down the previous corridor.
Rashid knows better than to argue. He quietly advances to the side corridor and turns down it. With meticulous care he ensures the corridor floor itself and finally the end door is clear from traps. The mysterious black granite which makes up this complex makes it a particularly difficult task. On first (and, indeed, final) inspection, the surfaces are perfectly true and any imperfection should show up readily, but the way light refracts through the stone constantly tricks the eye. All the while the whispers in his head make full concentration almost impossible.
Eventually his sweep is over. With a shout of “Door is yours” to the cursing Edward he retreats back to Kaji.
“Getting bloody sick of him,” mutters the Paladin, and he marches down the corridor and taps open the door. As the door slides slowly open he recoils as the voices in his head intensify in strength and number! But he relaxes a little when he realises the attack is ‘only’ psychic. With no physical threat apparent, he inspects the revealed room from the doorway.
“Just a store room, barrels and boxes and the like,” he announces as he returns to the main corridor.
“Oh, I like barrels and boxes, don’t we, Rashid?” declares Kaji excitedly, with a look to the still angry thief.
With undignified haste, Kaji (with Rashid in tow) goes to further inspect the store room. And indeed it is exactly that. About 20 by 40 feet, it is packed to the ceiling in places with barrels and boxes of all sizes. But, unlike a normal store, the containers are not marked or labelled in any way.
Rashid does a quick search for any traps, but none are found. After receiving the ‘all-clear’ nod, Kaji then taps the top of the closest barrel with his staff. As he does, he commands it to open.
With a ‘POP’ the lid flies off and lands, spinning like a top, on the floor. With a cautious look over the rim, Kaji inspects the contents. Inside he finds a foul, red, organic smelling broth. It is mainly blood red, but with white fatty lumps, and the occasional piece of gristle. It looks like the liquefied remains of something or, as he realises in horror, someone.
“Out NOW!”, he shouts to Rashid, “GET OUT OF HERE!”, and he turns and bolts out of the room. The thief does not need to be told twice and follows quickly on his heels.
With this store clearly not going to provide any egress from their situation, Edward (followed by first the warriors then the casters) leads the party further into the unknown.
The corridor continues east, then opens into a T-junction heading north-south. Edward takes the southern spur, which after a short way turns east again. Once around the corner, he sees the corridor ends about 50 feet ahead and open into a large chamber. This chamber is 60 feet wide by 90 feet long, with 2 rows of 4 pillars down it’s centre. Unlike the rest of the room, these pillars do not seem to belong here. Each is made of what seems like a traditional (or better described as ‘normal’) stone and seem weathered as if by the ages. And the room is far from unoccupied! On the far wall, screening an exit door, are a dozen or so Ogres. Like all denizens to this infernal place, they are far from normal. They each have a skin of white scales, punctuated by tufts of wispy white hair. Each of their faces has been stretched into a goat like shape and from their temples protrudes a set of goat like horns. They are dressed in light mail and armed with an array of large crossbows and heavy flails.
But they do not attack, they are clearly aware of Edward at the entrance to the chamber, but just keep a watchful eye on him and don’t move from their positions on the back wall.
“It’s a trap,” announces Edward to the party behind him, “and a damned obvious one.”
There follows a brief frenzy of preparation. Kaji catches a whiff of ozone, and decides to prepare the Crown of Counter Spells with a counter-lightning bolt. The remainder check weapons and cast various Protection from Evil spells.
This is too much for the peasant who once hosted Kaji’s consciousness (and to whose family and himself you made many guarantees of absolute safety). Since re-awakening in the treasure vault with Frogroth’s malevolent skull, he has been privy to a waking nightmare of horror and violence. He has no mental defences against the voices in his head, and the promise of further violence sends him over the edge.
“I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” he cries, as he grabs and clutches a surprised Rashid in a bear hug. “MAKE IT STOP… PLEASE!!!”
With the strength of the insane he squeezes the thief still tighter.
Rashid knows time is of the essence and, after a speedy consideration of his options, he decides a direct approach is best. With a swift action he lashes out and head butts the peasant square in the face. The intention had been to shock him into releasing his grip, but the thief inadvertently releases all his pent up frustration with Edward into the strike. His forehead viciously connects with the peasant’s face and drives his nose into his brain, killing him instantly. The peasant’s body immediately falls limp and Rashid instinctively takes its weight. With a worried glance around him, he wonders if anyone has seen and lowers the body softly to the ground. Much to Rashid’s relief, him and the peasant (whose name he does not even know) were bringing up the rear of the party and it looks like the incident has gone unnoticed to the rest, so caught up are they in their preparations. Leaving the dead body slumped in the corridor, he rushes to catch up with the others, whistling nonchantly as if nothing had happened.
However, as the tragic peasant was being so brutally culled, the rest have been busy indeed.
Kaji has moved down the corridor, in sight of some pillars, and is preparing to Dispel the magic he thinks is inevitable.
Pioden has moved to the end of the corridor and has his trusty bow, loaded with One-Arm Tariq’s lucky arrow, to hand.
Edward and Artan have both moved into the room but, as they do, they “BOoooooooING” out of existence and then back again, just further and into separate areas of the room.
All the while the dozen goat like Ogres watch balefully and prepare to strike.
To be continued…