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: 258,440
Edward slowly turns his back on the abomination which is the “living room”. With a sigh, he softly pushes the door, which slowly swings to shut the horrible sight from view. As it does, the cries of torment and despair rise to a crescendo of desperation which is then snuffed out as the door slides shut. But it is not silent, the voices continue in everyone’s heads, just reduced to an infernal whisper.
“Put it on the ‘must come back to’ list”, announces a determined Edward, “North Door now.”
The Paladin marches with purpose down the corridor. Ignoring the turning to the right, then the left hand door they entered from at the bottom of the seemingly infinite staircase and finally arrives at the door at the far ‘northern’ end of the corridor. (Although it is worth reminding ourselves that ‘north’ seems to be a meaningless concept in this other dimensional place. So it is used as a purely relative direction, for the sake of everyone’s sanity.)
After briefly turning to see the rest of the warriors forming up behind him, Edward touches the door and crouches into a defence posture as it slowly and ominously swings open. Those behind follow suit and only relax when they see Edward do the same.
“I’ve not seen one of these before.”, says Edward in a slightly awed voice as he steps back to let everyone else get a view of this new room.
The term Room does not do this vast chamber justice. This is no meagre dungeon cell, it is a colossal chamber which stretches as far as the eye can see. Although that view is hampered by a dense forest of gently swaying trees. The breeze and plethora of different smells it brings amplifies the sense that this as a huge place.
The trees are akin to tropical palms, each with large fronds of golden green leaves. Each of these 20 to 40 foot tall trees seem to just strike their way through the floor of the now ubiquitous black extra-dimensional granite. There is no sign of leaf litter on the floor. Although the trees themselves do seem individual enough, with some of different heights, girth and bark patterns. The one thing they do all have in common is what seems like a large seed pod. After a double take, it is clear this is no ordinary seed pod. Each is about 5 foot long and large enough to fit a humanoid figure.
Edward gestures for Pioden to come forward. Just as dungeons are the realm of Dwarves, trees should be that of elves.
“Never seen any of these before.”, declares Pioden, “Certainly ‘not normal’ and I’ve a feeling we REALLY don’t want to get those pods hatching.”
“Cloudkill?”, offers Kaji?
“If you would be so kind, Sir.”, replies Pioden in the exaggerated flouncy elven way.
Kaji sets to recalling the spell to mind, but stumbles and mis-casts.
“Dammit, lost it for today.”
“You have the Book of All Spells. Might as well use it.”, offers Elfire.
“I like your thinking, Elfire. We can’t take it with us, can we?”, answers Kaji and promptly digs out the Books of All Spells. After a few minutes searching in it, and then preparing himself, he recites the Cloudkill spell from the book. As the magic manifests it flows from the book, through Kaji and into reality. Leaving just a blank page behind.
As Kaji concentrates a horrid miasma of green sickly foulness materialises at the base of one of the trees. Kaji then with a slow sweeping gesture guides it from one tree to the next. After half an hour the spell runs its course, but in that time Kaji has tracked the cloud through most of the trees within sight.
“Did it work?”, asks Pioden.
“Depends on what you intended it to do. The spell worked perfectly. But trees take a long time to show it they’re dead or not, so I’d be lying if I said I knew if I’d hurt them.”
“Time to be more direct, then”, answers Pioden and he recalls a spell to mind.
With a “Zot”, he calls a lightning bolt into being and strikes the nearest pod. With a not so minor explosion the pod ruptutes with a spray of thick milk-like ichor and a humanoid sized mass of black matter slops out and crashes with a squelch to the floor. It’s not moving, but Pioden follows it up with a Magic Missile (just to be sure). The inert mass remains inert.
He then tries to repeat the process, but fails to remember the words for his lightning bolt. With a curse, he just pummels another pod with multiple Magic Missiles. This has the same effect, another indecipherable glob of mass falls to the floor.
By now the remainder of the Warriors have grouped inside the chamber, but remain stubbornly around the door. Patroclus spots movement and points to one of the pods which escaped the Cloudkill. He can see the pod twitching and convulsing, as if the contents are trying to escape. This is all Pioden needs as a target and he casts yet more volleys of Magic Missiles into the moving pod. With a ‘splot’ the contents fall to the floor. But this mass is still moving, so Patroclus advances and thrusts his Halberd straight into the middle of it.
From a halberd’s distance away the mass gains some recognisable features. In the middle of what looks like an embryonic sac is a 5 foot insectoid creature. It has multiple legs and chitin armour with an array of vicious looking barbs. With a final chitter of its leg casings it dies.
“I’m really getting uncomfortable now.”, thinks Pioden as he sneaks some 30 feet down one wall.
Having seen that no action or decision has been made, Elfire decides to do some scouting himself. With a mental command he activates his Boots of Levitation and feels himself lift off the floor. As he slowly rises he becomes acutely aware that the whispers in his head are intensifying. For each foot he rises they seem to double in volume and number. By the time he is 20 feet above the ground (about half way to the ceiling) the clamour is intolerable. He involuntarily clutches his ears in a vain attempt to block the now screaming intelligible voices, but to no avail. With a curse he reverses his direction and drifts back down to the floor.
But his and Pioden’s scouting does return some information. After waiting for the echoes in his head to recede to mere whispers; Elfire reports.
The chamber is huge, for all he knows it could be endless. The ceiling and walls are the mystery granite, and the plants seem to be fuelled by a multitude of light sources which radiate through the walls are regular intervals. But as is the nature of this stone the light (although brighter in certain areas) is constantly refracting through the walls and exiting in multiple locations.
This information renders the already indecisive party completely paralysed.
A low level whispered argument ensues. Eventually leading to the usually mono-syllabic Elfire having to summarise.
“For the Gods sake. It’s simple. We either ONE”, he says and proceeds to count off his fingers, “proceed into that Insect forest, kill whatever we meet and see if there is a way out. TWO, go back down and see what’s off the corridor down there,”, he points back to where they came from, “or THREE we go back up the stairs and get the hell out of this infernal place.”
This still does not get any firm response. So he tries a different tack. ….
“OK, anyone for ONE? We go through that forest.”, he points to the trees and is met by silence.
“TWO, back down the corridor?”, to this less risky proposition there is the vaguest of murmurs of assent from some of the party. This is all Elfire requires.
“Good, thank fuck for that. Follow me then.”, and the brutish man turns his back on the forest and stomps back down the corridor. He doesn’t stop to see if anyone is following him, but turns left down the turning and only stops when he finds a door on the wall 40 foot down the emergent corridor.
Having cooled down a bit (but only a bit, this place really is getting on the everyone’s nerves) he turns to see the reminder of the party have actually followed him. Once the lead fighters are close enough he pushes the door, so as to open it and adopts an attack stance. But the door does not shift. Another push indicates the door is not going anywhere.
“Rashid!”, commands Elfire, “Get your scrawny ass up here!”. To which the thief musters his dignity and moves to inspect the door. Traps there are none, and there is no lock to be locked. But an inspection with his hand mirror under the tiniest of cracks at the bottom of the door shows the tell-tale sliver of a shadow which indicates the door has been spiked from the other side.
“Spiked, brute strength for this one.”, reports Rashid with a pointed look to Elfire as he retreats to return to Kaji’s side.
With a growl, Elfire puts his shoulder the door, but it is clear it is not going anywhere. He tries again, and again ……
Eventually he gives up and turns his sweating brow round to look to the rest. They are a down-beaten, introspective and seemingly haunted looking lot. But that does not stop them looking like they are stifling titters.
“You just had to ask for help, you big ox.”, says Edward. Then he, Artan and Aaron move forward and between the 4 of them manage to get enough strength to apply to the smooth door that it breaks the spike on the other side. With the restraining spike overcome, the door slides smoothly open. As seems the norm, the opening of the door releases yet another stench into the corridor. This time the reek of blood, shit, vomit and putrid death.
This filth comes from a small (by Ogre standards) cell about 20 feet square. Lying on rotten, shit covered straw is the face down corpse of an ogre, his shoulder seems to have a chunk out of it. On the far wall there is chained another ogre. This one emaciated, but very much alive. And now the reason for the missing shoulder is clear, it is exactly at arm-and-chain’s length from the corpse. This creature seems to have clawed off what flesh he could to eat and survive and thus continue his wretched existence. Just the most cursory of glances at the chained Ogre shows he is completely and utterly bat-shit insane. A gibbering and sobbing is the only sound he makes as he paws the air.
To be continued…