Monthly Archives: August 2008

Invite Our Feline Friend In

Maruc grinned, and made a very unpriestly gesture at the accelerating panther.

Maruc said in a dead pan voice, “Close the door Nicolai. Now.”

Nicolai slammed the door shut with a the force he could muster.

Hearing the muffled commotion, brought the dwarf out of his silence. “What have they gotten themselves into this time? Impatient lot that they are, I bet they’ve gone searching ahead and run into trouble.”

“Well that’s what we are here for Feldard old boy.” replied Miklos conversationally. “I’d not wave the ‘impatient’ flag around too much though. You’re not overblessed in such areas!” Miklos winked into the steady gaze of the dwarf.

Anxious to be off the magical transport, the dwarf ignored the mage’s remarks as the disc came to rest atop the platform. “It’s about time this thing stopped. Could’ve climbed down faster if I’d had the rope.” The dwarf grumped as he peered about for where the other party members were.

“Exactly how much rope do you carry?” Miklos knew he had pushed it but well really….

The dwarf merely snorted at the mage’s retort and jumped down off the platform and made his way towards the others, clustered about a set of bronze doors. They seemed battle primed.

“Hmph, so much for stealth,” groused Hasan, as the elf stepped from behind the pillar. “That panther will be waiting for us, and who knows what else, when we step out of this room. We should have kept the door open, so at least we can see what is happening beyond.” Hasan stalked forward, feeling as grumpy as Feldard might having missed a skirmish. “Well, alright then, now that we’re ready …” the elf nodded Feldard to the fore “…let’s be on with it.” Hasan readied his swords and looked to Nicolai expectantly.

“Well all things considered Noble Hasan,” said Maruc, “I’d rather not be savaged to death by a rabid panther. Well, not when I can wait for Master Feldard!” he grinned sheepishly then turned to the dwarf.

“What did I miss?”

“Beyond the door is a panther,” Maruc explained. “Beyond the panther is one of the witches. We seem to be too late to save at least one of the maidens from the fate of possession. Let us hope there is some chance of casting their spirits out. Hopefully she has fled, but we should expect traps ahead.”

“Now we are gathered Nicolai, invite our feline friend in!” exclaimed the cleric.

Sometimes, thought Nicolai, that priest ought to keep his sermons to the pulpit. He nodded anyway and yanked the door open again.

As expected, the panther was crouched outside the door and leapt at them. Feldard, the most armored of the group, courageously charged forward and met the beast, who unleashed a fury of claw and bite attacks on the dwarf. Though more accustomed to fighting goblins, orcs and the like, the dwarf was able to fend off most of the panther’s aggression, sustaining only minor claw marks as he brought his mighty battle axe down into the creature’s hide. The panther let out a wounded yelp as the axe tore into it, and it immediately turned and bound back down the hallway to find its master.

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Another of the Rahib’s Pets

Maruc whispered back. “We have little time before she becomes suspicious. We must stop her casting a spell from afar and we cannot risk missing with an arrow. I will cast a holding spell on her that we might capture her and extract information from her. Nicolai where beyond the door is she?”

“Beyond the door is a corridor. I doubt you’d miss her.” the rogue replied.

“Very well be ready to open the door at my signal. Everyone out of the way please in case something goes wrong.” Maruc began to swiftly summon the spirit of Halav Reincarnate.

Hasan wished they were the ones hunting, and had seen their quarry. While there was little room for maneuver, this approach seemed dangerously headlong. He shrank back, behind the pillars, to watch the outcome of the brave humans’ plan.

Maruc nodded at Nicolai, and the youthful rogue yanked the door wide open.

The priest caught a quick glimpse of the black robed, possessed elven maiden as she retreated back behind the bronze double doors. The cleric bit back the last syllable of his spell, with the target now out of sight.

From the darkness at the end of the corridor came a loud growl. Apparently, the witch had adopted one of the Rahib’s pets—a black panther charged down the hallway toward the cleric.

* * * * *

As he stood waiting for the disc to end its descent Feldard was given plenty of time to ponder how it was that he came to be on such a quest, when in truth he should be seeking his betrothed, not black opals, elven maids and witch-sisters. Not for the first time, he wondered of his sanity at getting involved in such a plot. Would this disc ever reach its destination?

The two heard some sort of commotion rise from the bottom of the well. Miklos reached into his cloak for Dentiata’s wand, and the disc slowed its descent as it closed in on its destination atop the platform.

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Have You Brought the Final Maiden?

At the creaking of the distant door, Nicolai stopped pushing the door and then closed the door as quickly and quietly as possible. He waved the others into silence and urgently whispered, “Something’s coming!”

Maruc started to form a question but at Nicolai’s gesture he remained silent and carefully unhooked his flail.

Hasan looked down at his two swords, one battered and enfeebled from decades, maybe centuries in the crypt above, and the other a mere ceremonial blade that was little more than a toy. Neither offered much comfort. “Oh for a longbow,” he thought. He drew both of the swords and wondered if he could wield the two together. It wouldn’t be easy, but what choice did he have? It seemed unlikely whatever they saw next would be of good intent.

“Rahib!” called the voice of an elven female. “Have you brought the final maiden to us at last?”

* * * * *

Feldard remained steadily silent, and tensely waited for the disc to slow to a stop or slam them to the ground below. They were halfway there—this ride seemed to last forever! Standing at the dwarf’s side, Miklos remained artfully silent noting the white knuckle grip Feldard had on his axeshaft.

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The Bronze Double Doors Started to Creak Open…

Nicolai stepped off the glowing disc, pleased to be on solid ground. As the blue disk rose again the light dimmed so he pulled out his lightstone and shone it about. The statues were tall and his light gave them masks of terror lit from beneath. The glint of the bronze doors caught his eye and glad to be alone for a few moments he studied them. As he listened intently for a few moments, Saeth arrived and Miklos again uttered the command to make the disc rise up the wellshaft.

Hasan descended with Miklos, who continued to prattle on, somewhat maniacally, about states of matter and energy and mass probably being equivalent, if you just think about it hard enough, but that to establish permanence in such a state would require an energy infusion beyond imagining.

Feldard peered down from above…and gave a groan at the depth of the shaft. He doubted they had enough rope for a climb such as that, but maybe it would get him near enough that he could jump down—anything was better than that eerie disc. “How much rope you got Maruc?”

The priest gauged the distance down the hole. “Not enough I think. Still, Nicolai and Miklos are safe. Halav has protected them and I doubt this business with Elyas will be achieved unless we take a leap of faith. You said yourself we have few choices for a way on. I’ll not abandon my friends through a lack of heart. Come now Feldard don’t show yourself up in front of the elves!”

The dwarf scowled sourly at Maruc’s persuasion as he watched him board the floating object of magecraft, but the cleric did have a point. Feldard wasn’t willing to abandon his companions, nor was he willing to give the elves something more to mock him about.

Moments later, safely on the ground, Maruc stood back from the crowded doorway and re shouldered his shield strap, it seemed to have and annoying habit of slipping down as he walked. He checked his flail and spent a moment offering thanks to Halav for seeing them all safe thus far. He waited for the others the proceed.

When Miklos returned for him, Feldard was ready and a waiting. He climbed aboard with some help and then stood tense at the center of the disc, gripping his axe handle tightly, not speaking a word.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the well, Nicolai carefully checked the doors for traps, and then, covering his lightstone in the pouch he tried the door, opening it a fraction to look beyond. He saw that another long hallway, identical to the one above, with alcoves containing the more exquisitely detailed platinum statues. At the end of the hall, the bronze double doors started to creak open…

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Bottom of the Well

Nicolai jumped back in surprise half expecting the magic to pour our of the well and drown them all. When it didn’t he regained his composure. His sword still drawn, he tapped the disk with it. Hmm solid.

With his tour about the room complete with nothing out of the ordinary found, the dwarf reluctantly joined the others in looking over the odd magical contraption. “So what’s it for? Floating well discs are beyond my experience.”

The dwarf looked to Miklos expectantly. The mage always seemed to have thoughts and opinions on everything else odd that they’d encountered so far.

Miklos gazed with fascination as Nicolai tapped the surface of the disk. “Aha! My admiration for Elyas grows! Ingenious, but not very defensive. I suppose it might frighten a few off though. A mage-locked door to a stairwell would be just as good eh? A mode of transport is what we have here. Wonderful! I have read about temporary varieties ahhh… Discus Telekinesis, I think. I believe they are reformed air elementals. Practically harmless. I wonder if it can be removed? That would be something.” he chortled excitedly.

Never a too incautious person, Nicolai called Maruc over. “Hold my arm. I want to see if it will bear my weight.” Gripping his friend’s arm, he gingerly placed the foot on the disk and transfered his weight on the disk, which held firm under his boot.

“There’s got to be another way on,” grumbled the priest. “This is like placing yourself into the hands of a sorcerer willingly and we all know what Dentiata was like!”

“Lost your Faith Maruc?” said Miklos marching passed Nicolai onto the blue glowing disk and picking up his coin. He tossed it to the startled rogue.

Nicolai deftly caught the coin then realized he had let go of the priest. Thankfully he was not falling to his death. He turned to the mage. “How much weight do you think it can take?”

“Good point Nicolai.” replied Miklos. “We must not underestimate Elyas. I will take each of you down one at a time and since you are here… ahh…Nieuwode?” he suggested.

With smooth ease, the disc lowered itself slowly down the well.

“You are a rude man Miklos, I have not lost my faith but your wits seem to have departed from you!” Maruc called after the descending pair. “Have you considered what you will meet at the bottom?”

“I ain’t going on no magical flying disc” Feldard was adamant of that as he watched Miklos and Nicolai descend, peering over the edge of the well trying to judge the distance.

“Aha! I see the tunnels do not breed fools!” grinned Maruc. “Overlooking manically attacking an impregnable Bone Guardian…”

“Perhaps there is a secret tunnel we have overlooked? You are wise in these structures what do you see Feldard?” added the priest hopefully.

Having already checked, the dwarf sourly shook his head. “No tunnels to be found. How deep would you reckon this shaft is? With enough rope I could likely climb my way down.” Sure, Feldard was being optimistic, but the dwarf warrior would rather take his chances with his own dwarven strength than rely on some questionable elven magic.

* * * * *

After descending a few hundred feet, the blue disc came to a rest atop an ornate carved pedestal in the center of a 30-foot diameter room, identical in design to the room above, except for a different selection of similarly themed statuary. As the room above, a set of bronze double doors on the eastern wall appeared to be the only exit.

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The Blue Glowing Elevator

Nicolai shock his head. If there was anyone down there they’d be alerted now. He hoped it wasn’t a magical portal into some nether world at least there was away of closing it. He fished about for a stone. “Miklos, summon the magic again.”

“What? I was too busy deciphering elvish what magic?” said the confused mage.

“The first spell not the second one.” said Nicolai patiently. “I want it see if it destroys this stone.”

“Ahh. I see now! Command words of course. Summoning a dimensional gate perhaps you say? I suspect your stone will vanish and we’ll be none the wiser. Destroyed or teleported. No time to waste! Let us experiment.” Miklos paused then called out “Paah!”

Once again the blue glow illuminated the stone walls of the well.

Maruc backed toward the entrance. All this elementalism was beginning to unnerve him. He kept a careful watch on the statues surrounding them expecting at any minute to be overwhelmed with stoney foes. “Careful Miklos, we don’t know what other effects your words are having.”

Nicolai paused a few moments. Magic Mirrors, animated statues, they all had a purpose and not necesarily to trap the would-be thief. He wondered if this was some artful trap somewhat more subtle than the blade trap in the vault. Still he wasn’t going to jump into the portal to find out.

He tossed the stone into the glow as it slowly encroached upwards toward the wellchamber.

Meanwhile, Hasan and Saeth watched the inventive humans admiringly, while Feldard was doing a circuit of the room looking for a more mundane way to continue their search. He was looking for a secret passageway.. because there was no way they were going to be lowering him down into some magic well.

The glow sped up as it reached the halfway point toward the top of the well. It quickly approached the top, and then slowed down as it gently floated toward the top of the well. Nicolai saw his stone—it was sitting unharmed atop a glowing blue disc whose circumference filled the wellhole.

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Paah

Maruc shook his head as his eye meet yet further statues. “Ahh… if the craftsmen bent their efforts to saving the poor rather that sculpting for the rich. the world would be a happier place,” he mumbled to himself. He walked over to the well and shone his lightstone down to see if there was a bottom. “Miklos do you have a spare lightstone? It might be interesting to see whats down there.”

“Foolish priest! You’ll announce us all to whatever lies down there.” snapped Nicolai angrily who assumed the the priest wanted to drop one in.

“Wait.” Nicolai cast a professional eye at the sheer surface of the pit. “We could tie a rope to one of the statues and lower ourselves in. It seems the only way on. I’d suggest going first but that will leave fewer strong backs to lower our metal-clad priest and Dwarf.”

Miklos elbowed his way passed Feldard and Nicolai. “Interesting….” he said scanning the script. “Not a word that I recognize in elvish …. Paah…. Is that how you would pronounce it Saeth? What do you think it is? A name?”

At the mage’s invokement of the elven scrawl, Nicolai saw a soft blue glow emanate from the bottom of the well. It was gradually getting brighter, as the lightsource seemed to start to rise up the wellshaft.

Ignoring the others Miklos had made his way over to the other side of the room and was trying to pronounce, with whatever elvish help he could muster the other word, “New-wood? Nieuwode? Neighward? Is that the correct pronunciation Hasan? I doesn’t make sense.”

At the mage’s recitation of the second word etched into the wall, Nicolai saw the lightsource reverse course and fade away, and the bottom of the well returned to a state of darkness.

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