Those who happened to see Stephan’s face saw it go a ghastly white. Hasan clearly saw the odd change in the human who suddenly did seem his solid self.
“I, I, I…no!” the fighter nearly babbled to himself while taking faltering steps backwards. “We can’t…the, the…” Stephan’s sword clattered to the stone floor sending tinny echoes off the polished walls. A part of his mind put it together…the tidy floors and walls. No debris. It all meant the one thing Stephan could not stand. The one thing that nearly took his life all those years ago. Nearly ended his days not in the grit of battle that he always knew would be his end. But in a slurping, popping hissing, dissolving mindless terror. He had his weaknesses. His faults as a warrior. And before him now his greatest fear loomed in painful reality. This was no nightmare….but it was. And just like in his chilling nightmares….he could do nothing but flee.
Dropping his lightstone and shield as well – it would be no use against this foe – Stephan clutched at his ears as the hideous cubes blorped forward to continue their cleanup operation. “Noooooooooo!”, he screamed and backed into a wall. Using the wall as a rough guide, he stumbled along it, trying to get away. Tripping to his knees, he briefly crawled like a frightened child before again gaining his feet and running headlong into a wall. Being too strong for his own good in this situation, Stephan delivered himself a crushing blow to his helmet which turned askew on his head, covering his eyes. The knock was hard and the fighter fell unconscious to the clean dungeon floor.
Feldard, still at the doorway, heard the man’s panicked cry. The dwarf took a cautious glance back outside and seeing no immediate threat amongst the ruins, turned towards the immaculate passway and hurried to give aid to his companions against whatever threat had the human screaming in fear.
Arriving from behind the dwarf had a poor view of the scene. What he could see, was Stephen knocked unconscious on the floor and the backs of his companions as they seemed intent on something up ahead. “What is it? What’s happening?”
Feldard longed to push his way through to the front of the group, but from the sounds of things weapons were not of much use in fighting these things. So instead, the dwarf strapped his battle axe to his pack and grabbed hold of the downed fighter and began to drag him back out of the way.
Ludo observed Stephens reaction in amazement, no help coming from our valiant fighter was the thought that flashed through his mind. Turning towards the massive cubes he recalled what he had overheard in the whispered conversations amongst the practitioners of his trade about these strange creature. They attacked all living creatures, were relentless in their pursuit of satisfying their hunger and were capable of paralyzing their prey while slowly digesting whatever they had caught. All in all not the sort of thing to mess with in melee. Ludo wished he had a torch lit, these creatures might be more hesitant to attack if they were facing fire.
Backing up to the corner so as to provide cover, he quickly dropped his lightstone on the ground, sheathed his sword and equipped his bow. Pulling hard on the bow string he let fly an arrow at the closest cube, resistance would be futile for these massive creatures, they were so big he couldn’t miss.
Hasan saw the thief’s arrow lodge harmlessly, but the elf knew he had a more potent weapon at hand. he quickly summoned a magic missile and slammed it into the curious foe. To little effect, as the strange ichorous being continued to close the gap on the retreating figures of Feldard, Ludo and the helpless Stephan.
The party scattered. Miklos’s eye’s where drawn to the the shimmering things that drew from the recesses of the corridor. They reached from floor to ceiling, bending the light from their stones as if looking through an impossible wall of water. Undigested corroded things floated within these walls. He watched Maruc pulled the dazed woodsman past him. His battlegear strewn on the floor in his attempt to flee.
It was wise because Miklos knew from the hidden lore of the scrolls in Specularum that what they faced was beyond such weapons. That there were two made things awkward. “Behind me!” he cried, “All of you! They are not so swift. I must use my most powerful magics!”
“Cover your ears and eyes lest you be deafened and blinded!” He drew one of his precious glass rods from the folded of his robe and swiftly focus the magic that would be their best hope.
Lightning filled the corridor, bouncing off walls ceilings, floors.
The world was suddenly etched in white and black. All colour was bleached from the scene for the moment that stretched for eternity. The sound in such an enclosed space silenced the world in a terror of noise.
Then after the strange scent of ozone. Ooze emerging from the recesses was melting in the ferocious storm…
Maruc swiftly hauled the stunned warrior past the chanting mage. “I can’t fault your logic this time wizard.” He grinned as he worked quickly to withdraw Stephan’s helmet. Then he shut his eyes and covered his ears at Miklos’s desperate command. He was glad he did so. Even after the sound washed over his he could still count the veins in is eyelids. He turned his attention the the woodsman. Hmm, a nasty knock on the head, but little more. The cleric’s hand slapped a stinging blow into the side of Stephan’s face, who awoke, hands flexed into fists and aimed toward the cleric’s own head. Maruc caught the unsteady blow easily with his bicep and clasped the Stephan tight. “Awake, son of Halav, to fight another day,” the cleric laughed in delight. “…and you missed the light show.”
Stephan sputtered back to consciousness. He heard Maruc saying something about “…another day” and thought, ‘good, we’re retreating’. As the cleric led him out, he faltered in sickness. In near shock, his body felt as if in deep fever. He shook his head to get his wits about him but at doing so felt a wave of pain. Maruc had to catch him from falling against the wall.
As they neared an exit—Stephan was unaware of exactly where they were going—he muttered, “my sword….my shield…”
Ludo, seeing the party retreat, grabbed his dropped light stone and ran back towards the entrance of the crypt, coming out into the night air he gulped some fresh air. Turning towards Hasan, he commented with a hint of sarcasm, ”Well, that was successful”.
The walls were covered with little bits of burnt gelatin and the corridors smelled of sulfur. Stephan’s weapon and shield were in need of a good scrubbing, but were otherwise intact. Gooey rocks and debris, the former contents of the cubes’ bladders, littered the floor.