Monday, March 18, 2024

The Battle For Vulture Point Act I Scene III

As they exit the room Dietrich discussed the carvings the beast men left on the walls "it said that the key to the beast men's return was buried safely in here, and the best men seemed happy with that. Strange, yes?" Melas, apparently not listening, was focused on the damage the masked man had done to his weapon. "It's an excuse to buy a new one?" Hiram suggested.

"This is an heirloom; it has family bloodstains on it." Melas retorted as the hunchbacked man took point down the narrow passage, rapier out, with Hiram a few paces behind bearing a dramaturgically generated illuminant. Dietrich, still sore troubled by his earlier injury, took the rear, behind the Lady Floriane. The mystical glow revealed a trio of shadowed, silvery gray figures hovering menacingly in the corridor, and Melas halted to consider

Fortunate for him that he did, for it gave his half elven vision a chance to detect the nigh-invisible strands of spider-silk that stretched across the passage before blundering into them, and with a few moments of shuffling the quartet was able to light the webbing, which went up like dry lace and sent the bodies of our heroes unfortunate predecessors crashing to the ground. Thump, thump, thump...THUMP. That last was the falling of a most irate arachnid whose central body held the dimensions of a hunting hound. A second after landing the thing leaped again, alighting on Melas' torso and digging its mandibles into his neck!

With the strength-draining toxin coursing through him the sybaritic son of the empire felt his knees but not his will buckle as he fruitlessly tried to bring his sword into play. Hiram, forced to move back from Melas' collapse, was likewise hindered, and Dietrich's attempts to leap closer were blocked by both the narrow passage and Cybele's shoulders in a clumsy collision. Amidst the confusion that lady sorceress did manage to unleash both her serpentine soul and a blast of energy arcane, but neither Renee's venom nor the mystical burst prevented the spider from biting again, pumping more of the enervating venom into Cybele's newfound friend. In the end Melas was saved by his own hand, as he finally worked his rapier into a position where a thrust might avail him, and the spider, already reeling from Cybele's attack, was skewered. There were several minutes of confusion as Melas was set aright and pronounced himself well enough to stand as long as he had a wall for support.

They moved him into the small chamber past the spider's webs, which contained the bodies of still more fallen tomb raiders, all months if not years dead. Hiram was able to locate a pouch of pre-invasion gold coins, while Dietrich's keen eyes spied a pearl of some quality under the dirt. Once it was freed from the dust of the earth Hiram's sight, heightened at this moment by the power of dramaturgy, declared to be enchanted. Hiram, his youthful courage at last coming under some stress, stripped one of the corpses of its leather doublet that he might have additional protections from the threats that had nearly claimed two of his companions. Even with that he recommended that they rest for the remainder of the evening, and as one voice the group agreed to put this plan into action.

As they returned to the entrance Hiram saw the glow of magic coming from one of the cat-men's belts, so this too was secured to be researched by Cybele over the coming evening. In the long hall back to their campsite sounds echoes from ahead - the snufflings of large beasts and the sound of metal striking stone....

Undeterred by the noises ahead of them our four stalwart heroes pressed on, knowing that doing so would mean spending the evening in the company of the coach horses, which their coachman had brought into the room to get them out of the storm. Still, such hardships must be taken with good grace, and the quartet bedded down for the night, with Cybele, Hiram and their coachman taking turns watching the entrances and tending the fire. The only sign come morning of the room's earlier verminous intruders is the contented sensation in the belly of Renee, the lady Floriane's reptilian familiar.

With the morning the storm had lessened to the traditional north winter rain, and the coachman said that he should be able to get the carriage back on the road in minimal time. Dietrich spoke for them all when he told that worthy to not declare the repairs finished until he was certain, and the companions took the additional time to explore the other passages out of their campsite quarters. The coachman watched them head to the north with the surety that comes from noble upbringing and valorous hearts, and a few moments later heard a scream wrenched from the very puts of hell. The animals went wild, defying his best attempts to calm them, and to the coachman was most relieved when Hiram returned to assist him; the young gentleman was able to sing a calming song, accompanying himself on his hurdy-gurdy (the very paragon of instruments) that quickly restored the sense of equine equilibrium.

When the coachman plucked up the courage to ask what had occurred, Hiram informed him that a sarcophagus in the northern room was topped by a flying demon head, but that Dietrich had been able to skewer the thing through the eye as it charged and pin it to the wall with his rapier, that the others might make short work of it. If Hiram failed to mention how the demon's scream had incapacitated him in unnatural terror, well, vanity is a fault not know only in youth. Within a few moments the others had returned, informing Hiram that the stone casket did indeed have hinges (a point of some debate earlier) and that inside were both ashes and a ring of magical nature and extraordinary craftsmanship, its circle depicting a hand wielding a quill pen.

With that the nobles headed down the southern passage, and a few moments later Cybele emerged, asking in passing of the coachman were familiar with a symbol of a face with two bleeding closed fists in place of eyes. At his stammering certainty that no, he had never seen such a horrific thing she headed deeper into the Tor, returning bearing a small sledge, crow and spike recovered from the beast men's excavating equipment. Within a few moments the sound Hiram singing again, the sorts of songs that dwarves and men used when breaking up the stones for construction. Overlaid on that was the sound of a hammer striking a spike and the spike striking of stone, followed almost immediately by a loud exhalation of air and a yelp.

Whack - pffft! Ugh!         Whack - pffft! Ugh!         "Lay some cloaks down over it..." came Detrich's voice.

Whack - pffft! Ugh!         Then a brief pause, followed by Floriane exclaiming "that's it, someone else can try."

Whack - pffft! Ugh!         "That's broken it. Who puts that many needles in a chest trap?" muttered Hiram.

"Inside there's just a huge supply of needles and springs I expect..." came Melas' unmistakable baritone.

"No, it's another skull... and its circlet is magical," came Cybele's whisper, carried through the stone of the Tor to the coachman's sharp ears. With that the coachman figured the rest were things he ought not hear, and he returned outside to finish repairs...

After a few seconds the noblemen returned, with Cybele bearing a written description of the stone chest's lock, Hiram and Dietrich carrying the chest's contents (not just the skull, with pearl eyes and an enchanted generals circlet) and Melas looking only slightly the worse for wear from the venom still in his system. Within short order the items of interest were packed and made ready for their coachman to strap to the roof of his vehicle that the noblemen might return to the road to Emirikol, bearing some treasure and much mystery.

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