Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 25
|Francis Goreaxe||Dwarf level 2||A son of a jeweler aspiring to become a great chef. Wears apron over his copper plate mail, and cast iron pot instead of a helmet.|
|Morfindien||Elf level 1||Seeks a cure for his genetic ugliness. Despite his great strength and intellect, his face is only barely acceptable in elven circles so he is treated by them with disdain.|
|Mac||Thief level 1||Young and stuttering rogue looking for his lucky break.|
Who knows how long they've been stuck in this burning hellhole in the middle of nowhere. Kod'l locals call it. More like Chock'l! Scorn of the society forced the unlikely duo of Francis Goreaxe and Morfindien to collaborate in their attempt to get out of here. Trading ships go down the river every few days, but since neither had coin to pay for their travel nor enough charm to convince the ferrymen otherwise, they've been forced to loiter around.
Their luck turned for the better when a fine looking man approached them with a most generous offer:
“You look like the hardened type that'd be up for some delicate work... Couple of hours from here is an abandoned temple that holds deep within a large golden egg. In fact, it is as big as an adult dwarf!”
“Retrieve it for me, and I will take care your journey is a most pleasant one. The temple has two entrances. The front is on top of the ziggurat. Three large stones hide the back entrance. Beware the birdmen. Oh, and make sure you do not open the egg. I will know. You might find the following useful...”
The mysterious patron handed them over hundred feet of rope, two oil flasks, a small mirror, and a healing potion. Too poor to get themselves anything else, and too ugly to find additional help, the duo set out for the desert temple.
Following their patron's instructions, a ziggurat with two tiers came into their sight after some four hours of walking. It looked faded brown, bleached by the unforgiving sun. Although stone bricks were chipped by time, the ziggurat stood strong.
Opting to go for the secret back entrance, the duo spent and hour looking for the described three stones. The man wasn't lying—an opening into the temple was just behind them. Francis rushed towards the passageway, and then slammed himself to the side. The elf followed. Peeking around the corner revealed a piece of ground that looked much cleaner than the rest, almost as if it had been swept.
Morfindien prevented the dwarf from further rash action, for he wanted to inspect this curiosity further. What if it was a trap? He took out hundred feet of rope and threw the bundle on the cleared area. As the sand started setting, his elven eyes noticed a find stand spanning the whole width of the hallway.
Next, he tied an unlit torch to one end of the rope. His plan was simple: throw it over the strand, and then pull it back in order to activate the trap from safe distance.
IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU!
Oh, and activate it he did! Loud, repetitive shrill could've been heard echoing from the inside. A quick glance between the two was all the communication needed—they were sprinting out. Both rushed behind one stone and did their best to push it toward the opening. Alas, they weren't strong enough. So they did the next best thing—run around to the front of the temple and hide underneath the ramp.
It took them half an hour to collect enough courage to move on. This time they opted for the main entrance. A sharp smooth decline is all that greeted them. Progressing carefully, the quickly reached a large chamber with three doors.
Each had a small bronze plaque on them. From left to right, they read: Dexterity, Strength, Mind. They beefy elf knocked down the middle door; vicious bites from a feral dog being his only reward. Heavily armoured dwarf pulled him out of the danger. They took care of Rex with speed. While Morfindien explored the chamber, the dwarf decided to practice his butchering skills.
Moving on, the duo came into a T-shaped junction. Three doors were down the corridor to the right; a door and corridor into darkness to their left; and a sprawling chamber straight ahead. To the left they went.
Another turn, another dark corridor. Their torchlight illuminated a skeleton propped against the eastern wall. The duo quickly frisked it, finding nothing but bones. In doing so, they raised enough dust and sand to notice yet another tripwire. Francis took of the skeleton's head, and placed it by the wire, to serve as the reminder when they come back.
It took the duo nearly ten minutes to move on because the wire was at hip-height for the dwarf. He had to take his backpack—pots, and all—off, crawl under, then get his stuff from elf, then put it back on... Proceeding, they arrived to yet another turn, and then yet another T-junction.
A familiar looking chamber was to their right, and a rather large door to their left. Opting to go right, the duo found themselves in a large chamber with four stone statues in the middle. They all looked like primitive take on human figure, with blocky heads and limbs. Their torsos were facing in different directions, but their heads all faced toward the center of the room. There a stone slab stood, slightly elevated compared to the rest of the sandy floor.
“You know what? I gonna do it.” and with those words Morfindien stepped on the stone dais. Rumbling sounds immediately filled the rooms the statues' bodies turned towards the center. One of them rotated a bit too fast and feel down to the ground. The remaining three promptly started pummeling the confused elf in the middle. A stone punch to his gut brought him down to his knees; two stone hammer fists to his face turned him into a bloody mush.
“Oh no! My face will be even uglier now!” were his last thoughts.
For a second Francis looked in horror. Not longer, because he fled out of there as fast as he could. Unwilling to abandon the golden egg, he rushed toward the large doors. It took him three tries to get in. Nothing followed.
“A-a-are you here to save me?” a weak voice addressed him. Mac, a young thief, was caught by a group of armed birdmen whilst sneaking around. They roughened him up and threw him into this arid, dark chamber.
“Get up boy!”
This was by far the biggest chamber they've found so far. A large nest, full of bones and small carcasses, was in the north-west corner. Three dwarves could've easily snuggled there. Opposite of the entrance was a passageway with tall arch. Fresh air was emanating from there.
A quick investigation revealed a circular room with a hole in the centre. Looking down, it seemed as if there was water below. Indeed, that was confirmed once Francis lowered Mac down. It was some thirty foot descent, which terminated with a square chamber barely illuminated by the torch. The water was dark and chilly, but otherwise nothing else stood out. Except a dark corridor to the east.
“Pull me up!” the dwarf couldn't resists pranking the thief by lowering him instead “Hey, don't be an ass!”
Somebody—or something—burst open the doors to the south. The very doors they came through moments ago. Mac quickly hid in the shadows and prepared his bow. Francis tensed his grip on his trusty butcher's cleaver in right and lit torch in his left. And then he charged forward.
He met four human figures with crow heads. Two of them had spears, and two from behind seemed to drag some humanoid figure between them. In the ensuing confusion Mac took down two of them, the dwarf butchered one and in return got stabbed twice, and one ran away. The figure turned out to be puréed remains of Morfindien.
Helping themselves to the elf's possessions, Francis gulped down the healing potion, while Mac put aside a long sword and a “spell book.” And then they went back to the chamber with the hole in the ground.
They came up with a brilliant plan: use grappling hook and iron spike to create solid anchoring points, tie hundred feet of rope together, and then throw it down. Francis took off everything but his underwear with sausage motifs. Down they went.
The water was even colder than it seemed, but both managed to swim to the east corridor without too much hassle. This time it was a sharp ascend, nearly 45 degrees. They found themselves in a rectangular chamber. To their left was a three feet wide opening on the wall, and to their right were two large wooden chests and a massive golden egg on a pedestal.
“Watch this, boy.”
Francis took off his underwear and used it to cover the opening on the left wall. Then they both proceeded to rummage through the chests. Thousands and thousands of gold coin. Both silently wept at the realisation they have no way of taking all of it out. Mac stuffed his large sack as much as he could, but that wasn't even a tenth of the coins there. Francis went for the egg.
The moment he touched it, the water started gushing violently out of the opening behind them. His underwear was nowhere to be seen.
“Time to get out!”
Mac was out first, lugging a sack of coin with him; Francis barely escaped in time, hugging the golden egg with one arm, and pulling himself up with the other.
“Come on, we have no time to waste! Let's leg it!”
The dwarf remained naked, sans the butcher's cleaver, iron pot on his head, and the golden egg. The thief quickly threw the backpack on his back, and together they took a run for it.
Alas, they did not get far.
A large, deformed human head emerged from the darkness. It hovered nearly ten feet above ground, and was tilted sideways; contorted in some sort of maniacal expression.
“Kh-kh-KHRO!” the spittle flew out from its crooked lips. The monstrosity soon revealed its horrible secret—the horrendous head was joined to a body of a giant crow. It threw out a fat tongue, like an innocent dog, and licked its lips suggestively whilst twitching incessantly.
And then it took a few steps towards the naked dwarf and the trembling thief.
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