Dear Diary….winding lead-up

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “Scourge of the Slave Lords”

We found the next maze area. It all started when Mikael and I went down the sewer grate in our seized house.

First off, we noticed the passage looked suspiciously new…like it hadn’t been used for sewage at all, in fact. I had the ten-foot pole out, and balanced it on my off-hand to let me prod the walls and floor as we went. Our light came from my shield, but Mikael made sure he had his light-marble in a close pocket just in case I plunged abruptly into a pit or something (can’t be too careful, we’ve learned).

The passage turned and opened up into a larger room, and here at last we could see moisture dripping down the walls and mineral deposits coating grates in the floor…but it still didn’t smell as bad as you’d think a sewer should.

As we moved into the doorway, a creepy metal-looking statue in the center of the room started waving its arms and yelling at us: “Flee, or I shall breathe poisoned death on you!”

We did some experimenting with whether it noticed me when I had my invisible sword belted on…but either it could smell me or something, or the blazing light on my magic shield was enough to give me away, since it turned its head to follow me when I tried to creep around it. It didn’t seem riled enough to attack until Mikael stepped into the room – and when he retreated, it went back to its post – but we decided we’d have to get rid of it sooner or later. It didn’t seem eager to actually blow poison at us, so I gave Mikael the shield, and we tried what the statue thought of arrows.

Not much. It didn’t think much of arrows. They made it shout and run into the corner and finally come to fight me…but it didn’t hit hard enough or fast enough to stop me from dropping it.

On closer inspection, it looked less like a statue and more like human body parts riveted together with metal plates. If the thing ever was alive, it’s good we put it out of its misery. Either Marquessa did some work here once upon a time…or someone around here takes similar inspiration.

After the guard was dead, we decided it had sounded any alarm there was to sound, and it’d be faster to bring the others down than to clear the tunnels in our own first. So Mikael and I went back up the steps to our base camp. (Oh, yes…steps into the sewer, not a ladder…not suspicious at all.)

I put my invisible sword in my pack and put my chainmail back on, since we were done being all sneaky, and then Ezekiel was able to patch up the nicks the living statue gave me that were dripping unstealthily onto the floor.

Raven was still invisible from earlier in the day, so he went first with the ten-foot pole, and the rest of us followed…even Mikael’s enormous animal posse.

Out the far end of the larger room was another passage, very similar to passage where we entered: newly carved out, no whiff of refuse, and a set of stairs leading up.
We try to avoid the obvious, though… Ezekiel rubbed some balm on his eyes, and then pointed to a door covered with crusty mineral deposits. It opened without much difficulty, and we followed the new passage (still no rivers of sludge like we’ve encountered in sewers before…which is nice).

At a turn of the corridor, Raven thought he detected some kind of mechanical device behind the wall, but he couldn’t figure out how it might work. The rest of us hung back while he and Ezekiel stuck their noses around the corner.

Prodding the floor with his pole, Raven found a trapdoor leading to a shallow sand pit. While he was trying to figure out how that was dangerous, the wall at the corner started wheezing and creaking, and fire shot out of a nozzle that folded out of the wall. Ezekiel ducked back to where we were, and Raven leapt over the pit just ahead of the flames.

Raven tripped the trapdoor once more, just to test how the trap worked…and sure enough, the mechanism worked itself up, the wall slid out of the way of the nozzle, and fire shot halfway down the hall.

Ezekiel thought the fuel for the fire probably came out of the nozzle – that it wasn’t magical – so he borrowed some of Mikael’s clay that he keeps for Shape Stone and told Raven to trigger the trap one more time. Raven tripped the trap door. The mechanism wheezed and rattled, and the wall slid aside to reveal the nozzle –

Deceptively quickly, Ezekiel nipped over and jammed a lump of mud into the end of the nozzle. The mechanism made grinding noises, a muffled explosion sounded behind the wall…but no fire shot out.

Raven played with the trapdoor one more time, just to be sure it was safe…but no fire shot out anymore. I think we broke it. So, after that it was just a matter of wedging the trapdoor open so we could ferry the animals across (wolves and giant hyenas not so skilled at balancing on ropes). (The pit had nothing but sand. No chutes, no poison…just sand.)

Our next obstacle came in the form of a chest…or rather, a monster that looked like a chest. Raven opened a door and advanced into the room, when – about the middle of the floor – his feet stuck to the ground! We could see faint footprints on the stone, and he called out to Ezekiel for help.

That’s when the chest along the far wall opened its lid and started groping for Raven with a huge, dark, hideous tongue.

Fortunately, whatever it was, it was vulnerable to arrows and blunt objects, and went down pretty quickly. It thrashed about as it died, and most of the floor rippled, revealing it to be a much larger creature than we thought at first…then it finally flopped and died, like a true drama queen.

Once it was well and truly dead, Raven’s feet unstuck from the floor, and we were able to cut the beast open (man, it was huge) and see what it had previously swallowed. Money and gems are what didn’t digest, apparently, although we also got a plain gold ring to add to the “check for magic” pile.

**

Continuing on from that room, the corridor grew almost unbearably hot. Marie Ant-oinette climbed onto Mikael’s back to avoid the floor, and I guess it’s good we were all wearing shoes or boots, since the floor, ceiling, and walls all radiated heat. None of us got hurt, but the dog-types looked uncomfortable.

Scanning the walls, Raven discovered something that he thought was a remote-activated mechanical device…like the trap part of a trap that had a trigger somewhere else. In fact, there were two spots – one on each wall – and he moneyed with them for a minute, trying to damage the mechanism so it wouldn’t trigger. Turns out he was half successful…

We had just passed that spot, with Heiron and me bringing up the rear, when a clang sounded behind us, and a blast of fiery air scalded us. Heiron and I whipped around and loosed our arrows into a huge, black dog-thing with glowing red eyes, blackened teeth, and honest-to-goodness flames licking its coat.

Thankfully, it apparently didn’t need magic weapons to die, and we took it down. It dropped to the ground, smoke boiling off the blood that seeped from its wounds. Some creature scratched and snarled behind the wall on the opposite side of the passage, and I think if Raven hadn’t done his tricks, we’d have faced two of those things.

We checked the door where the hell-hound emerged, but only a closet lay behind… Do they really keep these magical beasts locked up on the off-chance adventurers come through here? What do hell-hounds eat? Did they put them here special because they suspected we were on our way? If so, they should have stuffed the closets with three or four more. It did have a fancy collar, covered with jewels and spikes…I wrapped it in a blanket before putting it in the bag, just in case.

At the next turn of the passage, the tunnel returned to a standard underground temperature, so I guess the heat is tied to the hell-hounds – either caused by them, or for their benefit.

Raven had barely stuck his head around the corner than a giant cross-bow bolt pierced the wall, and we heard footsteps clomping away from us at high speed. We followed cautiously, and came to a T. Ezekiel went right with Mikael, while Heiron and I followed Raven’s footsteps to the left.

We came to a door, which opened in front of us, and another cross-bow bolt flew narrowly past us. Raven gave chase – we saw him pull out his light marble as he outstripped us, and he disappeared around a corner like a will’o’wisp as Heiron and I tried to catch up with him and the large, heavy person with the cross-bow.

We finally rounded a corner to see Raven shadow-boxing a minotaur wearing scale-mail and swinging a huge ax. They kept each other busy until I could get my shots off…Minotaurs also vulnerable to arrows.

We seem to have pursued the minotaur to its lair, since the walls were painted with murals of war, slavery, and human suffering, and there was a nest of bones and meat scraps in the corner. The minotaur had a bag of money on him, and Heiron is carrying around its ax – although I’m not sure he knows how to use it. He said the men at the fort gave him some pointers, and he needs to challenge himself to be a good example to Usin.

We finally met up with Ezekiel and his group. They found a damp metal room (still not sewage, though…no surprise by now) with a couple false doors, and a metal door with writing Ezekiel couldn’t read. That door shot him with lightening when he tried to open it…but he eventually found a passage that led around to where we were. Ezekiel seemed happy when we showed him the minotaur, because he said that made this maze of tunnels and passages make sense. I guess minotaurs like them.

There are several routes to the north, but Ezekiel thinks the best way forward is the mysterious lightening door…he says it feels important…

Mikael suggested wrapping a cloak around your arm before touching the door to muffle the impact.


Find the previous entry here.

One thought on “Dear Diary….winding lead-up

  1. Pingback: Dear Diary....last stand of the Slave Lords - Kimia Wood

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