Dei Penates

Initial Adventures 00

Interlude

Jump to Achievements

Last time, on the D&D channel, our brave heroes had cleared out almost all of the undead infesting a decrepit elven shrine. A single room still awaits them, and we shall leave them to gather their strength for whatever may lie within.

Current Party:

  • Harriet, dwarven wizard
  • Kyata, human fighter
  • Rob, human runeblade
  • Sam, human thief
  • Quip, human swashbuckler

Absent:

  • Marquis, half-elf ranger

Some time before the adventures outlined in previous weeks, we join the action with a wide-angle shot of the party trudging with varying degrees of cheerfulness along a meandering path through dense woods. The keeper of the inn they had stayed at the night before had told them that his cousins were missing. They were the bouncers for the tavern, and had left in pursuit of a man who had racked up rather a large tab – and neither he nor they had been seen for several days. Never ones to pass up the opportunity for free lodging (or a monetary reward), the adventurers had volunteered to go and search for the missing gnomes. Marquis stayed behind as both a gesture of goodwill and also because she had rolled her ankle the day before.

After a good day-and-a-bit of walking, the path led the party into a clearing. On the other side of it was a large rocky outcropping, with a natural doorway in the middle of it. A simple wooden door, little more than a handful of simple planks, stood in the opening. Quip, who was gazing in fascination at something completely irrelevant, missed what everyone else noticed – signs of hasty entry. The door was askew in its frame, and scuffed bootprints were evident in the dirt in front of it.

Samieth led the way into the cave system, lighting a torch to ward away the darkness. Stout wooden beams supported the walls, and hefty planks kept the roof from collapsing on top of them. A broken lantern hung forlorn on a hook next to the creaking door, and an empty rack for mining tools was propped against the other wall. The floor was made of dust, and the surrounding earth cooled the party as they went deeper into the tunnel, Sam and Quip discussing the finer points of being shorter than average humans.

Around a couple of corners, another primitive wooden door completely failed to block the smell of vermin and excrement. Using six planks to block a three-foot-wide passage leaves a lot of space between them, and Quip and Sam gave the gaps a sound eyeballing. The room behind the flimsy door was filthy, and the reason for the muck was all too apparent. A nest of huge rats snarled and snapped at each other in the corner, looking vile and smelling worse. The scent of human reached their nostrils, so they stopped fighting and turned their evil glares towards the door.

The party took a moment to debate whether they should just leave the rats to their squalid squabble, but quickly decided that they’d much rather kill them in cold blood. Pausing only to let Quip ready an arrow, Sam opened the door and went in swinging. The canny rats were ready for him though, and jumped out of the way of his rapier. Rob hustled into the room, casually lopping off a rat’s head as he passed it. Quip shook his head and let fly with his arrow, but since his view was partially blocked by his companion’s bulk, it only caught one of the giant rats a glancing blow. The head of the arrow lodged in the grimy creature’s hindquarters and, enraged, it lunged forward and bit Rob on the leg. Two more swarmed towards Sam, one trying to push his legs so he would fall over.

Stuck way back out in the corridor, Kyata could do little to aid her friends. Her sword would be a danger to everybody in such tight quarters, and she had no bow. A little closer in, Harriet aimed carefully and blasted solid force at the rat swarming over the thief, stunning it for a split second. Sam took the opportunity to stab it in the shoulder. Meanwhile, the runeblade sliced off the head off a second rat, this time decapitating the one that had bitten him earlier. Beside him, Quip stabbed another rat right in the spine; it jerked and twitched until he kicked it off the end of the blade. The last rat sprang towards Rob, biting and clawing desperately. It sank its filthy teeth into his thigh just before Kyata finally pushed her way into the room and sliced its legs off, leaving it to thrash weakly on the floor.

Ignoring the dead and dying vermin, the party cleaned their weapons carefully and went on to search the disgusting chamber. The wooden wall supports were caked with muck, and some had rotted halfway through. In the corner where the filth was thickest, Samieth turned up a thick glass vial full of a pale liquid.

“It’s dragon’s milk!” Quip yelled hastily.

Harriet snatched it from the rogue’s hand and stared at it intently, her eyes briefly smouldering with pale fire. “It is not dragon milk. It’s too thick. This here is a vial of Sovereign Glue.”

Sovereign Glue, as all good adventurers know, is the strongest binding agent in the world. The creation of a slightly mad wizard, Kivan “the Bald” Sovereign, it binds together any two solid surfaces in less than ten seconds. Originally nicknamed Kivan Longhair, the infamous mage had stumbled upon the recipe for the Glue in his lifelong search for a better shampoo. He died ancient and bitter more than a century later, grimly hanging on to life until he was sure that there was no way to regrow his flowing golden locks.

Back in the mine, the party had given up their search. Disturbing the rats’ nest had aggravated the stink, and it finally grew bad enough to force the adventurers out or begin to choke on the noxious fumes. They continued up the passage that had led them past this room. A few feet past the corner lay another flimsy wooden door, and through the cracks in it Samieth and Quip could see that the room was empty, save for a pool of stagnant water in one corner.

After a quick check inside the room, the others left Quip the budding alchemist to scrape a sample of moss from the scum at the top of the puddle. It was difficult to collect the stuff, since any contact with it pushed it further away, but after a few tries the swashbuckler got the hang of it and scooped a generous glob into a small vial. The others, meanwhile, had turned another corner and found two more doors at the end of the corridor. Both were more solidly-constructed than the previous ones, and the doorframes were actually fitted wood instead of the dusty rock of the cave walls.

Samieth opened one, revealing a room more strongly reinforced than the rest of the mine. The buttresses were made of thicker wood and placed closer together. Along one wall was propped a broken pick and a bedroll was unfurled next to it. Other than that, the room was empty.

Kyata opened the other door, and peered inside. A lantern sat on a table in the middle of the room, throwing enough light to illuminate the particularly sturdy beams holding up the roof. One was cracked, and a small amount of dust drifted down and settled onto a small pile next to the table. Behind it, two more large rats flattened their feral ears and hissed.

The tall fighter had no tolerance for that sort of naughty behaviour, and strode briskly up to one rat and mashed it into a bloody pulp on the floor. Samieth stole forwards and tried to stab the other one in the face, but it dodged aside, greasy whiskers twitching madly.

In the other room Quip straightened up, pleased with his green squishy prize, and promptly had his head and shoulders engulfed by some thing that wrapped muscular tentacles around his torso and started squeezing. His muffled cries went unheard, and as he tried to draw his dagger a ropy tendril twined down his arm and pulled his hand away from his belt. He clenched his other hand into a fist and tried to punch the thing off his head, but being unaware of one’s attacker’s general size and shape tends to throw off one’s aim slightly.

In the tunnel with the two doors, the dwarven wizard flicked a hand casually. A blast of white energy slammed the second rat in the flank, spinning it halfway around as it leapt towards the rogue. In front of her, the runeblade ran forward, leapt onto the table, and slashed down through the confused rodent’s back, splitting it into two foul-smelling and bloody halves. Content with the now ratless room, Kyata marched back up the corridor to see what was taking Quip so long. A strange sight greeted her as she drew level with the door. The dark-skinned swashbuckler had a large leathery mass on his head, and it appeared to be squeezing it like a ripe melon.

“That thing, it is eating your head, yes?”

The ever-impractical Quip, always conscious of his audience, turned to where he thought the door was. He flipped the tentacles in a nonchalant manner and struck a fashionable pose. Kyata, by now used to her companion’s over-the-top theatrics, decided that it was either a deadly danger or some weird kind of hat. Either one would be entertaining.

The hat continued to strangle its wearer.

Samieth followed Kyata back to the pool room, and then also stood and watched Quip prance about with his new headwear. The now-breathless swashbuckler reached for his dagger with his other arm, but that hand too was twisted away before it reached its destination. Aggravated, he grabbed the tentacles twisting down his shoulders and gave an ineffectual yank. Meanwhile, Harriet and Rob searched the room with the table for anything other than dead rat.

Kyata, deciding that perhaps her compatriot’s new bonnet was not altogether friendly, chopped at it with her enormous sword. Luckily for the hapless Quip, her caution made her miss the creature and, more importantly, him. Samieth circled around behind it and carefully skewered it straight through the middle. The thing shuddered and then hung limp, its tentacles slowly uncurling. The thief flicked it casually aside. “You want to get yourself a fashion sense, mate.”

The darker man cleared his throat a few times, sounding as if he was re-inflating his lungs. He was. “Can we rest here for a bit? That thing almost choked me to death.”

The others had sustained some minor injuries on the way to the mine, so they readily agreed. After two hours, in which Sam checked all of the rooms more thoroughly, they all felt recovered enough to move on. Quip stood in the room for a couple of seconds after the others had left, weighing up the potential benefits of the dead creature as an actual non-living hat. He eventually decided against it, and ran after the others. Back down near the entrance was an unexplored tunnel, and they still hadn’t found the gnomes that they were looking for.

The end of the tunnel was once the active shaft of the mine. It looked unfinished, and the shoring-up seemed hasty but sound. A cart lay on its side, half-full of stones and dirt; a single lonely shovel leaned against it. Slightly confused, the party conferred for a moment, then Sam and Harriet went up close to the rock wall and searched it carefully.

No hidden doors. No secret push-brick triggers. The only thing either of them found was a tiny nugget of copper, scarcely the size of a fingernail.

The map was consulted. “There’s a big gap here. Looks a little fishy to me,” Rob volunteered, pointing to a spot halfway back up the corridor. They tracked back through the dirt, raising clouds of it around their boots.

“About here. There should be something in this wall.”

The wizard and rogue set to searching again, from opposite ends of the small stretch of corridor. Harriet quickly found something – her hand sank straight through the rock wall in front of her after only five feet. Cautiously, she waved her hand through the illusory wall a couple of times and, when nothing bad happened, stuck her head in. A handful of gnomes were sitting in one corner, all but one with their hands behind their backs and rope around their ankles. The last gnome was free, and was sawing through the bonds of one of the others with an especially small dagger. In the corner opposite the illusory wall lay an unconscious man, his arms and legs tied with thick rope.

The dwarf quickly (and more importantly, quietly) pulled her head back out of the room. She motioned her companions to silence, then waved at Samieth.

“What?” he replied.

Furious shushing and neck-slitting motions were his only response, but it was too late. A high-pitched voice that was trying to sound deep and booming shouted “who’s out there?”

A chorus of idiocy sounded. The two women could only shake their heads in disbelief as Rob replied with “well who’s in there?”, Sam with “not you”, and Quip with “Quip McGee, The Brave Adventurer!” A moment of silence greeted these jumbled proclamations, during which a dull thump could be distinctly heard from inside the hidden room. “What do you want?” the deep voice asked.

The swashbuckler started to list things, but was shouted down by Sam and Harriet. “Zeefor the innkeep sent us to look for and possibly lend assistance to his missing cousins. You wouldn’t happen to be them, would you?”

“We would indeed,” the voice replied, now making no pretence to being larger than it was. The four gnomes emerged from the illusory wall, carrying the unconscious and still-tied-up man by a limb each. “We were chasing this lug here. He owed almost four gold pieces on his bar tab,” one of them said, shaking his head in the disapproving manner common to all bouncers everywhere, the one that suggests violence is due to someone in the vicinity in a very short period. “We’ll take him back to town now, if that’s alright with you lot,” he continued in a carefully not-quite menacing voice. “Thanks for the help and all that.”

“Er, sure,” Harriet replied, a little confused at being intimidated by someone even shorter than herself. “Glad to be of service.”

The small procession continued down the hallway and vanished around the corner that led to the outside world, calling small glowing orbs into being as they passed beyond the range of Sam’s torch.

With the inhabitants out of the way, the party examined the room. Hewn from solid rock rather than the sandy loam of the rest of the mine, the room seemed to have taken a great deal of effort to make. The ceiling was still supported by heavy wooden beams, but these were made from tougher stuff than the ones in the corridors and were four inches thick. The floor was paved with flat flagstones, likely chipped from the stone quarried from the very chamber they were now a part of. In their haste, the gnomes had overlooked a small pouch under the man’s discarded cloak. It jingled heavily.

Finding nothing else to satisfy their curiosity (and having completed their objective), the party left the mine and headed back to civilization. Zeefor would be pleased to get his cousins back, and they had managed to make a tidy profit already. This had turned out quite well, all things considered.

Stay tuned – our regular programme resumes on the 16th of July!

Back in the mysterious ruined temple, will our heroes brave the hidden door? How many of them will injure body parts trying to open it? And what dastardly secret lies beyond it?

Find out in two weeks!
Same D&D time, same D&D channel!


Achievement-Style Bonus XP

Achievement Character Type
Home Alone (guard duty) Marquis G
Functioning Eyeballs (hasty entry) Not Quip X
Got Wood? (door cracks) Sam I
Guillotine (falchion) Rob K
Spineless Weasel (rapier) Quip K
Legless Wonder (greatsword) Kyata K
You Milked A WHAT? (not really) Quip X
Detect Milk (wait a minute) Harriet I
Amateur Alchemist (attempted) Quip I
Om Nom Nom (delicious head) Quip X
Smitten (greatsword) Kyata K
Death From Above (falchion + table) Rob K
#1 War-Themed Hat Simulator (having fun) Kyata X
Too Sexy For My Lungs (poseur extraordinaire) Quip X
Poker Face (rapier) Sam K
Invisible Wall (hands first) Harriet I
Silence Is Golden (and broken) Sam X
Choir of the Dumbed (derp derp) Rob, Sam, Quip X
Voices of Reason (thank you) Harriet, Sam X
In Limbo (you started it) Quip P
In Limbo (didn’t finish it) Sam, Rob P
Silent Cartographer Harriet M
Gnomes Found (adventure completed) Everyone A
Bonus Achievement – Half-Hearted Herald (2600 words) Zedric I
Type Meaning Bonus XP
P Penalty Varies
K Impressive Kill 5
I Good Idea 10
G Guard Duty 10
M Mapping Duty 10
C Character Development 20
A Adventure Completed Varies
X Misc Varies

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ArcaneZedric

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