“Cah. Cah! Wake up!” Jihad stood over the body of his fallen comrade. The acid of the crimson ooze had left raw red blotches all over his pale forearms and neck. Small puddles of goo left over from the monster still sizzled on the stone floor around them. “Damnit Cah, come too!”
“Easy Jihad. He will survive. The wounds are minor now that you’ve given him the blessing of your god.” Mutu was kneeling beside the two, his keen elven eyes quickly examining Cah’s wounds. The bright red marks were slowly fading into softer hues. “Look. The burns are healing. Thank the goddess his steel skin took most of the creatures attacks.”
“Wh-wha-what happened?” sputtered Cah, trying to sit upright, brightness returning to his azure colored eyes. “Is that thing dead?”
“Easy brother,” Jihad said while supporting him. “We almost met our fate. Mutu’s bow and Tahlavain’s blade saved our asses.” Jihad’s eyes stared downward as his head fell slightly. “I, unfortunately, was not much assistance.” Standing a few feet away at the end of the torchlight, falchion in hand, Tahlavain laughed.
“Little help indeed. He should learn how to wield that axe properly if he’s going to carry it around with him.”
Mutu frowned at Tahlavain, making contact with his deep black eyes. “Never mind him Jihad,” he said helping the paladin lift Cah into a sitting position. “Your connection to your god is a great boon to us in a place of such darkness. Besides, even the best hunters lose their nerve now and then.” He looked coldly at Tahlavain again.
“Your words are encouraging Mutu, but Corellon does not smile on me this day. There is something evil in this place, something blocking Corellon’s grace.” Jihad clutched the silver star medallion around his neck and said a quick prayer. While his companion sought answerws, Tahlavain counted aloud 10 pairs of beady red eyes gleaming at him from the surrounding darkness, some on the ground, and some from the ceiling of the cavern.
“…. Eight….nine….ten. There’s no time for temple service Jihad. I don’t think these rats are interested in anything but food, and it looks like they have eladrin on the menu.”
“Tahlavain is right. We need to keep moving.” Cah pushed himself to a standing position and picked up his sword and the burning torch lying on the ground. The burst of light sent half a dozen enormous black rats scurrying for the cover of shadow.
“The sooner we get out of here the better,” said Mutu drawing an arrow from his half empty quiver. Cah looked around at his companions, noting that exhaustion was creeping in.
“Does anyone remember the way out?”
“I want this taken to my spy in Winterhaven. You know the meeting place.” Lord Kalarel handed a neatly folded piece of parchment and two vials of dark liquid to the plump goblin in front of him. “You can handle that, can’t you Balgron?”
“Yes, yes, yes. Of course, oh great lord Kalarel,” the goblin said bowing, his pale belly bulging over his belt. The small patch of greasy black hair on his skull flopped downward like a squashed rodent. He reached his stubby, soiled hands to take the note. A wicked smile crept across Kalarel’s mouth, revealing nasty pointed teeth. Balgron saw this and quickly ducked his gaze.
“Remember my fat friend. No eating until your work is done.” Kalarel handed the note to him and turned back to the stone altar behind him. The prone body of a young female lay atop the altar. Kalarel traced his index finger around one of many mystic runes he had carved into the victim’s flesh only minutes earlier. Balgron sauntered up behind Kalarel’s robes, his stomach rumbling.
“M-m-milord. What about this one? She looks quite juicy!” Balgron licked his chubby brown lips in anticipation. His dark eyes bulged in excitement. The young woman’s mouth burst open in a silent scream, and a tear ran down her sullied cheek.
“Nonsense!” yelled Kalarel, his deep voice thundering through the stone chamber. Balgron yelped with a start and cowered, bringing his free hand over his head in fear. “I still require more bodies. Until I have enough for the ritual, you will keep your grubby hands off. Understood?” Kalarel reached into his thick green robes and pulled out an ebony rod a two feet long. It was slightly thicker at the octahedral head than at the round handle, and glistening red ruins coated all eight sides. “You’ll have your fill soon enough, and if my spy fails me you can eat the interlopers.”
“Mmmm… in-ter-loppers…. Smashy smashy squishy squishy! he he he hehehe.” Balgron was practically bouncing with glee at the thought. Kalarel raised the mystic rod over his head with both hands. The runes covering its polished surface pulsed as if a heartbeat were alive inside it.
“This one, my fat friend,” said Kalarel looking his victim directly in the eyes, “is all MINE!” Kalarel plunged the rod downward into the young maiden’s chest.
Our adventure continues…
Our heroes found themselves in an underground maze, lost, bloodied, exhausted, and their wills nearly broken. They decided to search for the way out so they could find a suitable resting place. After many twists and turns in the encroaching darkness, they made their way back up to the ruins of the keep. At the entrance they discovered that the goblins had left them a warning. Propped against one of the central pillars were the bodies of the slain goblin sentries and a slab of rock painted with blood. It said “Keep Out! Trespassers Beware!!!” The heroes had a laugh and headed outside.
Despite the continuing ominous thunderstorm, the adventurers were able to take shifts resting. Six hours later they ignored the goblin’s warning and reentered the ruin. At the request of Jihad, they headed through the southwest door. They were immediately hit with a rush of cold air which reeked of rot and filth. In the next chamber they battled some of the keep’s original inhabits which had risen again in the form of zombies. The continued through a set of rotted double doors into a large chamber lined with iron sarcophagi. Cah determined that the burial casings were indeed of eladrin origin. He also recalled that similar burial chambers were often found near the tomb of a king or hero. Before he could recall anything further, a percussive boom shook the passageway and 10 skeletons burst from the sarcophagi and attacked. The heroes were cut off from one another and desperate. A few seconds later 2 more skeletons followed another resounding boom. This pattern repeated 4 more times so that each time the heroes cut a few skeletons down reinforcements arrived. They began to panic but Cah rallied his companions. Moments later all that remained of the threat were piles of bone and rusty swords.
In the adjoining chamber they found twin altars inscribed with a prayer to Corellon. Everyone, minus Mutu knelt and recited the prayer. A shining white light burst forth illuminating the chamber and spilling into the passage with the sarcophagi. Set into the east wall was a pair of gilded double doors with a golden symbol of Corellon. A tangible coat of frost covered the entire door and an icy air emanated from it.