Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ooh... Shiny...

Good day, gentlemen, gentiles and gentoos.

It is early Monday morning, which means this is the next installment of the Passage of Planeswalkers! Yay! This is our third dungeon crawl and our group was switched up a little. Three of our original party members are still starring in this novella, but there are also three new characters. Please enjoy.
It was another day and thus another adventure for our small band of planeswalkers, which today, had grown even smaller. Lady Celerean and her samurai compatriot had been unable to make it into town. Their horse had broken down. So, while gathering some items for their next foray into the unknown, Jetulfgar the axe-happy dwarf, Lereahl, the rather flirty half-blood elf, and Mange the halfling with an inferiority complex and a sword as tall as he was, kept an eye out for anyone they could rope into being meat-shields.
In the next shop, where Mange managed to send the keeper screaming into the back room, they happened across a few such individuals. The first introduced herself as Dragonheart. She was tall for a halfling – which Mange took as a great offence – and wore a curious combination of silver hair and purple eyes. She held a crossbow close and a dagger closer. Then there was Andrew. An exotically named human, he was incredibly young for a fully fledged cleric. Strange clear eyes peered from under a black fringe, and his gaze lingered longest on Lereahl as he fiddled anxiously with the new silken rope he’d just purchased. The last fellow was also human. Strapped across his back was a great longbow and on his head, a tall top hat.
“I am Rrrathalohse,” he declared, bowing and removing his hat, “but you don’t have to roll the ‘r’.” Before he swept his hat back onto his head, the company could see that it was full of something yellow.
“Was that cheese?” asked Mange.
“Yes indeed,” replied Rath.
“Your hat is full of cheese?”
“Is that a problem?”
“… full of cheese…”
“I really just like cheese.”


The motley warriors stepped through the crystalline gates that stood in the heart of the great planeswalkers city. For some of them, the blinding whiteness was now quite familiar, but for Andrew and Rath, the tingling magic was quite alien. This was their first journey through the portal. This was highly apparent for when they stepped through the strange world beyond, the shock hit and Andrew fell to the ground and started twitching.  When they had stopped marveling at his weak shudders, the rest of the group looked around cautiously. Rath sneezed. The room they were in was only average sized, but every conceivable space was crammed with dusty books. The walls were lined with shelves and there were stacks and mazes of books on the floor.
“Wow. That looks like a lot of books,” said Lereahl.
“Yeah. Lots of books,” agreed Jet.
“Never seen so many books,” added Mange.
“Yup. Books,” said Dragonheart, nodding sagely.
Mange, Lereahl and Jet headed towards one wall, while the others, minus the still incapacitated Andrew, were exploring the other side of the room.
Mange paused as he heard a strange creaking noise and was able to scoot backwards as one of the bookshelves against the wall was disturbed and began toppling towards them. Jet and Lereahl were unable to get out of the way and were buried in books.
“Ow,” came a muffled voice from beneath the aged pages. “Definitely feels like a lot of books too.”
On the other side of the room, Rath and Dragonheart had disturbed what appeared to be a nest of shredded scraps of scrolls and books. In the nest, now squirming and squealing, were three dog-sized cocoons made also from shreds of old scriptures. Dragonheart was quick to leap away from the creatures, and was able to slay one of them. Struggling out of the wreckage of the bookshelf, Lereahl noticed the danger and was able to loose off a bolt that landed with a squelch in one of the writing creatures. Jet, also struggling from the book pile, let out a great battle cry and ran forward to bash the last one on the head with his shield.
When the fighting was over, the companions saw that there were now two directions in which they could go. There was a small wooden door behind them, and a long, dark corridor before them. They chose to try the small wooden door first. They were nearly all through it into the dark hall beyond when they remembered Andrew, who was still lying, shaking on the ground.
“Does he have to come with us?” asked a rather disgusted Mange.
“I suppose so. Should I give him a kick?” asked Jet.
“Nooo! I shall hug him,” declared Lereahl, bounding forward with a large grin. The tall, blonde rogue hugged the young boy tenderly. All who witnessed this were not sure what to say, but the young cleric was able to stand after a while. He stilled looked dizzied though. Jet meanwhile had found a rather gripping book on biology. It was odd to see a dwarf learning something. He looked almost constipated.
So, off they went, into the next room. This one was much different. There were no books here. The room was circular, and paved with gold-flecked black marble. It was a stately room with sculptures and empty display cases. Perhaps someone had been here recently to remove their contents. Also unlike the previous room, this one was spotless. There were four small robots scooting all over the floors. They were small and shiny silver with little spindly legs. They seemed to be the perpetrators of the incredible cleanliness.
“Ooh… Shiny…” crooned Mange and Dragonheart in unison. They immediately began to plan how to catch one. Rath however, drew his bow and shot one. The arrow glanced off the shiny metal plate. All of the bots suddenly stopped and turned towards the six adventurers. They rose up on their spiky legs, emitted an annoyed crackling noise and began stalking towards the attacker.
“Man. You’re so mean. A robot would have been a cool pet. Now we have to kill them all,” whined Mange, who stepped forward to slam his war hammer down on one scuttling bot, leaving a square print in its now crushed carapace. Rath and Lereahl began firing off arrows. Jet managed to pin one under the edge of his shield and stabbed it to death with the butt of his battleaxe. The young cleric however, was of no use at all and threw up messily all over the floor.
When the bots were dead, disassembled and divided equally between the kleptomaniac halflings, the group moved off into another hall that led off this new room. Lereahl lagged behind a little, his grey eyes darting here and there, searching for any treasures the cabinet ransackers had missed. There really was nothing left on the glass shelves, but something did catch his eye. Tucked under one of the legs of a cabinet, was a small, yellowed scrap of paper that the cleaner bots had somehow missed. On it was a strange numerical code. Lereahl didn’t have the time to stop and ponder it, so he pocketed it.
In the next corridor, another bookshelf fell, narrowly missing Dragonheart, who slipped beneath it with a terrified squeal. When the dust settled, the rest of the companions climbed over the wreckage.
“Another bookshelf? Seriously?” said Mange, struggling through the rubble. “There’s something weird about this place. The shelves are possessed, methinks.”
The others simply laughed at him.
The next room’s door was a strange one. It was heavy as if it was being sucked closed while they tried to open it. They all managed to make it through though. The room beyond was another circular one. It was much darker. The dim light was red and glinted off several different display cases. They were frosted glass and looked quite enticing. Rath darted forward eagerly to one of them. He opened the lid, stuck his hand in – and emitted a blood-curdling scream as the cabinet bit down on his arm. The others rushed forward to help the poor, trapped ranger. The glass cabinet was not actually that – it was in fact a cleverly disguised mimic. The group went at it with swords and a mace. Lereahl considered shooting the creature, but decided that the others were handling it well and flounced off to rummage and pilfer in the other cabinets.
Mange struck the mimic with a huge blow from his great sword. The strike carved into the creature’s belly and it began to bleed sawdust. Jet grabbed onto the crying, bleeding ranger and heaved on him. Rath’s arm was wrenched free of the mimic’s jaws and he went flying, sliding along the floor and crashing into the farthest wall. Dragonheart leapt up onto the now shuddering, keening mimic, and point-blank shoot it in the head. It crumpled.

Back down the corridors they traipsed, examining some fancy new items they had found in the cabinets. Rath, while his hand was trapped in the mimic, had actually managed to grab onto something. The sword, aptly named ‘Wind’ was short and tapered, and returned to its owner if thrown in battle.
In this hallway, another bookshelf tottered and dumped its contents on Andrew.
“I told you! These things are possessed,” squeaked Mange. Only a few people chuckled this time. Some were beginning to wonder if he was right.
Up ahead of them was a broken door. Peering through it, the adventurers in the front could see huge nest. There were more cocooned larvae here, but also six huge caterpillar-like creatures.
“Ew. They have human hands…” whispered Dragonheart.
“Manopillars,” said Lereahl in a low voice. It seemed an apt name for the beasts.
“So, how are we going to take them out?” asked Jet.
“Full on attack!” said Mange.
Dragonheart shook her head. “We need to try and sneak attack them first. It will give us an advantage.”
“Okay. Go ahead,” said Jet. Dragonheart nodded and turned to the door. She drew her crossbow and readied herself to creep into the room. She took a step forward – straight onto a piece of broken bookshelf and some crunchy old scrolls. All six of the manopillars whipped around and stared at her.
“Oh,” she muttered, eyes wide. The beasts attacked, biting at Dragonheart and Mange who leapt in to defend. Two of the creatures that lunged towards the taller halfling hit her hard, knocking her to the ground. Andrew, who was already at the back of the group, ran away screaming.
Jet lunged forward too, but tripped into the room, rolling into the creatures’ nest, becoming entangled in some sticky, thread like gunk they used to line it.
“It’s in my beard!” he roared.
Lereahl and Rath begin shooting past the only standing halfling, trying to kill two wriggling beasts that had begun to shoot blobs of the same sticky, web-like gunk.
Andrew had calmed down considerably after reaching the safety of the previous room. He had sat down and was flipping casually through a book. Once in a while he would peer down the corridor, waiting to see if the monsters were all gone.
The two web spitting manopillars turned to Mange, all but one of their brethren slain. Two gobs of sticky white were fired at him, but instead hit Jet, who accidentally leaped in front of the halfling. The sticky white strands wrapped around the dwarf, encasing him completely. He fell to the ground and rolled slowly towards the centre of the nest where a bunch of hungry looking larvae begin to crawl towards him. He squirmed and rolled epically, missing each one of their clumsy bites.
Andrew finally decided that there were few enough creatures left that entering the battle would be relatively safe. He crept to the door where everyone was now in the nest, tackling the last of the big manopillars and avoiding the nips of their larvae. He raised his hands and chanted a few glittering, magical words. With a comical pop, a badger appeared in the midst of the fighting. It was glowing. There was a pause in the melee while everyone sort of turned to look at this glowing badger as it swiped angrily at a larvae, and then disappeared. Green blood spattered Mange as he took the head off the last big beast, but there were still plenty of hungry larvae nibbling on the cocooned Jet. You could hear a muffled growling sound from within the sticky white. The others continued stamping and stabbing at the worms. Jet gave a final, defiant roar, flexed his stocky dwarf muscles and busted the fuck out of his cocoon. He leapt forwards, grabbed the last worm, sliced its head clean off and then squeezed its insides out like a tube of toothpaste.
“Well done,” said Andrew. He was still standing in the doorway, and unlike the rest of the group, who were panting and covered in green manopillar juice, he was quite clean and unruffled.
“Usless…” Growled Jet. He flung the limp worm corpse to the ground. “Bloody…” Red faced and furious, he strode up to Andrew. “Cleric!” Jet punched him squarely in the jaw.

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