Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I Hate Snakes...

Good morning lads and ladettes! And you, you weird salamander-y thing. What are you doing on that laptop?

It is early Monday morning again, which means I have finished the second installment of what shall be known as the Passage of Planeswalker Chronicles. My first Dungeons and Dragons narrative was posted last week at around the same time. I got some great reviews from my fellow 'planeswalkers' and so I have endevoured to make this a tradition. I shall write a short, narrative type thing for every dungeon we play. Here is our second dungeon, and our first actual adventure into another plane. Beware though, this one is quite a bit longer...

A familiar group of faces could be seen through the grimy windows of the store. There was Jetulfgar, the dwarf, browsing among the lower shelves, his battle axe strapped firmly to his back. Then there was the curious barbarian halfling, Mange, shopping on the shelves even lower. The half-elves Lereahl and the Lady Celerean were standing near the shop counter. Senji, the full-blood elf samurai who seemed very attached to Lady Celerean was standing protectively behind his mistress while she weighed up different products. Lereahl looked totally bored, his fingers straying suspiciously towards a rack of healing potions.
The group had decided to stick together after their last misadventure in the bowels of the Hungry Badger. It was unspoken, but their quirky little band seemed to work together well. Well, all bar the shifty, blond half-elf. The other knew that an eye had to be kept on him now.

After what felt like several hours to Lereahl, the group finally left the store and made their way to the portal located in the middle of the great city of the spark. The new planeswalkers’ blood tingled at what would be the first walk that any of them had ever taken. No words were traded as they paused before the plinth upon which the portal stood. It was polished black marble, upon which the feet of many brave warriors and legends had trod. The portal itself was a huge, wrought iron affair, twisting, swirling designs rent into its great circular frame, burnt black by the disc of fizzling purple-white magic it held. As one, the companions took a deep breath and stepped into the magic.
They stepped through the swirling veil onto soft grey sand. The starlit sky of the planeswalkers’ city had been replaced by a roiling grey sky. There was no sun, just a steady, cold light emanating seemingly from the clouds. As the small band looked around, tiny misshapen crab like creatures scuttled and flickered away from them. The grey water that stretched in all directions was as calm as a pond. It was strange though. Looking at the water, it was calm, but at the edges of their vision, they could see the sea tossing and raging as if in a great storm. One could feel no breeze either. Not a breath stirred, but they could hear the low, strange whistle of a ghostly pale wind. The motionless wind whispered to the five planeswalkers. It whispered the name of this warped place; Davy Jones Locker…
Scattered all around the small island upon which they had stepped, were ships and boats of all sizes. There were great hulking wooden sailing ships, small rotting fishing boats, huge rusted metal tankers, even Chinese junks. Every ship was in strange states of decay. Upon inspection of the closest ship, one could see that the hull was torn asunder and that the wood was rather rotten. The masts were chipped and diseased, but the sails hug bright, white and full. The chain attached to the anchor was nothing but red, crumbling rust, but the anchor itself looked as if it had been minted the day before.
“Wow,” breathed the dwarf.
“You can say that again,” said Lereahl.

Their first port of call, to pardon the pun, was the ship they had seen earlier with the great rift torn in its hull. With weapons drawn, the companions ventured into the dark belly of the beached ship. After scrounging around a little in a room that looked and smelled like it had been long forgotten on the bottom of an ocean, they concluded that it must have been some sort of old pirate ship. There were several rusty falchions and short swords in crates. They pushed onwards, eager for more valuable pirate treasure. There was a corridor off to the right. Jetulfgar was at the head of the group and thus was the unlucky discoverer of a trapdoor. The rotting wooden boards beneath his feet dropped away, revealing a black hole where long slimy, eel-like creature slithered and snapped. Jetulfgar managed to throw himself forward, scrambling to safe footing on the other side of the trap with a few choice, dwarven swear words.
“Well, that wasn’t terribly graceful,” said Lereahl. He took a moment to ready himself, performed a leap over the black hole that a ballerina would have envied and then finished it with an elegant pirouette and flourish. Jetulfgar glared at him from beneath his bushy red eyebrows, but then turned hurriedly to help Mange who had misjudged the distance badly and was now hanging onto the lip of the hole my his fingertips. Lady Celerean hopped over the gap as effortlessly as climbing a stair. Senji on the other hand must have slipped on a damp patch. He too ended up clinging to the edge of the pit. Celerean reached down to help her protector, but alas, he slipped from her grip and plunged into the darkness with a small cry.
“Quick,” called Celerean to Mange, “your rope.”
The halfling bound forward, digging in his pack for the rope. Pulling it out, he grabbed one end and threw the other rather hard down to Senji.
“Ow,” muttered the samurai as it hit him squarely in the face. There were more gasps of pain as the large eels slipping and sliding through the darkness began to nibble on his legs that were new stuck fast in some sort of quicksand. Senji grabbed the rope and Mange and Jetulfgar heaved on it. Senji tried to pull himself out of the muck, but only sunk further into it; earning him more bites form the eels. Lereahl grabbed the rope too and the three of them dug their heels in, pulling Senji slowly but surely from the muck. He was pulled wet and bleeding from the trapdoor. He stood, wincing slightly and nodded thankfully to his rescuers. That was something they had noticed about the samurai – he was not a man of very many words, except for when it came to his mistress’s opinion.
They continued on, being careful to search for more traps. The corridor took a turn. The walls here we rather rotten and caved in. In one place one could see a great crack in the wall, looking as if it lead into a room beyond. Lereahl peered through the rubble, noticing that there was sign over the continuing corridor. Like the rest of this paradoxical world, the hooks upon which the sign hung were old and rotten, but the sign itself looked like it had been painted hours before and was still drying. It read ‘Cargo’.
“Ooh! Cargo sounds promising,” squealed Mange. The others nodded in agreement and they turned down the corridor, struggling through the wreckage. The corridor was then split into two by fallen architecture. The tried the right hand fork first. At the end of the hall, there were several crates that looked quite interesting. The band took a crate each and began rummaging. Jetulfgar uncovered a strange, long, thin chain. It was surprisingly light, seeming to be metal rope rather than actual chain. The halfling uncovered a faintly magical spear that, for once, was a weapon his size. Lady Celerean was also the finder of some unusual magic. The black and gold gloves she tried on made her feel lighthearted and giddy, but also slightly nauseous. She took them off quickly. Senji had found a large chest. Unfortunately all his strength could not break the lock and as such he was forced to resort to asking Lereahl for help, having proved himself quite adept at lock picking. Lereahl set to work on the lock. It was a tough one and he was just about to give up when it clicked open to reveal a large pile of gold. Lereahl was set on having a larger cut for opening the chest, but after arguing rather grumpily with lady Celerean, he was given the same share was the rest of the group. As such, he was last to go searching. The only remaining crate seemed to be filled with old, decaying clothing. Huffily, the half-elf rummaged through the scraps, tossing ugly, stained garments over his shoulders. However as he did so, he felt something catch on his finger. Swinging there was a small velvet purple pouch. Inside was a white, stone ring. It seemed to be carved from white opal, with the images of tiny feathers around the edges. It too appeared to be magical in some way.
After stashing away their loot, the group struggled back down the corridor, then turned and made their way up the left hand hallway. They ducked under a final beam and their breath caught as they beheld an enormous, ghostly blue crab. It was turned away from them currently, but was sure to hear them any second. Jetulfgar rand forward, his battleaxe high, a war cry in his throat, ready to strike the first blow - that is until the rotted wood beneath his foot splintered and he sunk to his hip. He was stuck. He cursed angrily as Lady Celerean rushed forward too, but her sword merely glanced off the crab’s steely blue carapace. It had noticed them now and turned to snap angrily at the warriors. While the others were making moves to attack this creature, Lereahl was at the back of the group, dancing cheerfully for some reason. Senji was hot on his mistress’s heels, stabbing the crab in a soft spot between its armour plates. Mange had thrown one of his harpoons, sinking it too into one of the crab’s weak spots. Lereahl, the weirdo, had finally stopped dancing and aimed his crossbow at the great snapping beast. His bolt found a crack in the shell too. Jetulfgar was finally out of the floor, cursing and growling beneath his wild, red beard. He lifted his axe and ran forward again. Senji struck the crab again, but it retaliated, lashing out with one huge claw and catching him in it. Senji struggled, but the crab hissed and squeezed him tight in it pincer. Senji’s vision went black and his head lolled. Mange’s other harpoon went to work, but Lereahl’s next arrow glance off the shiny shell. Jetulfgar missed too, his axe whistling through the air and biting into wooden planks. He wrenched the axe out of the board and tried again, but missed this time also. He was really not helping at all. Lady Celerean, instead of attacking again, pulled the magical Rod of Healing from her belt and cast an aura over the downed samurai. He awoke with a start and with a brilliant feat of strength, was able to pry the beast’s claw open as Mange leapt forward, driving a killing blow through the beast’s head. Cold, blue blood gushed everywhere. It’s spindly legs wobbled and collapsed, its great claws falling to the ground with great crunching noises. The companions panted, wiping blue goo from their faces. Jetulfgar crossed his arms, angry at himself for having not hit the stupid beast.
“Fine,” he growled and began cleaving the crab’s armored shell pieces from its body.
“What are you going to do with those?” asked Mange as the rest of the group sat down to rest. There was some talk about new skills. Senji had just come to the realization that he could use one sword in each hand. Why he had never done this before, no one knew. Lereahl though, was looking very bored again.
“Make some armour maybe,” the dwarf replied. The halfling’s eyes shone.
“That will look awesome!” he squealed.

The companions made their way back to where they had seen the strange crack in the wall. Lereahl had ants in his pants. The others had taken so long to recover from their tussle with the oversized crustacean that he was the first to leap into the darkness beyond.
“Wait!” cried Mange, who had just been about to look carefully inside for any signs of monsters. Lereahl’s cockiness disappeared instantly as he laid eyes upon what was inside this dark hole.
“I hate snakes…” he whimpered.
A huge, sinuous snake was coiled luxuriously in the rubble. It turned its orb-like eyes towards the half-elf and struck, rows of sharp teeth snapping shut over his head.
“Argh! It’s got me! Help! Heeelp!” Lereahl yelled, but as his head was now in the snake’s mouth, all the others heard was “Mmph! Mmph mm mmm! Mm! Mmmmm!”
 Jetulfgar rushed to Lereahl’s rescue, but somehow missed again. The samurai was luckier, landing two nasty blows along the snake’s writhing coils, which were now wrapped around the unconscious Lereahl, crushing him more tightly by the second. Lady Celerean missed, too, but Mange nailed the creature with a harpoon, and then a devastating blow with his great sword. Senji sliced ribbons in the snake’s skin, and it released Lereahl who fell limply to the floor, twisted and broken. Jetulfgar failed to land a hit again, but Senji came through, leaping forward to slice the great snake’s head cleanly off. It continued to coil and thrash, but was no longer any threat. The companions sighed and smiled at each other. Another monster slain. There are a few moments in which the only sound was the rasping of dying snake, but then they remembered Lereahl. Mange was the first to his side. The half-elf’s long blond hair was matted with blood. The dark red liquid seeped too from his mouth and his bones were all in the wrong places. There were only small puncture wounds around his neck – the worst injuries were inside. He was still breathing though and his pulse was weak but still there.
“Quick, we have to help him,” said Mange.
“What do you suggest? I have no knowledge of healing,” Jetulfgar shot back, kneeling next to the half-blood too, his deep brown eyes wide with worry.
“Wait. Lereahl had a healing potion, right?” asked Mange. The others just shrugged. Mange glared at them and gingerly reached towards Lereahl, levering him up in order to access his pack. It too had been crushed by the python, and as Mange dug his tiny arm into Lereahl’s pack, the same thought crossed all of their minds. What if it had crushed the potion too? But, by some miracle, it hadn’t. The tiny bottle of glowing red liquid was in Mange’s hands and with Jetulfgar’s help, he was able to pour it into Lereahl’s mouth. They waited a few moments, the seconds ticking by painfully. They could see the magic working slowly. A small groan escaped Lereahl’s chest as his bones moved beneath his skin, knitting and healing. But then the magic stopped. He lay still, still breathing, but the blood still trickled from the corner of his mouth.
“It’s not working,” said Mange, looking down at him, horrified.
“He was probably too far gone,” said Senji slowly.
“Serves him right, the idiot,” said Celerean. Senji nodded, immediately taking her opinion as his. Mange glared at Celerean. He opened his mouth to yell at her to help. She was a bard. Their magic was minimal, but still might have been enough to help Lereahl. He stopped though, seeing the stony, indifferent look on her face. He thought for a second.
“You know,” he said slyly “if you don’t heal him now, we’re just going to have to drag his unconscious, possibly lifeless butt around with us until we decide to return to the citadel. Unless you want to take him back now and risk never being able to return to this place to see what other treasure lay in store for us.”
There were a few minutes of tense silence in which Celerean and Mange glared at each other. Finally, the woman conceded.
“Fine. Only because having him unconscious will make him such a burden,” she sighed.

Lereahl sat up. He felt weak and very, very sore, but he was alive. He grinned up at everyone.
“Miss me?” he asked. Mange rolled his eyes and punched Lereahl in the shoulder.
“Ow!” he cried. The fellow may have been a halfling, but he sure could hit. Lereahl levered himself slowly into a standing position.
“Ah, and to who do I owe this great pleasure of continued existence?” he asked. Lady Celerean sighed and raised her dainty hand. Lereahl smiled and limped forward. He rummaged in his coat and pulled out his coin pouch. Celerean’s eyes widened as he counted fifty gold pieces into her hands.
“I, uh, thanks…” she said. Lereahl smiled and turned away. When his face was hidden, his smile turned bitter. He’d only done that to get back in her good books. It was apparent that she really had no care for him. They had been at odds ever since they had met.

The first ship fully explored, they had set off for the second one. It was a strange vessel – much larger than the last, and the wood it was made of felt almost as if it were about to burst into flames at the touch. It was dry and crumbly.
“How do we get in?” asked Lereahl, rubbing the hot wood. Jetulfgar shrugged and threw himself at the beached hull. The wood gave easily under the force of his passage, leaving an amusingly dwarf-shaped hole.
Inside they encountered three swift, red, horned imps with small spears that burned when struck by, which they dispatched rather easily. However, the larger serpentine, red creature that attacked them after they had finished the smaller ones was a little harder to take down. They assumed that its anger was for killing its progeny. After slipping past the larger demon’s guard, Mange was able to slice her nasty head off. The serpentine body writhed horribly on the floor, much like the giant snake. Lereahl eyed it warily, taking a few steps backwards.
As they continued along the corridor, he and two others stopped to examine the fallen imps’ spears. However, the three dolts had already forgotten the burning magic they held, thus singing their fingers.

The corridor widened into a room where the companions could see a smaller door a large set of double doors. Also, off into a corner was a small opening into a round room. They decided to investigate this strange round room first. It was full of charred sticks and burnt wooden logs – apparently the red imps’ nest. Among the chars and ash however, there looked to be some goodies. So, climbing down into the pit, the five warriors stuffed their pockets. Lereahl happened across something rather interesting upon picking up some armour he dug out of the ashes. It looked like standard set of plate armour at first, but when he picked it up, the light around the metal seemed to ripple and suddenly he was now holding a normal looking shirt. Lereahl released it in alarm. The breastplate clattered to the ground again, looking much like a breastplate should. He cocked his head and picked it up again, and watched in amazement as the illusion flowed over it again, changing itself to look like a plain shirt, but a different one. It still felt as heavy as plate armour though.
“Woah… That is wicked cool,” said Mange, appearing under Lereahl’s elbow and eyeing the armour appreciatively.
“Yeah, it is pretty cool,” said Lereahl, smiling down at the halfling. “I wonder if it would change to look like a dress?”
Mange giggled. A sly look crept across Lereahl’s face.
“Perhaps if I wore the armour and it changed to look like a dress, then I might be able seduce the dwarf…” he said, referring to incident in which a little attempt to misdirect Jetulfgar had gone rather horribly wrong. Mange began laughing.
“And then if it does fail again and he punches me, all he’ll get is bruised knuckles,” added Lereahl. Mange snorted and began cackling with laughter.

With more loot stashed away in their bags, the group turned to the smaller door first. It was locked with a small, seemingly easy lock. The others looked at him and Lereahl nodded and stepped forward to pick it. Of course it only seemed simple. The lock itself was actually pretty easy to overcome, but the spring loaded poison barb in it was not so much. A small prick on Lereahl’s finger was all it took. Lereahl however was quite learned with traps like this and was able to quickly squeeze and wash out the tiny spit of poison. He sucked at the pinprick and then stood and stepped to the side, spitting out the poison and pushing the door open. Inside was another cargo hold, but this one held shelves and shelves of potions. The shelves looked brand new, their nails still shining brightly, but most of the potion bottles were cracked with age and the ink on their labels was long since faded. They did however find some that were not so rotten. The dwarf found a sneaking potion. For what use he had of this, no one knew. Lady Celerean managed to find an intelligence potion. She scoffed at it, obviously insulted that she would need more intelligence than she already had, but pocketed the bottled nevertheless. The halfling laughed upon finding a potion of enlargement, and the rogue cackled with glee when he laid his hands on a decent invisibility potion. Senji was luckiest of all, earning many jealous glances when he simply stumbled over a six pack of health potions. It had a box and a handle and everything.

Their potions too now stored safely in their packs, they approached the large doubled-doored room next. They were matching doors, but weirdly, one looked several centuries older than the other. They creaked open. Inside the large ship’s room, was a mangrove forest. The grey trees had grey leaves and were rather dense. Also, they smelled. A the back of the room, the companions could see three huge golden coffins. The crept forward slowly, their eyes widening, realizing that all three were made of solid gold.
“Do you reckon we could take them back with us?” asked Mange.
“Hey, I’m strong, but not that strong,” replied Jetulfgar.
“You should have found a shrinking potion instead of an enlarging one. The they might have been easier to move,” said Lereahl. Then he paused. “Or we could get them back this size somehow, and then when we try to sell them to a merchant, we put the enlarging potion on them and sell them for tons more! Of course we’d have to bolt before they shrank and the merchant realized they’d been cheated. But still…” You could almost see the dollar signs in Lereahl’s eyes. Jetulfgar snapped his fingers in front of Lereahl’s face.
“Hey, conman, wake up. We’ve still got to open them first,” he said, gesturing to the coffins.
“Right, right. I’ll be at the back,” said Lereahl, and he indeed shuffle to the back of the group, raising his crossbow. “Better not be more snakes,” they could hear him mumble.
“Okay, I’ll open the first one,” said Jetulfgar. The others nodded and he moved slowly toward the first coffin. He reached out slowly, fingers hovering over the polished, glinting surface. He moved to grip the lid, as if to open a door, but with a hiss, the lid fell forward, missing him by a hair as he jumped back. The solid gold fell with a crash like huge, heavy cymbals. The lids of the other two coffins hissed and fell too as if the first had triggered them. Jetulfgar retreated a few steps as a figure sat slowly up in the first coffin. It dribbled sand like water from its dry, grey bandages. The figure’s head creaked slowly towards them. There were no eyes, just a bandaged face, but the five knew that the mummy was looking directly at them. Lereahl, at the back of the group raised his crossbow and fired quickly. The quarrel buzzed and the mummy jerked back, the arrow sticking from its head. Its motions were slow and steady again and it moved to climb out of the coffin. The arrow hadn’t slowed it at all.
“It didn’t even hurt it,” said Lereahl, his mouth open in slight astonishment. The others backed off a little, sensing that something was wrong here.
“Let me at ‘em then!” cried Mange, running forward to strike at the mummy with the spare war hammer he carried on his back. The blow made the mummy stagger, but as Mange backed off, it regained its footing and began moving slowly towards them again. The other two were slowly climbing out of their coffins too.
“Physical attacking them is not doing anything,” said Mange, running back to the group. They were all backing slowly towards the door now. The mummies were taking stumbling, shuffling steps, getting quicker now.
“Uh, okay. Physical attacks not doing much. How about magical ones?” asked Lereahl.
The others just looked at him, holding their very ordinary weapons.
“Okay. So none of us here are really magical. That’s a problem,” he said.
“I agree my dear lady. For your safety, I would suggest that we retreat. As undead kings of some long forgotten past, there would be no shame in avoiding this fight. We should leave this place immediately, but as always, I leave these decisions to you,” said Senji, bowing to his mistress. Lady Celerean looked boredly at him, then back at the mummies.
“I do believe you are right,” she said. “We shall be leaving now.” She reached out to take Senji’s hand and the two of them disappeared in a whisper of purple smoke, the way planeswalkers do sometimes. Lereahl looked at the spot where they had been, at the now rapidly approaching mummies, then at Mange and Jetulfgar. He grinned broadly.
“Nope. I’m out of here too,” he said and with a click of his fingers, he too vanished. Jetulfgar rolled his eyes at Mange who was looking positively furious at being abandoned when there was blood to be shed. Or rather sand. Or whatever else was left in thousand year old mummy corpses. The two remaining planeswalkers vanished as well.

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