Friday, October 17, 2008

Adventure 3: Of Three-Headed Monsters and Were-Rats

Another day, another crazed paladin who’s decided to rebel against his god and wreak havoc in the neighborhood. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen that… I just don’t understand why people get so upset over things the gods do. How does the old saying go? If the gods give you lemons, spend your whole life on a personal vendetta against the filthy thieving orcs who killed your parents. Or something like that. Anyway, apparently our stalwart group of adventurers has earned quite a reputation for pest control, so we got hired to get rid of this paladin. It’s nice to be famous, but I long for a day when I can pass through a village without being beseeched to kill some evil lunatic. I’m not a big fan of evil lunatics as a matter of principle, but you’d think we had a monopoly on the hero business. Oh well, the pay’s good and the company isn’t bad (although I get the sneaking suspicion that the gnome has something tricky up his sleeve).

We made our way up to this guy’s humble abode (translation: large, sprawling, ostentatious mansion, probably teeming with things like were-rats and three-headed goat-dragon things). This paladin had obviously been checked out for some time; the issue of Bard Entertainment Weekly in his mailbox was at least a year and a half old. Lotheryn, the good-hearted druid that she is, tried knocking on the front door, but Bolt decided that a sharp kick with his over-sized sneakers would be a better method of entry.

We walked in slowly, wary of anything that might spring a trap on us. After a few minutes, I noticed someone was missing.

“Malak? Malak! Where are you?” I called, hoping that whatever evil lurked in this place would take pity on the simple-minded barbarian.

Just then Malak came shambling up the entryway, looking sheepish.

Ieuan gave him a quizzical look, “What took you so long? We’re traipsing about through a haunted castle and our meat shield is too scared to join us?”

Malak was defensive, “No, not scared. That was the issue with the 50 hottest half-orcs of the Great Realms. I just wanted to, uhhh, read the article…”

“Riiiight," I said, nearly rolling my eyes out of my head and pointing out that he couldn't technically, you know, read. "Why don’t you stay in front, huh?” I told him. Remember what I said about the company? Sometimes I wonder…

We made our way into a large chamber with a wide set of bloody stairs leading up to a dais at the far end. There was rubble strewn about and a large column in the middle of the chamber. As we went to inspect the column we suddenly found ourselves set upon by a large group of…

“Were-rats!” shrieked Amyrillis, brandishing her short sword.

“What trouble can a few rats be?” mused our confident Lord Bolt as he hewed one in half. We were able to dispatch most of them rather quickly, except for one beast of a rat who seemed, well, slightly different from other were-rats in that most rats aren’t big enough to eat a Halfling. This one was. As an added bonus, it had lightning quick reflexes.

Still, our advantage in numbers ruled the day as we overwhelmed the rogue were-rat and collected our breath.

“Now all we need is a three-headed dragon-goat thing and I’ll be able to settle down and open up shop as a fortune teller,” I told Lotheryn jokingly.

She got a strange look in her eye. “You might want to turn around,” she said in a low voice.

Damn. I hate it when I’m right.

So of course there’s a three-headed dragon-goat thing. And it brought friends. Why not? We engaged it even though the blood of the were-rats hadn’t even been wiped off of our weapons. We quickly discovered that the dragon head was the one to fear as it blew its flame breath all over Lord Bolt, singing his skin, but not dazing him. Bolt, the trooper that he is, kept at it, hammering sword strokes upon it as Lotheryn healed him up. Ieuan and Moonglum nailed it with some magic missiles and rays of various kinds. Amaryllis and I worked on the brutes that had come with it, along with some help from Anca who used his wolfish abilities to sweep the legs out from one of the enemies. After chopping enough flesh off of the dragon-goat to throw a barbecue for a clan of dwarves, Malak was able to finish it off without further mishap. (As an aside, I’m not sure of the purpose of the goat-head – it had a funny looking red hat with a bird’s head on it and kept cackling about “1908,” some guy named “Bartman,” and a “curse”. Weird stuff.) Exhausted by this time, the two minions succumbed to our attacks and we finally had a chance to rest for a moment.

After our breather, we quickly agreed to move up to the steps and away from the center of the chamber. This turned out to be another questionable decision in an endless string of questionable decisions. We encountered more resident evil minions, including a couple of zombies and a necromancer.

Ieuan was not impressed. “Hey, necromancer, you think you know how to deal in death? Try my ray of enfeeblement on for size!” I am so jealous. With cool dry wit like that, I could be an action hero. Oh well. I always think of the good lines after the fight.

We used the same tactics to eliminate these fools as we had for the last battle, and it served us well as we conquered them without much difficulty. We rifled through their clothing and found some choice items, including a couple of scrolls and a nice patent leather belt with a gigantic belt buckle emblazoned with a whirling tornado. Moonglum identified it as a belt of Whirlwind, allowing the wearer to use quick attacks against multiple surrounding enemies. Bolt, Malak and I all claimed it as our own.

Wishing to avoid an argument, I quickly made my proposition. “Guys, guys, let’s be reasonable. Bolt, you’re black. What would your people say if they saw you with a belt buckle this large? You’d be disowned. And Malak, you couldn’t figure out the zipper on your breeches, so you just wear those elastic teddy bear pants Lotheryn sewed for you. What do you need with a belt?”

Malak agreed as he looked happily down at his pants. Bolt was harder to convince, but he finally acquiesced, leaving me to strap on the belt with a heightened sense of fashion. Ieuan expressed delight in the scroll she had found, saying she couldn’t wait to use her "Milf’s Acid Arrow." I was a bit dubious as to how a good-looking middle-aged woman would help us in battle, but stranger things have happened.

As we sat there, confident in our abilities and pleased with our performance, we heard the sound of heavy, echoing footsteps. It quickly dawned on me that our spellcasters had used up most of their high level spells and Malak had expended most of his energy by enraging during the last battle. I saw the same look of grim horror on my partners' faces that I'm sure was spreading on my own.

“Uh oh…”


Taran said...

By the way, just so no one gets confused, I meant the stairs were "bloody" in the sense that they had "blood all over them" not in the sense that British people use the word. I didn't want you all thinking that I had something against stairs. Cause I don't. They're in my top five things that can transport you from one level to a higher level. (1. Levitation spell 2. Escalator 3. Wings 4. Stairs 5. Being thrown See?)

Lord Bolt said...

*stares at you with hate, whips eye at belt of Whirling Wrath"

Taran said...

Just as long as you keep those eyes at the belt...they'd best go no lower, young buck. That's the danger zone.

Moonglum said...

Dude, I am totally excited about the 50 hottest half-orcs. How do we get a copy of this issue?

Taran said...

Well, I'm sure once we handle this evil paladin, he won't miss his copy. Although depending on what Malak did with it, it may not be in mint condition.