The Watery Lottery
Chapter Ten, Part Two
“Someone get that chest!” Rastorn shouts. “If we have to battle these sea Trolls, we should at least claim the reward!”
The chest breaks free and slides behind Melias. When he feels it tap his heel, he shouts to Rastorn, “Keep these things off me for a little while, and I’ll see what I can do!” Spinning, he sheaths his long sword, steps backwards behind the chest, then attempts to lift it by the side straps to shield against the next attack as he completes the turn. The chest proves too heavy and he is halted with his face open to attack. A wave splashes his back, flipping him over the chest, his hands still on the side handles. He lands on his backside and the chest begins sliding down the slope, pushing him before it. Melias and the chest glide right between and out of reach of the two monsters attacking him.
Orjulun casts Magic Missiles at the Troll that bit Arturus, then looks for escape routes for the group.
“They’re called Sea Scrags! Akin to Trolls! With their regenerative nature, the one in the puddle is bound to get back up soon – so watch him!” Rastorn yells from the cliff ledge above.
Both Arturus and Percy barely deflect attacks from the monsters on them, but Claire is bitten just as she completes a Blindness spell on the Scrag she fights. She has Blinded the Scrag, but is sorely injured.
A magical beam, from Rastorn’s direction, strikes the larger of the two Saltwater Scrags chasing Melias, causing it to turn rigid and fall over. It does not get back up.
The other Scrag keeps chasing and will soon reach him, as he has stopped in a large, water-filled indention near the middle of the deck, with the heavy chest pushing him down into the water. He can feel the crack widening and water draining down into the sea below. He fights the current pulling him into the fissure, the weight of the chest, and gravity.
“Come on, Elf, quit the fancy acrobatic play and get the chest off the ship before it sinks!” Rastorn shouts.
“I can lift that chest for you, my Elven friend! One moment, while I dispatch this foul beast!” Percy shouts. He chops the Scrag twice on the waist with his two-handed sword. It’s upper body falls to the side like a snapped green twig, but it is still connected by strands of rubbery muscle. The Scrag claws at Percy, although its torso bobs around from the axis of its hips. Percy steps back and stares at the bizarre sight. He steps onto a breaking plank and it catapults him high into the air. He splashes down in the same crevasse as Melias.
“It is a sign from Capra! Let us hurry off with this chest, friend Melias!” Percy shouts.
“Hells . . . er, Heavens – yes! Let’s get this chest out of here quick,” Melias replies. His eyes blink wide, as he slides closer to the ever-widening gap.
SeLiem had been learning just how difficult it is to move around when en-capsuled in so much metal. Climbing the rope and navigating through the ship as it broke apart were much more difficult than it would have been when he wore lighter armor. When he sees Percy and Melias, he creeps toward them.
The entire stern drops off into the Eastern Ocean and the ship lurches. All aboard are knocked off their feet. The Scrag chasing Melias falls through the deck.
Claire stands and sees the ship has cracked apart between her and the blinded Scrag and she is now several feet above him. She throws a dagger at him, but misses. On its present course, the creature will walk into a crack in the ship and be gone, so she looks to see what else she can do. She notices the section near her is tipping and she will soon be following the Scrag into the ocean with enough debris on top of her to keep her buried forever.
“Time to disembark,” she says, under her breath.
Releasing the railing, Orjulun stands and casts another Magic Missile at the Scrag closest to Arturus. The shape of the ship has changed drastically and his view or most of the party is entirely blocked by upward thrusting sections of the deck. He sees Claire being forced back toward the beach as the ship is torn asunder. It looks like their only chance is to reach his Rope Trick before they no longer have a place to stand.
Arturus slices the Scrag with The Battler and it seems almost ready to fall. Trolls can fight on even while headless, so he knows he will still be facing claws and maw again before the monster falls and time is running out. The only clear path off the ship is beyond the Scrag and it seems more than ready to keep Arturus from getting past it.
Melias is drowning below the chest. He loses his footing and his hips drop through the ship’s deck. Then Percy grabs hold of the chest and lifts it high enough for Melias to get air. Percy winces from his injuries and lowers the chest, once more plunging Melias under water. Looking down, Percy sees claw marks on his side that he had just sustained before being tossed in the air. In the heat of battle, he hadn’t realized he was hit. Percy straddles the hole, but begins to ascend along with Melias.
Percy looks down at Melias, whose head is just above water, and says, “My injuries. I . . . can’t-”
Again, Melias drops into the hole, but this time with the dead weight and armored body of Percy on top of him.
Saltwater enters Percy’s nose and mouth and revives him. He grips the edge of the crevice with both hands and shoulders the chest two feet up the ramping deck.
With the weight of the chest and Percy off him, Melias blindly reaches out, grabs Percy, and pulls himself out far enough for a breath. One breath is all he gets.
The chest pushing him and Melias pulling him is too much for Percy. He drops back down a foot, forcing Melias under water again. Percy tries, but cannot gain back the ground he lost. With the severity of his injuries, he has nothing left. He looks over his shoulder and sees the Scrag that had been chasing him preparing to pounce onto his back. This will certainly drop all three of them down into the churning sea beneath the ship. Percy closes his eyes and says a silent prayer. He hears a thump, but feels nothing strike him. Opening his eyes, he sees the Scrage lying dead beside him. Two Magic Missiles sent by Rastorn slayed the Scrag before it could jump.
Arturus is trapped. The Saltwater Scrag before him has blocked his best exit from the sinking ship. As he charges forward, single Magic Missile strikes the Scrag and it drops. Rastorn had split missiles between this Scrag and the one near Percy and killed both of them. Arturus keeps running.
With his left hand, Percy grabs hold of the dead Scrag and boosts Melias onto it with his right. The dead Scrag starts slipping into the crack and Percy still has the chest pushing him down.
Melias takes another breath, but he is sinking down with the Scrag. He hears someone talking behind him.
SeLiem is standing next to the chest and casting Cure Light Wounds on Percy.
Feeling his strength return, Percy lets the chest slide down, but catches the side-handle and lifts when it reaches the hole. With the chest straddling the hole to one side of him and the Scrag to the other, he places his hands on top of each and lifts his body high enough for his legs to reach the deck. As he stands, he grips Melias by the collar and throws him up the slippery deck.
Melias spins and skids to the top and then flips over the rail. He slows his fall as best he can by grabbing the side of the ship on his way down, and rolls when he lands on the beach. Sharp pain in his knees from the fall keeps him flat on his back – until he sees a treasure chest bouncing down the side of the ship toward him.
After throwing Melias and the chest, Percy is straddling the crack and the crack is now almost too wide for him. He is losing his balance when SeLiem reaches out and pulls him toward the beach side of the deck. They race along the deck as it falls into the ocean behind them. The last bit capsizes just after they leap off and land on the beach.
Orjulun and Claire had climbed into the invisible, magic space above his rope and were only now climbing back down to join the rest of the group.
SeLiem hadn’t sustained any serious injuries, but the nearly twenty foot jump down had jarred Percy back. He groans out, “I hope we did not miss any survivors.” Old blood had been washed away, but new blood was trickling down various spots on his head and body.
Claire is ascending the rope slowly and also bleeding from multiple wounds.
Rastorn is uninjured. He had cast another Spider Climb and was making his way off the cliff. It is a long way around.
Arturus lugs the large, still intact chest over to where Percy sits. The chest is all that remains from the ship.
Orjulun helps Claire down, then guides her to Seliem, who has enough magic left to grant minor aid to her and Percy.
Hiding behind Percy and timing it with the roar of the waves, Orjulun casts a mind-reading spell on Rastorn as he approaches.
Arturus leans over the chest and places both hands on the lid. He closes his eyes and takes slow, calming breaths. He looks at Percy and says, “If you ever do something that foolish again I’ll kill you myself. Not only did you just run off and put your own life at risk but you endangered everyone else. We had no idea what we were getting into.”
Melias looks at Arturus and snickers.
“I just couldn’t risk the chance that some innocent was dying on that ship . . . ” Percy mumbles.
Turning his attention to the chest, Arturus asks, “So, what are we going to do about this? Does anyone have a good way to open it?”
“We can try to pick it, pry it, or bash it,” SeLiem says, “but shouldn’t one of us try and see if it has traps, first?”
Rubbing his hands together and grinning widely, Rastorn joins the group. “Let’s see what we have! Maybe it’s all gold and jewels!”
Orjulun can hear Rastorn’s thoughts as if he is speaking out loud. He hears him think, “Oh, what prizes might be in that chest! I slew four of the beasts and saved at least three of our group. I’m sure to get the lion’s share! I better hurry, before that thief, Melias, grabs up all the best items or hands it all over to the apprentice. Ohhh, these new spells! I feel so powerful! I can’t wait to blast something with a Lightning Bolt again! I feel ten years younger! I would have loved to have seen that big fool get ambushed, they really messed him up! We better hurry or those Sea Scrags will be back. They’re probably already reforming. Maybe I should wait until they open the chest to get closer, so I don’t get physically burned like last time . . . “
“I might be able to help you there. Just a moment,” Melias tells SeLiem. Pulling his pant leg down to cover his injury, he limps to the chest and pulls out a small leather pouch containing long, metal tools.
Claire stands in the back of the group composing inflammatory lyrics to describe the recent event, and half-watching Melias work on the chest.
Melias bends over the chest, checking it’s cracks and crevasses for any signs of danger prior to attempting it’s lock. He looks at Rastorn with a quick glance, nodding appreciatively to the resourceful wizard as he approaches.
Arturus walks over to Percy and places his hand on his shoulder. “Look, my friend, I apologize for my outburst, but that’s not the first time you’ve gotten us into trouble like that. I don’t fear dying in battle, but I want to choose which battle it is I die in. I know my fate will come to an end on the edge of another man’s blade, but it will be in a battle for a great cause, not a damn sunken ship with smelly Scrags. You need to be more cautious. Saving drowning sailors is a noble thing to do, but not when it also puts your life and your companion’s lives in jeopardy. I swear if I die because of your actions in a stupid encounter I’m coming back as a Ghost and I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your days. You understand what I’m saying, right? I’ll do it, too. I’ll get the Necromancer’s help.” He looks at Rastorn and says, “Rastorn, if I die because of Percy, will you make sure I come back as a Ghost so I can haunt him?”
Rastorn’s thoughts: “A nod from Melias and a request from Arturus – yes, they did notice who the hero of this encounter was! I’ll stay back until he gets that chest safely opened. Nod back, like he did. I’m not really going to make him a Ghost. Damn, my feet hurt. It is chilly here now. Still no one is coming from town. That’s good. We still need to leave before the Scrags return. Can I trust that Bard? Can you make someone a Ghost? Perhaps that is worth study . . . “
As he sits down, Rastorn nods at Melias, then tells Arturus, “Sure I could. I could make you an Elven Super Ghost. You’d be nearly ten feet tall and fart fear gas.”
Melias doesn’t see anything that looks like a trap on the chest, so he begins studying the locks.
Percy slumps his head, then falls back onto the sand. “Where to now, Melias?” he asks, with his eyes closed.
“I suggest we leave soon. Those Scrags will be back eventually and we are still way too close to Dumas for my comfort,” Rastorn says.
Percy lays on his back with his arms over his face. He talks just loud enough for Arturus to hear him. “Arturus, you know I can’t promise I won’t do something dangerous to try to save someone. If you feel it is too dangerous, you can always let me go it alone. I won’t take it personally.” After a few deep breaths, he slowly stands, then walks over to the chest. “At least we have this. It was a gift from Capra. Of that, I am certain.”
Melias wonders if this is true. How else could Percy have thrown it – and him – so far? He is able to open one lock, but a dent in the other keeps him from picking it.
Percy pulls out the battle axe Red gave him. “Perhaps this is why I was given this axe . . . there are signs from the gods everywhere.” He hacks the lock off with one blow and kicks the lid open.
Rastorn squirms at Percy’s actions, expecting a blast, like last time.
Inside the chest is a trove of items and coins.
The group sorts the treasure on Percy’s bedroll.
1,000 gold pieces, five gems, 200 platinum pieces, three pieces of jewelry, three pearls, a ring, a military pick, a small spear, a helmet, two well-wrapped potions, a scroll, and a very large and broad leather belt.
Orjulun’s spell continues to tell him Rastorn’s surface thoughts, while he casts a spell. “I’d better hurry and cast this Detect Magic before the apprentice or what’s-his-name does! I wonder if I should be totally forthcoming . . . nothing here I want, so I might as well gain some more trust. I’ll take the pearls and some platinum. What’s that note. Let’s see what new magic everyone has . . . how about that female . . . oh, a magic dagger, I could use one of those . . . and she has magical bracers, I figured that . . . “
Rastorn says, “Alright, the pearl to the left is magic, looks like Alteration . . . both weapons . . . the ring is magic of the Alteration sort . . . the helm radiates Alteration, there’s a ripped up note stuffed up inside it . . . the scroll . . . potions . . . that girdle is magic with an aura of Alteration magic . . . ” He looks around at the party, “That’s it.”
The note is ripped, but what is left says:
will keep secret the grand riches to be mined there? The richest mine of its kind in The Realms and Zane
Claire moves closer, looking at everything on the bedroll. “Zane? Where’s that?” She waits for someone to cast Identify and stays away from the girdle because of an incident that happened to her estranged brother, Marten.
Arturus looks at all the loot and whistles. “There’s a lot of good stuff there. Almost worth getting killed for.” He winks at Percy.
After Rastorn’s description, Orjulun nods his head and dismisses his own spell. “Well, we should separate the magical items Rastorn pointed out,” he says. “I can easily identify them all fairly quickly once we’re at a safe distance from those regenerating Trolls.” He looks toward Claire and says, “Oh, and Zane is the King of Dumas . . . that city over there.” He points south, with an involuntary shudder. “He’s a cruel and insane man . . . someone you don’t want to meet.”
“Hmmm, so in effect, we just stole from him,” Claire muses, “Well, I’d gladly keep all the magic items together, I’m sure my pack could hold them, but I’m not touching the girdle. My brother put on one once, and now I have a sister.”
Arturus listens to what Claire says about her brother. He’s heard rumors of that as well. But, he has also heard tales of magical girdles giving the wearer great strength. He figures if worse comes to worse he’d have to pay someone to remove the girdle. He grabs the girdle and says, “I doubt the King of Dumas would have a girdle that turns him into the Queen of Dumas.” He pulls the girdle on and starts lacing it. The logic seems to him to be reasonable.
“Well, someone did say he was insane,” Claire says, as she gathers the rest of the items for transportation. “People have been known to do stranger things.”
“I don’t really care who carries what, let’s just get out of here before the Trolls regenerate, or some patrol sees us,” Orjulun says. “Melias, you seemed to know where you were going before. Do you know somewhere safe we can stay for a while? I’m not too keen on entering the city.”
Melias looks around and points at the canal. “We need to wait for low tide. Does anyone know how long that will be?” He glances around again, looking for some place that might offer them some seclusion further away from the ocean waves for a while. “As for the bounty, we should probably split it up. I would hate to go through all that only to waste it when the Scrags come up and grab Claire, then run off to the ocean. You know what I mean?” He smirks at the Green Bard and says, “Besides, though you come from a trusted source, I don’t trust you enough to run off with everything. And I don’t think we were stealing from Zane, per say. It may be just that there is a mine somewhere in his land that is very rich. Now, were we to head into that mine and start taking from it, that might be construed as stealing. Perhaps the helmet allows you to see where that mine is?”
“We still have a couple of hours until low tide,” Percy tells Melias.
Rastorn nods and says, “Two and a half, at the most. Do we need to be at a specific place at a specific time? Perhaps we are catching a magical sled to the world of Faerie.”
Noting the sarcasm, Percy turns away from Rastorn. “Does this chest have any hidden compartments, like that small one did last time?” he asks. Both Rastorn, who still has Detect Magic running, and Melias check. Neither find any.
Melias spots a vacant lean-to at the edge of the woods. There are a lot of bottles in the sand near it. Knowing the reputation of the people of Dumas, he assumes some of them throw parties out here occasionally. Other than that, there are no structures to grant shelter.
“I can set the Sheet of Smallness over the magical items and shrink them down for easier transport,” Rastorn offers. “Even shrunken, I think someone else will have to carry them for me, though.” He turns and pulls the sheet out of his bag, but immediately drops it, when he turns back. “The magic is gone from the girdle!” he exclaims, as he stares at Arturus.
The entire group stares at Arturus. For Arturus is no longer the tall, thin, yet manly Elf they have all known. He is now a tall, thin, female Elf.
Continued next week!
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