Chapter Fourteen, Part One
Everyone wakes refreshed. After six hours of sleeping and healing, Melias, SeLiem, and Kafeera are feeling much better.
Rastorn and SeLiem prepare for the day’s spellcasting, as the others prepare food for the spellcasters and themselves.
“Time to save the world!” Rastorn announces in an uncharacteristically chipper voice after breakfast.
Melias, Arianna, and Rastorn gather at a window to see how those left outside fared. Percy waves to them from the porch of the Kobold house. Not only had he roused The Chosen Ones and served them breakfast, he was already training Blitzarrow in the art of wielding a two-handed sword.
The trapdoor to the cellar is easily found, but the stairway is dark, narrow, and steep.
The group travels down the stairs and enters into the middle of a small wine cellar.
A quick search later and the party has discovered 3 wine bottles (still corked), a key hidden under s table, a note in an empty wine bottle, a sack of bones (which Rastorn snatches), a pile of offal with 5 copper pieces in it, and an easily discovered secret door on the east wall.
The note says:
Darling, he can’t possibly know. Meet me at our secret place at midnight. Wart Face will help you for me. Bring silver and we’ll make the wish again.
After reading it out loud for the group, with Claire reading over his shoulder, Rastorn holds it out and Melias takes it for safekeeping.
Claire takes the key and places one of the wine bottles next to her. The note reminds her of Rastorn for some reason.
Unconvinced they have discovered everything worth discovering, the group searches more thoroughly, except Rastorn who sits and reads aloud the list of book titles from the keep’s library. When he is finished with that, he slips the timeline out of Claire’s pack and reads that out loud, too.
She scowls at him and snatchs up her pack and secures each pocket.
Arianna asks Rastorn, “Are those books still in the library or does someone have them? I’d like to have the book on Iflander. Also, seeing how we’re in a wine cellar, any of the books about wine could be important right now. Maybe saying a passage or word out of a wine book will open a door. Maybe that book Underground Laboratories for Magical Studies might be helpful”
“Yes, were any of the books salvageable?” Melias asks, as he checks the secret door for traps. “Many of them sound fascinating. I wish I could read. But, if there’s just a husk of them left, then why worry?”
“Any clues those books held are now Bookworm feces,” Rastorn answers.
SeLiem asks Melias, “Well, are there any traps? It wouldn’t surprise me.”
Melias shakes his head.
Kafeera checks each of the three wine bottles. All of them have liquid in them, but none of them smell like wine. Disappointed, she Kafeera shrugs and sips from her wineskin.
Rastorn says he will stand at the top of the stairs, while Kafeera opens the secret door.
Claire takes out her silver pipe-case and asks Melias for the note. “Does anyone know what ‘the wish’ is?” she asks, “because I’ve got some silver right here.”
Melias cautions everyone back, and as soon as everyone seems a fair distance away, he holds his breath and opens the door, revealing four steps down to and a long, dark hallway.
“All clear. I believe I’ll take my spot behind Rastorn,” Melias says.
Kafeera stores the wine bottles in her pack and takes position in the front.
Claire softly slaps Kafeera for grabbing her wine bottle. “I’m supposed to be the immoral one around here!” she grumbles, then takes a position behind Melias, with Deathwish behind her.
Gritting her teeth in an effort to refrain from lopping off Claire’s head, Kafeera ascends the stairs, grimacing slightly and rubbing her still tender wounds. She taps her halberd softly on the floor before her as she slowly proceeds down the corridor. Thirty feet in, she spots two dog-sized creatures ahead of her. Her lantern doesn’t radiate enough light to delineate what she is seeing, but is bright enough that it interferes with Arianna and SeLiem’s Infravision. It isn’t until they are four feet away that she can make out what they are – two Rust Monsters.
“Rust Monsters? I hate these little monsters! They don’t affect magical items do they? I have always had regular weapons before,” Arianna says, unsure if she wants to pull her weapons on a creature that with a touch can completely rust metal for it’s consumption. She looks left and right wondering if Iflander can be used effectively in such a narrow space.
“They can’t destroy magic items, Arianna, unless the item is made of metal, of course,” Rastorn answers, with a smile.
“I thought the magic protected the weapon. But since no one can get around Kafeera, I guess it doesn’t matter,” Arianna adds, as she silently curses the clumsiness of nocking an arrow in such a tight spot.
“Anyone got a club? I’ll get in there and wade through them. They don’t look so tough to me,” says Melias.
“Crouch down!” Claire yells. “I can get off a clear shot if you crouch!” She rests her crossbow on Melias’ steady shoulder and prepares to launch a bolt.
Realizing the only threat these beasts pose is to her armor and weapons, Kafeera retreats to the back of the group. “I’m willing to sacrifice life and or limb in a battle, but I will not needlessly give up my armor or my weapon to these metal eaters, they’re all yours.”
SeLiem follows and casts a Cure Light Wounds spell on her when they stop.
Arianna leans down to the left and hits each Rust Monster with her magical arrows, while Rastorn leans down to the right and strikes the one in front of him with all the missiles from his Magic Missile spell.
Claire, with Melias in front of her, takes careful aim, but misses with her crossbow.
“Does anyone have any unwanted metal they can toss in front of the monsters to slow them down?” Rastorn shouts.
These Rust Monsters are small for their kind, only about 2 1/2 feet high and four feet long, but they move as quickly as any of their kin the party ever saw. They rush past Arianna, Rastorn, and Melias (an action made simpler, as each of them pulls in any exposed metal they have to assure it is not rusted by merely brushing against the creatures) and attack Claire and Deathwish’s chain armors. Claire’s armor is magical and repels the attack, however, Deathwish’s instantly rusts through and drops off him.
They don’t stop there. The two Rust Monsters run past those two and straight for SeLiem and Kafeera, who are wearing the greatest metal feast they may have ever seen.
“Nevermind, they caught the scent of the plate armor, nothing will slow them now,” Rastorn mumbles.
Melias draws his original short sword. He hadn’t used it for days, but it finally had a purpose. If he lost it to the cause, it wouldn’t be that great of a loss. He chases the two monsters.
Kafeera curses loudly and runs away. She makes it to the door the group entered the hall through and slams it shut. SeLiem is able to slip in just behind her.
The Rust Monsters stop at the door and turn to see what other metals are still in the hall with them. Deathwish is closest to them, but he’s already been stripped of most of his metal. Claire is nearest to him, but they already tried her. The only major metal left is Arianna’s sword Iflander, so they charge toward her.
Rastorn’s Magic Missiles zap the same one he struck last time, but it keeps coming.
Claire, not caring that Rastorn is near the line of fire, lets out a ululating cry and fires a bolt, striking and killing that Rust Monster.
Melias leaps at the other one with his longsword, but the sword is ineffectual and falls away into a pile of rust as soon as it comes in contact. He leaps away pulling his bow as he rolls onto one knee and starts flinging arrows as quickly as he can. “A cloak! Someone try to throw a cloak over it. Maybe if they’re caught they’ll be easier to kill!”
Arianna plunks two magical arrows into the remaining Rust Monster, but it doesn’t slow down. It is reaching for Iflander when Deathwish screams and leaps on it with the spear he had taken off Claire’s backpack. The spear strikes deep into the creature’s head and it stops moving. Blood sprays into Deathwish’s eyes as he leans on the spear to be certain the monster is dead. When he pulls the spear out, he sees the point has rusted through. It is now useless to him as a weapon.
Rastorn knocks then opens the door SeLiem and Kafeera hide behind and lets them back into the passage. “The big, nasty monsters are dead now, Kafeera. Would you like to take the lead again?” he says sarcastically (but with no real venom). “If no one has any spare armor for the henchman, I do have an Armor spell.”
Slightly embarrassed by her actions, Kafeera retorts, “A man who fears worms has no room to speak of such cowardly acts. I hid out of mere necessity, nothing else.”
The end of the hallway is now thirty feet from Arianna. It ends abruptly and she has yet to note any hidden doors along the way.
Claire cast her Armor spell on Deathwish. “Here. You may be an apprentice, but god damn it, you’re my apprentice.” She turns on her heel and begins checking the walls for secret passages.
“Well that was a hoot. I didn’t realize how much I missed using my bow until now,” Arianna declares.
Melias scratches his head and shrugs. “Another dead end. What is it with these people and their secret doors anyway?” He begins searching the west wall carefully, foot by foot.
The group locates a secret door at the end of the hall.
Claire reaches for the door handle. “All of you might want to stand back. I don’t want a repeat performance of the master bedroom,” she says.
SeLiem nods and steps back away from Claire, “Oh boy, here it comes.”
Melias cocks an eyebrow as Claire gets antsy. “Say . . . before you set off some sort of hail of poisonous arrows, would you like me to check that for traps?”
Claire lets Melias check the door.
He sees no traps on or around the door.
The door is not locked, so Claire pulls on the handle. It doesn’t budge. She realizes it opens inward and decides to stand to the side and swing the door open, while not standing in front of it.
The door is trapped.
A section of the door springs out as soon as it is partially opened. Had anyone stood directly in front of the door, they would have been struck. It would not have been a killing blow, but would have caused minor injuries.
Melias looks at the others sheepishly. “Uh . . .whoops?” he offers. “Didn’t see that coming.”
Entering the room, they find it is fairly small, with a single chest near the far wall. The chest is too large to fit through the frame of the door, so it cannot be taken with them. That also begs the question: how did it get in here in the first place?
There are two decomposed corpses lying in the middle of the floor. The flesh on both has completely rotted away.
Arianna walks into the room with her bow drawn and an arrow notched. She walks to the corpses and fires an arrow into each of their heads. Looking at the party members she says, “Just in case.” She holds onto her bow afterwards, but doesn’t prepare an arrow and soon begins to look for any secrets this room might have, deciding to leave the chest for the others to inspect.
Melias slowly approaches the over-sized chest. He regards the corpses Arianna tries to put to rest. “I wonder who they were. They’ve been down here an awful long time to have rotted away so much. Someone should check them for valuables or useful items.” He steps around the corpses and up to the chest, eyeing it carefully. The familiar leather pouch he’s been using so frequently is still in his left hand after checking the last door. He removes some tools and starts checking the chest for traps, trying to be more perceptive than he was with the door.
Shortly after Melias touches the chest, the two skeletons stand up and attack the party. Arianna’s arrows are still sticking out of their bare skulls! They were laying on bundles of rags which hid their swords and shields.
One of the Skeletons connects with his sword on Claire’s shoulder, but her magical armor protects her from harm. The other Skeleton strikes only air.
Melias spots a trap on the chest, almost instantly.
“Damn it!” Arianna growls, while dropping her bow and drawing Iflander.
Melias steps behind the chest and draws his longsword and shortsword, preparing for combat if they get near. “The others should be able to handle this,” he whispers to himself.
Iflander mows one of the Skeletons down in one strike. Bones bounce off the stone floor with a clicking noise.
Claire switches to her longsword and takes a vengeful swing at the other Skeleton.
SeLiem pauses a moment, looks at his hammer and decides to try his mace. As he grabs his mace, he rushes towards the skeletons.
Claire misses, but SeLiem does minor damage.
Rastorn moves to a corner, away from the chest and away from the Skeleton.
Deathwish misses with his swing and ends up falling into Kafeera. This creates an opening and the Skeleton runs to a ready Melias and slices him.
SeLiem chants then orders the Skeleton to, “Die and be forgotten!” He steps forward with his holy symbol held before him and utterly destroys it with words alone. The other Skeleton (which had strangely begun to reform) is also vaporized.
Melias returns to disarming the chest, but makes a wrong decision and metal spikes shoot up from the floor piercing him multiple times. No one else was close enough to take any damage. Side-stepping the spikes, Melias easily unlocks the chest and opens it, revealing lots of treasure.
To be continued . . .
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