Cells Within Cells Part V
Chapter Fifteen, Part Five
Knowing she cannot help the unconscious Kafeera, Arianna searches the floor for the transparent creature that perpetrated the attack. She trusts her superior Elven eyesight will be beneficial in such a task.
SeLiem joins her.
Claire uses her last dose of ointment on Kafeera’s body and then uses her dagger to cut her hand, shaking some of the blood on the floor. “Pray you’re right, you stupid corpse-fornicator,” she growls at Rastorn, “because if that’s true it’ll come right to me and you’d better be ready when it does.”
She is more irritated about being woken, then anything else.
Rastorn takes a momentary break from searching to glare at Claire.
Deathwish spots the Slithering Tracker sliding along the bottom of the table Kafeera is laying on. It glops onto the floor near Claire, but avoids the blood she spilled, instead rushing toward the back wall of the cell. Before it can be reached, it disappears under the secret door.
“Aw, damn,” Rastorn groaned. He looks back at Kafeera, who looks better but is still paralyzed.
“Either SeLiem will have to remove her paralysis or someone really strong is going to have to carry her. Slithering Tracker poison is extremely potent and long-lasting. I will be studying my spellbook over here away from the secret door. It will take me a good half hour until I am prepared.” He sighs, “I desperately need higher level spells. I feel I am ready, but I have no notes on the Fourth Level of Necromantic – or any other – Magics.”
Melias stands and shakes his head, “Huh, I must be more tired than I thought. I can’t believe that thing was faster than me. Nothing a few more hours of sleep won’t cure.” He goes back to his comfy spot and says, “Keep that goo away from me.”
Rastorn looks up from his book, “Arianna, SeLiem – you two will want to pay special attention to the secret door now. If that monster returns it could attack either of you or any of us.”
It does not return.
After a lengthy prayer session, SeLiem casts Remove Paralysis on Kafeera.
Melias stirs with a yawn and stretches his back and hips before picking up his belongings. “So, we’ve got food and water created by our generous healing friend, SeLiem. Kafeera is back on her feet. The goo isn’t around, but isn’t likely to be out of our way just yet. Rastorn has this thing about doing it with dead people. Arianna’s still looking at my ass. Claire and Deathwish are still with us. Guess we’re ready.”
He takes his place at the back of the line, keeping his eyes open for any goo to drop down from the ceiling or out through the walls from the cracks between the stones.
Arianna begins to weep, “But I don’t want to look at your ass. I really want to look at Claire’s ass. I just don’t understand why, oh why can’t I find her attractive in that way. Why in The Realms do I find Melias to be so devilishly handsome and-” She stops mid-sentence, her eyes wide. “I think if I have to tolerate this much longer I’ll go mad! Mad I say!”
“Well, you seem to have done this psychosomatically. Try imagining a ‘right pounding’, as your friend there called it, from the point of view of the person getting pounded. It’s icky and not at all pleasant, if that helps. At the very least, if that doesn’t work and we can’t find a Wish spell, I can fix things so you won’t be looking at Melias’ ass any more. You’d be amazed at what the status as a local party girl in ASU can get someone,” Claire reasons.
She draws her longsword and places her crossbow on her back saying, “In any case, we need to keep moving now.”
She wants to get out, being quite convinced Bards aren’t as valuable a resource in dungeons.
“Oh, and Arianna, thank you for saying that.”
“Psycho automatically? Sounds like some fancy word from the future, but no problem. You have a very nice looking ass. It’s a real shame it doesn’t excite me, though,” Arianna tells her.
Rastorn stares at Melias, then says, “That’s the Bard’s misperception, not the truth. That’s alright. Wizards – Necromancers in particular – have long endured the bigotry and distrust of others who are not granted the intelligence to join their ranks. People always fear what they cannot comprehend.”
The secret door is opened and the party continues down the narrow passage which then leads to a small set of steps leading down. From there the party enters a marose mockery of a church. It is a temple, but every statue, symbol, and work of art has been decorated with darkly disturbing new images. Someone worked hard to make the holy look grotesque. All four pews are filled with corpses dressed in what was formerly fine attire and facing forward, as if all the parishioners had died during a sermon. Rastorn gasps, then smiles as he studies the corpses from afar.
“Rastorn, I’ve nothing against Wizards, but when a Necromancer decides to insult me – there’s a problem,” Claire says, before stepping in front of Arianna to tell her, “I had a Wizard once explain it to me. Psychosomatic means your problem is mostly in your head. Just try to think of things from a woman’s point of view and you should be fine.”
“Rastorn, it’s not fair you know. Stop picking on Claire,” Melias says, as he follows closely behind the slow-moving group.
When Rastorn turns to look at Melias to what he’s referring to, the Elf responds, “You know, the battle of wits with an unarmed person. Clearly, you are out of her league.”
Melias looks to see if any surface looks unusually liquidy, shiney, shimmery, or otherwise gooey, for he isn’t about to let his guard down when he knows a Slithering Tracker is around. He grimaces. “My, this is pleasant. Friends of yours, Rastorn?”
“Well, I guess dreams really do come true,” Arianna tells Rastorn, when she notices his smile. “We really should keep our eyes open and alert. I’ll bet ten gold at least one corpse comes to life. Probably the whole lot of them will.”
Having more room, she sheathes her longsword and draws Iflander and in her mind says, “Well my friend, what can you tell me about the evil in here?”
“There is evil in this room. Since my detection of evil is not as strong as it once was, I only pick up the highly evil, so you should be very cautious. The dead are not radiating. It is coming from several different sources near the pulpit. Search beyond those walls ahead.”
Arianna looks toward the end of the room. There is a raised area at the back and two walls in front of that area block a full view. She heads in that direction.
“The restful congregation,” Claire says. “Well then, according to SeLiem’s Augury, I guess this is who we’ll be joining if we upset the ‘restless priests’, whoever they are.”
Kafeera is still sore, but is first to move deeper into the temple. Running her fingers through her tangled mop, she reflects on the odd conversations about Rastorn, the dead, asses, and goo, but decides not to comment. Moving deeper, she snarls her lip in disgust, then lifts her halberd toward the corpses, expecting the dead to leap forth at any given moment.
“Oooh, look! They are in various stages of rot and decay. Some have been dead for years, some for only a month. Isn’t this interesting?” a giddy Rastorn coos. He pushes ahead and begins examining the bodies more closely. “That’s odd, this dead woman is wearing old leather armor under her dress,” he comments, although more to himself than to the rest of the party.
Kafeera notes a small amount of metallic – perhaps copper – trim on the raised area. It is so filthy that it could be gold.
Like Melias, Claire is also focused on looking for the Slithering Tracker. If she sees anything shiny, she will resolutely ignore it. Her thoughts are filled with other things, like the fact that Rastorn seems, to her perception, unusually aroused while searching the corpses.
They don’t spot the monster or even a tell-tale slime trail, but they do see an abundance of places for the creature to hide.
When Rastorn readjusts his lantern to look closer at one of the corpses, the light shines toward the opposite end of the room and Kafeera catches a glimpse of a monk peeking at her from near the steps. He seems friendly. He even smiles warmly at her, before ascending the steps.
She starts to tell the party what she sees, but Arianna cuts her off. She assumes what Arianna has to say is more important, so she waits her turn.
“My sword can only detect strong presences of evil and his evil sense is going off around the area behind the pulpit. He’s saying to check beyond the walls there,” Arianna says.
Melias nods and says, “Good, while you check that out, I’ll be looking for that goo-creature,” as he searches one hiding place after another.
SeLiem casts a minor healing spell on himself, then on Deathwish.
“Anyone care to purify the pulpit?” Claire asks, as she marches forward to join Arianna at the pulpit.
“Powerful evil? Hold on there Arianna and Claire. Why don’t you let everyone get healed up before moving into battle?” Rastorn suggests, as he casually searches a corpse for possible treasure. “Besides, if it is Undead, you don’t want to tackle them while SeLiem is too busy casting curing spells to assist you,” he adds, while pocketing a golden cloak clasp.
Rastorn pulls his lantern around to get Arianna’s attention.
When a light beam from the lantern shines in that direction, Deathwish spots a smiling monk hiding near the other stair. Claire is almost there, so he leaves it to her to greet the friendly man.
In the nooks lining the walls, Melias discovers rats and damaged clerical items.
“Whatever,” Claire mutters, then spins on her heel to walk back toward SeLiem so she can be healed. She spots Kafeera pointing toward the stairs and stops.
SeLiem casts Cure Light Wounds on Melias. Melias thanks SeLiem, trying not to touch upon some of the angry words he uttered the night prior. He remembers his brothers always preaching to ‘never upset the healer’. But yesterday was long and tiring and trying. He is feeling much better today -especially after the healing spell.
SeLiem nods and readies his holy symbol. “The moment anyone sees anything move, let me know. My god’s power is but a call away to drive off any more deceased denizens that refuse a proper afterlife.”
“Let me know what you two find,” Rastorn tells Claire and Arianna, as the two head back toward the stairs. He continues to search the corpses for loot and out of professional curiosity. “Most of these specimens were slain by some sort of tall, clawed beast. They are also rife with disease. We may all need a Cure Disease spell cast upon us sometime after leaving here.” He lifts a nearly skeletal arm and checks the hand for rings. “Actually, it looks like the disease spread from the wounds themselves . . . “
Claire and Arianna get out of range of the lanterns and their Infravision kicks in. They each note a robed walking skeleton moving beyond a pillar near the end of the pews. The creature moves toward them when it is spotted.
“So, I guess this is the powerful evil huh?” Arianna silently tells Iflander. She holds her sword in front of her in a defensive position and says to the group, “I think we just found the bad guy that’s here!”
“We disturbed the Priests,” Claire says, “so I guess now we let diseased skeletons make quick work of us.” She dons her chest armor and draws her longsword. “I don’t think so.”
To be continued . . .
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