The Dragonslayers III Pt. 10: Hey! You Bypassed My Labyrinth!

Vorwulf gave those behind him the signal to halt while he crept up to the threshold of the main gate where he spied two arrow slits on either side in the walls and a murder hole in the vaulted ceiling above. He though he saw something moving above in the murder hole. He shouted taunts at whatever was there and called it out as a coward but to no avail so he decided to carefully move up his cutlass in his hand. As soon as he got under the murder-hole a large glob of foulness dropped onto him. He was completely enveloped in the oozing horror. The oozing blob was mostly black stripped with yellow stripes of liquefied fat and swimming with clumps of rotted hair and dozens of human teeth. Immediately Magiia rushed forward slashing at the quivering mound of rot with her axe. She sliced through its hideous membrane easily with the power of her attack but half way through her blow was deflected by something hard and metallic underneath. The creature popped like a balloon splashing grey-brown-black sludge everywhere. There stood Vorwulf still holding his cutlass in parry position oily with the monsters filth steaming due to the heat of decomposition.

Magiia (Jenn’s Character): “Sorry.”

The strength of her blow could’ve killed him had he not been able to blindly parry her weapon as it sheared through the necrotic gelatin.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “I’m gonna be covered in that sh*t this whole time huh?”

The party proceeded through the gatehouse and into the wide courtyard to a surreal scene. There were hordes of skeletons and animated corpses digging, hauling dirt and rocks and burning detritus, stoking the flames of the bonfires. The war-party continued to move cautiously, the dead seemed not notice the transgressors blindly carrying out their orders, fulfilling the purpose for which they were animated. Through the black smoke and glare of yellow flame they could see a large central tower at the current rear of the citadels courtyard next a cliff of dirt and rock at which a group of corpses were blinding working.

The earth-blackened tower was at least 3 stories high with looped crenulations along the top battlement its doors deeply recessed into an outcrop that spanned the height of the tower. The double door was a bronze gate crusted in verdigris but through which the finely crafted decorations on their surface, a skulls and roses motif, could easily be seen. Above the recess opening were gargoyle spouts, stone skulls with their jaws agape; they were spouts for hot-oil. The slayers stopped at the threshold of the door recess and Vorwulf spied the murder-hole which ran long-ways overhead above the double-door. They spent a few minutes trying to make a decision on what to do but nobody wanted to just walk in to try the doors including those in the rest of the train. Eventually Magiia volunteered and had the shaman help her tie her rope around her waist and pulled out her crowbar.

She walked up to the decrepit double-door measuring each step carefully and when she jammed her bar into the door they squeaked open on their own revealing they had been unsecured this entire time. Magiia sighed and laughed a little and then pushed one of the doors open. An audible click sounded and the floor fell open beneath her dropping her into a chute. Olf the Arborean healer acted quickly snatching her with his telekinesis holding her where she fell so she would fall no further. The spring-loaded trapdoors snapped back shut severing Magiia’s rope. Vorwulf went to push and hold open one side of the trapdoor while Grom the shaman tossed her the frayed end of her rope and pulled her to safety while Olf continued to concentrate. When they had her at the edge of the trapdoor she leapt in a single bound to the opposite side. She saw that less than 5 ft. from the doors were wide stone steps which crept down into the darkness but she could see some faint hint of natural light shining somewhere down there. She turned and they tossed her the rope which she held, there had been no place to secure it, so the party could get across the trap. It was then that Vorwulf spotted man-sized bat-like shadows flapping silently up from the depths.

“Lookout!” shouted Vor, he leapt to Magi’s side pulling his cutlass and scimitar in mid-somersault and the shadows were upon them. Immediately dropping her end of the rope Magi turned and spotting the first shadow creature bearing down on her she chopped it in two. The two shadowy fragments evaporating away before the fell to the ground. Grom readied his slingshot but couldn’t spot his any targets in the dimness. Olf backed off as he could see nothing and two of the three remaining beasts struck at Magi with their black talons but missing and the other went for Vorwulf, missing as well. Vor chopped one of the two on him down. Magi attacked the one on her with her axe but it passed through the monsters incorporeal form. Grom was finally able to spot one of the bat-creatures and shot a sling-bullet which bounced harmlessly off of the ceiling. Olf able to key in on one of the monsters telekinetically grappled it dragging it to the floor and holding it. It began to shriek. The fourth beast struck at Vor but missed and he struck it down with a paired weapons attack. Magi finished the creature that Olf had held. After they were sure there no more enemies headed their way Magi picked the rope back up and the rest of the party began to work their way over the trapdoors along the rope.

Vorwulf took out an oil lamp form his gear and lit it. He moved down to the bottom of the steps, about 25 ft., and stood guard to make sure no other late comers would come at them while they were vulnerable. Vorwulf surveyed the chamber. The room had a domed ceiling with an apex at about 20 ft., the interior of the dome was studded with gems as stars, the moon and the planets. In the apex of the dome was a diamond shaped hole which acted as a skylight from the top battlements through which the weak, greyish light of winter seeped causing the gem-stars to sparkle and shining a fuzzy diamond onto the encrusted fountain at the center of the chamber. In each corner was a round porphyric column. To the north was a 10 ft. wide archway opening into darkness and to the south, a man-size archway also opening into a shadow-choked chamber. In an alcove in the east wall stood an 8 ft. tall white marble statue, stained with age, of a wizard with an angelic and youthful countenance, which they took to be a representation of a living Parkannis Blackbrow, holding a large superior quality multi-faceted crystal orb in an outstretched hand.  The wall behind the statue rose only to about 10 ft. high creating a ledge just above the alcove which was also cloaked in darkness. He glanced back, the hallway behind was lit by the torches that Olf had passed out and that each party member now held.
The dragonslayers convened and were deciding which way to go when Grom got distracted by the sparkling of the crystal sphere and decided to take it. It didn’t take him any time to pry it from the statue’s palm with his dagger. He sensed no magic on it. Vor checked the wide north archway and seeing what appeared to be only a mostly empty storeroom. The floor was newly swept and the few crates had modern merchant stamps on them. He decided to lead the group through the south doorway. He tried to put his lamp before him as he began to walk through the man-sized archway but the passage seemed to be clogged with shadow and as soon as his arm passed into it Magiia witnessed him appearing to be sucked through the passage to be engulfed by shadow.

Olf immediately used his ESP to locate Vorwulf and knew he was somewhere on the other side of the archway but couldn’t pinpoint him. Magiia took it upon herself to tie a rope to her javelin and then goes to drop it through the archway by extending her arm through it into the shadows and so she was also sucked through. In an instant she found herself at Vorwulf’s side and they were both standing at the center of a small 15 ft. x 15 ft. plain square room with open archways in each of the four walls the space beyond each also obscured by shadow. They assumed they had entered the room via the north arch so Magi was preparing to toss her shield through it for some reason and as she did so Vor pushed her through. She hopped, or more accurately popped, back into the room where Vor was waiting more than a little irritated. She told him the room beyond was identical to this one.

Cris [Vor’s Player]: “Well, we’re in some sort of stupid dimensional thing.”

Meanwhile, Grom made a rousing speech to convince the rest of the party to follow their “comrades” into the shadows just before he leapt through. Not to be thought a coward each party member followed in turn.

Cris: “NO! What are you doing!? This room’s too small!”

Gil [Grom’s Player]: “Yeah but Grom doesn’t know that.”

Cris threw up his arms and sighed in disgust.

Jenn [Magiia’s Player]: *giggles*


To Be Continued…

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