Alright, when we get to this coronation we’re going to have to have our story straight.
You know, to make our heavily armed selves less suspicious. At least the vampire body will disguise our potions, but we’ll need a Raison D’etre to enter. (heh)
People will want to know where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing and all that.
Why so much swords? Why such a large troupe? Where are your banners? Etc. etc. etc.
I say we tell the mostly the truth, because it’s easy to remember, and it’s even true, after all we really are a performing dance troupe versed in the Holka of Polka and other entertaining dances like the Electric Slide and the aptly named Hustle.
Nobody needs to know about the vampire killing or the Menis, unless we judge they look like they should know, and then they’ll get to know.
But to the Rubes in the tavern, after a few drinks, we can tell them the real story. The story of how I, Mezla Mezla of far off Yonderland came to meet the dragon IDISSE, in the nearby temple to St. Cuthbert in the ruined city of Bere.
It was a calm night camping, me and my fellows here, some hours outside of the ancient city when we heard and erie call. A ghostly woman’s disembodied voice wafting on the wind sounding like a sweet angel, calling, promising, enticing us.
Pulled us right out of our sleep and on towards the ruins, where we wandered around aimlessly, hoping for another gust of the voice to lead the way.
The entrance we found was blocked by a boulder and a massive pillar (I forgot to spot whether it was Doric or Ionic) which had been pushed so as to keep either from being dislodged by anything but the strongest of titans. Fortunate for us that some pathfinder discovered the glorious rope back in ancient times!
It was put to good use by our stout Dwarf and Actual Confirmed Dragonblooded Dragonman in unlocking the entrance to, what turns out to be quite a large temple that used to contain a giant statue of a god.
So there we were, spelunking around in this cavern. It was large and vast and blahblahblah. There’s nothing in there, but in the darkness you can hear the sweet, terrible call again.
So we went deeper. And eventually the rough hewn floor became a proper floor, cobbled with stones that fit together and filled with mortar. The hall was very long; it seemed endless. I kept walking and walking and walking, plodding along to the sound of the sweet music. The voices had such harmony, and the percussion! I didn’t know a voice could make a sound like that until I snapped alert like a splash of water slapped me in the face and found myself on the edge of a steep chasm; a very spear filled tiger trap, right in the middle of this hall!
Looking around I could see that Sadron the Entertainer had snapped out of the trance just as I had, on the edge of the precipice. Our dimmer friends were less fortunate, and I assume they became aware either just before or slightly after that last step gave way to nothing, and they pitched into the spikes.
It was rather impressive, on reflection, that nobody was impaled even more, and I will admit that the bootlicker’s God’s food is helpfully fortifying. Maybe that’s what gave Brotrillisk the strength to leap from straight off the spike through his leg right up to the other ledge, where Sadron could smoothly hoist him up (had he been stronger, cough). Either way, focus on the heroicness.
Anway, suddenly the air is full of smelly Harpies, wings flapping, titties flopping everywhere; claws and swinging clubs and screeching. To preserve the boys in the pit I throw my brave self at one of the creatures while Sadron is slicing into the other. Our magicians unleash their various magics while we engage the Harpies tip to tip while our impaled friends extract themselves. Garil’s powerful legs even eventually carried him to the battle in time to land a smashing blow which must have been satisfying because he worked very hard to get there. (Olive Juice Garil, remember that at least Gnomes are so short that when it rains they’re the last to know!)
Harpies entrails rearranged (get it?) we moved on with fatter pockets and that cursed call out of our minds. But now the place was starting to look grand. The hall became more regularly tiled with stone, each carefully formed and fit together without mortar. Our tiny friend shrouded us in invisibility to enter the next room, lead by my brave self and our shield-happy dwarf.
Inside were more Femoid Monsters. Terrible hags, but with squiggly heads of hair that could only belong to the Medusa (thanks Glim!). Bursting from our cloaking sphere we made short work of the demons and found their chamber to diverge. One path continued down into darkness, while the other was cut flat and level too the floor.
Being the exploratory type, Garil and Myself continued to descend, with Safier following up for good measure. The floor is strewn with the bodies of explorers and adventurers, one even carrying a familiar looking note from our own Bieda, instructing to seek this place.
(Now guys, don’t tell the Rubes this, but I think Bieda might be working with this Nilos guy; feeding him victims like Willam tried to make of us)
There is a figure in the distance, and given the bodies it must be up to no good so Garil and I charge it with all our might. As we close the distance it turns its twisted visage to Garil, who briefly locks eyes and feels death, but stoutly moves on, shaking off the cold as his hammer swings mightily, whiffing not once or twice, but each of three mighty swings.
We recognize them to be Bodak, the undead remnant of a humanoid who has been destroyed by the touch of absolute evil. It screams at us to get out, or maybe it needs to get out. We do the chore of freeing these creatures from their Chasmly bonds, and standing over the bodies Safier dangles his testicles daringly into one snarling mouth and asks about a pot of tea.
Our more magically inclined crew explored the depths of the previous chamber, the one not covered with the bodies of unfortunate adventurers. The only treasure they find is the thrill of combat, blasting more Bodaks and Wraiths from the field. I’m sure it was glorious, but you’d have to ask one of them who was the most heroic.
Eventually we reunited down the tunnel, wading through the corpses. It dawned on me (or someone anyway) that there must be an additional entrance to this tomb. I have a hard time believing that pillar we moved had been replaced recently. Some of the bodies laying around were still fresh, and there was Bieda’s note to consider.
Finally we reach the bottom chamber, and this place is Grand. Fully architecturally designed, finely and acutely constructed, the mausoleum is empty save a massive, intricately armored stone statue. The likeness is so detailed it seems the figure’s gaze can be felt through the ages it’s been standing there, cudgel casually ready to be brought down on any defilers. Sadron consecrates the ground, and Garil is made strong like bull through the even smaller Glim’s magic.
It’s clear that this is a likeness of St. Cuthbert himself, the man who succeeded in achieving Godhood through his dedication to Law. I shivered thinking of Nilos, who aspires similarly, but without the commitment to, well, anything as far as I can tell. Behind the statue is a ornately gilded and carved stone pair of doors with iron ring-pulls.
Naturally I go for the door (because seriously who just starts smashing statues; we’re not vandals), and you can guess what happens when I grasp the ring. The door doesn’t move, even the ring seems locked in place, like its rusted where it hangs. Maybe rusted isn’t the right idea though, because just as the door remains frozen there is a deep grinding as the statue of St. Cuthbert straightens on its platform and turns to look my way.
Safir, to his credit, says hello to the statue and tries to make friends. It turns its gaze from me back to him and seems to acknowledge his presence, but in the way you acknowledge a stray dog at the market by not kicking it, as long as it keeps far enough away. Unfortunately we are NOT far enough away and the statue raises its club to smash Brotrillisk, whos great slash glances harmlessly off the stone thighs. Glim thinks quickly and greases the area around the statue, which falls over colossally. With my prompting, Sadron’s god knocks open the door behind the statue and brilliant light pours from the small crack of the opening of the door.
While the statue struggles to stand Garil pounds it with his hammer, occasionally breaking boulder sized chunks off the figure. Leo’nel’s acid magic seems to have no effect, as does Sadron’s spellcasting. Brotrillisk bounces another slash off the figure and Leo’nel narrowly avoids impaling himself with his own crossbow bolt while I heave the door open only to be blinded by the bright shimmering light from within.
Garil hammers away while the statue stands, greased and encased in Glim’s sticky white web. It’s cudgel falls to Brotrillisk, who is smashed to the ground but survives. Seeing this, Thrash valiantly runs around the statue and bolts into the door I just worked so hard to open!
He finds himself in a second beautifully crafted room centered on a deep, serene pool. The room shimmers as if the light itself comes from the ripples on the pool, but on inspection can be found to come from the hoard of treasures and riches within the pool itself. They are stacked so high that a natural island forms in the center, made entirely of riches.
And on the island in the center is a beautiful humanoid being, as serene and as naked as the surface of the water itself. She begins to approach the edge of treasure island calmly when Brotrillisk and Glim both rush into the room behind Thrash and I.
On further inspection it is clear that the light is not exclusively from the treasure in the room but also torches surrounding the pool. Feeling guilty that almost nobody was left battling the statue I attempted to boost Garil’s spirits by letting him know the scope of the hoard and that I could surely talk this maiden into allowing us to partake of some in exchange for everyone walking away intact. It seems to work, because Garil finally figures out how to hit a giant statue with a hammer, breaking off further chunks of the living stone. It falls again as it stands, and Thrash calls to the maiden to call off her guardian.
Can someone be impressed and nonplussed at the same time? She seems to be both, implying that she didn’t even know it was possible to open the door without defeating the golem.
Brotrillisk astutely notices this woman is not human and asks her (in Draconic, which I am fluent in) where she is from. To which she replied that she has always been here but took this form especially for us (which I appreciate). Leo’nel enters the room as well, noting that the treasure trove is filled with magical items.
Garil finally gets some assistance when Glim enlarges him to nearly equal the statue as I try to convince the maiden that we don’t need to destroy the statue to claim some of the treasure. She explains that only the combat is worthy, and even success will result in none of her hoard.
Outside, Sadron smashes at the statue with his mace, doing considerable damage before striking his own foot while the statue writhes on the ground ensnared and engreased. Garil rains down giant hammer blows and smashes the face of the statue to smithereens, obliterating the head and causing the entire statue to explode into dust. The heavy doors burst open, and the figure on the island says oh, now that we have completed the task we can talk. I ask about the treasure again, but she explains that Garil is the one who defeated the statue, and he will be the one rewarded as she approaches him.
Brotrillisk speaks again in Draconic, and she replies that ‘we are of her’ which makes sense in his dragonblooded case, but less so in mine. To Garil she extended her hand and introduces herself as IDISSE daughter of TYRREDIE and walks back to her island where she jumps into the pool in a flash of bronze. For the slightest moment we glimpse her true form, a long bronze dragon slipping into the water, to return a moment later back on the island, back in naked form holding a fine cloth presented to Garil. Leo’nel flicks a copper into the pool and she regards him balefully, although I think the gesture was understood since we weren’t summarily exsanguinated on the spot.
Still holding the cloth, Glim asks about his silver dagger, which formerly belonged to a similar dragon’s horde. Vaguely perturbed by the interruption she explains that she is young on their scale and does not know the particulars of Glim’s story, but perhaps it is of her father’s era.
Eventually she is able to present Garil with the Tabbard of the Great Crusade; a relic of considerable power provided the wearer’s alignment is sufficiently lawful. It will certainly help us on our quest, however she could not illuminate any further on Nilos other than the familiarity of the name. She is both quite young, and quite old after all.
Curiosity satisfied on both ends IDISSE reveals her true form once more and blows mightily (gigity) causing the water in the pool to rise. The water fills the chamber and we are funneled through a small hole in the ceiling, hoisted by the rising tide to the surface, where we can easily step out of a well. Noone need know Garil himself fell on his face for a dismount. From the well we can see Gil and the wagons and horses a short distance away and, Glim still yammering about the amazing chance to comport with a dragon, we reunite with our charges and our goods to formulate a plan for the upcoming coronation and what to do with our relic. (for the record, giving it away is the WORST option!)