By Beth Griese
Date: July 5, 1997
|Short, dark and hairy||Monk||
|Nory||Gnome||Illusionist / Thief||Stu Collins|
|Telaran||1/2 Elf, Buzz cut||fighter||Jim Gaynor|
|Verence Gallow||Thin human||Mystra Cleric||Kent Jenkins|
Quote of the Day:
O my golly, weve wandered into a sitcom. -- Stu Collins
To Garen Thundersson, cleric of Mielikki. From your faithful friend, Jade.
What had begun as a simple strike against bandits had led to something a good deal more serious. We stared across a pit at a door. Only a small ledge led around the pit and to the door. It stank to high Elysium of a trap. After much discussion, Verence used his power to shape a new ledge out of the stone on the opposite side of the pit. We thought we were being clever, until Verence noticed, at the bottom of this spiked pit, that illusion covered an archway right below the door we were trying to reach. As we climbed down to investigate, Telaran spotted the spikes that were ready to drop out of the door above. The door, it seemed, was a trap, and the trap was the true door. Now we really thought we were clever.
We needed that cleverness in the room at the end of the hallway we found. The room was large, with skeletons propped up at even spaces along the wall and numbers carved in black at the foot of each skeleton - 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13, all the way around the room. As we stepped inside, a mouth formed of gathered mists in the middle of the room and spoke:
One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesnt belong. One of these things is not like the others. Speak which one and go.
Not only did it not rhyme, its task seemed unlikely to me. Each of the skeletons looked pretty much the same; they were all human, none were missing any bones that I could see, every one had slightly different cobwebs between their ribs I was at a loss, until Verence and Telaran, who had been pacing around the room with their eyes glued to the floor, looked at each and shouted, Nine!
I was still at a loss. They explained to me that nine was the only number of all these that couldnt be broken up into other numbers. I admit, I was still scratching my head and trying to confirm this idea when they called out the number for magic of the room, and sure enough, skeleton #9 slid aside. I felt a bit redeemed when I found the latch trigger that would open the hidden door in the space #9 had left vacant.
Its amazing how much a tomb tells you about the man it contains. In fact, this one made it easy; whoever laid in the sarcophagus in the middle had made sure this room fairly screamed what kind of man he was. One wall was covered with a mural showing a wizard casting lightning down on an army of elves and men. Two other walls frescoes were dedicated to scenes that declared this fellows prowess in the bedroom. The fourth was filled, enough to raise my bile, with hunting trophies. All manner of strange and amazing animals, slaughtered for no reason except to decorate this trolls bier. Pixies were stuck on pins. Animals Ive never even heard of before - one was a small horse with black and white stripes on it - were decaying slowly in here instead of sharing their gifts with the forests.
Its a shame the man was long dead. I wanted to kill him.
We set up what by now is a fairly familiar routine for us in rooms like this one. Nory began hunting for traps lying in wait for us, and Verence used his gifts from Mystra to find any magic in the room. As Nory tinkered, Verence told us that one of the more ordinary of the stuffed carcasses in the room, a bear, was magical. We hardly even noticed that Lorivar approached the bear while we spoke, his dagger drawn, intending to cut the bears paws off to prevent one possible source of damage from it. Our attention was recaptured by the sizzle of power that sent Lorivar halfway across the room. The bear lurched to life and attacked us, lightning flying from its claws. I was useless against it, to my frustration; the plain metal I held in my hand wouldnt even part its fur. The best I could do was the distract it with my dagger as best I could while those with magical weapons finally laid the beast to rest.
We left the room for a while to rest and recover our wits, especially poor Lorivar, whose hair was still standing on end. When we returned to the room a few hours later, the bears body had dissolved into a pile of mucus, as if a giant snail had lain there for a time. Verence said the monster had surely been a demon. Now we were even more worried about what might lay within this sarcophagus.
As it turned out, we neednt have worried about this sarcophagus so much. When we finally threw it open, a rotted, half-gone body lurched up, Telaran took one swing with his sword, and the creature fell back into the coffin, half hewn in two. It was far too easy. Now we were really worried.
Sure enough, there was one more door we found in the room. We kicked it open, found another, plain sarcophagus, walls unadorned and a puppy. By my boots, it was a puppy sitting atop the coffin, as if he were just waiting for his master to wake up. We tried to urge it off the coffin and to us, with no luck. Nory finally threw a lasso over the little dog and pulled it over, which made it try to attack us with sharp little claws. Lorivar crushed it to the floor with one strike. The poor little body looked pathetic on the stone floor. I was just telling myself that there was no help for it, we had been given no choice, when we heard a noise that made us look again.
The little creature had reformed and was standing again, this time a little bigger, a little meaner, and looking less like a pup and more like a hellhound. Telaran and I acted with barely a word between us; he grabbed the dog and threw it into the first rooms sarcophagus, and I slammed the lid shut, and we latched the coffin closed. Verence said that it must be a wizards familiar. They had eight lives, he explained, and promised that each one would grow more fearsome. We cast a spell on the metal sarcophagus to make it hot as flame and see how many lives that would take care of.
With the unnerving backdrop of alternate thumps and growls, silence, then louder crashes and roars, we broke into the second coffin to see what it held. Inside lay only a skeleton in simple clothes, the flesh long gone from its body. If this wizard had tried to do anything to join his creations undead lives, he had failed. His creatures had outlived him. I still beat the bones into powder, just to ensure he was never going to be rising from this grave. We didnt show such rudeness to the treasure that lay with him, though - we gathered those up without a complaint.
By this time, the sounds coming from the first room were too loud to ignore, and we returned to find fur bursting from the splitting seams of the coffin. The final time, it managed to form outside of the coffin. The monster was now higher than my waist, with two heads and a scorpions tail, and it was furious at the imprisonment it had just gone through. I knew my simple sword would be useless, so I fell back and used my bow to spear it. Lorivar tried to leap onto its back, although he was thrown. This beast tore through us while we desperately hacked at it. Nory was knocked to the floor and didnt get up until Verence healed him later. Finally, though, the beasts roars faded from the echoing halls, and we took its final life. We had finally cleared out the last trace of this evil fellow, and we stumbled back out of the hallways and all the rest of the way to Arabel with a look in our eyes that screamed warning to anyone who may think of standing between us and a peaceful rest.
The next day, we all awoke in our favorite inn, the Murdered Manticore, after a long and late sleep. I had one immediate goal in mind; I spent the morning contacting the weapons vendors I trusted in town to begin the search for a sword with some magic to it, one that let we return to battles against these monsters we faced. We all met back at the Manticore for lunch, and while we ate and contemplated what we had taken from the tomb, Verence and Nory decided to crack open two scrolls that had been among the things we had gathered. I was hardly paying attention; I was talking with Telaran about his plans for training while we were in town, when our room was pitched into blackness like a starless night, with winds tearing at us from every side. I could hear all of us yelling - to each other, to the gods - and tried to reach my feet, but before I even got the chance, I found packed dirt beneath my feet where a floor had been mere seconds ago, and pitched forward into the dust.
We all looked around with shock - we were on some road near a forest, but not any forest Id ever seen before. Our only clue to what happened was the pieces of parchment still in Nory and Verences hands - their scrolls had crumbled the instant they started to read them, and we now found ourselves, our whole party intact, Mielikki-only-knew how many miles from Arabel, from Suzail, maybe even from Cormyr. We were only missing two things - Verences purse was now completely empty of coin, and his satchel also missing every piece of gold he had. Now we knew what the second scroll did. And while our party was together, our animals - including Trellant and my and Borreaus dogs, Chyp and Dayle - were not here. I can only hope the good folks at the Manticore will take care of them all while were gone.
Damn all magicians to Hades, and their curses with them. I still dont even have a good sword.
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