January 7, 2007

Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 17: The Mighty Paladin Screams

By Douglas E. Gogerty

We had a good rest in the entry of Nebrion's tower. Once again, I slept alone in a nice bed. Nebrion's apprentice did not have any use for hers, so I helped myself. None of the ladies accepted my offer to join me, so I slept well.

There were still plenty of places in Nebrion's tower to explore. We had not opened the door at the back of the room with the carpet-mending machine. That was the only place that we had not attempted. Whatever we were looking for had to be behind that door. Naturally, Nebrion also had one of his henchpeople put a trap on it. It was clear that there were places in Nebrion's tower he did not want people to go. Clearly, beyond this door was one such place.

I easily disarmed the spike trap, and unlocked the door. It would have kept out your ordinary peasants, but it was no match for the likes of me. Once the door was open, we still had plenty of work ahead of us.

As Gudrid opened the door and Jean stood at the ready, a pack of tiger-headed rakshasas attacked us. These creepy demons seemed to spring out of the woodwork as we were quickly surrounded.

Each one attempted to cast a spell or another, but before they could finish, Jean or Gudrid's sword stroke or a bolt from my crossbow interrupted them. However, with cat-like moves they would pounce to a new location. This kept us in continuous action. In fact, we were beginning to wear down when the first one fell.

When that first rakshasa disappeared in a puff of smoke, it began a chain reaction. A second fell and then a third. Puff of smoke followed puff of smoke until there was nothing left but a pile of rakshasa eyes. The cat eyes left behind were creepy, but the puff of scent they left behind had a hint of lavender. Not one member of the party was expecting that.

In all of the commotion, we had not even had a chance to look at the room. Like all wizards' rooms, this one was lined with bookshelves. I think these sorcerer types wish to give the impression that they are knowledgeable. However, does anyone look at the titles? They could all be "The Loves of Lady Chatterford" or "William and Theodore's Excellent Adventure". They might not be tomes of learning at all.

Continuing to look around the room, I spotted in the back corner a stairway leading up. That was a good sign. Perhaps this was the way to get farther into the tower. The only problem with this route is there was an enormous red dragon blocking the way.

The dragon did not move towards us. Perhaps it was blind, deaf, or both. We were certainly making enough noise. I told Glaf that since he did not have any luck with the apprentice, perhaps he should ask the dragon to dance. He was not amused.

Jean and Gudrid prepared themselves to fight the mighty dragon. They had collected some potions during our trip, and these would immunize them against almost anything the dragon could throw at them. They were suddenly fearless and fast. They took potions to toughen them and make them stronger. When we were all ready, we struck.

With the first blows of Jean and Gudrid, the dragon fell. I think it was depressed and just committed suicide. It did not put up a fight at all. Further supporting this conjecture was the lack of treasure. This dragon had none. It was the saddest excuse for a dragon ever.

Glaf guessed that it was simply a trick by Nebrion to scare us off. Glaf continued to speculate that Nebrion was concentrating all his efforts out in the city and had little magic left for internal defenses. Glaf sure knows how to rain on a good parade.

With the "mighty" dragon vanquished, I ran up the stairs to find another trapped and locked door. While this door was a little trickier than the last, it was still no match for my skills. I had the trap off and the door unlocked in no time. However, I was going to let one of the women go first. "Ladies first" is my motto.

Jean rushed up the stairs, opened the door, and rushed into the room. She gave a horrified shriek that caused us to rush up to help. No one had ever heard our mighty paladin scream like that. When we reached the top, we found her covered in rats. There were dozens. Perhaps, there were as many as one hundred. It was very creepy and I excused her for her scream.

Nevertheless, they were just rats. They were not rodents of unusual size. They were simply "run of the mill" rats. There were lots of them, but one strike and they were dead. In fact, I got out my dagger and short sword to help exterminate them.

It is surprising how tiring it is to kill that many rats. I was exhausted by the time the last one died. Like the last room, we did not look around at all until we were finished with the rats.

This was another typical wizards' room. Several bookshelves filled with books. There were a few other gizmos scattered about. He had astrolabes, globes and other do-dads strewn around the room. To me it all looked like useless junk.

As we usually do, we each searched the room. I was perusing a bookshelf on the far wall. In it there were a few scrolls that appeared to be magic. I grabbed those to give to Glaf. That is when I spotted a hidden door. I thought that perhaps it was a secret entrance to Nebrion's lair. Thus, I pointed it out to the other members of our party.

We were all a bit exhausted from our fight with the scores of rats, so we rested a bit before entering the door. If it was the door to Nebrion's room, we wanted to be ready for him.

Since this door led to an unknown locale, entering it was going to be very dangerous. Thus, the plan was to send me in. They knew that they stomped around like huge beasts, and if I could sneak in and check it out, it would be a safer way to go.

I could think of lots of objections to that sentiment, but I reluctantly agreed. I crawled through the trapdoor and found myself at a dead end. By pressing slightly on the wall in front of me, it gave way and I went tumbling into the room.

I briefly thanked my gods that it was not Nebrion's room. Clumsily falling into my enemy's room was not how I wished to die. I was almost as loud as Jean marching down the city streets. I could tell I flushed as I picked myself up off the ground.

I found myself in a very unwizard like room. It was a plain and mostly empty. The one item the room did contain was a large wooden chest. It was placed in the middle with the lock facing away from the entrance. There were no bookshelves on these walls.

However, there was no obvious way back to where I had come. Eventually, I spotted a switch plate on the floor that opened the secret passage. This allowed me to rejoin my compatriots and give them the news.

One by one, we all entered the trap door to explore the room. Certainly, Nebrion would not leave this room unguarded. Some beastie would surely jump out of the darkness and attack us.

As Jean reached the chest in the middle of the room, that is exactly what happened. A gang of spiders descended from the ceiling. Once again, these were not ordinary spiders -- these were huge. They were going to be difficult to vanquish.

Be that as it may, we did take care of them rather easily. Glaf was poisoned, but Thorvald took care of that with some spell or potion. Thorvald took care of the minor nicks and scrapes that Jean and Gudrid had. Naturally, I emerged from the encounter without a scratch.

Gudrid was anxious to see what was in the chest. Thus, she ran to it quickly and set off the trap protecting it. A noxious cloud of some gas filled the room. Sometimes the amateurs can really ruin a perfectly good melee. Once the gas dissipated, Thorvald had to use his magic again to restore our health.

The chest was locked, so Gudrid would have had to wait for me anyway. I believe Glaf chastised her for her haste while I unlocked the chest.

The chest had no valuables in it. It was practically empty. It seemed odd to have so much security for this chest. However, its sole contents were very important to us. Thus, they were likely important to Nebrion as well. In the chest, we discovered a bundle of carpet fragments. Could this be the missing bundle? Would we be able to have it out with Nebrion after all? Gudrid's anxiousness was beginning to affect me. I was ready to rush down and take on Nebrion too.

Posted by deg at January 7, 2007 8:23 PM

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