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Horse tales

Nosila’s Journal

We reached the cairn, and discovered a way in, descending rough-cut steps down to the sarcophagus of a dwarven warrior, guarded by four statues in the corners. As we walked in, Maiyr quickly saw a crack in the opposite wall, and we followed him into the passage (despite him shouting, “Here, Monster Monster!” and getting slashed by an axe-blade trap for his pains).

Despite the bickering between Maiyr and Darvin, we made it safely past the trap and into a larger space with two passages exiting. Or, rather, two larger passages; we noticed several small openings at floor level. I asked Darvin to shine his lantern up one, and saw glowing red eyes rapidly advancing! We had quite a battle with many large and unnatural rats, eventually killing them all (I owe Maiyr a healing potion), and choosing to explore the right-hand passage.

The passage quickly warmed, and led to a shaft with glowing magma at the bottom. We could see an opening about ten feet above the stuff, but decided to check out the other passage before risking our lives in this one. Sprocket set an alarm spell as we passed through the rats’ room a second time, and we headed down the left-hand passage, practicing our language skills on each other. I can’t speak elf. No one else can speak goblin. Eventually, the new passage ended in heat and magma, too - but this time, a stone bridge offered a way over the flowing stuff!

As we walked toward the stone bridge, two blubbery humanoid figures approached from the other side. Maiyr charged at them, then suddenly turned and ran away! I swore at him in goblin as he passed by, then attacked the things on the bridge with Darvin. I expected Sprocket to hang back, but what happened to “Here, Monster Monster”?! The fight on the bridge didn’t go well; first, the things didn’t seem to take as much damage as they should, and second, Darvin suddenly got sick.

One of Sprocket’s spells hit the creature in front of me, and I took advantage of its sudden confusion to throw it over the side into the magma. It didn’t come back, thank Ubtao! Darvin, still throwing up, ran off the bridge, a BOOM from Sprocket to encourage him. I turned my attention to the last creature, grabbing it to throw it over the edge, and slipped on Darvin’s mess.

That was a bad moment! I hit the railing and did not quite fall over the edge; while I regained my balance, Sprocket cast something that caused the creature to slump. I didn’t take any chances, pitching the thing into the magma while Darvin finally stopped throwing up - and Maiyr finally returned. Men! We regrouped, Sprocket cast “light” on Darvin’s helmet so he’d stop worrying about his lantern, and we walked up the passage beyond the bridge.

We reached a chamber full of bones, and a bed in the corner. Empty! But we’d learned that was rarely the true case, so I stayed in the doorway, scanning the ceiling, while the others searched. Maiyr threw a bone at the bed, and I caught a glimpse of the demon-thing appearing just before the whole room went black! There was something sickening about that darkness, too, but we had to keep going... the darkness lifted, but the demon disappeared.

Sprocket’s rat let her know that the thing was still in the chamber - invisible! So I blocked the doorway as best I could, listening, and watching for movement in the bones on the floor. I heard steps behind us in the passage, but when Sprocket reassured me that the creature was still here, I hoped for the best and stayed. Maiyr swung his sword wildly about while Darvin drank another potion - and the creature reappeared and touched the elf!

We all attacked, hoping to get a shot before the thing disappeared yet again. Sprocket blinded it momentarily with a blanket from the bed, and, when it seemed to be too fast for us to hit with our weapons, caused it to slip on the appearance of some banana peels on the floor. We were just able to finish the demon off before she regained her feet. That gnome and her rat saved the day! I wrapped the body and its head in another blanket to take back to the lord’s keep, while the others looted the room.

Finally, we returned to the entrance of the dwarven cairn. I am glad we cleansed it of this evil! We were arguing about whether to stay a night and recover, or head out immediately, when Darvin dropped at our feet. Maiyr, though looking bad, took first watch, while Sprocket was overcome by curiosity and unlocked the chest they’d found in the demon’s room. Poor Sprocket! She was hit by some trap, but did count the treasure before falling asleep.

The next morning, we slung the demon’s body over Darvin’s horse, and Darvin, too. He still hadn’t woken up from his injuries, but at least he was stable! That horse came in handy, as we were able to make it back to where we’d started by nightfall. The lava lake was still steaming and bubbling, and had a new addition: a ghost of our poor halfling, circling the lake and staring in! Showing him the demon’s body had no effect, poor guy!

As we watched the sad sight, I was startled to see a short humanoid creature that seemed to be made of molten lava crawl from the lake and run off. I could have sworn that it looked at me - and giggled! Worried that it was some new disaster, or else some form of our former dwarven friend, I quickly unloaded the horse and told the others I’d be right back. The thing was running, but Darvin’s horse quickly gained on it. I asked it who or what it was - and got another giggle in return!

We followed it up a path and right at a farmhouse; horrified, I shouted Fire! Even as it set the barn ablaze. I felt so helpless! How do you fight a thing that is made of fire, when you have no water at hand? I did shoot at it while it danced before the burning barn, and it charged us. It was way too hot to be near for long, and it burned Darvin’s horse badly, too. That horse is well-trained, indeed, but was quite glad to turn toward the river at that point!

Sadly, the thing did not give chase. It headed for the house, and despite my shouted warnings, it also attacked a farmer, turning him to ash! As it ran into the house, Maiyr and Sprocket arrived. Maiyr went to rally the farmers (who had given up on saving the barn), while Sprocket cast a spell that looked just like a water elemental. While she and Maiyr herded the thing with buckets of water and the “elemental”, I got the horse close to the burning house and shouted at the screaming children to jump!

Thank Ubtao there were only two to catch; my second child barely bade it. I moved away from the house with them on the horse with me, ready to bolt if the thing came our way, but their mother got to us first, and I told them all to run for the river. They disappeared into the night, and the farmers helped Maiyr get a barrel down to the river, while Sprocket kept the thing safely in the house with an imaginary rainfall. Finally, it bolted from the front door, ignored my arrowshot, and got hit by a magic missile from Sprocket.

The thing ran away! But I feared what more it might do, and raced the horse at Sprocket to get her away in case it came back. She quickly cast another magic missile at the thing - and it collapsed! We galloped up to the thing as it puddled into ooze, and Maiyr and the farmers dumped their barrel over the remains to be sure. I felt for the farmers, but we knew we needed to get back to Darvin. Promising to send help, we headed back for the lava lake.

We got to town and headed right for the keep, calling to the guards that it was very important to see the lord despite it being early dawn. Around Maiyr’s sudden cravings for ale, we managed to tell the story and show him the body, and we were all much relieved to know that this evil was gone! We also told him of the battle near the lava lake, both to help the farmers and to warn others of that new danger. Finally, we got Darvin to bed, Maiyr to the tavern, the horse to the stable, and I went to sleep!

Later that day, I woke up and headed to the tavern myself. I had heard that the town was now safe from the demon’s evil influence, but I still got Maiyr to have the first sip of every ale, which he was happy to do! The gnome behind the counter apologized a lot for what had happened, too, and gave us free ale and food (not sure about the food but Sprocket didn’t seem to mind!). Darvin finally showed up, looking a little better, and asked about his poor horse.

I decided to wait him out a little, and every time he asked about the horse, I ordered him an ale. The very drunken elf, and Sprocket with an odd sense of humor, kept telling him bits of what happend to the horse, which only worried him more. He was up to ten mugs in front of him before he gave up and drank one! I did tell him about borrowing his steed, then, and apologized for getting the animal hurt as best I could. Sprocket told stories and the fighters got very drunk. I giggled at them all. I was not drunk!

Next thing I know, we were out in the street, following the drunken elf back to the lava lake to “throw stones at the halfling”... so I whispered to Sprocket to make an illusion of one instead! This was a mistake, although a really funny one. Instead of throwing stones, Maiyr pulled his swords and attacked! We had to keep finding swords because he kept flinging them into the darkness - thank Ubtao no one else was about! He also sliced an ale mug in half - while Darvin was holding it. Sprocket came up with the idea of making the halfling “ghost” run into Maiyr’s body and he did NOT stab himself, whew!

Eventually, Sprocket and Darvin went to bed. I sat up with Maiyr until he sobered up and stopped waiting with drawn swords for the halfling to run back out of him. As the sun came up, we stopped by the stables to put charcoal handprints all over Darvin’s horse (a very patient horse), then went to bed.

Later that morning, I asked if the lord’s friends had arrived. I was told - later today! So I walked out to the burned farmstead, and found no one. Back at the keep, I asked the lord about helping that family, then donated the cost of building a new farm for them. I don’t know what more we could have done, yet feel bad they lost their place! Sprocket had been buying and selling treasure, and made out quite well! I don’t know what to do with so much money, and now we have a special bag to hold items without actually feeling the weight.

Finally, the lord’s friends have arrived. We can leave for the lich’s lair, and destroy it, and put my husband at peace. Ubtao bless our task!

Posted by Kate on March 6, 2005, 09:33 | Nosila’s Journal