Delzimmer - Chapter 5

Adventure Date: October 13, 2012

Last Updated: June 8, 2013

Episode 5-Halfling Treasure Island

Minstrels and bards cantillate on the deeds of the legendary hero groups. Sages and historians illustrate them by written word; historically accurate as done by Elminster the Younger or the sexually enriched authenticity as shown by Lord Tornado No. Either way, their exploits are passed on; tales of battles glorious and deeds victorious. There will be arguments and debates regarding which band of heroes are most deserving. Some will avow the Companions of Triple H; some the Seekers of Faerun or the Shadow Stalkers, each with their own famous Battlestar heroine. Still others swoon to the tales of the Brigade of Destiny or to the exploits of Lucky Jack and the Redeemers.

Regardless, all can agree that of all the misfit groups; (including even the goblin Noworg’s band of stooges), the most misfit is known to us as the Delzimmer Six. All will discard their different opinions and gather round to listen to these tales; if only to chortle and receive hope. Hope, that if this mangy bunch of misfits can gain fame and glory, then so too can anyone. These are the lunch bucket heroes, the common working man's fortune hunters. So here now is one of their tales; can you recognize yourself in it?

Rath ignored the nauseating stench. He was oblivious to the vomit that had flowed along his chain shirt, covering it in a sticky smelly film; the reasons being that his thoughts were awhirl. But this was not surprising as his mind was always in a chaotic flux, interspersed with short random periods of sanity. The massive orc half-breed was only dimly aware of the other two present in the room; of the incessant buzzing that was their speaking together.

He turned yellow, demonic-shaped eyes to the hallway. There waiting were the females. His mind laboured to make sense of them. Ah, yes; the red-haired priestess, Leeloo; a scrawny, fragile rape fodder, but very useful. Beside the cleric, almost hidden in that cloak of hers stood the white-haired drow, Irrstra. Very sneaky. She had the ability to transform into a spider and the habit of stripping herself naked; in public and at the most inopportune moments. At times somewhat useful. A vision of him crushing the life of a spider surfaced in his mind. Oops! That's no spider, that's my battle companion. Sorry. Deep-chested, almost maniacal laughter rumbled out of the barbarian only to cease abruptly as his gaze took in the last female.

Golden-haired Lady Antebellum Eversong was waiting patiently for the men to finish up their search of the room. They had finally managed to kill the mimic and she was impatient to continue on.

The sight of the short gnome bard purged the chaos from Rath's thoughts. Rationality returned. An almost forgotten memory emerged; that of a beautiful blond haired female face, loving blue eyes and the sound of a lullaby. For this reason and for the fact that she easily accepted him, he regarded her with deference.

"Hold yourself together for a bit longer, boy!" the words returned his attention to the room. In mid-laugh he spun around to face the old grey-haired human. Clint Hardwood was peering at him through squinting steel-greyed eyes.

"No time for this. So snap out of it, boy, or I'll have to slap you out of it", continued the dusk blade.

Normally, such a threat would have sent Rath into a killing rage. But Clint was the only one of the group tall enough to fearlessly lock eyes with himand all without having to look up. Rath respected fearlessness. Combined with his admiration for the old man's fighting skills, the rage instead, became a growl, exposing longish incisors. Not just the sound of any growl but an actual growl of warning to stop pushing.

"By Moradin's beaded beard, everyone, just stand down!" These words of order were spoken by the muscular dwarf standing by a chest watching them both. "Save it for our enemies. Now help me with this."

Roryn Rockbottom was an experienced battle wise paladin. As such, due to his lawful nature and his gold dwarven culture, the he felt it his duty to hold this band of misfits together. He needed to keep the peace between them and somehow, at the same time, wield them into an effective fighting unit. A task to challenge even a greater-god.

He clanged his war axe against his shield, the metallic sound forcing Rath and Clint to look away from each other, towards him. "Help me with this", he indicated the chest. "We'll need to take it to Irrstra to…"

He got no further, as with another growl, Rath stepped up and without warning smashed down his great axe against the lock, shattering it. Then he jerked open the lid.

Clint choked a chuckle. "Oh, well done, boy. Why wait for a locksmith, eh? Just get the job done. But next time warn me so I can leave the room. There's magic in that chest. Now let's see what the ladies can figure out."

The chest held 5 vials of cure potions, pieces of jewellery and a scroll case. The case contained a parchment with undecipherable writing. Leeloo used her magic to comprehend. She translated-"treasure to come. Create false beacons." The message ended with a sketch of a dagger with a lily wrapped handle.

"Well, now we know who was responsible for the plot to light up the false lighthouse beacons. That dagger symbol is the sign of the Quiet Shadows thieves' guild" Lady A informed the rest. They are ruthless and unforgiving."

"So am I, Lady, so am I" responded Clint. "Can't worry about them now. Let's finish up."

The remaining two unexplored rooms turned out to be full of garbage, clutter and broken utensils. Careful searching revealed nothing of value and so, led by the drowess with Rath, rambling to himself, close behind, the Six headed up to the next level of the lighthouse.

They arrived at a hallway. It opened up into a space with doors on every wall. All were closed tight, except for the one directly ahead at the end of the hall. It was partially opened and beside it, a steel ladder was attached to the wall.

Motioning the others to wait, Irrstra glided ahead, invisible in the shadows. In a short time, she gave the 'all clear' signal. The group approached to see the remains of what could have been a library. Mouldy, wet books were torn, ripped and strewed about. All was a shambles. All was ruined. All was jumbled together.

"There, in that corner", pointed Clint, "an aura of magic." Roryn and Leeloo approached and began to sift through a pile of broken bookcases. Buried beneath the rubble was a haversack. "Well, that's handy."

Inside they found small sacks of gold coins and a scroll case. Eagerly, Leeloo opened it.

"It's a map," she declared, disappointment in her voice. She had been hoping for some kind of magical scroll. Hey, it’s a map of this island and has a spot marked on it, east of the lighthouse along the coastline. See."

"Keep it", suggested the dwarf "If we have time, we can check it out. See what's there."

Taking the haversack and the coins, they proceeded to investigate the other rooms. One seemed to be a bedroom; probably where the lighthouse attendants slept. But it was now trashed. Cots had been wrecked, sheets and pillows shredded. Another room contained desks, drawers, documents and maps all of which had been razed and torn.

Still a third contained a small shrine to Yondalla, the Protector goddess of the Hin race. It was obvious that it had been desecrated. Her symbol had been defaced. Excrement, urine stains and garbage covered the small altar. The desecration greatly angered Leeloo, who flushed as red as her hair, hiding her over-freckle ness. “If I find out who was responsible, they are dead!”

A quick spell instantly cleaned the altar and then a prayer hymn as she sprinkled holy water brought the altar to a fine sheen which seemed to glow with a faint, pale white light. It had been re-consecrated.

Rath did not care. The only deity he concerned himself with was He Who Never Sleeps, Gruumsh, ruler of all orc kind; and only because he had apersonal pact with the One-Eyed

They entered the last room. Halfling sized, tattered priestly robes and vestments were shredded and scattered about. Nothing seemed of interest until Leeloo jerked as a puppet and was turned around to a dark corner. Reaching the corner; acting as if someone else was in control of her actions, she began rummaging through the destroyed clothing and pulled out a wand.

"She blesses us", she exclaimed holding the wand high. "She blesses my consecration. Look, a wand of curing. 'Yondalla's Touch'. We thank you goddess."

"Amen" responded Roryn and Lady A. Clint shrugged. "Doesn't come close to making my day."

Rath just scratched at his buttocks while making incomprehensive sounds and Irrstra slipped out of the room.

Her keen elfish ears had detected some scampering. The noises seem to originate from the ceiling above the ladder. Scanning closely she discerned the outline of a trap door in the ceiling. Climbing up silently she determined that the door was latched and locked from the other side. Listening closely she was able to make out words in goblin. They sounded frightened.

As the others approached, she mimicked for silence and mouthed 'goblins' while pointing at the ceiling. The others could now hear the scampering as well. The drow announced herself.

"Goblins", she shouted. "Surrender now and your lives will be spared. Otherwise your lives are forfeit." The commotion in the ceiling increased. There were much squeaking, cries of fear and the sounds of running feet. The door remained closed and locked.

Clint now cried out. "Are you feeling lucky, punks? Best open up, like the lady said."

Rath began to tremble excitedly. Whenever Clint used the word 'punk', they usually got to kill something. And right now he really felt like killing something. But then he always felt like killing something.

"Enough talk!" he thundered. He raced to the ladder with the full intention of smashing open the trap door and slaughtering goblins.

"Wait" clamoured Leeloo. Her calming voice had the same effect on him as if he was under a hold spell. The freckled priestess called upon her warlock abilities. An energetic eldritch blast manifested. The ceiling door exploded inwards revealing the room above. As soon as she had a line of sight, Lady A drew out a wand and spoke the command word.

"Dormir, dormir, dormir." The sound of bodies thudding to the floor could be heard as the sleep magic took effect. “Now Rath.”

Ignoring the debris and dust that reigned all around him, Rath reached the top and poked through the ceiling. As expected it was the top of the lighthouse; the space where the guiding lamp was kept. All now was ruins. There was glass and mirror shrapnel scattered all about. In the middle of the mess, five pre-adult goblins cowered in a corner while seven others lay scattered about, sleeping the dreams of innocence. Spotting them, Rath bellowed out, “Stop chattering or I will kill you. “His mouth foamed. Whether or not the goblins understood his orc words was moot because as soon as he began to foam the chattering intensified, driving Rath into more of a rage. He hauled himself up and readied his great axe. About to charge he felt a slap on his arm. There was Lady A. She had quickly ascended the ladder after him and the nimble gnome quickly caught up. Her violet eyes stared knowingly into his yellowed ones.

"They are still children, Rath. I'll handle this." Her touch on his arm was pacifying. The pent-up rage dissipated. His thoughts became rational. She was the memory of his singing blonde mother. Astonished by this knowledge, he could barely nod as her wand put the rest of the goblins to sleep in a heap.

By now, the rest of the Six had climbed up and crowded into the room. Clint and Irrstra immediately began to tie up the sleeping goblins.

"What a mess", stated Roryn. They destroyed the true lighthouse signal lamp and mirror. Is it fixable?"

"I should be able to mend it in the morning", replied Leeloo, scanning the wreckage.

"It's settled then. We tie up and gag those young goblins. Then we rest here. It's been a long day."

Lady A drew Rath to the side. "Here, clean yourself up." She handed him a bar of gnome special alchemical soap. "This will get rid of the stink and those stains. Then we get some sleep."

Rath paused in his puzzled examination of the scented soap, never having smelled anything like it. Growing up in the orc tribe he had only washed whenever he had to swim during a chase or hunt and in more recent time, in the lands of humans, he only used the skin-peeling, caustic lye types.

"Then you will sing a bit, as we rest?"

"You want me to sing?"

"Yes. Something soft."

"All right then. For you Rath."

And so it was that the hulky half-breed fell into slumber listening to a voice so reminiscent of his mother. And he was not alone in this.

The next morning saw the Six break their fast, secure the young goblins and mend the lighthouse lamps. Then they gathered round to discuss future endeavours.

"Well the lighthouse is now secured. The Halflings will have to send out another crew to operate it. Question is what to do now. The ship won't be returning for another 2-day. Any suggestions”, queried Roryn?

“We have this map of the island” replied Lady A, after no one spoke up. ”I say we find the ‘X’. There must be a reason it’s marked.”

Clint shrugged in agreement. Leeloo and Irrstra nodded. Rath just grunted. Anything Lady A wanted was fine; hopefully he would get the chance to kill something.

And so the Delzimmer Six set out, guided by Lady A and the map. Much to Rath’s chagrin they encountered nothing worthwhile for him to cleave. It took most of the day, trekking through the wooded areas of the island but they finally arrived at the indicated spot. They found themselves standing on the shore line, peering down, where a hundred feet below the surging sea, waves crashed into the bare rocks.

Irrstra’s eagle eyes noticed a peculiarity. “There’s a cave-like opening about a hundred feet down in the shore cliff. But it’s low enough that most of it is underwater.”

“Well that’s the X” remarked Lady A. “We should investigate.”

“The cliff rocks are too smooth and slippery for climbing down” observed Roryn. “We’ll have to take the launches. Do we have enough rope to reach them?”

No one had thought to bring extra rope. “Well youngins, chalk it up to inexperience. Lesson to learn from your mistakes” commented Clint.

“We will just go back, collect the rope and return”. Roryn was pragmatic.

And so they did. By the time they returned, night had fallen and it was decided to spend the night and descend in the morning. They had finished a trail meal, set a small campfire and settled down for the night.

Roryn and Leeloo had the watch. Both of them heard small cries of pain, along with some trashing, emanating from some dense underbrush just outside the campfire’s light. Immediately on guard, they began to quietly wake the others, just as a latterly dressed woman emerged from the copse. She collapsed just as the dwarf paladin and the cleric raced up to her.

Roryn laid hands upon her, infusing her with positive energy, healing her wounds. She stirred and opened her eyes. As he helped steady her to her feet, she spoke.

“Oh, thank you kind people. You have saved me. You have rescued me.”

“Who are you? How did you come to be here? What happened to you?” The questions rolled out from the puzzled paladin; puzzled because he sensed an evil about her. But only a slight evil, as if it lay under a thick blanket.

“My name is Sarah, Sarah from Halruaa. Two weeks ago, my ship, the Golden Hind, was wrecked off this coast. What we thought was the lighthouse fooled us. My companions and crew either drowned or killed by the aquatic ogres; the merrow, who infest these waters. I alone survived. I have been wandering this island, avoiding the ogres, goblins and other monsters. There is a cave entrance that the ogres use. Again, thank you for rescuing me.”

Leeloo frowned. The red-haired cleric’s truth sense informed her that Sarah was lying; lying about everything except the cave entrance. By now the others had arrived and were witnesses to the interaction.

Clint squinted. “You know youngins, for a poor starving girl, she sure has a huge magical aura surrounding her. Kinda suspicious no?”

Lady Eversong took a step back. “She also has an immense illusion glamour upon her”, she shouted.

“And lying to us” barked out Leeloo, as she prepared to cast a spell.

It was Clint’s experience that led him to strike the first blow. The fact that ‘Sarah’ had a magical aura of illusion as well as lying made him react before the others. As the others realized that she was not honest with them and were preparing themselves, his great sword was drawn and already slicing into ‘Sarah’. Time for the truth, PunK!”

A blow that would have severed any normal human female merely shattered the illusion.

Standing before them was an ugly crone. The hag’s green skin was totally wrinkled and wart covered. Its snarl displayed sharp yellowed teeth; its hatred-filled red eyes nearly covered by greasy, shaggy, unkempt, long bone white hair. It screamed out and several things happened quickly.

Leeloo’s spell filled the heroes with an improved ability to strike; a blessing from her deity. Three huge merrow gave out giant roars as they emerged from the bushes in response to the hag’s scream. They were huge lumbering beasts, each over 9 feet tall, each weighing over half a ton. All three launched javelins.

The hag began to turn invisible. “Not this time” shouted Irrstra. Using her talents, she outlined the disappearing hag in light. Lady A hummed a tune. Those around her were inspired to greater effort.

Two javelins struck Roryn. Ignoring the pain, he pulled them out, struck his dwarven axe against his shield, loud enough to shake his braided beard and with a cry of ‘MOR-A-DIN’, he charged his three racial enemies.

The way Clint spoke the word ‘PunK’ Rath knew that killing was imminent. Immediately he entered a rage. His mind went static. As Clint’s sword drew off the green hag’s illusion, he had already raised his great axe. He was only dimly aware of Leeloo’s blessing grace. His mind was just aware of Lady A’s song inspiring him to victory. He saw the hag disappear and then reappear as Irrstra’s glow outlined her. He viewed all this through a red haze. His great axe had already begun its sideways chop. In his rage, he did not feel the third javelin piercing his shoulder. Powered by incredible strength, the barbarian’s axe encountered no resistance as it sliced through the hag’s neck, severing the head and sending it hurting away trailing an arc of green blood and ichors, like a comet. “Gholk’osh Gruumsh” he bellowed as the lifeless torso collapsed to the ground, stinking liquids pulsing out of the neck. The kill lust still upon him, he searched for others to crush and spotted the three approaching ogres. Mouth foaming, axe raised, he screamed his battle challenge and charged.

Roryn was a master at fighting ogres and their kin. The dwarf knew how to use their large bulk and weight against them. As he reached the oncoming ogres, he swerved once, allowing the already descending club to miss then swerved back to slam his axe into the monster’s crotch. As it doubled over, screeching out its hurt, he rammed the spear end of his axe deep into the creature’s heart. Spinning, he allowed his shield to take the blow of the second ogre’s club, using his leg strength and low center of gravity to remain upright in place. This allowed him to free his axe and swing it into the ogre’s knee cap, slicing through muscle and bone, crippling it. As it lurched in agony, a horizontal swing sliced through its carotid arteries. Choking and gagging on its own blood, it crumpled; as its life fluids pulsed out onto the grass. He turned to face the remaining ogre, but by then Rath had arrived.

The remaining ogre was huge and massive, but then the half-orc was no slouch himself. With the momentum of the charge empowering him, he crashed into the ogre, knocking it back a few steps. His rage allowed him to ignore the shoulder hit of the ogre’s club. Taking the hit, his great axe descended on the ogre’s skull, splitting it in twain, stopping only when the blade reached its hips. “Gholk’osh Gruumsh”, he bellowed out again. Then still viewing the world through a red haze, covered in blood, bone and brain bits he looked for something else to kill Anything would do.

He felt a tap on his knee. Growling, he raised his axe to strike at the irritant and suddenly froze. There standing beside him, looking up with concerned eyes; eyes that he remembered from long ago, was Lady Eversong.

“It’s all over now dear” he heard the long forgotten motherly voice. “Come. Let’s have Leeloo take a look at those wounds.” She took his hand. At her touch, the last remnants of his rage ebbed out, the red haze vanished. She would be the only companion to have that effect on him. He meekly followed her lead to the others, now beginning to be aware of the pain and damage his body had endured in the combat.

Clint and Irrstra were examining the corpse of the hag; Leeloo and Roryn doing the same to the ogres. The paladin, using the grace of Moradin had infused himself with divine energy, healing his wounds.

“Leeloo” insisted Lady A, “see what can be done for my young Rath here.” As the priestess did as asked, Rath’s mind became absorbed in counting the freckles on her face, but her movements made it impossible for him to get past seven. This frustrated him.

He snarled, exposing his longish sharp canines. “Hold still or I rape.”

“Rath!” Lady A’s sharp call drew his attention from the freckles. Arms crossed, stomping her foot, she glared at him. “No! Now behave.”

He hung his head shamefully as the cleric applied healing touches to his serious wounds. Then still abashed, he left without thanks.

“He’s a strange one, that, unpredictable, dangerous, crazy.” commented Leeloo.

“He’s just a boy missing his mother” replied the bard, fondly watching the barbarian’s retreating back.” He has a good heart.”

“Yes? Well, he never threatens you with rape or worse, does he?”

Lady A chuckled. “Like I said…a good heart.”

“Well anything?” asked Clint of the dwarf.

“No, nothing” responded Roryn. The biggest one, the one Rath split in two, just had this dented horn.

“Speaking of which, here he is now, all fixed up by our cleric friend” retorted the older man. Clint laid a hand on Rath’s shoulder. “Well done boy. Maybe a little more finesse next time; a bit less brute force or ya goin keep getting clobbered. We’ll work on your defensive skills. Still well done.”

Rath straightened and grinned demonically. The praise from this veteran warrior made him feel pleasant, like a good kill, like watching his enemies’ blood gushing out.

“So, what did you find?” Roryn continued.

Irrstra answered.” A belt with 3 keys. Interesting enough because hags usually dominate ogres and keys are used to open locks.”

“So where the ogres are, the hag has been and we can unlock what she had access to.”

“Me thinks that what the map ‘X’ marks.” contributed Lady A as she and Leeloo joined the others. Where the merrows are and now we have access.”

“So our plan has not changed then. We continue as before. Let us rest now and continue as already decided.”

And so it was that the next morning they had lowered themselves to the cliff cave. Irrstra led the way, swimming in the rough waters from the boat to the cave. She had taken an elixir of swimming and Leeloo had cast a message spell on her so they could keep in touch.

The drow scout was able to swim under water into the cave entrance. Inside the cave, the slope rose 80 feet out of the water onto a sandy beach area with a fairly large tunnel leading out into darkness. Gasping for breath, she reported her findings to Leeloo. Then as she waited for the others, she silently moved up to the tunnel to scout around.

According to plan, the others reached the beach head; some swimming on their own, others being towed. Upon arriving, they crept quietly, following Irrstra. The scout had heard motion from down the tunnel

Peering around the corner of the tunnel, she saw that it continued south for a long stretch. It narrowed to a 10 foot width and at the 60 foot mark it connected with a west tunnel. It continued for another 30 feet where it turned westwards. What she saw emerging from the west junction tunnel were two large sea aquatic ogres, each carrying an immense wooden chest on their shoulders. They turned and plodded along the south tunnel.

“Quick-“she reported what she saw. “After them.” She raced down the tunnel. Rath was the first to follow. Here was another chance to kill. The drow was fast, but the barbarian’s muscular legs allowed him to match her stride. They had advanced halfway when Irrsrta’s experience made her stop. She had noticed something odd about the tunnel floor.

“Wait!’ she halted Rath. Snooping down and examining closely, she could see how it was set up. Deftly, she sprung it. “A trap!” She had collapsed the floor to reveal a 10 foot square pit trap. It was 10 feet deep and embedded with sharp spikes and stakes. It covered the tunnel, wall to wall. Meanwhile the ogres were making good their escape. “We’ll have to jump it. Wait for the others and help them across.” With that she took a running jump across the pit and continued the chase.

By now the others had caught up. “Whoa. What’s this?” exclaimed Lady A.

Rath had a moment of clarity to remember Irrstra’s instructions. “Rath help” he stated simply. Without warning he picked up the gnome and before she could protest, launched her across the gap. Realizing that she was now hurling through the air, the nimble bard tucked in and timed a tumble to land on her feet, crouched to absorb the fall. “What the abyss …” began LeeLoo. Barely had she spoken, when a huge hand covered her mouth and another gripped underneath her crotch. Powerful muscles lifted her up and she found herself flying across the pit. Not as agile as lady A, screaming,she landed hard on the other side, sliding along the floor. Rath turned to the remaining companions.

Clint held out his hand. “It’s all right boy. Roryn and I can manage.” Both had bemused and amused expressions. Both took running jumps to clear the pit and continued on. Rath found himself alone. With a roar, fearing he would be too late to register a kill, he made a standing jump easily clearing the pit and followed the others.

Irrstra had come within cross bow range. Firing she hit the rear ogre in the shoulder. It shouted a grimace but kept on moving. Lady A, a little behind, incanted a spell. Suddenly, the floor beneath the ogres turned greasy and very slippery. Losing their footing, slipping and falling, they dropped the chests. Leaving them they continued to run, the heroes close behind. They turned a corner, the tunnel now leading into a large empty room. At the opening to the room was a sinkhole, composed of mud, quicksand and dirty sea water. The ogres quickly jumped in and were immediately swallowed up.

“Yeck”, exclaimed Lady A. “No way, I’m following them down there.” All were in agreement except Rath who had no opinion on the matter; just a bit of anger that he would not get to kill something. Skirting the sinkhole they explored the large room, but it was cold, empty and lifeless.

“Let’s go back, to where those merrow emerged from and look through the dropped chests at the same time”, suggested Leeloo. And so they did, but not before the bard and the priestess approached the half breed.

“You freak of nature, you dumb barbarian bastard, you…you nincompoop. You could have killed me. How dare you lay hands on me? I’ll…” Leeloo shrilled at him.

Rath had no idea no idea what she was talking about, not that he cared. He bared his teeth as her tone began to annoy him. Still he found it interesting how she was able to make her face red in anger. He had an urge to rub it hard; to see if the colouring could be removed. He wanted to count freckles again.

“It’s all right Leeloo, I’ll handle this” Lady A’s voice calmly broke in.

With a huff, and a ‘you better’ she left to join the others.

“Rath dear, Next time you want to toss us, you should warn us first.” The gnome bard giggled. “Especially Leeloo. She’s sensitive that way.” She giggled again. “Although it was funny to see her flying like a rock. Almost a gnomish thing to do.”

“Dark elf stripper said to help, so Rath helped.”

She patted his arm. “You did fine. Just next time warn us, OK?”

“Uhm, OK. For you Lady A.”

“Good. Now let’s look at those chests.”

“They have secret key padlocks” Irrstra informed the Six, after examining the heavy chests. “I wonder.” With that she took out the hag’s keys. Sure enough, one unlocked the chest. Inside were 6 large sized chain shirts, as well as a heavy sack. Loosening the sack string revealed a large number of gold coins. “Spiders of Loth, I estimate close to 3 thousand coins here.”

“Most excellent” remarked LeeLoo, a little greed slipping into her voice. “Check the other one.”

Skillfully, the drow neutralized the poison needle trap, her expert search had noticed. The second hag key fit perfectly. The chest revealed 6 more large sized chain shirts and another sack. This one contained 12 superb and perfect hexagonal black gems. LeeLoo rubbed her hands in glee.

“This must be the hag’s treasure. But there must another chest somewhere as there are 3 keys and we only used two of them. We take everything. We can sell those shirts for a pretty coin. Now how do we get the chests out?”

“I’ve got a bad back, remember?” declared Clint

All eyes turned to Rath who stared back blankly. Roryn let out a sigh. “I’ll take one and Rath one. We can easily carry them. We can decide what to take if we find more than we can carry. Let’s get going.”

The passage way the ogres had emerged from led into a huge oval room. The air was damper her, the floor more wet. Huge stone pillars rose to the ceiling, five per side. Finding nothing of interest here, they continued to follow the passage which took a bend, leading to a set of stone stairs heading down 20 feet. The steps were slick with moisture; water dripped from the ceiling; the walls were wet from tiny streams of water trickling to the floor. The stairs opened up to a massive cavern; empty except for two massive stone blocks; one about 20x 15 feet, the other larger at about 30x20 feet.

Irrstra searched the smaller one, finding nothing. But the larger one revealed a secret door to her sensitive elfish ability. Carefully she opened the door. She could only glimpse a space inside the stone block with a very large chest, before what seemed to be a large wave of water came rushing at her.

Tumbling back, she avoided an arm-like column of water which had extended itself from the wave and was heading for her head. Even as she tumbled, she fired off her hand cross bow at it. The bolt struck true but seemed to pass harmlessly through the body of the water to land with a clunk on the stone floor. The wave did not flow out but stopped at the doorway blocking the entrance. Lady A’s arcane knowledge told her exactly what the Six were now encountering.

“A water elemental guardian”, she screamed out. “It can be destroyed. Spells, force, weapons, anything will do.”

As she finished, Leeloo let out an eldritch blast of force. Accurately, it struck the elemental. The water wave seemed to shiver as if some cohesion had been lost.

“Rath, strike it high, I’ll go low” shouted Roryn. The paladin hoped in this way they could avoid striking each other in the doorway, hoping that the barbarian heard and understood what he was calling for in combat techniques.

Rath needed no further encouragement. Roaring, he attacked, dimly aware of the dwarf attacking with him. His only desire was to cut an opening through the water, to kill! Yet he was aware enough to only slice down near the top of the doorway, not to hack downwards.

Powerful muscles drove his great axe across the top side of the water. The wave seemed to shrink. Still roaring, he continued on the backswing.

Roryn sung his dwarven battle axe at the same time but in the opposite direction. As it severed its way through the water, he could feel resistance, the same as slicing through flesh and bone. He knew then that the elemental was being hurt.

Without any anticipation, multiple watery appendages emerged out of the body of water, lashing forward, some striking the dwarf, some the half-orc, again and again. Striking as hard as adamantine pile drivers, they pushed the two fighters back as they broke bones and compressed organs. Roryn and Rath were terribly hurt but continued to attack, hacking away, weakening the elemental force; the dwarf because of resoluteness and faith, the half-orc because of bloodlust and insanity.

“LeeLoo, they need healing” cried out Lady A. “They need it now” she insisted.

The priestess fearlessly stepped up. Laying a hand on each of them, even as they fought, she invoked the grace of her deity. Soothing healing divine energy flowed into the two combatants, mending bones and curing damaged organs, refreshing them. Then she heard Clint’s voice in her ear. “Stand back girl, out the way “

Clint had watched the fight in the doorway. Lacking room to join in, he, instead, inspected his arcane ability for something which could detrimentally affect water. He found one that should work. Having Leeloo back away, he stood behind the dwarf. The dwarf’s short height and the long reach of his great sword allowed him room to strike. He stabbed in over Roryn’s head and released the arcane focus. Blue-white electrical energy crackled along the blade, channelling itself throughout the conductive water. The wave gave the impression of convulsing as more water seemed to lose cohesion and puddle on the floor. As the electrical energy faded away, Rath and Roryn were still attacking. The great axe sliced its way through the water, causing more damage. The dwarf’s axe did likewise, except that on Roryn’s backswing, the elemental force holding the water together was destroyed. The wave collapsed, now a harmless pool of water. The fight was over.

“Well done everyone, well done” Lady A spoke out. “Rath, you can stop now” she ordered the barbarian. Rath had continued to slam his axe into the pool of water, chipping large gashes in the stone floor. Stopping his actions at the sound of her request allowed the Six to enter the chamber. There was nothing except for the large chest present.

“Not trapped” Irrstra informed them after she closely examined it. The chest was much larger than the other two but had a similar padlock..

It must be the rest of the hag’s treasure” stated Leeloo hopefully.

“Well, let’s just see” responded the drow as she fitted in the third key. It opened, and inside they could see 4 large sacks, a scroll case and a hammer. The hammer was inscribed with ancient dwarf runes. Two of the sacks were filled with thousands of gold coins, one with platinum pieces and one with large pearls. The case held 4 scrolls each with a useful clerical spell.

“Jackpot!’ exclaimed Leeloo gleefully. “All of it. We take all of it. Finally, a positive use of Rath’s muscles.”

To be continued…

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