13 November 2009

We're Here to Rescue You

(but who's going to rescue us...?)

Good session last night. Dovra even managed to fail one death-saving throw, but thankfully she had one more healing potion on her that could be poured down her throat.

I closed this as we started to work on opening a chest, because we're not even halfway finished with it, and it seemed like a reasonable place to close off this narrative. The chest started out with 6 dials, but that's been whittled down to 4, largely because it was taking longer than the DM anticipated.

Dovra woke with a start, surprised to realize she'd drifted off again while watching over Allonar. She still had the Orb of Imposition, so the puzzle hadn't been a dream, at least. She found herself reaching compulsively for the Star of Corellon in her pouch. Maybe she needed to get a piece of leather and keep it around her neck. It was strange to think that a deity actually cared about her, or, well, that anyone actually cared about her. Other than some temporary alliances, she'd been on her own for as long as she could remember. She wasn't quite sure what she was doing with this group of heroes. She'd followed them into the cave more out of curiosity than anything else, and now, good or ill, she didn't have any way back. Her hand crept into her pack for the other object that she cared about, but she wasn't ready to pull it out yet. Maybe not ever. She wondered if it was sacred to Corellon as well, if that was why he'd taken an interest in her.

She noticed someone else up and moving around. It was Shenron, and he had removed the cupboard that was blocking the tunnel below the lab. Dovra wondered what had come up out of the tunnel, and what it had done to Phoenix Darksoul, poor Blue Cheese. When he wasn't getting carried away with his experiments, he'd been likable enough. Of course, he'd been getting worse and worse, and then there was that business with the cats... At least making the dwarf photosynthesize might have been useful. Potentially. Maybe. Okay, it was completely silly and pointless, but it had at least been interesting, unlike all the hybrid nonsense. An odd sort of munching emanated up from the tunnel and brought her back to the present. She wondered what hybrids Phoenix had been working on down there. Shenron, at least, seemed determined to find out. Some of the others were starting to wake up as well. Oh, there Heian was. She must have been asleep by the time he made it back into the lab.

"Heian! Shenron didn't eat you!" Dovra called out.

"What?" Heian said, giving her a startled look.

"Well, you know, you were arguing, then Shenron came back, and you didn't, so I thought..." Heian looked at her like she'd gone insane. Maybe Not Evil people didn't generally eat one another. She filed that bit of information away.

"Yeah, er, call of nature and all that." Heian seemed to consider this sufficient explanation and turned back toward the tunnel.

Dovra considered what he'd said. She didn't think he meant that he'd been called into beast form; as far as she knew, he was just an elf. Perhaps he'd needed to get outside the tower and back into the more natural cave, though it seemed strange that he would risk running into the blue dragon for that. It must have been a very strong call indeed. Perhaps this was what he and Shenron had been arguing about. What would Heian do when they were further up inside the tower, with no way back down to the cave? Possibly they would need to start tying him up while he slept ... but that was a concern for later.

Right now, everyone was converging on the trapdoor that led to the tunnel. Dovra wondered who had brought the ladder back in, as she had simply left it by the balcony. Well, she supposed it was time to find out what her former cohort had wrought down there. Or rotted, perhaps. There was a rather unpleasant smell. She was one of the last down the ladder, which was perfectly all right with her. It put her out of the direct line of fire. It also meant that she couldn't see very well, but there seemed to be cells on either side of the hallway as far as she could see. Heian took point and began sneaking down the hall. When he got to the first set of cells, he stopped and motioned for everyone else to stay back. Shenron and Horgta ignored his warning, and the elf seemed exasperated as they came up beside him. Allonar came up behind them and hid his sunstick under his cloak. Dovra crept up as well, just to where she could peek into the cells. The one on the right was empty, but the one on the left had an odd, floating creature that seemed to be all eyes, mouths, and tentacles. The mouths gibbered constantly, though it was mostly unintelligible. Then she heard it say, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?", before dropping back into gibberish. It didn't seem to have noticed them yet.

Dovra's ears pricked up as she recognized Deep Speech coming from two cells down on the left. It had been a long time since she'd been around anyone else that spoke it. She was a bit rusty, but she thought it said, "What is it? What is coming? Is it food? We hope it's food. We're very hungry." Dovra spoke as quietly as she could, "Uh, whatever's in the third cell down is hungry and thinks we might be food." Heian sneaked closer to that cell, and almost made it past, but one foot suddenly caught on a bit of rubble. Now that Dovra thought to look, she could see that there was a lot of rubble at that end of the corridor. Had something broken out of one of the cells down there? It was hard to see from here, and Heian didn't seem happy about whatever was in the cell closest to him.

Dovra let the others move up before she did. There were some oddly dark shadows in the cell next to the gibbering thing. Suspiciously dark, in fact, but nothing was moving there. There were also some glowing red runes on the wall between the sets of cells. She examined one, and realized that pushing it would open the cell next to it. There were similar runes next to all the cells. When she could see into the third cell, there was another floating thing. Only one mouth this time, but with lots and lots of eyestalks, most of them pointed at Heian right now. Dovra decided she might as well try talking to it since it knew they were there. "Uh, hello? What happened that put you in this place?" At least, she hoped that was what she said. Several of the eyestalks rotated to point at her.

"There was this little runt of a wizard," it said.

Hmmm, so this wasn't one of Phoenix's constructions. It didn't really fit his style, but neither did keeping this thing in a cage. "Ummm... is there any way we can, er, help you?"

The thing seemed to grin at her. "Yesss... you can let usss out ssso we can eat you and your frrriends."

"Er, no. I can't do that."

"Yesss you can. Jussst pushh the niiice red runessss."

Dovra sighed. Talking to it wasn't going to help. The creatures would probably just get worse as they went further down the corridor. They might as well turn back—

"Hello? Is—is somebody out there?" A female voice came out of the fifth cell on the right. It sounded very faint, and very scared. Before Dovra could decide what to do about it, a giant spider emerged from the shadows in the cell between the two floating eye things and spit acid at her and Allonar. It burned, and seemed to keep burning. Dovra ran towards the female voice, more to get away from the spider than for any other reason, and made it past the second thing with all the eyes just before it attacked Horgta. The gibbering thing hadn't seemed to like light, so maybe casting light on this thing would make it go hide. She tried it. It responded by attacking her, and the world went black.

Sometime later, a surge of healing rushed through her, and she looked up at Shenron's scaly face. A moment later the acid burned through her again and she lost consciousness again. She woke up to the same awful taste as with the crossbows. Surely Phoenix could have made his potions taste, if not pleasant, at least not nightmarish. Then again, she remembered his adventures in cooking, and one memorable night when he'd had to coax the dinner out from behind a bookshelf after it was cooked. She hadn't eaten much that night. For now, though, they seemed to have gotten the girl out of her cell, and had her most of the way down the hall. This seemed like a good time to make an Expeditious Retreat. The world blurred around her as she shifted past the cells at double speed. When she stopped, she noticed Horgta was carrying a green cloak. Maybe it belonged to the girl. Only, the girl had Heian's cloak wrapped around her. No, wait. Dovra had seen the green cloak before. The day she'd met up with this odd band of heroes, the one the trolls had grabbed had been wearing that cloak. What had his name been? Feta? No, Theta. John Theta. He was what had brought the heroes here.

She waited for the rest of the group to make it back to the ladder. The gibbering thing gibbered at them, and seemed to daze several of her companions, but they were headed out anyway. As they wrapped the girl to carry her up the ladder, Dovra noticed that her skin seemed to be covered in some sort of slime, like a frog's. She sighed. Phoenix again. What had happened to the fun projects that didn't really hurt anyone? Dovra very much doubted the girl had wanted to become part frog. They'd gotten the dwarf's permission before trying to make him photosynthesize, though he might not have really understood what he was in for. Maybe Dovra just hadn't been any good at being evil. She didn't seem to be much better at being Not Evil, however, as she'd been completely useless down in that tunnel. Everyone had made it out in one piece, but no thanks to her. She'd been a complete and utter liability.

They rested for a while after returning to the relative safety of the lab. The girl didn't say much, and Dovra couldn't think of anything useful to say to her. What could she say? "Sorry for helping Phoenix work out how to give mammals amphibious skin?" "Look, it made sense to have dogs that could work in a marine environment, sorry he decided to try it on you?" No, better not to say anything. The others seemed to be uncomfortable around her as well; at least, no one went over to try and talk to her. Dovra wondered why the girl couldn't move on her own. There was nothing obviously wrong with her legs, and the amphibious skin procedure shouldn't have affected her legs. What else had Phoenix done to her? Chances were that the girl didn't even know.

Just as Dovra was trying to work up the nerve to talk to her, Allonar's voice echoed out from inside a cabinet. It was the same cabinet Dovra had slept in before they'd gone down into the tunnel. "Ah-ha! I thought there was something peculiar about that panel." Dovra went over to see what he'd found. Behind a panel in the cabinet there was a chest with six four dials on the front of it. "I remember that chest," Dovra said. "Blue Cheese used to put his lemonade on it in the summer to keep it cold." There was some sort of cold spell on it, but that was all she really knew about it. She'd never seen Phoenix open it.

"There also appears to be some equipment behind the chest," Allonar said. Horgta and Shenron went to go look at it.

"These belong to our friend, John Theta," Shenron said. The three who had known him well looked somber, but at least the gear was all intact. Dovra wondered what Phoenix had really wanted with Theta, and how human he would be when, if, they found him.

For now, though, they needed to focus on opening the chest. It wasn't going to be easy. Heian moved towards the chest as if in a trance. "The chest is going to fight you," Dovra told him after checking it out as thoroughly as she could. "Even if you find the right number, the chest can change the combination while you're working on it. I think I may be able to lock the dials in place, but the chest will probably fight us on that, too." Heian groaned, but still seemed happier than Dovra could ever remember seeing him. "Oh, I think it may also be able to summon monsters." That dampened his spirits a bit more, but Horgta, Shenron and Allonar formed a protective ring behind Dovra and Heian as they settled in to work on the chest.

Shenron interrupted for a moment and commanded the chest to open in the name of Bahamut. Nothing happened. For good measure, Dovra commanded it to open in the name of Corellon, with similar effect. Good. No gods were going to interfere. Comforting as her star might be, Dovra was used to being on her own.

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