The heat was unbearable, toping 142 degrees in the afternoon yet we continued our trek only stopping to rest 2 hours out of every 12. The average party would have long perished but due to my expert training I have taken this party beyond the average. Granted they whine like little children strapped to a mill stone but I have to give them points for trying.
We hadn’t planned on a speed march through the desert but the monk started acting odd and has begun to talk to the ring as if it is his long lost love. His appearance seems to have suffered as well, no longer the well dressed and manicured man he now resembles a ragamuffin and smells like the backend of URLOO. He has become so bad that Merex refuses to change from axe form until the monk is far down wind and as bad as the stench has become it is the every growing hump and the way he has began to slouch, limp and drool that is very disconcerting. The only advantage we have discovered with his new condition is that every critter, creature, monstrosity and bandit wants nothing to do with us.
It was dawn when we arrived at the Litches stronghold and it was massive with only one very open path to the main door. Even the dimmest of wits could see that the path was a killing field and that only a quick surprise frontal assault would win the day. I charged forward knowing the others would follow suit but midway down the path I realized that only my footsteps could be heard. Deciding that slowing down long enough to turn and call the others forward was not only a waste of time but would leave me vulnerable to aerial attack so I pressed on picking up speed to what I laughing call ramming speed.
I had covered three quarters of the distance needed to reach the open when the portalif started to lower. Reaching deep within myself I increased my speed even more and hit the lowing gate with such force the entire stone gate shook, mortar weaken and the supports holding the gate gave way. The creatures on the other side of the gate looked on in shock as I tossed the gate into a group of them to the left while charging the group to the right.
Hearing the dying screams of the creatures the rest of the party slowly made their way down the path and through the remains of the once massive gate. Being caught up in the blood lust of the fight I almost hacked the now horribly deformed monk in half before realizing who he was. The loot recovered from the bodies was laughable but loot is loot and it keeps the booze and women flowing.
As we ascended the huge spiral staircase I heard sniffing from those behind me, I turned to scold them but stopped short when I saw the fear in their eyes which was directed at the staircase itself. That was when I notice it was built entirely of bones. Skulls made up the stairs while the remainder of the structure was constructed with the large bones of humans. I had to admit that the death so many people just to create the staircase did give me the shivers, but the thought of all that treasure from the victims stored somewhere within the walls of this keep replaced it with excitement.
I bounded up the staircase hacking my way through the abominations that blocked my path; the others also picked up speed and started hacking at everything. Let me tell you that there were several torches hacked from the safety of the wall sconce that will never bother anyone again. The landing was a carpet of scattered bones, most were human but others that I had never seen before. I spotted a huge skull in the corner I decided had to go in my pub, the skull once belonged to a massive reptilian Cyclops, while most people would be impressed by that alone it was the curled horns on each side of the head, the three foot spear like horn that grew from the center of the skull just inches above the eye hole and the long tusks protruding from the upper and lower jaw bones that really caught my attention. The lower tusks were razor sharp as if they had been honed on a whetstone. This was defiantly something I wouldn’t wish to encounter by myself but would attempt it if the need arose.
The party rummaged through the bones littering the floor for tidbits of loot which was mainly an odd assortment of coins, some even appeared to be made of metal but that would be madness. I started to examine one of the questionable coins when a scurrying sound caught my attention, the others heard it too and dropped the bags they had been filing, spilling the contents across the floor and making sure that anything within earshot now knew our exact location.
Even I wasn’t prepared for what emerged from the darkness of the doorway. The first thing I spotted was the double set of tusks followed by I single spike. I raised my weapon ready to charge and to meet my death fighting the one eyed monster. When the entire body of creature emerged from the shadows I stopped short. At first I was confused as to how such a large head could be supported by the tiny body that labored to keep the head aloft. It pushed the lower tusks along the floor to help support the head, a low pitiful moan escaped from its mouth as it continued toward us at a snails pace. We all started to lower our weapons and move toward the struggling creature, it was then I noticed the tail. Thick, long and moving like a giant snake. The Cyclops was only a decoy attached to some larger beast still concealed in the adjacent room. The skull no longer held my interest; I wanted the head of what ever was making the ungodly noise in the darkness.
The clatter of dropped weapons and the smell of soiled armor alerted me that the others didn’t share my desire to venture into the room and discover what mysteries the tail held. More for me I thought as I ran toward the Cyclops and pierced its eye as I pasted. The walls shook from the sounds of agony, or maybe anger? My question was answered before I reached the doorway as the wall exploded sending shards of bricks and mortar into the party. There was little time to inspect any injuries we may have suffered because what emerged from the wrecked wall caused even my butt to pucker. We faced what I could only call a snake with the head of a spider. The fangs were no less than three feet in length and I lost count of the number of eyes it had. Venom dripped from the enormous fangs and the scream it produced was deafening. Someone was in the corner crying “Can we please go home now?The others followed suit but stopped as creature raced toward me and fearing certain death if I were taken down they grabbed their weapons and charged. Two arrows and a throwing dagger took out three of the creature’s eyes but it still had plenty to spare, I swung my blade missing mark but made contact with one of the fangs, snapping it out of the jaw. The head shot back and up making contact with the ceiling leaving a nice sized divot, this caused the creature act to sluggish and giving the party the opportunity to hack at the snake body without fearing the venom coated fang. Its flesh was like hitting a bolder, each strike left small wounds but none seemed to bite deep enough to cause the beast any true harm. At this rate we could hack at this thing until the rains came before killing it. “The head” I yelled.
The head was starting to regain its senses and was coming down to meet us when it was met with a sea of arrows, throwing daggers and what appeared to be a boot. I noticed most of the eyes were gone and that rotting booted leg was dangling from its mouth when it got close enough for me to sink my blade deep into its skull. This seemed to really piss it off as it ripped the blade from my hand and once again to rear up and crash into the ceiling. It shuttered, stopped and fell with a heavy thud. I retrieved my blade which was now buried deep in the beast’s brain due to its encounter with the ceiling. I laughed, turned and asked the group what they would have done without me. No one said die which struck me as odd since I had warned them of the incoming head and delivered the killing blow. Disappointed at their lackluster gratitude I turned to have a good look at what I had brought down and after taking it all in decided the entire creature needed to be mounted on a wall at the bar as I bent to retrieve the fang I had knocked out.
The others had started to come out of their hiding places with the exception of the monk who was poking around the beast. I was concerned until her bent over and retrieved the boot he had thrown. He turned, gave me a drool filled smile and then started chewing on the sole of the shoe. He really needed to get that ring off.
With the obstacles cleared we ascended the stairs towards the Litches lair looting the dead as we went. There was all manner of dead along the path, some recent and some from the very distance past. These created the most excitement because their armor was so different, long rusted away but we could still see the outline of metal armor and weapons. Our minds struggled with the concept of donning metal armor.
We followed the trail of dead through several stories of the keep and leading to a double door some 3 stories high. I pulled the door which opened quite easily; it swung wide reviling a brightly lit corridor devoid of bodies to loot. The area was very clean and the floors were highly polished. Our footsteps echoed down the hall as we entered and headed toward the bright red door some 300 feet away. I noticed the walls on both sides of the corridor seemed to be alive, because of this the 300 feet felt like 3000 feet. We moved slowly expecting something to attack from the wall at any given moment. The attack never came but we were exhausted by the time we reached the door, which opened without our assistance.
Stepping into and surveying the room I spotted her standing by the window. She turned and whispered “Razspark I have been expecting you and your party. Aww poor little monk, he looks so miserable.” The monk was chasing a roach on his hands and knees and mumbling something about “yummies”. The rest of the party was still hiding behind the door. “We are here on behest of your future husband, King dead thing, um a great guy I might add.” “He wishes to make you his queen and together you will rule the underworld.” The Sun had silhouetted her but now as she moved toward me, what I saw made my heart skip a beat. The kid stepped out from behind, his mouth hung wide open. I couldn’t blame him, she was breath taking. Bar wench breasts and thighs that could crush a man’s head. Even the monk notice, looking up and chewing on something crunchy he grinned and yelled “More yummies.”
I had to do something fast if I wanted to sample this before they did. Putting on my best God’s gift to women smile I started to propose a pre-marriage quickie when she held her hand up and said. “Where are my manners, I should reveal my true self and not this disguise I used to lure my victims to their death. Day became night and beauty was replaced with a nightmare. The kid passed out, the monk shat himself, I went limp and somewhere behind me an axe fell to the floor sobbing. “whoa, whoa, something in between!” I yelled trying to keep my voice from shaking. It would be a long time before I slept soundly again.
She packed two trunks with assorted bottles, ingredients and regular woman stuff. We had to wait until the next morning to leave because the kid was still passed out. I woke and started packing my pack when I noticed my coin purse was a little light. As I woke the others I noticed the kid was gone. We all were missing some coin with the exception of the monk, but then who wanted to go through filthy pockets? Litticha entered the room and said the kid had left only a few hours ago and that he wasn’t who they thought he was, didn’t said anymore about him and made it very clear she never would.
The trip back to deliver the bride to the Death King was uneventful due to the horrendous stench the monk now gave off and the Litch who emitted creepy vibes that ran for miles. We entered the Death Kings stronghold in the middle of the night. Hordes of dead lined the sides of the past to bid their new queen welcome. The path snaked underground and ended at a double throne where one was taken up by the King. He stood and bowed toward his queen. “My queen I welcome you to your new home and a kingdom of dead to rule.” She took his extended hand, thanked him and sat in the larger throne. The King started to say something but the look from the queen stopped him dead in his tracks. I felt sorry for the once mighty king.
He turned to me and said. “Razspark you have delivered all that you have promised and for that I thank you. As promised I will remove the ring from the monk, and give you 30 seconds in the treasure room to grab and fill as many pockets as you can.” He floated over to the monk, spoke some words in a language I had never heard and the ring slipped off the monk’s finger, falling to the floor. The monk eyes started to clear, the hump started to shrink allow him to stand up once again. He took a deep breath and then gagged. “What is that smell’” he said in a very hoarse voice. “You”, we all said in unison. He gave me a dirty look which up to this point was the only thing that wasn’t dirty on him and with that he turned and ran from the room.
The king bent, retrieved the ring and tossed it me and said. “For the trophy wall you are always talking about.” “But the curse?” I questioned. “There was never a curse my friend; I just planted the idea in the monks head and the rest he did to himself.” We laughed as he took the smaller throne by his new queen. 30 seconds doesn’t sound like much time but when you have a coat with magically deep pockets you can pack away some major swag. With pockets jingling, a clean but angry monk and the coins taken by the kid now replaced we headed back to the city to see how the construction of the bar was going.