Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Chapter Eighteen: Into The Badlands...

The Western Badlands...

It would be fair to say the members of Cobblethwaite's Companions didn't trust the man claiming to Dirkin, Kirchin's brother, one hundred per cent.

While young Kahl was adamant it was 'Uncle Dirkin', and both Harry and Davian remembered Kirchin talking about his brother, sharing anecdotes of their time fighting shoulder-to-shoulder in the Secession Wars, when the healer had first arrived in Bendwyn, he hadn't mentioned Dirkin since the party explored The Vault Of Viktor Volkov about four months ago.

They were, however, all intrigued by Dirkin's claims to know the location of a lost Mnoren treasure house (a store abandoned by the "gods" when they left Cidri 1,500 to 2,000 year ago). He'd visited it once with three accomplices, but while he stood guard outside all but one of them died inside and the third managed to crawl out of the tunnels, horribly burned, and die at Dirkin's feet.

Drawn by the tales of his older brother's exploits, Dirkin had come to Bendwyn to seek Kirchin out and enlist his aid in a return adventure to the "treasure house of the gods".

The party prepared itself, loaded up their wagon and headed off to the blasted wastelands that lay to the west of Elyntia. The scenery reminded Kirchin of the war-ravaged land around Winterhome, razed during one of the most brutal and protracted engagements of the Secession Wars.

It took the group the better part of three weeks to get to the cave entrance, not encountering a living soul for the last ten or so days as they wove their way through the Western Badlands to the Distant Mountains and the cave that Dirkin claimed was the way in to the 'treasure house'.

On the journey, Marigold - still very clearly traumatised by the grisly death of her mentor - dropped the bombshell that she was pregnant. And yet she was still a woman of virtue and was afraid that she might actually be infected by tarrasque larvae. It was pointed out to her, rather matter-of-factly, that if that was the case they probably would have 'hatched' by now, but she was not wholly convinced.

The party found the cave and saw that the passage into the mountain would require them to crawl, so Harry led the way and the rest followed in the narrow, claustrophobic tunnels.

Crawling slowly through the maze of passageway they found a cave with a strange humming metallic device in, a box with a funnel-like trumpet attached, that was constructed of eternium (much to Davian's delight).

One of the halfling-sized electrical creatures
Where possible they looked for clues as to which  direction Dirkin's men had taken and eventually found that the natural tunnels led into 'man-made' areas, which had humming copper walls, metal doors, and softly glowing white stone floors and ceilings.

But at least they could stand up in these tunnels and had more room to move about.

Very cautious about the walls and metal doors, as they sparked occasionally, the adventurers finally found themselves in a long tunnel which led - through a concealed door - into a room that was the bottom of a well.

Prior to this they had found rooms with pools of oil, a large cyclopean lizard skull, and one hung with owl-shaped lanterns where the floor was covered in scraps of paper scribbled in an unknown language.

Worried about touching the metal doors and being unable to open them, the party turned to Holly and her 'magical doorknob of opening' (acquired in Jerol of Jirrey's haunted manse), which proved to be their saviour as it allowed them access to otherwise impenetrable barriers.

Looking up in the 'well room', through the circular hole in the ceiling, the explorers could see the sky a hundred feet or so above.

Using a copper key-rod they had found in the rubble on the floor, they opened a door from this room and met a number of strange, small, electrical beings that appeared more curious than aggressive.

Fearing they wouldn't be able to take these creatures in a fight, the party managed to negotiate with them - mainly using sign language - and eventually gave the critters Davian's eternium skull ring, which pleased them no end and they headed off further into the 'dungeon', leaving the party to explore where the beasts had come from.

Finding a room with a pile of skeletons in, the party warily avoided that and opened a door in a room bisected by a glowing stream.

To be continued...

CAST:

  • Davian (Kevin)
  • Harry (Simon)
  • Holly (Erica)
  • Kirchin (Pete)
  • Marigold (Clare)

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