The first sonic wave took both gnomes by surprise.
It seemed to come from nowhere; in truth, it came from just around a corner in the tunnel before them.
Federico, in the lead, crumpled instantly. Javorik, partially shielded from the blast's full effect by his cousin's body, felt a numbness travel through his body and a dizziness steal the strength from his limbs. On impulse, he dropped to the cavern floor alongside Federico, feigning unconsciousness but keeping his eyes open a slit. He let the words to his magic missile
spell come to his lips.
The little illusionist didn't have long to wait. Around the corner stalked an upright lizardlike creature, a good nine or ten feet long from nose to tail, come to check on its handiwork. In the flickering light of Javorik's dropped everburning torch
, it looked like nothing so much as a dinosaur.
Javorik let the dinosaur have it. Magic missiles
screamed across the short distance between the illusionist's fingers and the monster's flank. It roared in pain and surprise, and Javorik took the opportunity to dive between the creature's legs, where he couldn't easily be attacked. Pulling out his trusty dagger, he skittered out from under the monster's legs and leapt up at its flank, stabbing his weapon in deep and using it to pull himself up onto the beast's back, where he figured he was even safer still.
It looked like he was right, for the creature couldn't reach him with its clawed forelimbs from his current position; maybe it could have had he been bigger, but that was one of the advantages of being a gnome. And now, Javorik fully intended to capitalize on one of the advantages of being a spellcaster: he started the words to a blindness/deafness
Javorik had intended to blind the creature with his spell, but fortunately he got a good look at its head while it thrashed around trying to dislodge him, and noticed the stupid thing didn't have any eyes!
Altering the spell effects in mid-casting, he chose to deafen the beast instead.
At least he was certain the creature had ears!
It was the best thing he could have done. Immediately, the beast stopped stock-still, as if assessing its new situation and unable to believe it. Then it began thrashing about, grabbing at its head with its talon-tipped forelimbs in an attempt to unclog its hearing.
In all of the beast's thrashing about, Javorik was thrown from its back. He landed next to Federico, and took the opportunity to slap his cousin awake. Good thing, too, for the wounded and deafened beast was thrashing out in all directions, screaming out sonic attacks left and right. One blasted the side of the cavern wall, sending a small explosion of stone fragments flying off like a fireworks display. Another clipped the top of Federico's head, splitting his metal helm into small fragments that rained down from around his head like a cloud of dandruff.
But that only strengthened the little gnomish fighter's resolve. Grabbing up his short sword, he leapt at the panicked beast and drove his blade deep into its wicked heart. The destrachan fell to its side, kicked feebly once or twice, and fell limp to the ground, as lifeless as the stone it lay upon. Thick red blood oozed from its wound and pooled on the floor.
Federico extricated his sword from the foul beast, then heard a primal scream of triumph. He looked at his cousin; Javorik stared back at him in disbelief. "That's Shanny!" they cried out in unison.
Racing toward the sound, they came upon a large, circular pit dug deep into the back of an enormous cavern. A narrow, sloping ramp curved along one side of the pit's rim, providing access to the bottom. The two gnomes raced down into the pit, marveling at the sight they saw there.
Shandrilla was crouched on her knees with her arms at her sides, a dead lizard throttled tightly in each hand. Her head was upraised as if in supplication, her eyes closed tight but leaking tears of gratitude that spilled down the sides of her face. Her black leather armor was ripped and tattered all over; judging from the dried blood caking her skin, so was her body.
Javorik approached her and touched her matted hair gently. "Shanny?" he said in a choked whisper, tears leaking down the sides of his face. "It's me. Javorik. It's gonna be all right now, Shanny."
Shandrilla cracked open her eyes and winced at the flickering illusory flames of the everburning torch
; after so much time spent in absolute darkness the unaccustomed light hurt her eyes. She looked down at the dead destrachan young hanging limply in her hands, and was surprised that they were little bigger than chickens; for all the pain they had caused her, she had expected them to be much bigger than they really were.
She opened her hands with some effort; her many wounds and recent exertions were rapidly taking their toll. As her head started spinning and she felt herself rapidly slipping once more into blessed unconsciousness, she managed to get out a few words to her companions, her two loyal friends who had braved unknown dangers to rescue her from the pit. The words came haltingly, from a voice long strained by screams, first of torment and then of triumph:
"Not too--bad for a--silly--human girl--"
Shandrilla pitched forward into the arms of her companions.
23. Destrachans are so adept at using their sonic attacks that they can "bounce" them off of walls, floors, and ceilings with the accuracy of a professional pool player. If it chooses to do so, a destrachan can also aim its sonic cone at the floor directly at its feet and have it spread out equally to a radius of 30 feet, affecting all other creatures within range. Naturally, these effects only work if the surface being used to "rebound" the sonics is itself immune to the effects being produced.
24. For obvious reasons, spells that cause deafness in a destrachan (such as blindness/deafness and silence) render the creature effectively blind. It immediately loses its auditory-based blindsight, and all targets are treated as if they had full concealment, meaning that the destrachan has a 50% chance of missing its target each round regardless of its attack roll.
25. Since a destrachan's many sonic abilities are intricately linked with its exceptional hearing, a deafened destrachan often miscalculates the frequencies of its sonic attacks. DMs should feel free to randomize a destrachan's disruptive harmonics when it cannot hear properly.
26. DMs using exotic ingredients for magical inks might consider having the blood of a destrachan be a component in the inks used to inscribe the spells sculpt sound, shatter, shout, and sound burst (based on the destrachan's association with sonic attacks), and invisibility purge and see invisibility (based on its auditory blindsight ability which negates the advantages of invisibility).
27. Destrachans, when first hatched, stand about 6 inches from nose to tail. By the end of their first year they're the size of a large rooster; at the end of their second year they reach nearly 4 feet from nose to tail. At 3 years, the destrachan stands some 5 feet tall, reaches a good 10 feet from snout to tail, and is considered an adult. Beyond its first three years a destrachan's growth rate slows considerably, but it continues to grow throughout its life. The largest known destrachans reach a length of over 20 feet and stand well over 11 feet tall in their hunched-over stance. Fortunately, such monsters are very rare.