Dungeon Crawl Classic #14
Chapter 1: The Eye of the Night
Level 1-3 (Scaled to level 4)
Chapter 1: The Eye of the Night
Level 1-3 (Scaled to level 4)
Turn 41: Dire Straits
The flame curls down the corridor, chars and cinders everything in its path, including Bec, who however barely seems to notice, he’s a hive of activity, chopping, slashing and poking- two more Dire Rats fall to his blade.
“Yew kanought wyn mantheeeeng.”
A Fiendish Dire Rat whispers at the Barbarian, which fazes him a little.
Anya rushes forward, spots the tunnel right, there are more of the things down there, and they’ve spotted her, Dire Rats rush to attack.
Fire fills the second passage, illuminates briefly another nest chamber ahead, and yet another pair of much larger Fiendish Dire Rats complete with a host of their less fiendish, but as vicious, brethren. “Aaaargh.” She screams and looks down, a partially incinerated Dire Rat has just taken a chunk out of her right knee, Anya kicks the thing in it’s slobbering chops and…
Fills the passage and the chamber ahead with fire again, rats of every ilk screech and curl and die.
“Come back Bec. We can’t help you there.” Cas screams, the others have at last caught up.
But Bec is too far gone, more Dire Rats scurry into the chamber, the squeaks of the Fiendish duo ordering them in for the kill, Bec swipes and swats, chops another two down but is swamped, bites, tears and gashes cover his legs and lowers arms, he’s slick with his own blood, and the rats ahead are in frenzy, while his Rage is fading.
From the other chamber the now familiar cry, smoke is filling the void, it’s getting hazy, and warm, rats flail and burn, another gets close enough however to take a nip out of Anya, she staggers but grips tight to her wand.
“Anya get the feck out of there.” Cas completely loses it, goes to drag Anya back, she snaps around, for a second- glares at the Paladin, “get Bec you bloody moron, I’ll retreat when he’s safe, now let me hold the… FLAME ON.”
Yet another gout of flame fills the chamber ahead, the rats have learnt how to play the game however, they duck inside dark tunnels to escape the rolling fury, then emerge again as soon as the fire has passed. Cas moves off swiftly, realises there’s no shifting Anya, back to Bec, who staggers a little.
“Come on, get out of there.” Cas calls over the noise of flame and fighting.
The Barbarian screams back, which fazes Cas, a little. Bec regains his balance and dances back into the fray, he’s bitten twice in quick succession, the first Dire Rat rips a chunk of flesh from his right wrist, his longsword suddenly becomes very heavy in his hand, another vermin bites him very near a place best left unmentioned.
He staggers backwards, at pace, clearly having lost the will to fight, although he stabs another pair dead in his retreat. Cas grabs him and heaves him out of the fight, the chain of adventurers shuffles back down the tunnel in perfect rhythm.
“Come on then you BASTARDS.”
Anya screams, there are only the two Fiendish Dire Rats ahead of her, the other rats have finally decided that enough is enough. The creatures snarl and slaver as they stalk forward towards her. They leap.
But she’s not nearly quick enough; the pair bring the Wizard down, rip and tear at her elegant clothes, to the soft flesh beneath.
Cas, who else, spots her fall, and dodges back and down the second passage to her, slicing and cutting at the air before him, the Fiendish Dire Rats back away from the Paladin’s blade.
“Commmmmmee tooooo usssssss.”
One hisses as Cas reaches down and grabs Anya, he drags her back, still slicing the air ahead of him, healing energies course through him and into her, she shivers then awakes, “where…”, then she realises and scrambles back to safety. The Paladin dives past her, stalks the passageway, towards the two Fiends ahead.
“Yesssssssss thisss wayyyy mantheeeng.”
“I’m coming, plenty for everyone, don’t you worry.”
Cas’ sword shines and glitters in the harsh light, one of the Fiends rushes forward, suddenly leaps and flies though the air, straight for the Paladin’s throat, SWIIIIPE, the thing is decapitated, its body thumps to the ground while its head spirals on past Cas.
The Paladin shuffles forward again, his smile now catching in the light.
Alas Bec is in trouble again, Ala reaches out to heal the Barbarian just as the three rats from the nest ahead of the Barbarian decide to press their attack, they come barrelling down the passage and crash into Bec, one Fiend reaches down and clamps its jaws shut on Bec’s leg and rips and wrenches, a wedge of bloody flesh and a good chunk of Bec’s shinbone are ripped out. He staggers, and yet swats his sword vaguely in the creature’s general direction, all to no effect.
“Bec, no. Retreat.” This time it’s Anya’s turn to urge the Barbarian to try to get out of the fight, while he can. Ala gets out of the way, except to place her hand on Anya’s shoulder, fire more healing power into the bloody Wizard. Anya is at Bec’s back, when the Barbarian finally, having sustained yet another gouging bite from one of the Fiendish Dire Rats, falls. Anya goes to catch him, thinks better of it, and lets him fall; Bec thunks hard into the dirt floor.
“Right, now you’ve really made me mad.”
Anya steps into the fray, armed with her… staff? The first exchange is brief and to the point, Anya is bitten twice, luckily both no more than scratches, the three rats ahead of her however emerge unscathed, two of them, Fiends, grinning, and what passes in the rat world for giggling, a kind of scratchy hiccup would perhaps best describe the sound.
Behind Anya, Ala again comes to the rescue, kneeling over Bec she whispers words of divine magic and another surge of healing startles the Barbarian awake, he leaps to his feet, takes in the situation, and rushes ahead, pushing Anya forward, while waving his longsword past her, at the now quickly retreating rats. Melee is at last joined in the rat’s chamber, Bec and Anya swipe and swing and miss by miles, the one Dire Rat left takes another chunk out of Bec, the two Fiends scamper and snap but are kept at bay. Anya, of all people, manages to land a glancing blow to a Fiends skull, breaking one of the creature’s horns. Then, at last, Bec gets to work, he stabs the last Dire rat, then swiftly turns his attentions to one of the Fiend Rats, cuts it down in a moment, less than ten seconds later the last of the Fiends here is dead.
At the same time in the other chamber, Cas attacks again, and loses his balance, if only for a second, it’s enough however for the final Fiendish Dire rat which clamps its jaws on his wrist, the Paladin shakes and smashes the rat off of him, suffering a huge gash that pours blood in the process.
Behind him Jim has had enough, head down the Ranger burrows through the congregated adventures, spots Cas in trouble and heads in after him, literally shoves the Paladin stumbling further into the chamber, and onto his knees, then slams his battleaxe in, and through the remaining Fiend.
“Will you stop playing the bloody hero, DIRE RATS, DIRE get it, do you know how much I like DIRE CREATURES, I hate them, I hate them- you know that, after the skunk. Could you not have just given me a shout- someone, anyone?” The later part of the speech requires Jim to turn to his comrades and bark at them.
“Bloody do-gooders.” Jim shoves his way back out of the chamber, hurries Newt and Ala back out of the passage and into the original chamber in which they encountered oh so many more Dire Rats.
He strides to the slope then stands there and seethes.
A little while after the others emerge, Cas, Bec and Anya are covered in bites, bruised and bloody- really not a pretty sight, particularly the Barbarian who’s limping badly, dragging one leg behind him, he’s been bitten over a dozen times in the last two minutes.
“We rest.” Cas states moodily, “and heal”, then takes to glaring at Jim, who’s deliberately not looking at anyone, healing potions are being uncorked in the background.
“Everyone that has been bitten will need to return to the Church, we’ll need to check you for disease, these creatures can lay you low three days after you encountered them, believe me I’ve seen the results of filth fever, it seems we’re probably still going to end up owing Father Whiskin a favour even after we complete this task.” Ala states.
The others shuffle and nod.
Newt scurries around the central chamber, poking through the bodies of the rats, makes one or two grisly discoveries, half eaten corpses of Raiders, dragged down into the tunnels for breakfast, lunch and tea. He also makes several shinier discoveries, a smattering of gold and silver, a beautifully crafted Masterwork Cold Iron Scimitar, and a vial, clearly labelled “Silversheen.”
“What the hell is…”
“It’s for coating your weapon, alchemical silver.” Anya states.
“Oh yeah, that figures.” Newt goes to put the vial away for safe keeping, prevented only by Bec’s meaty fist grabbing, although not roughly, at his arm, the Barbarian gestures with his open palm.
“Not talking at all now, not even SAAAnDWITCHHHH.” Newt hands the vial over to Bec, obviously the Barbarian has something in mind.
Jim continues to silently seethe, eyes on the ground, not wanting to meet anyone’s gaze.
The Gnome grabs him and frog-marches him back to the tunnels they so recently fought their way through, back to the rat’s nests. “We may as well take a look.” Jim watches over the Rogue while he searches both nest chambers.
“Who does he think he is… Mr. I’m-always-right.” Jim pulls faces, makes sounds, not words.
“Who?” Newt continues searching.
“Cas, the bloody Paladin the wonder horse… you know.”
“What are you on about?” Newt gives up for this chamber.
“CAS. Bloody Cas, nobody else gets a look in at times.”
“Oh he’s alright.”
Newt heads off to the other chamber.
“What?” Its Jim’s turn, he scurries after the Gnome. “What did you say?”
“I said, he’s alright.” The Gnome gets back to searching.
“Oh take his side.”
“I’m not taking sides, I said he’s alright- he does his job.”
Jim gurns a moment, “he’s a… he’s…”, but he’s got nowhere left to go.
“This one.” Newt holds up a scroll case. Then heads off back to the others.
“What?” Leaving Jim on his own, it’s getting dark, Newt’s got the sunrod, “bloody Paladin”, Jim follows the light.
Ala and Anya gather to examine Newt’s find, a divine scroll, Ala tucks it away for later use.
“Right then…” Cas starts.
“This isn’t bloody working.” Jim explodes.
“You lead.” Cas counters, and nods to Jim, which pretty much resolves all of their problems.
“Oh. Yeah, that’d probably be best. Thanks.” Jim replies.
They’re about to head off when Cas remembers something, he turns to Bec, “So are you back to talking again, done with the whole ‘SAAA-ND-WH-ICCCCH” thing, only I just want to know?”
“Maybe.” Bec shrugs and indicates that’s all he has to say on the subject.
“Go on Jim, bloody amateurs.” The last part delivered by the Paladin sotto voce.
Jim takes the lead, Bec close behind, his longsword and shield in his hands; behind them Anya clutches her fiery Wand.
There’s another passage out of the muddy chamber, heading south, gingerly they snake down it, Jim to the fore- a little ways in the passage splits two ways. Jim sniffs the air, “south again, careful something smells rotten down here.” The group press on a short distance and then emerge into another chamber; the place is thirty feet in diameter, a circular-ish cavern of packed dirt and stone, the place smells rank, rotting vegetables and the unmistakeable odour of death. The air is thick and humid, sweat glistens on Jim’s brow, and his feet sink into the muddy earth as he cautiously moves into the chamber, towards a wall of boxes, barrels and crates.
Closer he can see that they’re all covered in a rich tapestry of molds and lichens, there’s a pile of rotten and ripped sacks behind the first stack of barrels, rotten grain, from the sacks, has been mashed into the muddy floor.
And just visible a pair of humanoid legs clad in leather breeches sticks out from behind the sacks.
“Body.” Jim states, and then stops suddenly, somewhere a rat squeaks, the sound fades, Jim cautiously creeps closer again. Stops once more, a different sound, a clicking sound… something… no, he can’t quite work it out. It’s coming from somewhere near the body, where the thickest shadows gather.
The Ranger creeps forward again.
“Stop. Don’t move.” Anya taps Jim and then Bec on the shoulder, the pair part, and let her through- the Wizard advances wand outstretched before her.
Suddenly something darts from behind the crates; a hundred armoured legs click and rattle as the Monstrous Centipede, nearly eight feet in length rears up before Anya.
Next Turn: Rat-Trick.