WhiteSheep's Campaign

WhiteSheep

Villager
Erik sweated in his armor as the sun beat down on him from a cloudless sky. The dry dusty scrubland spread out endlessly in front of him as he marched forward. Erik wished the Cult of Ilas had chosen a more hospitable location to found their new temple, as two weeks journey into the badlands had taken a toll on his enthusiasm for the project. The Ilasites had hired a large number of men to reconnoiter and pacify an abandoned tomb complex to Plos, a god of secrets, so that they could claim the location for themselves. Fifty odd adventurers of various stripes had answered the call, Erik being one.

“My throat hurts. It’s not thirst, my panties have ridden all the way up into my neck. That wheeze is me breathing through an expensive scrap of silk.”

Erik turned his head to the right and looked the woman walking next to him. Sasha Nguyen looked sweaty and sunburned in trousers and a short sleeved cotton shirt. “Why don’t you wear something sturdier? Panties don’t seem very practical.”

“That’s not the point. Would you wear a skirt if it was practical? I’m not a she-male who wears guy’s underwear.”

“You could go in the buff.”

Sasha looked at Erik. “In the buff. Really?”

“No not really. Just talking.”

“Ladies don’t do that.” Said Sasha, looking peeved.

“Still just talking here, but do ladies purge dusty old tombs of monsters and undead?”

“I’m a lady when it comes to men. Using my magic to fry a zombie or three doesn’t change how a guy treats you, not wearing underwear does.”

“True.”

A cheerful masculine voice spoke from Erik’s left spoke “It wouldn’t be appropriate to tell you what I’m wearing but I’ll say I don’t believe it’s good to be boring.”

Sasha winced. “I didn’t need to know that Mitch.”

The portly balding man shrugged and grinned, “You brought the subject up.”

“I complained a little. You were bragging. Why are guys so proud of anything to do with their junk?”

“Good question.” Said Erik. “I don’t know.”

“Because I have lots to be proud of, of course.” Said Mitch easily as he wiped his brow with his sleeve. “What I want to know is how do elves not sweat in this heat?”

The three companions turned to the fourth member of the group. A slender elf wearing leather armor and carrying a rapier at her side linked her fingers together and stretched her hands over her head.

“Our souls are forever shaded by the eternal oaks of the Everwood. Right now I feel as if I’m standing in a damp mist next to a still, deep lake and am cooled by a gentle breeze caused by unicorns running past.”

Sasha grimaced. “Someday I’ll have to learn a spell that does the same thing, Melissa.”

“Can’t you summon up an ice elemental or something?” asked Erik.

“Sure, but it’ll only be here a couple of breaths. Why are you sweating anyway Mitch? Isn’t your mind over your matter?”

Mitch rubbed his forehead. “I tried to open my third eye but it got sand in it.”

Erik glanced over his shoulder at the line of people behind them. “It’s going to be a feeding frenzy when we finally get to the old Plos tomb. Half a hundred adventurers descending on a single ruin - all starved for action after weeks of marching. Things might get violent, I hope the Ilasites can keep the peace.”

“They control the healing.” Said Melissa. “I don’t know if I’ve seen any priests among the other adventurers.”

“Those orcs have one. Or maybe he’s a shaman, if there’s a difference” mused Mitch.

“The shaman is a Tusokl worshiper. Tusokl is a fire god, like Ilas, and is supposed to pursuing her affections.” Sasha’s voice took on a lecturing tone. “It’s unusual for an orcish deity to seek a relationship from a human demigoddess. In fact I’ve read that other members of the pantheon view it as heretical. I’ve also read that Ilas is a popular girl and is being wooed by at least two other gods as well. Duminol is the first…”

“Ok ok, that’s more than we need to know.” interrupted Mitch. “The point is the Ilasites might be able to keep things civil between us and the competition, at least while we’re in camp. Deep in the tombs we’ll have to be careful.”

“Right.” Said Erik.

That night the party sat amongst a crowd of men and women near a bonfire eating stew that an Ilasite priest had prepared. Mitch had taken an onion out of his pack and was carving off pieces of it into his bowl.

“The problem with conjured food is that it lacks a chef’s personal touch. Reciting a prayer to feed a crowd of men isn’t cooking. No matter how many times the priest magics up a meal, they never get any better at it,” said the portly Psion.

To his left an orc wearing an amulet around his neck depicting a flaming fist grunted. “By Great Tusokl I would mate an elf for a steak.”

Mitch thought about it for a second and decided to get to know the beastly humanoid better. “Seared on the outside, red in the middle, and butchered an hour before.”

The orc grinned and nodded. “That sounds good.”

“What brings Tusokl’s faithful to this desolate place? I understand most of your people are far to the south.”

The orc grunted. “The shamans of the Half-Tusk tribe received visions from the lord of the flaming fist. He has found a beautiful woman of fire, and together their flames would be an inferno in the heavens. We Tusokl’s faithful are commanded to work to attract Ilas’s eye and demonstrate Tusokl’s strength.”

“Sounds like true love.” Melissa whispered to Erik. “Poor Ilas. Imagine having an orc god lusting after you. How do you let him down without starting a holy war?”

“Impressing a goddess sounds like no easy task,” said Mitch.

“My name is Skogash Half-Tusk. Today nobody knows that name, but tomorrow it will be said far and wide that I was the one who won my master his woman. The Plos tomb holds my destiny. I have seen it.” Skogash said with great conviction.

Mitch gave the orc an easy smile. “Good luck friend. A great many of us are hoping to make our names on this quest.”

Two humans walked up to the fire, with three panting dogs behind them. One was young, acne scared, and very thin. The second was middle aged, and had a belly that put Mitch’s to shame. Both wore dirty leathers and carried bows, and the older man held three small dead rabbits by the ears.

“Garret and Godo are back from the hunt” said the fat man, “and we have an extra rabbit for any pretty lady who wants to join us for dinner.” Godo looked around the crowd until his eyes fell on Sasha. The conjurer held back a grimace. Godo grinned, revealing a mouth filled with blackened teeth. “What do you say diamond eyes?”

“Speaking of unwanted attention…” whispered Melissa.

“No thank you, I’ve eaten.” Said Sasha, but a certain resigned tone to her voice said she knew that the man wasn’t going to go away that easily.

“After weeks of stew you must want a little fresh Coney. Come with me and I’ll tell you about the time I put an arrow through the eye of a mountain lion.”

“He really did.” Piped in his thin companion. “Right through its eye.”

“I’m not interested.”

“Come on off your high horse little lady, thinking your all that is just making you miss out on the fun. We could have a good time.”

Sasha’s temper flared. “Choke on your scrawny rabbit and leave me alone.”

Godo scowled. “Think you’re too good for an old mountain man? Ok b… lady, I’ll find a woman with more sense than you.” Godo and Garret walked off.

“Damn it. What an ass.” Said Sasha.

“Among my tribe, a hunter returning with game finds a warmer welcome.” Said Skogash.

Sasha opened her mouth but couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t be offensive.

Melissa tried to make the best of it. “Two weeks on the road and men still want you Sash. I wish I had your face.”

“Thanks Melissa, you’re not doing too badly yourself. Why are you with us instead of with Dominic over there?”

Melissa glanced over at a neighboring fire where a stocky man with short blond hair sat with his party. With one hand she brushed an errant hair over her pointed ear. “We’re on a break.” She mumbled.

“Oh.” Sasha said and left it at that.


The next day the travelers descended into a valley at the end of which lay their destination. Carved into the looming southern sandstone walls was the façade of the tomb complex to Plos. Rows of pillars bracketed a large stone doorway that beckoned the adventurers to enter. Prominent among the ornamentation was the holy symbol of Plos, an ornate sealed chest. On the northern cliff wall were a series of eight sealed stone doors leading into the rock. Between these two was a wide stone shaft surrounded by vegetation that lead down to an underground stream.

The Ilasites dragged braziers out from the carts, set them in a square surrounding the well, and began a ceremony to consecrate the ground to Ilas. The crowd of adventurers stood around impatiently, eager to enter the tomb. Laura O’Dell, the head Ilasite priestess, addressed the crowd.

“Warriors, we have completed our journey and now this ancient tomb stands before us ready to be cleansed. I have received visions from Ilas and know that she smiles on our work here. Be wary of the tombs, the god Plos guards his treasures jealously, but my priests and I stand ready to succor you as needed. Now receive Ilas’s blessing and let us be about our business.”

With that Laura completed a short prayer and the crowd broke up into groups, hefted its weapons, and headed into the tomb.

Erik, Sasha, Melissa, and Mitch walked behind a grey haired gnomish matron in a bright yellow dress who was accompanied incongruously by a hulking ogre carrying a large pick axe.

“Now remember Edward dearie, stay behind me and don’t touch anything. Momma has to keep an eye out for traps.” Said the gnome. The ogre grunted and looked around with wide eyes.

The vast room was worth a look. Mosaics covered the walls and floor, depicting scenes from Plos’s cannon. It seemed to lean heavily toward figures making their way through dark places to find hidden treasures. Sasha’s intellectual curiosity was peaked and she would have liked to study the images more but the rest of the group pushed onward. In the center of the room was a life sized statue of a figure who was leaning over and pulling back one side of his cowl to reveal his ear.

“It’s as if he’s listening for something,” said Erik. “Maybe a password of some sort?”

“Could be” said Mitch.

The mob of adventurers began to split up as some went through down the wide corridors to the east and west while a small crowd gathered at the great set of stone doors blocking the way to the south. The party investigated the doors.

The mosaic of a giant holding a golden chest tight in his arms covered the door. A large key ring hung off his belt and just below that was an actual three foot long key hole. Melissa stuck her head in it. “I don’t think my picks will work on this thing. Maybe a couple of crowbars… maybe.”

“Tch dearie. You didn’t check for traps” said the old gnome woman.

“Oh, oops.”

Sasha waved her hand and glyphs started to glow on the door. “Abjuration magic of some sort… not surprising. I don’t think it’s dangerous, I think it’s a locking spell.”

Sasha turned toward the statue of the robed man and the floor of the room lit up in white and pink. “Whoa. There’s a strong conjuration spell on the floor surrounding the statue.” She concentrated for a minute. “I’m pretty sure it’s not a summoning circle. More like a permanent teleport effect of some kind. The statue its self carries an enchantment form the alteration school. I don’t know what it is.”

“I’m guessing you say the right words in the statue’s ear and your teleported deeper into the tomb.” Said Erik.

A loud bang and a scream came down from the western corridor. “That, Edward, is why we let others go first” said the gnome primly.

“Yes Mona,” replied the ogre.

The party walked back over to the statue. A careful search revealed no hidden switches or messages.

“All hail great Plos” said Mitch. Nothing happened.

“In Plos’s name.”

“I’m going to loot your tomb Plos.” Still nothing.

“I know of a spell that lets you speak to stone statues as if they were alive” said Sasha.

“Can you cast it?” asked Erik.

“Nope.”

Melissa hopped impatiently from foot to foot. “The action seems to be to the east and west of here. We’re missing out.”

The elf’s anxiety spread to the rest of the group and it was decided to head down the wide western hallway. The mosaics turned into murals away from the entry chamber. They depicted scenes from a long funeral procession. The hallway lead to a long room that held slabs of marble set into the floor, carved with the likeness of people dressed in rich clothing. Some of the slabs had been pried up and the mummified remains of the interned had been pulled out of the ground. A group of adventurers was hard at work opening up another gravesite while a second sat near the wall bandaging itself.

One of the wounded adventurers wearing a red robe walked up the party. “Be careful with the tombs, they are all trapped,” he smiled ruefully “one was trapped twice.”

“I’m Mitch, who are you my friend?”

“My name is Patrick Dulles, and my battered companions are Hans Beater and Gloknick Badbite.” Hans was a heavily tattooed human in leather armor while Gloknick was a green skinned goblin in chainmail with a brand on his forehead of a circle with arrows radiating out from it in every direction. “Our party goes by the name the Torchbearers.”

“Interesting name. The four of us disagree on what to call ourselves. I want the Friendly Fellows. If we were bastards it would be ironic, but since we’re nice types it puts the right foot forward, don’t you think?”

“I agree completely. Too many adventurers are nothing but aggressive, both in name and temperament. I think the opportunity to talk things out is often sadly overlooked” said Patrick.

I think these two like the sound of their own voices” whispered Melissa.

“Our progress has been blocked in the main room” said Mitch. “Have you found anything here of note?”

“Some silver weapons and some jewelry. You might be interested to know that each corpse is buried with a small locked box. Hans has been trying to open one but hasn’t been having any luck, we may end up smashing it.”

“Plos’s holy symbol is a locked chest” said Erik.

“Mind if I have a look?” asked Melissa.

“If Hans can swallow his pride,” said Patrick.

Hans reluctantly passed a small hand sized wooden chest over to Melissa who immediately set to work on it with her lock picks. In a matter of moments the lock sprang open. The two parties gathered around as Melissa grinned and opened the chest. Inside was a folded sheet of paper that read “My savings are hidden under a loose brick in my fireplace.”

Intrigued, Melissa popped the lock on a second chest. Inside was another piece of paper that read “I fathered a bastard on a trip to Sunaloon when I was eighteen.” A third read “I am a terrible card player but a wonderful cheat.”

“Bits of gossip?” wondered Patrick.

“Secrets,” said Erik. “These are secrets and Plos is a god of secrets.”

“I bet your right,” said Sasha. “Let’s head back the way we came guys, I think I know what to tell the statue.”

The party walked back to the entry chamber and crowded around the statue. “Get ready,” said Sasha as she leaned her face toward the cowled man’s ear. “My real name is Trang,” she whispered. A cold wind began to blow through the tomb and the party faded away and disappeared.


Erik didn’t remember closing his eyes but upon opening them he found himself and his friends in an unworked cavern with tunnels leading off in all directions. Wind from all directions blew through the cavern with a low moaning sound. The party stood in a small half circle of broken pillars that surrounded a headless, battered statue holding a wide bowl in its arms.

“Is this the Underdark?” asked Melissa.

“How could we tell?” asked Erik.

“If the drow, illithids, umberhulks, or duegar kill us, we’ll know,” said Mitch.

“Before we do anything, I want to know how we get back. One sec…” Sasha waved a hand over the headless statue. It began to glow white and red. “Another teleport spell of some kind. Good, at least we’re not stuck here.”

“The empty bowl seems like the obvious trigger. What do we put in it?” said Erik.

“Water? Gold?” said Melissa.

“The mosaics in the temple were of people searching for treasure in darkness. I took it for a metaphor but maybe it was literal,” said Mitch.

“You think Plos’s worshipers came down here and searched for loot?” said Erik.

“Maybe it was the other way around. Maybe this is where they hid their treasure.”

“I don’t know, but there must be something down here. The Plosites didn’t cast these spells for nothing,” said Sasha.

The four adventurers discussed their situation for a bit longer before agreeing to carefully explore and map the area. Picking a tunnel with a limestone stalagmite growing up in the middle of it, they walked into the darkness.

As the party traveled through the branching tunnels, the cold wind was an ever present companion. At times it shrieked so loud one had to yell in order to be heard but even when it blew softly its sound seemed to echo in the mind. Soon everyone was nursing headaches.

The group passed towering limestone configurations, a room filled with geodes, and the occasional remains of a long crumbled bit of masonry but saw nothing living. After some time they paused in a large cavern containing a towering carving of a screaming giant in chains coming out of one wall. Scattered around the floor were the shriveled forms of several desiccated bodies.

“Creepy, but isn’t the conventional wisdom when confronted with a life-like statue to look for a medusa, basilisk, or cockatrice?” asked Mitch.

“How can you be so blasé? This whole place is creepy. We’re probably a million miles underground, not at all sure of where we are going, and we just found dead people,” said Sasha.

Mitch gave a half smile. “I’ve listened to a lot of bard’s tales and stories in taverns. I suppose it makes me think I’m more experienced than I really am.”

Erik walked over to the closest corpse and took a closer look. It was a husk in the tattered remains of clothing. “This one has Plos’s symbol around its neck. I don’t see any obvious wounds…”

Melissa joined Erik and peered at the body. “Something killed him. Let me do a proper search of this place. Especially of our buddy the giant.”

Mitch, Erik, and Sasha huddled together, talking loudly over the wind as Melissa scoped out the cavern. “Damn this headache. I feel like I’ve been on a bender,” complained Mitch.

“Um, Mitch, you have blood coming out of your nose. Maybe your brains are leaking…” said Sasha.

Mitch wiped the blood away. “I do feel a little sick. Do you think this wind is harming us?”

“Maybe. Doesn’t the rock in the Underdark have emanations of some sort?”

“That’s what they say. Can you check to see if it’s magical?”

“I’ve used up those spells for today.”

After a while Melissa joined them. “No traps and nothing dangerous that I could find, but I do keep seeing something move out of the corner of my eye. It could be nothing, or it could be whatever killed our friends on the ground under some sort of cloaking spell.”

Mitch glanced around himself then rested his gaze on the closest corpse. “I think we should loot our first bodies and move on. What do you say?”

Sasha grimaced. “This is going to be gross…”

The party took the bodies’ weapons, holy symbols, and peeled off their armor. On one they found a well preserved scroll that held directions. On another they found a brittle book filled with prayers.

“First left, third left, middle, second to right, fifth left to Rogue’s Delight,” Erik read from the scroll. “This way, that way, to the Drowned City, to the Titan’s Hall, and to the Strangled Man. This is good, wandering around at random was making me nervous.”

“The Rogue’s Delight, huh. When they put it that way how can I resist?” said Melissa.

Mitch wiped more blood away from his nose. “That sounds fine, let’s just get going shall we?”

On the hike to the place labeled Rogue’s Delight shapes began to move at the edge of the party’s vision. Quick, darting movements that stayed just a little too long in the torchlight to be their shadows. Mitch swore he saw a face grinning at him with long sharp teeth. Sasha hugged her arms tightly around her chest and determinedly looked straight ahead.

After half an hour the party came to a large cavern filled with stalactites that dripped water. Against one wall in a shallow pool lay a great irregular mound with stalagmites growing out of it. Melissa carefully walked over to it.

“Look at this. These look like coins covered in a thin layer of calcified rock. Only I don’t know of any currency that’s octagonal.” She bent over and pried a loose coin away from the rock. “And they are heavy. Much heavier than gold.”

Erik joined her. “If we chipped enough of these free, they might serve to fill up the bowl on the statue and get us out of here.”

Melissa started to answer then paused. “Erik… stay calm, but your eyes are bleeding.”

Erik started and wiped his eyes. Blood came away on his fingers. “I can see alright. Is everyone else ok?”

“Mitch, some of that blood on your face looks fresh,” said Sasha.

“What?” said Mitch loudly.
Sasha raised her voice to be heard over the wind. “I said your nose is bleeding again… and I think your ears are too.”

Mitch swore. “Do we need any more proof that this place isn’t healthy? Let’s get out of here the faster the better.”

“Let’s get a bowl full of these coins and go,” said Erik.

For a while the party worked at freeing coins from the rock covered pile of treasure. They quickly discovered that a few handfuls stuffed into a backpack was more than enough to weigh down the owner. Whatever kind of metal the coins were made of was extremely dense.

When the party looked up from their work they saw that the movement of the shadows was no longer confined to their peripheral vision. All along the ceiling and walls deep reds were mixing with putrid greens and blacks.

Erik bent over and shouldered his backpack. When he straightened up his head swam. A translucent, squat humanoid figure with milky eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth appeared before him for a few seconds before fading from view.

“I think this place is waking up,” said Erik.

Sasha started to say something but it was swallowed by a coughing fit. When she finished blood was on her lips.

Melissa watched the walls with a frightened expression. “Time to go, guys.”

The four adventurers started back to their entry point, heavily encumbered by the weight of the strange coins. The tunnel walls were alive with dark colors oozing into each other. The darkest spots looked like pools of black liquid. Sasha stumbled as she hurried along and her hand landed in one. Revulsion immediately filled her and her stomach rebelled, emptying its contents on the floor.

“Guys, I think I’m too weak to carry this load any further,” she said.

“Leave it,” said Sasha.

“What if we’re wrong and filling the bowl doesn’t teleport us back to the tomb?” Melissa asked anxiously.

“It’ll work. It has to,” said Erik as he wiped more blood out of his eyes.

Mitch didn’t say anything, having lost his hearing a few minutes ago. But he still had his voice, which he demonstrated a second later with a loud yell. Ahead of him was one of the creatures Erik had seen, only this one was solid. Its white flesh was covered with sores that squirmed with red maggots, and out of its mouth a long tongue waved as the thing hissed at Mitch.

“Ilas’s burning blood, kill it!” yelled Mitch as he reached out with his mind pulled a sphere of ectoplasm out of the astral and hurled it at the creature.

A beam of white light sprang from Sasha’s finger and struck the creature in the chest to no effect. “Damn it, it’s not undead,” she yelled.

Although slowed by the astral goop covering its body, the creature charged Mitch and sank its teeth and claws into his thigh. Mitch screamed. Where the creature wounded Mitch, the flesh peeled back and mortified.

Erik sunk his long sword into the beast but it only bled a little. Melissa’s rapier however stabbed it in the back of the neck, releasing a spray of black blood. Mitch pulled his dagger from his belt and with adrenaline fueled strength plunged it into the creature’s eye. It arched it back in pain, then arched it impossibly further. There was a cracking as bones broke and a second later the creature exploded in a cloud of acidic blood.

Coughing and hacking the bloodied party stumbled out of the cloud and hurried down the tunnel as fast as they could go. Somehow they didn’t make any wrong turns and upon reaching the entry point they hurriedly poured the octagonal coins into the statue’s bowl. Nothing happened. Around them the colors on the wall swirled and throbbed.

“Oh my tiny blessed balls, what do we do now?” yelled Mitch.

Erik stood staring at the statue as if it held the answer.

“The weapons and armor,” shouted Melissa. “Put it on the pile.”

The party threw the loot from the dead Plosites on top of the pile of coins. The sound of the wind slowly disappeared as the party faded from view.
 

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