Originally posted as two parts, here and here.
Two-Score’s Two-score Tales Two: Daemonic Boogaloo
… And then I swung at the stunned kobold, missing by a hair’s breadth. Before me, a Baelor swept its fist at a sharply dressed Pit Fiend, sparks arcing outward as their demonic forms collided.
Oh, I see you’ve come in late, friend. I bet you’re wondering how I got myself into this crazy situation. If you’ve heard my performance of my first great tale, you know I recently found myself leading a party of ne’er-do-wells, commissioned to resolve a local labour disturbance. Well, fair listener, you’re timing has lent you an unfair advantage. You know things become a little more complicated.
I had just lead the charge against a dozen armed and protesting kobolds, slaying several myself. We had successfully cleared the yard of an enormous manor house. With the perimeter secured, only a handful of our opponents remained. The cowardly beasts hid themselves behind the manor’s great front door. To displace them, Marcus Xavier urged his giant scorpion to charge the fortified monsters. A few of them loosed arrows toward the chitinous creature, but its many legs flicked and blurred, and the arrows passed without contact.
Like a bolt from a crossbow, our mysterious barbarian charged through the open door, swinging wildly at and through several of our foes. Limbs and heads flew. In the midst of flurry of violence, two of the remaining kobolds miss their target so egregiously that they slew their own comrades. Our parties luck was strong today.
While blood was being spilled at the manor’s threshold, the lithe figure of our rogue, Bel, crept forward avoiding the traps strewn throughout the lawn. To inspire her in her actions, I played a short chord on my clarion-clear slide-trumpet and sang a powerful tune:
A taker of things locked away,
Her morals are mostly in grey,
Keep hold of your coin,
And cover your groin,
For her blows oft go astray.
Thus inspired, she removed the mainspring from an enormous bear trap of such comic size thats its concealment could only have been magic.
With the last of the kobolds dismembered by our combined efforts, the party strolled into the waiting foyer. While everyone else was gawking at our no-doubt splendorous surroundings, I busied myself collecting the trophies I was due. I collected a dozen scaly ears from the downed monsters and carefully wrapped them, ensuring they could later be assembled into a warning necklace.
Once everyone had contented themselves variously rummaging and desecrating the bodies, we collectively surveyed the interior of the manor. The floor was of the finest mirror-smooth marble, and the walls and ceiling were in the most elaborate molding Galderia had to offer. Spying a bookshelf through a doorway, our party was drawn into what appeared to be a spacious library. Aëlla, a copper dragonkin druid, and Dr. Marcus X lead us toward what they believed were the most valuable and arcane tomes. There were signs in unintelligible script spaced evenly along the extensive shelves. Delving deep into its memory banks, Notorious translated the script for us. The signage asked for a password, but no clues seemed to lie before us. An instant later a more pressing concern became evident: two hell hounds lazily rounded the corner of the furthest row of shelves.
A tense standoff ensued. The hounds growled and smoldered at our, now frozen, party. Making no sudden moves, Aëlla and the barbarian stepped between the growling canines and our party. Without understanding the magic tongue spoken by such beasts, our barbarian managed to soothe them. With their ire gone, Aëlla conversed with the flame-dogs. She learned that they had not seen their master in some time, but they did know that their master was upstairs. The hounds seemed to want to assist us in finding their master, and followed the barbarian out into the foyer.
With the prospect of now exploring both the ground floor and the second floor, I advised the party we should split up. In two groups, we could cover more ground and perhaps rescue any hostages the vile kobolds may have taken. Our barbarian, Aëlla, Bel, Dirk the warlock and Notorious headed up the enormous and intricate staircase. Meanwhile your heroes, Two-Score Tenpence and Dr. Marcus Xavier, investigated the main floor.
Heading to the end of the hall, the good doctor and I opened a set of double doors. Inside, we discovered the manor’s extremely well appointed kitchen. The fixtures were gleaming steel, endless cupboards and pantries. There was even an enchanted chamber, partially shifted to the ice plane in order to preserve delicate foodstuffs. Truly, this was too much to bear. In the cold room, an especially potent magic aura drew both of our attention. Perfectly packaged in straw, a dozen celestial chicken eggs revealed themselves. Next to the eggs, we discovered a rasher of strange looking bacon. With not a moment to spare, DMX and I sparked the closest stove, and began to prepare our feast.
In hindsight, we may have been able to hear the combat upstairs had we not been preparing this delicious meal. Our comrades fared well against the kobold remnants upstairs, however, and we ate our fill that day. After having consumed all our frames could handle, the doctor and I returned to the lobby, the mouth-watering scent of bacon lingering around us.
The other half of the party was descending the stairs just as we emerged into the foyer. With them was a young woman, armed and armoured. This was the master of the house, Eurice Ammot, daughter of the glorious general. She slew many of the offensive scaled creatures holding her hostage with the aid of our party as distraction. On her advice, we journey downward, to the basement.
I bravely volunteered to go first down the rough hewn steps of the great manse, but was rudely lifted from my feet by Aëlla, who placed me on her shoulder. This foolish move meant that the party lacked my keen eye at their fore and, as such, no one managed to spot the source of a strike at the barbarian. It seemed as though a sword appeared from the very stone of the wall itself to slash at our unsuspecting vanguard. We braved the snipes, venturing downward with weapons raised. A green arm reached from the stone a stride ahead of me and swung its crude bladed weapon. I dodged skillfully, flipping from the shoulders of our druid in a high arc. the serrated edge passing a mere inch beneath my nose.
Being at such a short range, the arm piercing what should have been solid stone revealed the illusion. I darted through the ephemeral wall, after my would be attacker. I quickly closed the distance, and struck at the damn kobold. My sword penetrated the monster’s flesh, killing it instantly. I called out in triumph, only to be cut off as a vial of flaming liquid was hurled toward me. I evaded the projectile, and advanced upon my next foe. I swung my blade and struck the villainous reptile. To my horror, my weapon held fast in his monstrous flesh. In a flash, my horn was in my hands and playing a melodic tune. Unable to resist, the kobold began to sway in time to the music, completely oblivious to everything around him. While playing this powerful ballad, I could see another figure approaching through the narrow rat warren I found myself in. The beast appeared to be a massive kobold, nearly double their ordinary height, clad in heavy plate armour. In order to increase my movement options, I exited the tunnel, never turning my back on the steel behemoth.
Once more in the open, I could see a net had descended on the hallway as the rest of the party advanced. The fray had intensified, with kobolds boiling up from the bottom of the stairs. Bel, near the rear of the party fired her bow, but miscalculated the shot, and it ricocheted back toward the barbarian. Barely taking her eyes from the kobold she was decapitating, the barbarian snatched the arrow from the air nearly a meter from her head. Without missing a beat, she swung the arrow toward another assailant and skewered them as well.
The stairway was now slick with lizard folk blood, and I had to pick my way down slowly and carefully. By the time I entered the basement chamber much of the battle had already resolved itself. An unbroken trail of kobold bodies lead to the front: several kobolds swinging furiously at our barbarian and Notorious, to little effect.
I spotted a target near the entrance to the chamber. I charged and swung at the stunned kobold, missing by a hair’s breadth. Before me, a balor swept its fist at a sharply dressed Pit Fiend, sparks arcing outward as their demonic forms collided. Someone had cast a magical pall of darkness on the room, and only the most powerful luminance could penetrate the conjuration. Through the obstruction, Notorious managed to catch the attention of the balor, leaving it open to a strike by the other devil spirit.
Now reeling, the balor glanced around. No kobold had survived our assault, and the demon stood alone. In that frozen moment, a small dragon streaked into the room from the stairway. Striking with incredible force, the dragon clamped its jaws onto the balor’s neck. The demon fell on its back, and between the dragon’s teeth, the pit fiend’s fists, and the barbarians axe, little was left intact. Roaring, the barbarian raised the balor’s severed head high. We had slain minions and monsters. We had rescued Princess and a princess. Our mission was nearly completed.