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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 4:28 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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Legends are made, BUUUURP not born. FART. Bugger.

Dungeon Crawl Classics #0 Legends are Made, not Born
An Adventure for 0 Level Characters

Here follows another story hour, my main game- you can catch the party of newbies I DM at The Lost Boys Vs. The Sunless Citadel however, go on, you might like it. Unlike that game the players here are much more mature, at least in years and experience. Therefore the language and topics in places may, or may not, get a little fruity. I have, however, at all times, done my best to make sure it is suitable for almost every ear.

Read on…

In the beginning was the word, and the word was… Bugger.

The county of Lincornshire, home of the Yellow-Bellies, or as they’re sometimes known, the Imps, a mischievous folk that mean you no harm, providing you pay them their dues and then bugger off sharpish, else they’re likely to knock you into early next week, steal all that you own, and micturate in your hat for good measure. Salt-of-the-Oerth then, gentlefolk.

The Merry Riot Inn, Lowth, outside the rain lashes down, inside the only noise, although the place is packed to the rafters, comes from the logs spitting and crackling in the fire.

Cue atmosphere.

Lord Duncan Merriweather, the Mayor, a fat man, in fact nearly enough for two fat men, steps into the circle of expectant faces, he’s eating a pie.

“It is time. Chomp-chew. Enough. Chew-chomp. We cannot stand idle, chew-chomp, as this creature destroys our village. GGGGulp… our lives.”

The Mayor stares hard at the empty faces of the gathered folk; his eyes linger on the families of Ginger Barley and Pop Stokes, the victims of the Ogre’s vicious attack earlier today. The families have chosen, this evening, to sit together, which is particularly apposite as Ginger’s wife is Pop’s brother- you work it out, we’re in the sticks now. Goober Stokes dabs his one big eye, while Lillybeth-Jinny-Anne-Sue Barley rubs her stump.

“It is time to fight back. Chew-spit-choke.”

None of them can meet his eye, mainly because of the fountain of lard and crumbs that is raining down upon the hushed crowd.

“For years we have paid tribute to this beast, Gargle-Gulp, even when times were hard- we found a way CHOMP to keep it fed and watered, for sheep and ale was all it wanted…BURRRRP then. But now the creature has become grasping, it craves our gold, and now… PARRRRP, strangely it wants wood and nails- building materials, although Pelor knows what it is GGGulp- that’s better, constructing, or why.”

He raises his arms; they’re like the horns on a space-hopper, he’s about to make a point.

(See below for Space Hopper image)

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgur ... %26hl%3Den

“And now the beast asks for CHOMP flesh, human CHOMP flesh.”

The Mayor scans the room, cradles, jiggles and smoothes his flabby folds.

“And what we would not give, it took. GUUUUUULP”

He’s finished his pie. He looks again at the forlorn families.

“It is time to fight, UUUUrp-sorry, back. I have assembled a group of brave souls to deliver our message, once and for all, to the bloody fiend. And that message is… FARRRT, and Death.”

The crowd stirs, begins to look around, an armoured figure steps forward, strides to the Mayor, turns to the masses and bows low.

The Mayor continues.

“Lord Casimir La Frond will lead the group.”

The armoured figure bows again, smiles.

“Hello, I’m Lord Casimir, I’m a Gemini, and quite a catch- no seriously, Ogre-“

He makes chopping motions with an imaginary sword.

“Is over. Call me Cas. Call me anytime… Laydeees.”

He licks his lips, then flattens his eyelashes, all with his tongue, then winks at the damsels in distress.

The villagers know him well, a clean cut and handsome young man, capable, if a little rash- like chicken pox, he gets round; a little, how best to put it- forward. Brave enough when farmer’s daughters are on hand, but enough to face a giant down? Some of the villagers applaud; many more keep their own council, particularly Tarrik (see later).

Cas edges just out of the firelight, swings round to show off his better side.

The Mayor stumbles on.

“Jim Bowen will help to lead the way. Jim.”

A cloaked young lad, just out of his teens, a rough and ready look to him, strides into the light and to the Mayor, shakes his hand, half-nods to the crowd, and edges back into the shadow.

The Mayor turns back to him, “Do you have anything to add?”

Jim shakes his head, trying to hide the burning flush that scars his face, he tenses, a drip of wee snakes down the inside of his farm-boy pants. He shakes a leg and then settles- head down.

The mayor turns back to the crowd.

“Bec will add his strength.”

The crowd parts as a gurning giant strides forth, foaming tankard still in hand, settles next to the Mayor, glugs his drink, wipes his mouth and in the process soaks the front of his jerkin with the tankards contents.

A smattering of laughter, not cruel, but caring. The giant, Bec, grins.

“Wet now.”

He mumbles and, with Jim’s help, shuffles backwards, out of the light.

“Can I have sandwich?”

Jim nods and places a calming hand on Bec’s arm.

The Mayor goes on.

“Anya’drea will of course provide much needed arcane experience.”

A tall, and stunningly beautiful, woman silently steps out of the crowd, swoony-music begins, her red hair aglow in the firelight, she circumnavigates the crowd- for all to see, to admire. She nods at the Mayor who fumbles in his folds, finds a piece of crumpled paper, goes to eat it- thinks better of it, flattens it out and then reads aloud.

“Anya is wearing a calf-skin ‘riding’ jacket with ribbed badger lining, her leather dress is by ‘Goat-e-a’- a daring, plunging, design from their ‘Oh Please Mistress’ Collection. Her boots are Dire Rat pelts, bred in captivity- lovingly killed, flensed, cured and stitched to create a shockingly smooth perambulatory experience. Anya’s jewellery is from the ‘Spangle-Dangle’ Collection from Ratners- for Rats and Rings the best bite in town, be sure to snap them up. Ahem . Hair and make-up by the famous Gnome coiffeur Damp Squib. I give you Anya…”

Anya twirls some more and then, without a smile, or trace of pleasure, passes on to join the others.

A smattering of applause, the odd wolf-whistle. The noise soon dies down.

“And lastly, to complete the valiant group, ahem… Newt.”

A young Gnome barges his way through the sea of legs and into the spotlight, he turns bows low to the masses, and then round to the Mayor, flips a shiny gold coin in the air, it disappears, he strides over to the Mayor, puts his hand out- the coin reappears high above him, it plummets, he catches it and whips it out of sight- he settles into a lazy grin, and when the Mayor turns away presents too his middle finger at the fat fool.

“Good riddance.”

The Gnome turns to face his audience, his right eye twitches; he scans the crowd, his mouth a snarl, till he spots the bringer of bad tidings- Kerwin, a weasel of a man, the proprietor of Kerwin’s Outfitters, an overpriced general store.

Kerwin knows the Gnome, all the members of the village do, it seems everyone in the village has mislaid something or other at onetime or another, the missing items always seeming to ‘turn up’ in the vicinity of the quick fingered Newt. Kerwin has a name for it; he calculated once that he was losing at least 5% of his stock to the miniature crime wave that stands before them, shrinkage- that’s what he calls it, shrinkage.

“Feckowwwwfyascabbycludger.”

Newt grins, and straightens his apparel, bows again, winks and is on his way, all the while making a mental note to fleece the fellow on his return, else stab him through his stone heart.

The Mayor dives on, as the Gnome wraps himself in shadow.

“And so our brave adventurers are ready to strike, to beard the fearsome Ogre in his foul den…”

WHUMP

The door of the Inn lashes open, wind and rain flies in, a cloaked figure steps into the light, the elements seemingly unconcerned with this barefoot child.

“I will go too.”

Mischa shrugs the hood of her cloak down; the Elf scans the crowd looking for defiance.

“The creature deserves to die, it has upset the balance, I will see it done.”

She pulls her hood back up, the audience watches her every move, then makes her way over to the other adventurers.

“Well… Good. Six- the six shall head forth… Ahem. But before they go- who will proffer aid to them on their perilous journey?”

“I have brought these.”

Mischa steps forward again, in her open palm rest eight blue-black berries.

“The Witch of the Wood…”

The crowd collectively suck in air. Mischa continues-

“My mistress, has sent them- Goodberries, they will each heal a minor wound. We will share them.”

She passes them out, too late, Bec eats his.

“Mmmm Jammy-good.”

Then.

“Can I have sandwich?”

The Mayor turns back to the crowd.

“I have brought this.”

Old Tarrik One-Arm (that’s why he wasn’t applauding) shuffles forward clutching a ferocious-looking jet back arrow in his hands.

“It will not break, and it will always find its target.”

He hands it over, Jim Bowen and Lord Casimir step forward to take the arrow, the Lord relents.

“After yew, sirrah.”

Cas bows and admires the cut of the farm-boys pants; Jim nods nervously and takes the proffered arrow.

“I will use it weeEE...”

He realises all eyes are on him, he turns away swiftly, his face a rictus grin, his bowels about to cut loose, he shakes.

The room returns to silence.

It goes on for a while.

“Is there no other? These brave men and women are our only hope; do none of you have any other aid you can give them?” The Mayor pleads.

“Ahem.”

Kerwin steps forward, “Fifty gold- to spend in my place, a…”

The Mayor strides over to the weasel man, “A generous offer.” Clasps Kerwin’s hand and pumps it beaming at the assembled masses. The hypnotic jiggle of his bellies momentarily confuses Kerwin, he flounders then finds his purpose.

“A loan.”
“What?”
“I said a loan- 5% vig. Per day.”
“You can’t be serious?”
“Of course I’m serious; they’ll all be dead by the mor…”

The crowd begin to hoot and moan, stamp their feet, gnash their gums, someone fetches a banjo

“Alright 4%.”

The noise grows louder, a violin squeals up a storm.

“3%- take it or leave it.”

The noise continues but Kerwin contents himself with a close examination of his shoes.

“Then I will pay your 3% scoundrel- and be swift to open your doors, these younglings have a task tonight.”

The Mayor turns back to the six brave souls and in the surrounding silence simply states.

“Remember- Legends are made, BUUUURP not born. FART. Bugger”

And the players are, basically the Pre-Gen’s from the module, but for those of you without the book.

“Jim” Bowen

Human Male Warrior Level 1 (Training to become a Ranger)
NG HP 10 AC 18 Init +2
Str 14 Dex 15 Con 14 Int 12 Wis 12 Ch 10
Saves Fort +4 Ref +3 Will +1
+1 Battleaxe (family heirloom) +4 d8+3
Comp. Longbow (+2 Str) +3 d8+2
Dagger +3 or +3 d4+2
Armour: Chainmail and Light Wooden Shield.
Feats: Skill Focus (Trapmaking) & Point Blank Shot
Skills of note: Climb +4 Craft (Trapmaking) +6 Handle Animal +4 Jump +4 Wilderness Lore +3

Items of note: Nothing much.

A shy farm boy who doesn’t like people, or at least isn’t comfy around them, or what he means to say… oh excuse me- Jim heads for a bush. And the fair sex, the poor lad feints away. He will die for the cause (I’ll see to that, DMs note). True and steadfast and with a bladder seemingly the size of a packet of crisps (chips), and always full to the brim. A nervous ninny, except when alone, or with his friend- gah- ‘the animals.'

Bec

Human Male Commoner Level 1 (Training to become a Barbarian)
CG HP 11 AC 14 Init +1
Str 18 Dex 12 Con 18 Int 11 Wis 8 Ch 9
Saves Fort +4 Ref +1 Will -1
Long Spear +4 d8+6
Dagger +4 or +1 d4+4
Armour: Studded Leather.
Feats: Toughness
Skills of note: Climb +8 Jump +5 Ride +3 Spot +3 Swim +5 Use Rope +4

Items of note: Climber's Kit.

Six feet six inches, a brick out-house, as they say this side of the water. Alas, also a sandwich short of a picnic, no fear of head injuries- deals with the right now, little time for reflection, learns by his mistakes, again, and again, and again. Generally point-and-click with a heart of gold, or jam, I forget which.

Lord Casimir

Human Male Aristocrat Level 1 (Training to be Paladin)
LG HP 10 AC 17 Init +1
Str 15 Dex 13 Con 14 Int 14 Wis 11 Ch 14
Saves Fort +2 Ref +1 Will +2
Longsword (Masterwork) +3 d8+2
Longbow (Masterwork) +2 d8
Light Mace +2 d6+2
Armour: Shiny Breastplate & Sparkling Light Steel Shield
Feats: Negotiator & Dodge
Skills of note: Diplomacy +8 Handle Animal +6 Knowledge (History) +4 Knowledge (Local) +6 Ride +5 Sense Motive +6 Spot +4

Items of note: Potion Cure Light Wounds, 3 Flasks of Holy Water, 5 Silver Arrows.

Ladies love Lord Casimir, and he knows it- actually a clever lad with all it takes to be a Paladin, and with the death of his father, and three older brothers, a true Lord of the Land- only kidding. Content with his lot, and happy to pick up as many brownie points as possible by keeping this gang of misfits together for the big win. Oh Anya though… simply delicious.

Anya’Drea

Human Female Expert (Wizard’s Apprentice) Level 1
CG HP 7 AC 13 Init +5
Str 10 Dex 13 Con 12 Int 16 Wis 11 Ch 17
Saves Fort +1 Ref +1 Will +2
Quarterstaff (The Gandalf 4000 with Lantern crook) +0 d6
Sling (actually an old pair of her leather panties) +1 d4
Armour: Leather Armour by Goat-e-a (see previous)
Feats: Skill Focus (Use Magic Device), Armour Proficiency (Light) & Improved Initiative
Skills of note: Appraise +3 Bluff +3 Concentrate +4 Craft (Model) +3 Decipher Script +7 Diplomacy +3 Disguise +3 Forgery +3 Gather Info +3 Hide +5 Intimidate +3 Knowledge (Arcane) +6 Listen +4 Move Silently +3 Perform (Vogue) +3 Scry +3 Search +3 Spellcraft +7 Use magic Device +10

Spells: None

Items of note: Scroll Read Magic, Detect Secret Doors & Mage Hand (All Level 1); Wand of Magic Missile (Level 1- 10 Charges); 2 Bags of Caltrops; 6 Tindertwigs.

Beautiful, sometimes cruel but generally just not bothered, except, why isn’t she a wizard yet? Smart as a whip and out to make a name for herself, the latest fashions are her thing, she parades permanently and yet seems not to relish the attention. She doesn’t know what she wants, except to be a wizard.

Newt

Gnome Male Expert Apprentice Locksmith Level 1 (Training to be a Rogue)
NG HP 8 AC 18 Init +3
Str 11 Dex 16 Con 14 Int 16 Wis 11 Ch 10
Saves Fort +2 Ref +3 Will +2
Heavy Mace +1 d6
Light Crossbow +4 d6
Dagger (2) +1 or +4 d3
Armour: Scabby old Chain Shirt
Feats: Nimble Fingers, Low Light vision, +1 To Hit vs. Goblinoids and Kobolds, +4 Dodge vs. Giants.
Skills of note: Alchemy +9 Appraise +5 Balance +3 Craft (Locksmith) +5 Disable Device +9 Escape Artist +3 Forgery +3 Hide +9 Intimidate +3 Listen +6 Move Silently +4 Open Lock +9 Ride (Pony) +3 Scry +3 Search +7 Spot +5 Use Rope +3
Spells: Ghost Sound, Dancing Lights, Prestidigitation & Speak with Burrowing Animals.

Items of note: Silk Climbing Rope, 10 Tindertwigs, 2 Thunderstones, 2 Tanglefoot bags, 2 Sunrods, 2 Smoke Sticks, 4 Alchemist’s Fire, Thieves Tools.

A one-Gnome miniature crime wave, his father wanted him to take over the family business, Gingritch Locksmiths, he saw a different opening. He’s also a dab hand with minor alchemical substances. Not evil, more mischievous, in a grand larceny kind of way.

Mischa

Elf Female Adept Level 1 (Training to be a Druid)
NG HP 6 AC 15 Init +3
Str 10 Dex 16 Con 11 Int 15 Wis 18 Ch 12
Saves Fort +0 Ref +3 Will +6
Cold Iron Sickle +0 d6
Short bow +3 d6
Armour: Dirty Leather
Feats: Track

Skills of note: Balance +3 Concentration +4 Escape Artist +3 Heal +10 Hide +3 Knowledge (Nature) +4 Listen +6 Move Silently +3 Ride (Horse) +3 Search +4 Sense Motive +4 Spellcraft +4 Spot +6 Use Rope +3 Wilderness Lore +8

Spells Level 0 (3) Cure Minor Wounds, Detect Poison, Flare Level 1 (2) Entangle, Summon Nature’s Ally I

Items of note: 4 Antitoxin, Healing Salve (Cures d3- 8 uses) 2 Healer’s Kits, Wooden Flute.

The Witch of the Wood’s apprentice little is known of Mischa.

Actually the only real change is with Mischa’s spells, she wanted to be Druid rather than some hanger-on Priest of an Eleven/Nature deity.

The players know that they need 500 XP to get to first level, either that or they need to survive to the end of the scenario, which ever happens first- although they’re not gaining any complex class-based skills till they make time for training.

We press on…

After a short session at Kerwin’s Outfitters spending their loaned “aid” on torches, trail rations and the like the six huddle on the porch, watching the rain, to share rumours of what lies ahead.

“I saw rat bite dog.”

CHOMP

“Bite good- dog runoff.”

Bec starts the sharing.

The others stare at the giant, dare I say it, moron.

“How does that fit in with anything, we’re off to kill an Ogre?” Newt looks put out.

CHOMP

“Bite good.”

Bec is certain.

“Right? What else?” Cas asks.

“There’s another way into the Ogres cave at Skulltop Hillock.” Anya offers with a look. Mischa nods. “It’s at the rear- a little way up, something lairs there though- something that smells bad.”

“That’s interesting.” Cas rubs his chin, effects a pose. “I think the back entrance maybe the way.”

Jim nods, fingers his Magic Arrow, tries to avoid looking at Anya legs, then Mischa’s cleavage, then Anya’s alegs and cleavage, “I could… ah… I could… get that, I mean, I could…the creature” He drifts into silence. The others look on. He starts up again.

“There’s a… A… There’s… A… Tomb… A tomb… some knight… in there… A Tomb.”

“I heard that too.” Anya breaks in.
“Yep.” Newt nods. “Let’s try that way first- see if we can’t sneak up on the big feller, y’never know there might be some gelt in it- the tomb I mean.” The Gnome rubs his hands at the thought of plunder.

“I see pretty lights.”

Bec stares off into the semi-dark, the others follow his gaze.

“Pretty lights in hills… Pretty.”

The others squint, scan the horizon.

“Where?” Cas finally asks.

“I think the operative word is, when… When did you see ‘Pretty Lights’?” Anya cuts through the confusion.
“Other night… Sometime… Lots.” Bec finishes.
“I have… I have…too, lights in the hills… too.” Jim adds squirming.

Newt stares hard at Cas, “Can we concentrate on matters in hand.”
“Yes, perhaps we should.” The paladin replies.

The rain is beginning to ease up, fireflies buzz and dance beneath the near trees, there are still lights on in the village.

“Is there anything else we should know?”

The others think about it a while, Mischa breaks the silence.

“There’s a chimney, in the stone skull at the top of the hill- I’ve seen the smoke, we could get in that way, at least a little one could.”

Newt shrugs. “I’m game.”

Anya interrupts, pushy.

“They say the creature is as strong as any ten men, his club can crush a man’s skull with a single blow. It would take a very brave man to stand up to the fiend.” Anya looks up from checking her nails, changes her stance to reveal a yard of leg. “The question is- is there a man brave enough?”

Anya scans the party.

Cas licks a finger and smoothes his eyebrows, trying to find a jaunty angle to rest his hand upon his sword. Jim pulls at his crotch area, crosses his legs and gurns. Newt fiddles with something, distracted, finally looks up- unsure of what has been said. Mischa dismisses Anya’s gaze, hides deeper within the folds of her hood. Bec claps the air- and a firefly, sniffs the wreck of the creature, now paste in his hands, he licks the spot then grimaces, then licks it clean.

“Can I have sandwich?”

They ignore him.

“Tarrik lost his arm. To the giant… some time ago.” Cas adds still staring hard at Anya, she favours him a look. The others watch on till,

“Right, anything else?” Cas asks.

“They also say that the Ogre is in league with our good Mayor Merriweather.” Anya suggests, she likes to stir the pot.

“No. No, I mean. Surely not. What would he…” Cas stumbles.
“Money.”
“Where?” Newt’s back in the room, and all ears.
Anya shakes her head and tuts at the foolish Gnome.

“My dad took on a Dwarven carpenter, Durbin, to fix the roof- he just upped and left, no payment, no nothing- he had a lovely set of ladders I had my eye on.” Newt drifts off.

“Right.” Cas is about to finish up, his big speech, he strikes a pose- aiming for the thinking man, with a hint of the thinking woman’s draught excluder.

“What we do know is that this can’t continue, the creature was content to take our beer, and our food- tribute it said. Alas things have changed, with the death of Ginger Barley and Pop Stokes things have come to a head. We know where the creature lives- Skulltop Hillock; we know a secret way in, maybe two, if the chimney works out. And if the Mayors right then there’s a good chance the creature will have had his fill of beer, poisoned beer- his reactions should be slow.”

The would-be-paladin looks about him, stands on tip-toes, to give himself that extra presence.

“This is our chance, for ourselves, for the village, for Ginger Barley and Pop Stokes- we owe it to them. We should go now. Who’s with me?”

He eyes his audience, in unison they nod, stitch on their most determined faces, except for Jim-

“Wooolves… WOOOOlves, inthehills.” Jim half-balances on the edge of a table one hand grasping his crutch.

“What?” Anya stares at him, leans in close. “What are you saying? Is he alright?”

The others form a tight half-circle so as to guarantee Jim no privacy.

“Is your leg ok?” Anya touches it, just above Jim’s knee.

Instantly a dark stain spreads towards her hand, the woodsman blossoms red and half-sigh grins.

“Yesssssssssss.” He adds.

The others leave sharpish, and so to no-one Jim restates. “I said there are wolves in the hills, we ought to be careful.” He straightens up, eases his pants away from his skin and frog-like crouch-walks off the porch.

Approximately twenty minutes later the group have crossed farmer’s fields and ditches and are at the edge of the woods.

They stand there, looking back at the village, a final farewell.

“Funny?” Mischa notes.
“What is?” Cas asks.

Mischa points, the others follow her gaze, in the distance a building in the village seems to be outlined by a red furze.

“What do you think it is?” Cas wonders.
“Fire.” Newt states, “I mean… probably.”
“Should we go back- see if they require assistance? Where do you think it is? I pray it’s not the church?” Cas wobbles.
“It’s Kerwin’s.” Newt states, “I mean… probably.”

They turn to stare at the Gnome.

“You didn’t?” Cas is furious.
“No, I didn’t. I was here with you- remember.”

Newt turns and wanders into the woods; the white of his teeth reflects the scant light- he’s smiling.

Next Turn- The Smelly Back Passage.

You might think I’ve gone for the cheap gag but the above is, more or less, exactly how it played out- blame my players, who are incidentally all 30+ years old but obviously, Jim, enjoy playing the giddy-goat (fool).

The rain has eased up, a waxing moon illuminates the way through the woods, shadows everywhere, the torch lit procession soon finds its way through however. The eagle eyes of Newt, and in particular, Mischa, who knows the route, have not led them astray; the pair’s low light vision, even with the flaring torches, can pick out detail at a hundred paces.

Two miserable hours later the six sit, crouch, and stand in the lea of a copse of trees observing what Mischa says is the rear of the Ogre’s den.

“Where is it?” Cas scans the hillock again.
“Wait.” Mischa counsels.

They wait, in silence, except for Anya who awkwardly scrapes mud from her Dire Rat skin boots. “These are ruined.” She states to no-one.

“I can’t see anything.” Newt moans.
“Wait.” Mischa simply states.

Dusk approaches, and with its approach signals feeding time for the bats. A dark spiral of the creatures erupts from a crag forty feet up the side of the hillock, no more than two hundred feet from where the adventurers watch.

“See.” Mischa scans her compatriot’s faces, and then quickly and quietly, sets off for the crag.

Two minutes later they have reached the hillock, gathered in silence.

“Wait.” Mischa tags Jim’s arm, he spasms at the touch- then relaxes a little, the two crouch down and shuffle forward.

“I’m beginning to see who’s in charge.” Newt states staring hard at young Lord Casimir. The would-be paladin smiles back, feigning indifference; there’s nothing else for him to do.

At the base of the hillock Mischa and Jim circle.

“See. Here.”

The Elf falls to her knees, strikes a pose like some four-legged beast. She gingerly places her feet and hands into hollow depressions in the dirt.

“It’s five feet long, quadruped, big- heavy, look how deep the tracks are.”

Jim grins, all he can see is the young Elf’s twitching rear silhouetted in the moonlight.
“Mmmm… I… I, ah… I see.”

“The tracks head up, their fresh, the creature has fed today perhaps. Nevertheless we should warn the others.” Mischa looks up. “It’s an easy climb. I shall lead the way.”

Two minutes later the group are gathered forty feet up at an opening in the hillocks side, a tear in the rock.

“I’ll take over.”

Newt scrambles forward to the head of the queue, braces himself against the sides of the crevasse and heads on in. In a moment he’s gone from sight.

Inside the dark cave, Newt cautiously, quietly, creeps- tight to the cavern wall, his eyes adjust to the dark, the shaft of light from the crevasse emphasises the shadows that surround him.

A minute passes. He heads back.

“There’s a cave, it smells- not good. There’s an opening on the far side, it smells worse - there’s something down there, I swear I could hear something moving- sounds big. Also the ground is soft- funny.” Newt reports back, confirming Mischa’s warning.

“Onwards.” Cas whispers.

“Can I have a sand…” Bec starts up, Anya reaches up and clamps her hand across his mouth, she shakes his head- no.

They head in.

A minute more and they’re assembled inside, it’s too dark for those not blessed with low light vision, a torch flares, the group take in their surroundings. They’re standing in the centre of a natural cave, a passage heads off into darkness, and lastly, and for Anya most importantly, their standing in six inches of collected bat guano.

“OH MY GOD. Oh my god. Oh my god.”

Anya breaks her cool looking for some way to extricate her boots from the mire. She gloops and slops forward, pulling her ruined boots from the wretched slop.

“Shhhh.” A collective offering.

“OH MY GOD- d’you know how much these cost me?”

“Shhhh.” It comes again.

Bec bends low to sniff at the bats offerings, staggers upright.

“POO POO.”

He half-dances into the thickest part. Slips- catches himself, then slips again and is down; hands, hair, face in the slop.

“POO POO.”
“Will you keep it down.” Cas hisses.

Slowly order returns.

They head over to the exit.

“Oh my god. Oh my god.” A litany under her breath from Anya.

The cavern ahead splits two ways, Mischa sniffs, Jim follows suit.

“The creature’s lair lies to the left.” She simply states.

Newt struggles to the front again, “I’ll check it out. If I call…”
“We’ll come running.” Cas finishes off his remark.

Newt shuffles-squats forward, down the left-hand passage. All is silent for a good while.

Cas looks at Jim, then Mischa, skips Bec, then Anya- who shrugs and gets back to pushing back an offending cuticle.

Time passes.

Then bursting from the tunnel ahead comes the Gnome, at speed, with something large in hot pursuit.

“AAAAAhhhh. Big skunk- angry, big skunk.”

The Gnome bowls through the cavern as emerging, hissing into the light comes the enraged Dire Skunk, all teeth and fur, the group quickly fall back as the creature approaches- snarling and spitting as it surges forward.

All except for Lord Casimir who stumbles and puts one hand down in the mire, he’s left stranded his back to the giant creature.

At the other side of the cavern Newt finishes his tactical retreat by tripping and plunging head first into the bat guano. That leaves four of the adventurers in play.

And yet the creature hesitates, content to defend its lair.

Jim staggers forward hands up. He has no idea what he’s doing, or why, and yet…

“There, there. Nice skunky. Shhhh.”

Mischa nudges Bec, who shuffles forward and grabs Cas dragging him up and back to safety. Newt recovers in the background, wipes sh*t from his face and hands.

Jim takes a step closer, his eyes locked on the twinkling eyes of the enormous beast, he glances back at Mischa, and then quickly forward, locked onto the beast. Time slows.

“There, there. We come in…”

The beast quickly turns, raises its tail, and a geyser of hot skunk piss sprays out, it shakes its flanks and then turns again to see what it has wrought.

“POOOOOOO POOOOOO.”

Bec screams like a frightened child, the scent fills his nostrils, his brain- he hurtles forward, away, anywhere; trips, stumbles and thumps into a cavern wall- out cold.

For Jim the effect is less dramatic, he slowly sags, slumps and then falls flat-out into the mire, bubbles in the guano mark his mouth submerged in the miasma.

“Kill it.” Cas screams.

Anya is however first to react, a wand appears, as if by magic, in her hands.

“LOOK AT MY BOOTS. SMIDGIN”

A bolt of energy rips from the end of the wooden shaft and thumps into the enraged creature’s face- that’s torn it.

Mischa is unsure, she grasps her sickle and stands ready lest the creature launch an attack; it was only defending its lair after all.

Newt quick-draws a dagger and flings it at the creature it misses by a country mile, sinks into the dark, and the gloop, never to be found again- good start.

The Dire Skunk has had enough; it launches itself at Lord Cas, over Jim- pressing him further down into the stinky gloop. Mischa steps in- swings but merely cuts the air. The beast sinks its teeth into Cas’ arm, blood spurts then cascades, his shield falls into the dirt. Off-balance he swings hard with his longsword but the creature is too close, the blow is ineffective, it bounces off the Dire Skunk’s matted fur.

Anya backs away, this is not going well and yet…

“YOU RUINED MY BLOODY BOOTS. SMIDGIN”

Another bolt of energy streaks forward and scores a hit. The creature staggers and yet is now certain where its enemy lies- it charges forward. Mischa is slow to react, the creature bowls past her and rushes at the Model Wizard.

Thwang.

Newt’s crossbow speaks, however the bolt, like his dagger, is lost to the dark.

The Dire Skunk arrives, at pace, smashes into Anya and snaps its jaws shut slicing through leather, skin and bone.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”

The creature rears back salivating, makes ready for another strike.

“NOT THE DRESS AS WELL.”

Behind the creature Lord Cas swings wildly, misses badly- still staggered from the creature’s initial attack.

Further behind the melee, Jim lifts his face from the mire, voids his stomach and hearing the screams behind him attempts to gain his feet.

Anya staggers backwards as the great creature sways before her, in desperation fumbles the wand, reaches into a pocket and gulps down her goodberry.

Mischa backs away, weaves magic with her hands, a sudden burst of light before the creature as her Flare spell ignites the air. The creature rears up blinded, leaving Newt and the others with a clear shot.

Thwong.

Newt’s crossbow bolt buries itself deep inside the creature’s throat, it chokes on its own blood, thrashes wildly- Anya dives again for cover.

Then Cas connects, his longsword slicing open the creatures flank, it deflates in an instant, slowly sinks further into the sh*t.

“Can I have sandwich?”

Bec awakens.

The six sit about, arguing-

“What did you say to it?” Cas wearily asks the Gnome.
“Nuthin’” comes the reply.

Jim whispers to Mischa, which is proving difficult to do, he and Bec stink to high heaven, nobody wants to get too close to either of them.

“How did… did he… did he speak to it?”
Mischa is quick to reply. “The Gnomes have the ability to talk; no, that’s not it, communicate with many burrowing creatures.”
Jim nods, confused- it’s a default setting.

“You must have said something.” Cas implored.
“Nope.”

Newt and Cas settle into a staring competition.

“Oh my god. Oh. My. God.” Anya provides background noise.

Mischa continues to do her rounds, there are wounds to be healed.

“Poncey fecker.” Newt mumbles.
“What?” Cas stares hard at the Gnome.
“I said nothing.”

“Leave him.” Anya interjects, “what does it matter now what he said?”
Cas shrugs, staggers off and leaves the Gnome alone.

“Oh. My. God.” Anya again, although there’s something about her voice- a revelation?

The would-be-paladin quickly-turns, “what is it?”

“Well look at this… if we cut here, and here…” Anya makes chopping motions over the dead Dire Skunk’s carcass, “then we’ll have enough hide for a dress, maybe even a poncho… I mean it stinks now, but we can fix that.”

Mischa has heard enough, “you would slaughter this proud creature just to make… a poncho?”
“No sweetie. I slaughtered this beast because it got in my way, sorry OUR way, and as I remember it was that Flare of yours that finally did for it. The poncho’s just a bonus.”

Mischa spins round, defeated, strides across the room and bumps into Jim’s chest. Without thinking he snakes his arm around her shoulders, and gingerly pats the spot between her shoulder blades, a trail of warm wee coils out from his left trouser leg- merges with the bat faeces, what the hell, he isn’t going to smell any worse, he plasters on a triumphant grin- head thinks, girlfriend.

Five minutes later, his arm still slightly numb after the creatures attack, Cas points at the tunnel exit, makes a sign for silence. Newt skips forward and on, the others follow, Anya toting her soon-to-be poncho.

They head left into the Dire Skunks lair, and it’s as simple as that, one stinking corner a toilet, another with bedding, all around the faint ammonia stench, both in the room, and on Jim and Bec.

“No treasure.” Newt is disappointed.
“What did you expect, a ruddy chest?” Cas is still angry it seems.
Newt turns away and silently mimics the Lords words, like a child.

They back out and head off on the right-hand spur, the cramped tunnel, for some, only six feet high and five wide, curves round to a crude stone door on the right, then plunges on, there are lights ahead, a pair of them bobbing too and fro.

Newt goes to investigate but is held back, Cas grips tight his arm.

“You two. Be careful.” He nods at Mischa and then Jim, they sneak ahead.

“What about the door then?” Newt nods towards it.
“Shhhh. Have patience, not yet.” Cas replies.

The Gnome kicks a stone and shrugs into the shadow.

Ahead a much larger cavern, the drip of water to the left, also Mischa spies two possible exits, one left past the water, one straight ahead. Stalactites and stalagmites dot the floor and ceiling, some immense. Between them wend three pairs of flashing lights.

“Wha…” Jim begins.
“Fire Beetles.” Mischa finishes whispering.

She nods for Jim to follow, scuttles into the chamber. Jim follows, after first drawing his bow and setting in place his magic arrow.

The first beetle catches a whiff of Jim approaching, thinks Dire Skunk, and beetles off, the second the same, the third however does not make the connection, it skitters and rattles over, it’s jaws snapping open and shut. Jim draws a bead on the approaching monster, time to be a hero, draws the string as far back as he can.

Fwung-g-g-g

The arrow flies three feet, ricochets on the cavern floor, and then careens off into the darkness.

CRACK.

Jim’s bow snaps clean in half.

The Fire Beetle closes in on Mischa, ready for the kill.

Clunk-scree.

Mischa’s sickle digs a furrow in its carapace, to no effect; its jaws snap shut just missing Mischa’s leg. There’s no use for it.

“HELP.” She screams.

The beetle lunges again as the others come running, misses again, the other two beetles it seems have found the courage to join the fray, they clatter over. Mischa stabs again this time slices air.

Jim drops the remains of his useless bow and steps in swinging his battleaxe.

CRUNCH

Smashing the creature where it stands- one down.

Lord Cas charges in, takes in the scene, spots the nearest threatening beetle and continues his charge to intercept, the beetle redoubles its efforts, the two meet in a horrendous smash. Cas swings high and wide, and off-balance is mown down by the beetle, under it he sways and shrugs as the creatures jaws snap open and closed inches from his face.

Thank heavens for Bec following close behind, his spear lances out and down.

CRUNCH.

Through the creatures carapace, and through its body, stopping only for the caverns stone floor- between the squirming would-be-paladin’s legs. Bec, in one swift motion, levers the beetle up into the air and swats his spear sideways, flinging the dead beetle off into the dark. Just in time for the final beetle to arrive. Jaws agape it sprints the last few feet aiming for Bec’s leg.

CRUNCH

The spear comes again impaling the thing mid-stride; it kicks air for a second and then expires.

Anya tumbles into the chamber.

“BEEE Kal. BEEE-KUL. BEE-KiLL”

Bec stretches down and wrenches Cas back to his feet, the young Lord is short on words, he pats Bec’s arm.

“A is for ‘a BEEE-KUL.’” Bec states, then for good measure, “Can I have sandwich?”

Jim searches around in the dark, tippy-toe, trying to be quiet; he finds the jet black magical arrow after a short while, not a scratch on it, which is more than can be said for his bow.

He heads back to the others, and to Cas, offers him the miserable arrow. Cas smirks, shuffles his own bow off his shoulder and instead proffers it to Jim.

“I… er… I.”
“Take it.”

Cas passes his bow over, Jim awkwardly grins, as Cas clasps his arm.

“We’re in this together.” The would-be-paladin confirms then winks.

The six, no scratch that- five, gather again.

Hang on, where’s Newt?

“It’s open”, announces a small voice from back down the passage.

Cas grimaces, the five head back to see what Newt has found.

Next Turn: Tomb it may concern.

Dungeon Crawl Classics #0 Legends are Made, not Born
An Adventure for 0 Level Characters

Turn 6: Tomb it may concern.

The door is wide open, Newt scuttles around inside.

“Come on, it’s safe.” He grins. “Probably.”

The others file in, except for Anya, something on the door catches her eye.

The chamber is twenty by thirty feet with an eight foot high ceiling, towards the back, in the centre, is a flat unadorned stone sarcophagus, either side of it a pile of bones with a weapon planted in the midst of each, to the left a greatsword, to the right a glaive. However, there’s something else, and Newt has found it, a body, lying behind the sarcophagi- an ancient dwarven skeleton, Newt kicks it- it crumbles, even the waraxe it grips in its hands is rotten, but not the breastplate with griffon insignia. Carefully Newt drags it free of the rotten carcass, shows his find to the others.

“Anyone want this?”

“Jim, why don’t you have it- it’d suit you well, a bit of cleaning.” Cas states. Jim grins again, begins to shrug out of his Chainmail.

“No, not yet, let’s see what else awaits us.”

A bone pile collapses as Bec grabs for the greatsword.

“Can I have sandwich?”

He finds a space and practice swings, “it suits you.” Cas adds. The sword is serviceable, not great quality, Bec stows his spear and takes up the blade.

“Well… Do we or don’t we?” Cas stares at the sarcophagi.
Newt chuckles rushes over, begins to lever at the top stone.
“Bec, get here you freak.” Bec shuffles over grinning, swats Newt aside, and lifts the corner.

“Wait.” Anya shouts.

A cadaverous hand reaches out searching for Bec’s arm.

FWUMP

He drops the lid back down, trapping the hand.

“It says on the door to the chamber ‘Here lies Lord Tulwar, our… despicable leader’, that must be him then.” Anya finishes nodding towards the flailing hand.

“I’ve heard of him, can’t remember why though, despicable, that’s not good. Everyone ready?” Cas mentions.

The others form a half circle, weapons drawn; give each other plenty of room.

“Ok. Bec if you’d be so kind.” Cas points back at the sarcophagi’s lid.

“Hang on.”

Newt closes on the still twitching hand sticking out.

SMASH… SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH.

It’s pulp.

“Ok now I’m ready.” Newt grins.

Bec hauls off the lid, it CLUNKS to the floor. An emaciated figure, some ancient warrior returned as a ghoul, levers itself up- just.

CRUNCH

Jim’s battleaxe.

SMACK

Newt’s heavy mace comes again.

The creature is no more.

In a moment Newt is up the side of the sarcophagi and in. He rifles inside, eventually dumping the body out to get more room, “Nothin, although...” He trails off as he spots the pommel of the Ghoul warrior’s longsword- a ruby sat within it.

“Leave it.” Cas comes over, “it may be enchanted, besides look at it- the dull sheen, it’s cold iron, like Mischa sickle, good against demonic foes. I shall wield it- if you please.”

Newt gurns, then grins, “have it, no use to me.”

Cas nods his thanks, “the chainmail the ghoul was wearing looks to be of good quality too, although it will take an age to remove the stink.”

All done the adventurers file out, no-one wants the chainmail, although Newt insists that Bec takes it as, “it could be worth a bob or two.”

The party return to the beetle chamber, except for Jim who takes the opportunity to change into his new breastplate, he has only one watcher, but for now, I’ll not tell who that is.

There are two passages from the chamber, the first, straight on, it seems to go for some distance.

“I suggest that’s the way to the Ogre’s cave.” Mischa states.
“Perhaps then we should see what awaits us that way, we don’t want leave any enemies behind us.” Cas points to the other exit.

They creep over, their torchlight illuminates another circular-ish cave, Newt sparks a sunrod, bathing the chamber in a glorious white light.

The floor of the cavern is littered with a miniature jungle of ochre coloured toadstools, the room is warmer- moist, and… there, up right, an opening about ten feet up the cavern wall.

Newt grins then goes to march in. Mischa grabs him, “they’re poisonous.”
“What?”
“The toadstools. The colour, a dead give away.”
“How the hell are they going to poison me, I’m not going to eat them you feckin Witch.”

Mischa shakes her head, gently touches Bec’s arm.

“Bec go get one of them beetles, a carcass… I mean body.”

Bec does as he’s told returns clutching a beetle.

“Now throw it… there.” Mischa points.

FLING-CRUNCH-SPPPPPPPRAY-SIZZZLE

The beetle is flung, crunch-lands, the toadstools hit release a fine spray, which eats its way through the carapace of the beetle. The thing’s not destroyed just half the mass it once was.

“Bloody hell.” Jim announces.
“Perhaps we should make a pathway to the ledge.”

Several minutes later it’s done.

Newt, of course, is first over, but he’s struggling at the wall.

“Feckin’ thing, give me a boost.”
“Can you not wait?” Cas is getting angry again.
“Fekowf tinman. BEC BOOST.”
Bec complies, the Gnome scrambles up onto the ledge.

“I’m going in.” Newt states as he disappears from sight.
“Pelor save me. Just hold on a minute.”

Bec stares up, then hops up, flaps a hand onto the ledge and drags himself after, he’s up in seconds. He points into the cave ahead, now brightly lit by Newt’s sunrod.

“There’s nothing up here.” Echoes from inside.

Bec stops, stares down at the others, shrugs. Then turns back, someone, Newt as it turns out, is whispering.

“Shhh. Come here Bec, here.”

Bec plods forward, and from below, “where’s he off to?”

Newt’s stands staring at the remains of a crude campsite, a very dead human lying on the floor.

“See.”

Newt squats and points, Bec looks, there’s something, correct that, some things wrapped around the half-skeleton human’s ribcage- they’re centipedes, a whole nest of them.

“Now give me that.” Newt takes Bec’s greatsword, balances it just, “and you have this”, he passes over his heavy mace, he’s still whispering. “If any of the buggers come out, smash ‘em.”

Bec grins- ready.

Newt hooks the tip of the greatsword through a strap on the dead guys backpack, tips the sword, it skitters down the blade, and into his hand.

“Hmmm HUmmm Hummmm.” Newt grins and hums as he works.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” From outside.

“Now this is the hard one.”

There’s a silver chain around the dead guys neck, it takes a little while but, as with all things shiny, it’s soon in the Gnomes grasp.

“Now, pass me that back, and grab your spear.”

Bec does as he’s told.

“Fun time.”

Newt steps in and.

CLUNK

He smashes his heavy mace down on the centipedes, destroying two of the creatures in one fell swoop. Three more burst from the nest, another remains coiled tightly around the dead guys frame.

Bec spears another- dead, the two left running snap and coil around their legs, alas in seconds they’re no more; which only leaves the one still coiled around the dead guy’s ribcage.

CRUNCH.

“There, all done.”

Newt nudges Bec’s knee and grins up at him, “you can get off now- I’ll follow you out.”

Bec grins and goes to leave, Newt grabs him again, “Shhh, don’t tell the others- we’ll see if we can find some other fun later. Well done.”

Bec out of sight Newt drops down and pats down every inch of the corpse, there’s something there, he stuffs the backpack and the corpses cloak in a sack and then into his own haversack. Pockets the silver chain, actually it looks to be some sort of holy symbol.

And in less than thirty seconds he’s back at the ledge, a pair of monstrous centipedes in hand.

“What kept you?”

Newt throws them down.

“These did, if it wasn’t for Bec…”, he shrugs.

The giant man lifts Newt gently down.

The group head off again, the only passage left, to the Ogre.

By the time they’re two hundred feet down the passage they’re all in a crouch position moving as quietly as they can, they needn’t have bothered.

GrRRRRrrr SHHH GRRRRR SH Grind

The door is open, a huge chamber, light spills in from the exit over the far side of the cavern, as does a raucous noise.

“I will survive, I know I know how to live, I’m alive.
I had a piss, a piss of cheez, Ayeeeeeee will survivf, hic”

The singing stops, nobody moves.

“I should be so lucky- lucky, lucky, lucky.
Lucky, lucky, lucky- lucky in love.
Lucky, lucky, lucky.
I will survivf, hic.”

The soft thump of Ogre feet from a chamber beyond, the creature is obviously disco dancing.

The party find themselves in a store room, Cas has found a barrel, mostly empty, he taps it, there’s an “X” mark where he’s pointing.

“Poisoned.”

Cas nods towards the exit.

“Get ready, this is it.”

He gulps and then creeps forward, the others follow on.

Out of the storeroom, an Ogre sized passage right, another straight ahead, the noise of revelry ahead.

The group creep forward, towards a huge chamber, the ceiling hidden from sight, a crackling fire in the centre, an enormous Ogre lurches around the chamber clutching a small keg, from which it swigs.

“I am the one an only, no body toooooooo.
OOooooooooooooooo.

Aye will survivf…”

“NOW.” Cas shouts.

Anya steps out of the shadows, points her wand at the creature, “Smidgin”, a force dart flies out and canons into the Ogre. Anya steps away again.

Newt, Jim and Mischa appear and open fire.

Thung

Newt’s crossbow bolt buries itself in the Ogre’s thigh.

Twong

Jim’s magical arrow catches the creature in its gut.

Thwung

Mischa’s arrow smashes the creature straight between the eyes, a critical hit; it staggers, puts its hands out for balance, finds nothing to hold onto and sinks to its knees.

DMs interlude- Critical Hit courtesy of Game Mastery Critical Hit Deck- very nice.

“I will…” The Ogre mumbles

Bec bursts through the crowd, greatsword in hand, charges.

“CAN I HAVE SANDWICH?”

SWWIK

And decapitates the Ogre.

“Survive?” Offers Lord Casimir, somewhat put out, his sword is only just out of its scabbard.

WOOOOOF

They turn in unison, back to the other passage.

WOOOOF GRRRRRR

Then the rattle of chains.

“Feck it, it’s chained up somewhere down there.” Newt strides into the Ogre’s chamber, there’s a huge chest.

“Hang on.”

The other members of the group freeze.

“There’s something coming.”

Bursting from the passage leaps a snarling wolf, trailing a rusty chain.

Anya spins around, points her wand, “Smidgin”, the Magic Missile strikes the wolf hard.

Thwong

Mischa’s arrow hits home.

Jim shuffles forward drops his bow, and grapples his battleaxe into position ready to meet the foe.

Cas charges in, “for Pelor.”

SLYCE

The second critical of the session, a deep blow, impaling the Wolf on Cas’ longsword. The Paladin turns back to the others, kicks the Wolf off his sword, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

And at that moment Gurt, the Ogre’s staunch hobgoblin follower, swings around the corner… and comes to a dead stop. He takes in the scene- dead Ogre, dead Wolfie, not a mark on the assembled crowd of adventurers, and where the hell did they come from?

Gurt drops his shortsword.

“Please no hurt me. Me tell all.”

Thirty seconds later the hobgoblin is tied up, or at least his hands are, he’s pushed and prodded into the centre of the Ogre chamber.

Jim meanwhile has retrieved his magic arrow, it’s still intact.

“Right then, can you understand me?” Cas prods Gurt.
The Hobgoblin half-shrugs half-nods.
“I can speak Goblin.” Anya settles in, sits, she pats the seat next to her, Cas licks his lips, sits and settles down.

“What should I ask him, brave Paladin?” She places her hand on the Paladin’s thigh.
“Ask him, ahem, ask him who he is, what he’s doing here, and what’s down that passage he came from.”
“Very good.” Anya squeezes Cas’ thigh and starts up her Goblin speak, Cas interrupts- “You know I’m not a Paladin yet.”
Anya smiles, flutters her eye-lashes, and continues her interrogation; Cas sits there like a naughty schoolboy.

CLICK

“Done it.” Newt looks up, the Ogre’s chest is open, there’s a sea of silver coins inside, he begins transferring the contents into sacks- stuffing coins into his pocket all the while, more out of instinct. Bec comes over to help him.

“There you go.” Newt shoves a handful of the coins into Bec’s pockets.
“Can I have sandwich?”
“You certainly can when you get back to town.”

Jim and Mischa meanwhile are thoroughly searching the room; the two are working well together.

“What do you notice… about the wall?”
Jim stares hard, they’re nearly touching, he’s sweating.
“I…”
“Look there.” Mischa points.
“It’s…”
“Go on.”
“It’s a different colour than the other… It’s a door.”
“Good. Good, well done Jim”, she brushes against him, smiles, and heads for the wall.

“So.” Anya turns back to Cas, “he says his name is Gurt, he’s the Ogre, Blogg’s, servant, he was captured by the creature. He does the cooking and cleaning here. He says that the tunnel leads to the entrance, but it’s trapped- I think he knows we mean business. I think…” Anya leans across Cas, stares up into his eyes, she whispers, “anyone can see that you mean business Cas.”
“Pelor save me.” The Paladin mumbles and gulps.

Newt and Bec wander over hefting sacks of coin.

“Tell him, tell him we mean him no harm, we will let him free.” Cas stares at Anya’s eyes, cleavage, yes- eyes, no- cleavage. She translates, Gurt nods, smiles and is kicked in the side by Newt, he sinks to the floor. Bec leers over him; Newt is on him and searching for funding.
“That’s an outrage, I told him we meant him no harm.” Cas is on his feet.
“As long as he plays ball then no harm will come to him. Now get back to your leering.”
Cas is about to explode.

“There’s a secret door here…”

Griiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind.

Mischa calls over, Jim nods. Cas changes his mind quickly and darts over to investigate, getting tangled in his sword and scabbard in his haste. Anya calls after him, “careful Cas, you don’t want to get blood on your sword.” She smiles cruelly.

Newt shows Bec the lump of Onyx he has just swiped from Gurt, he whispers, “more sandwiches big guy- stick with me.” He grins up at Bec and winks, Bec smirks back.

The group head through the secret door, except for Anya, who makes a discovery of her own.

“Furs”, she rushes over to the Ogre’s bedding, “yeuch”, the first few are smelly and horrible but beneath them are some quality pelts, including a Black Bear skin and a Red Fox pelt.

“Divine.” She sashays with the items draped around her. Then notices the others have departed, “hey wait for me.”

At the end of the newly found corridor is a ladder leading down into darkness.

“Out of the way, let me through.” Newt barges his way to the front.
“Newt, seriously, slow down- it may be trapped.” Cas offers.
Newt thinks about it, “get Gurt- stuff him down there.”
“You’re not honestly suggesting we use him to trigger any traps.”
“Exactly god-botherer.”
“That’s immoral.”
Silence.
“What’s your point?”
“It would be wrong, I will not allow it.”

Newt looks about him, Bec’s grinning, Anya’s not bothered- more concerned with her furs, Mischa and Jim are shaking their heads, and Cas looks stern.

“Oh alright, I don’t know, if you want a job doing you’ve got to do it yourself.”
Newt lowers himself over the edge, begins his descent, “I told you there’s nothing to be afraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…D.”

A rung of the ladder comes away in his hand, Newt crunches twenty-something feet to the hard stone floor below.

The sunrod he carries illuminates his face; he’s as pale as a ghost, spitting blood, only just clinging onto consciousness.

“Grab this.”
Jim and Bec take the strain, Mischa quickly ties her rope around her waist, scurries down the ladder- no more rungs break.

Ten seconds later she calls up, “he’s going to be ok.”
“Shame”, Cas whispers, looks up at the faces staring at him, “did I say that out-loud?”

Newt is soon up and about; his pride has taken the biggest dent, we re-join him mid argument, with Cas, again.

“And I say we get Gurt and use him to lessen the impact of some of the traps down here.”
“And I say that that would be wrong, against the teachings of Pelor, all life is precious Newt, even lowly forms like Hobogoblins, we are bound to preserve it.”
“You’re just scared. Bwwwwwwooork Bwok Bwok.”
Newt struts about chicken-like, pecking the air.
“Now that’s not an argument Newt.”
“Bwokkk Bwok Bwok Bwwwwwwooookkkk.”
“Please Newt, let’s just get through this… Please?”
“Bwok Bwok.” Newt pecks some more then smiles and creeps further down the passage.

Thirty seconds later his voice comes back.

“Bugger.”
“What is it?” Mischa calls.
“’Nother trap. Stay there.”

A minute more and the trap is cleared, a huge club set to swing down on anyone breaking the tripwire beneath it.

They troop on, Bec grabbing the Greatclub from the trap, along the way.

And into an Alchemist’s Laboratory- beakers, flasks and assorted glassware, other tables and chairs, open books, other books, a row of cloaks on pegs and in the corner a broom.

“Stay frosty people.” Cas is developing his vocabulary.

Anya and Newt eye each other and then run into the chamber, they’re both fond of chemistry sets.

“This is…” Newt looks at his new toys, “mine.”
Anya’s about to protest when she spots one of the cloaks, it has a silk lining, she rushes over to it, “and this is mine.”
“We’re not here just to grab things”, Cas reprimands them, “find out who this stuff belongs to- why it’s here?”

The group set about examining the chamber, which incidentally, has three more passages exiting it at the cardinal points, the group entered from the east.

Newt grabs some flasks- acid, he stows them away for later use.

Anya reads one of the books, then out loud.

“This stuff belongs to Suto, this is his, or her, diary. Listen to this- ‘The Voice Below spoke to me again, it whispered to me in my mind, it shares my passion to revenge the death of my father… What the hell is this place?”

Anya leaves off and the room returns to silence, everyone listening for the ‘Voice Below.’”

Whoops.

Jim trips over the broom.

“Sor…”

The broom dances forward and swats the would-be-Ranger with its bristle end, no real damage, just distracting and a bit stingy.

“Help, broom attack.” Jim screams from the floor, the broom lances at him, he catches the end, scrabbles to his feet- holds on. Bec is quickly over, grabs the other end. The broom pulls back and forth trying to dislodge either one of them.

“Hold on to it.” Cas offers.

Anya’s spotted something, she rolls onto the hard stone floor, immediately beneath the broom- she’s staring hard at the broomstick- there’s something written on it.

Mischa backs away; the broom tries again to get free, slips out of Jim’s hands and catches the woodsman beneath his jaw- he hits the deck, wounded pride once again. The broom swirls round in the air, winding up for the big hit on Bec.

“SPOT.” Anya yells, the broom becomes inanimate, drops into her clutches, she levers herself upright.

Studies the other words on the handle, sets it before her and.

“Weesp.”

The broom clears the floor in front of Anya, makes sure no dirt gets on to what is left of her Dire Rat Fur Boots.

“I shall call him- ‘Swish.’”

The others stare on, open-mouthed.

Anya recovers the diary, looks for something else to read aloud.

“Here’s another one- ‘I intend to finish my father’s task, I must locate the Codex Ilyium- has anybody any idea what we’re doing here now, or indeed what any of this stuff is about?”
“He’s a wizard, I’d guess, at least a meddler in the dark arts.” Mischa states.
“You mean he uses magic, that’s no biggie tree-lady, so do you, it’s just our magic, my magic, is more powerful than yours.”
Mischa looks put out, Jim rests a hand on her arm
“No use fighting, you’re right we’re in a wizard’s lair. Newt what do you think?” Cas turns to the Gnome.
“What do I care? I think Anya should read the book and we should stop guessing until we’ve got all the facts. I’m having the glassware though.”
Cas looks a little frustrated but nods for Anya to continue, the other adventurers find themselves places to sit.

Anya reads on.

“It is my intention to summon Frogroth a mighty demon to assist me in my search for the Codex… What?”

The others look suitably shocked, then more so when the first scream is heard. They leap to their feet; it came from the southern exit.

“AAAAAaaaaaaa Heeeelllppppp us.”

They rush to the rescue.

Down the passage way towards a chamber ahead, a portcullis blocks their path, Newt points, Bec stretches out an arm, snags it in a rope and pulls- the portcullis raises. They dash on and in while Bec works out how to tie the rope off.

A strange sight, a large chamber with eight or so cages- each a five foot square wooden cell; two of which are occupied. One by a screaming woman, the adventurers recognise her, Dayl, a serving girl from the Merry Riot- she disappeared on the same day that Pop and Ginger were killed. The other cage holds an aging Gnome in leather breaches, a craftsman by the look of things; the Gnome says nothing, stares into the middle-distance.

The strangest sight however is a Dwarvern carpenter, whistling and singing, putting together another of the cages.

“That’s Durbin, he fixed our roof.” Newt proclaims.
Durbin, for it is he, turns at the sound of his name, shrugs- grins, then continues with his work.
“Never mind that- get them out of there.” Cas states.

Newt gets on with freeing Dayl.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you…” She mumbles all tears and hysteria.

Click.

The doors open.

“AAAArrrggh”

WHACK-FUNK

It goes like this, Newt opens the cage door, Durbin screams, picks up a lump of 2x4 and wraps it around the back of Newt’s head, Newt collapses- ko’d.

The adventurers clear a circle as Durbin menaces them.

“Why couldn’t you just leave it, Suto’s my friend, he doesn’t want you here, messing with his stuff… Go AWAY.”

He circles looking for someone else to hit.

Cas leaps in, “Clear the way, I shall disarm him.” He swings with the flat of his blade, misses by a country mile and hits Bec, hardly diverting him however, Bec has just managed to tie the rope off and is mid-rush about to save Newt.

“Sandwich?”

Bec pushes Lord Cas over, he hits the deck, and dashes on towards Durbin, who hefts the lump of wood up above his head ready to bring it crashing down, two-handed, onto Bec.

The giant man spots this, lurches in and grabs him up, arms wrapped around Durbin’s waist- crushing the life out of him.

“Suto’s my friend.”

Durbin’s arms are still free.

CRACK

He brings the 2x4 down onto Bec’s head, Bec sinks to his knees then slumps forward- ko’d, blood gushes from his broken skull.

Mischa scrambles over to look at Bec, Anya points the way to Swish, “Ackatt”, the broom attacks Durbin, keeping him at bay for a while.

Jim fumbles out his blade and stabs it towards Durbin, it buries itself a good three or four inches in to the carpenter’s gut.

“AAaaaaarrrghhh.”

“Keep him alive, if you can.” Cas shouts, then, “for Pelor”, he rushes in and punches Durbin with all his might, the carpenter hits the deck. Seconds later those not comatose are upon him, he’s hog-tied.

“He’s charmed.” Anya states.
“How do you know?” Mischa wonders.
“Look at me.” They all do.
“Well.”
“I’ve had lots of experience with charmed men, believe me.” She grins.

A little while later Bec has been healed by Mischa, Newt is conscious again.

Cas is making sure Dayl, the serving wench, is ok.
“Should we check for cuts and bruises.” Cas winks.
“Oh thank you my Lord, thank you, I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t saved me.”
Cas grins some more.
“I will have to certify that you’ve not received any psychological damage from your experience.”
“Lord?”
“I will have to examine you thoroughly on our return to Lowth.”
“Yes, Lord.”
The pair only have eyes for each other.

Meanwhile Newt has opened the other cage, he vaguely recognises the Gnome within, “hi my name’s…” he begins.

Crack

The Gnome punches Newt out, “I’m Jonas and I know who you are you scheming little thief.”

And that’s all we get from Jonas because Bec gets a second chance to revenge his short friend.

CRACK

The second Gnome hits the deck, and gets tied up for his troubles.

Après a quick search of the chamber the group file back to the Alchemist’s Laboratory.

“Can I have sand…”
Newt shoves a cheese bun in Bec’s mouth.
“… Wijj.”

They eat, watch over Durbin and Jonas, Cas feeds Dayl by hand, it looks like he may lose a finger, she must be ravenous.

Anya gets back to Suto’s journal- reads on, stopping to read aloud any of the good bits, like-

“I have purchased at great expense, not my own, but courtesy of the kind people of Lowth, a scroll which will enable me to summon Frogroth, and yet I do not feel I am ready to chance the spell, I need desperately to increase my power.”

“So it was Suto- controlling the Ogre, we’d better be careful.” Cas states.
The others nod between bites.
“He charmed the Ogre?” Mischa offers, Anya nods.
“Either way he’s a wizard of some sort, that’s certain.” Newt adds.

Anya finds some more to read.

“I have taken precautions; purchased a magic oil which I will use to coat my weapons less The Voice Below prove duplicitous.”

“We should find that before taking on ‘The Voice Below.’” Cas declares.
“You’re so clever… and brave.” Dayl reaches for Cas’ hand, holds it, kisses it.
“Get a room.” Newt snarls.
Anya looks less than happy, just for a moment mind.

She reads on awhile.

“Here’s the last entry- in one more day I will have finished, the magic circle will be complete, then all will be ready- Frogroth will at last serve me.”

That makes everyone sit up, “When’s it dated?” Mischa asks.
“Ummm. Yesterday.”

The adventurers leap to their feet.
“Come on.” Cas heads


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