Dungeon Crawl Classics

Humble Beginnings Pt. 2

Further into the depths, and further into danger

After the debacle regarding the giant statue of the barbarian wizard, the adventurers took some time to regain their composure. Some of the villagers who had been too timid to join in earlier decided they would chance maiming and death for riches and glory.

The large marble room had four doors. They had just come in from the southern door and John Smith had fled through the eastern door while Pink fled through the northern doors.

Having but a brief glimpse through the northern door they discovered a dark room with a large pool in the center. A diffuse light came from the pool, and around the edges lumbered six crystaline creatures, in apparently random directions. They decided to explore the eastern room first.

To the east was a small burial chamber. On the walls were seven niches with burial masks above each. Inside the niches the bodies of once-great generals were placed. They had since decayed into moldering heaps of rusted armor and weapons and loose skeletons.

As the adventurers approached the burial masks, grave robbing clear on their mind, the skeletons animated and began a sad, lurching shuffle, determined to defend their final resting place from these invaders.

Unfortunately for the ancient defenders, their long wait in these halls had made them ineffectual, and the adventurers savages crushed the pathetic creatures into bone dust. Then, to add insult to injury, they not only stole all seven burial masks, but rummaged through the bones, taking what weapons and armor were still serviceable.

Having thoroughly explored the eastern room, they turned their sights northward.

Here were the strange crystal men, continuing their eternal, meaningless shuffle. As the adventurers filed into the room, the light of their sole lantern casting eerie shadows into the far corners of this large room and the crystal men began a slow, lumbering trek towards them.

Was this the deliberate actions of an aggressive enemy, bent on the utter destruction of these fine adventurers? Or perhaps merely and artifact of this strange room and these strange creatures? None shall ever know, for Awnold, the sole hunter in the party, strung his bow in one fluid motion, and having set his killing instrument to proper working order, loosed an arrow towards the nearest abomination. Its flight was true and pierced the creatures eye, exploding out the back of its head, ending its unending shuffle, once and for all.

The Crystal men, all doubt in their actions now dispelled, leaped forward with both the grace and speed of cold molasses. They faced the dozen or so villagers, bravely defending their pool. The adventurers, relying upon the age-old tactic of numbers superiority, crushed the crystal monstrosities into dust with little trouble, and though one sad villager lost his life, it was a fair trade, as the adventurers saw it.

The pool was encrusted with literally thousands of bright, clear gems in the pattern of the night sky. Eres, not one for admiring artwork when he could steal it, immediately set to removing those gems, one by one. After a moment everyone else joined him, and soon enough it was a frenzy of prizing gems loose from the bottom of the pool.

It didn’t take long for the group to realize, though, that the gems were actually part of the floor, and this pool was suspended above another room. the water was draining into that lower chamber and the integrity of the floor was beginning to suffer from the loss.

They decided to leave one villager to continue the lonely work of stealing gems from the pool, while the rest of them explored the western room, which they had hitherto ignored.

They boldly strode into the eastern room, encouraged by their recent conquests. The door led to a short hallway, which terminated in a medium sized room, at the center of which was a large, ornate throne. As they gazed upon the throne, an enormous snake with a large horn on its forehead slithered from behind the throne. Fixing them with its giant, alien eyes, it let out a hiss, in a sibilant voice it spoke, “I am Ssisssuraaaaggg, and you intrude on my guardianship."

With those words and no warning, the giant snake attacked. From every angle, spears and arrows flew towards the snake, while the rest, armed only with daggers, pitchforks and like, rushed the giant serpent, plunging their weapons over and over into its scaled body. It thrashed struck several times, taking the life of a young Halfling and nearly slaying another human. However, it soon succumbed to its wounds and fell down to its grizzly demise. As the creature died, its body decayed into dust before their eyes, leaving only its demonic horn. While handling the horn the adventurers get the distinct impression that an alien presence resides within.

Having defeated the wicked creature and collected its horn, and never ones to let treasure go to waste, they removed the throne from the room (which was extremely ornate, being set with many precious gems and inlaid with silver, gold and even some jade) and placed it with the doors, which they had earlier acquired.

Catching their breath, taking some time to eat and relax, they were all shocked to hear a huge crashing noise, not unlike a glass full of water shattering on the ground, but at a grand scale. Rushing into the pool room they were dismayed to see that the pool had collapsed into the room below, leaving a huge, gaping hole in the floor. They could see the body of poor Nerdly, savagely crushed on the broken floor, some thirty feet below. They discovered a door which led to a spiral staircase, which they had not noticed before.

Down the darkened stairs they went.

At the bottom lay a long, narrow corridor. a pathway led between two sets of tables, each filled with miniaturized terrain and covered in tiny clay soldiers. After some searching they discovered four statuettes that were created from silver, they pocketed these and moved on. a door, heading south, lay at the end of the corridor. Into it, they went.

This massive room was layered into three tiers, or it had been. The collapsing pool had all but destroyed this once-majestic room. tons of water had destroyed much of the furnishing. Hundreds of life-sized clay soldiers had been stationed in this room, but the falling water and debris had destroyed nearly all of them. Whatever treasures may have been hidden in this room were now lost to history.

At the far end of the room, miraculously unscathed by the falling water, was a larger-than-life statue of the barbarian wizard-king sitting upon his giant throne. above his head, ensconced in the head of the clay throne, was a large clear orb, from which shown bright light.

The adventurers cautiously approached and, with little effort, lifted the orb from the back of the throne. No traps sprang into existence, much to the consternation of much of the party. Sam, Reese and Stu began a thorough examination of the throne, looking for hidden treasures or dangers. No such hidden object existed on the throne, but the wall behind the throne was another story. A hidden door lay secreted behind the throne.

Into it, they crept.

A narrow hallway led into a sparsely furnished room. a shelf full of equipment and curious items stood against the wall. On the floor was a sleeping pallet. Further into the room, a pentagram was cut into the floor. At its center a low stone table, upon which rested the body of a man in repose. Above his head on the stone table was an indentation the size and shape of the crystal ball they had just acquired.

After much discussion, they first removed the body of the old man (which they identified as the barbarian wizard, but much older) and made sure he was dead, by first cutting his throat and then continuing to dismember him. Only after that did they loot the room. Eres, having the idea that perhaps some magic might take place if a person laid upon the table while they placed the orb into the indentation, heroically volunteered Hodor to be the guinea pig.

Placing the Orb into the indentation had no effect upon Hodor, but it did something all the same.

Gazing into the crystal ball, they saw an endless field of bright stars on a faint gray background. A ghostly image of the war wizard drifted in the star-strewn ether, perfectly still. Then a harsh goat-like face filled the full sphere, staring intently at them. “I have
waited a long time for someone to take the warlord’s place,” said the strange goat-man in a deep voice.

“His astral voyage was cut short before he could rekindle the spark of his mortal coil. I am still in need of an ally on your world. Fill this copper brazier with
wood from a dryad’s tree and ignite it with the spark of a living fire. The blaze will reveal the location of the other half of the Rod of Rulership. Find that for me, and you shall be rewarded.” Then the globe dimmed to mere crystal.

Thoroughly spooked and chilled by the strange messenger, they nonetheless took all the treasure, pretty much everything that wasn’t nailed down, and fled that place.

The harsh sunlight of midafternoon greeted them. They had adventured all that night and most of the next day. After fighting for their lives and living a single night as adventurers, heading home into the dull, familiar village had a strange, surreal feel to it.

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JosephLawter

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