Start the adventure with the Prologue
Adventure Log 7 : …and the Biggest Prize
As they exited the secret chambers, the hallway they were in ended at two ornate wooden doors. They stood out in contrast to every other door they’d seen so far in the complex, being gilded with gold instead of iron, albeit only a small amount. They would have been ordinary for any chaple in the outside, but down here they looked like wealth. As they did on all other occasions when coming to a closed door, Yanew put his ear to it. Without having to strain, he could hear soft clicking on the other side.
“Something’s just on the other side of this door.”
“Any idea what?” asked David as he drew his weapon.
“Odd,” Yanew said. “Sounds like clicking, or snapping maybe? Something sharp and small on the stone floor.”
“Right,” said David. “Encounter positions, everyone.” David stood ready to throw the doors open and thrust the torch inside while wielding his short sword in his other hand. Janko readied his bow from the rear, Harrison and Yanew on either side ready to pounce. David burst the door and tossed the flaming torch inside, and into the face of a giant insect.
Its thick body was about 6 feet long, hundreds of legs ending with sharp bone held It aloft. Bulbous eyes and razor pincers completed the hideous creature as it turned to face David, rearing up. The torch to the face had caught it unawares and gave David enough time to stab at it, but only managing to hack off one of its many legs. The creature screeched and lunged at him, David just able to avoid the snapping fangs. He felt the wind of Janko’s arrow as it passed close by his ear and into the belly of the creature. Yanew tumbled behind David and took a flanking position, hoping to block the beast from entering the room. At least if they could keep it in the doorway they could limit its reach. Harrison’s sling whirred and launched a sharp stone, but not wanting to hit David, his shot went wide and ricocheted off the door casing. David was able to draw his second weapon and launched a vicious attack on the beast, hacking off more legs and slicing a deep gash in the creatures midsection. It screeched louder with pain and flailed at Yanew and David.
As Janko notched another arrow and prepared to let it fly over Yanew’s head, he heard a loud roar from behind him. He turned just in time to duck to one side as a huge falchion sliced the air where his head had been a split second before. A massive Orc took up the entire hallway, its muscles bulging as it held the sword aloft and readied another swing at the now cowering Janko. He reached for his melee weapon, but too late; the sword crashed down on him. Luckily, the weapon had caught on the roof as the creature swung it over his head, which turned the blade and caught Janko with the flat. The power of the blow almost knocked him senseless, and he counted himself lucky, as had it hit him square it may have cut him down immediately. As it was, he was at a decided disadvantage against this beast, and let out a warning cry.
Yanew and Harrison had turned at the beast’s attacking roar and watched as Janko was bashed to the ground with another massive blow, crumpling into unconsciousness.
“David!” Harrison yelled, “Behind!”
“I’m a little busy right now!” David said, as he ducked a stinging thrust and launched into a new attack.
The Orc raised his sword, aiming a deadly blow at Janko’s defenseless form, when an Orcish voice echoed from behind the creature. Harrison blanched at the thought of another powerful beast joining the fight, but the Orc stopped and turned to look behind it, peering into the darkness. In that moment, Yanew sprang forward and slashed at the creature’s leg. A neat, wide gash opened along the calf, and the Orc howled in pain. Harrison, realizing Yanew’s quick thinking and vocal abilities had bought them precious seconds, moved quickly and dragged Janko back, out of the immediate range of the massive sword. The Orc roared and looked down at his feet, the blood from the wound on his leg already pooling at his feet. Standing in the blood was the defiant Yanew, who barely came up to the beast’s thigh, brandishing a wicked dagger.
“What’s up, ya big bastard?” he asked.
The beast howled and took a wide arc’ed swing at the diminutive Yanew, who easily rolled to the side to avoid the clumsy blow. Just as the Orc raised his sword for another swing, a vicious blow smashed into the creature’s midsection, quickly followed by another into it’s face. David had joined the battle, the insect lay dead behind him. The beast, stung and hurt by the wounds to its face, swung his sword blindly. Yanew’s dagger bit sharply into the Orc’s other leg, and a David’s sword plunged into the creature’s heart. It collapsed in the hallway with a heavy thud.
After the noise of battle, the panting breath of the adventurers was all too quiet to their ears. Janko sat up on the floor, his daze clearing slowly as Harrison laid on hands and mumbled healing words. By the time they’d searched the remains of the centipede and Orc and spiked the doors closed, Janko was aware and bandaging his own quickly fading wounds.
“Back to the statue,” said David. “I want a breather before we go any further.”
After a quick rest, they were back at the ornate double doors. Yanew spent more than a minute with his ear to the wood, but reported that it was all clear on the other side. David removed the spikes from the door and they swung them in slowly. On the other side, all that remained of the insect was a viscous liquid stain on the stone, and drag marks off into the darkness of the hallway to the left. In front of them was another set of double doors, these looking more solid and even more ornate. They were ajar.
On the other side was the remains of a small but well-stocked library. Shelves lined all the walls, and the mildewed and dusty remains of their contents lay scattered about the broken tables and benches. They took some time to look about and see if any were of value, but most were beyond use, and those that could still be read were about mundane subjects. However, on a bookcase in the back, among the tattered remnants of what was once a collection of innocuous ledgers, one stood out whole and seemingly undamaged. Where the other ledgers had fallen apart or were lying about the floor in tatters, this one sat upright, only dusty and slightly faded with age. Yanew looked closely at it, then around it.
“Aha!” he said, and pulled it toward him. A distinct click echoed behind the wall, and the bookcase opened out an inch from the wall. Yanew pulled it open to reveal a small alcove in the wall, barren but for an old lectern with a large volume opened on it. Yanew started to move inside when Harrison grabbed his arm.
“Be careful,” he said. “I’m sensing some powerful magic.”
“Got it,” said Yanew, and moved to the lectern to look at the tome. It sat open to the middle, and the pages were blank. A quick look through the rest of the book showed that all the pages were the same, fresh and unblemished. “Powerful magic, huh?”
“Yes,” said Harrison.
Yanew climbed down and began crawling on the floor at the base of the stand, and in seconds he found what he was looking for. Another quiet click, and the lectern slid to the side, exposing a small space underneath. Inside was one item, a very large book.
He took it out and the others crowded around to get a better look. It was bound in thick leather and iron bands, and a large lock held it closed.
“Perhaps we should be wary,” said David. “We should wait until…” click
Before David could finish, Yanew’s nimble fingers had snapped the lock on the tome, and he’d opened up the cover. The page underneath had a large, ornate letter “Z” on it.
“Fer fuck’s sake, man!” said David. “Do you know what you’re doing?”
“Calm yourself. It’s just a book!” Yanew thumbed through a few pages, looking at the odd symbols and letters. “Any of you able to read any of this?” he asked. Each shook their heads.
“Perhaps I should hold on to this,” Harrison said, closing the book and taking it from Yanew. “I think someone with some familiarity with magic would be a safer bearer than one so…” he paused, “…adventurous.”
Yanew shrugged. “Suit yourself. Nerd.”