Age of Worms - Deree's Diary

The Whispering Cairn Pt 1

Where it all began...

Waterday 5th Planting 595

Well I’ve been here in Diamond Lake for a few months now and basically, I’m bored. So in order to help relieve some of the hum-drum I’ve decided to write a diary about me and my experiences (I’d write about someone else but I’m by far the most interesting person here).

I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Deree Silentfoot and I’m a Halfling. I’m here in Diamond Lake to complete a very important mission on behalf of my race, but I shouldn’t really write about that in case one of my powerful enemies should find this book and discover my secret.

I’ll tell you what I can though. I’m currently working at an inn called “The Feral Dog”. I’m employed as a knife thrower, barman, official greeter; whatever needs doing basically. The owner of the bar is a guy called Tak. He’s got a pretty good set up what with the knife throwing contests and the dog fights, although I think I’ve become the driving force behind its popularity since I’ve arrived. Tak’s alright though: firm but fair.

Speaking of fair, someone who definitely isn’t fair in any sense of the word is Grim (Gimgrim Iron twister to give him his full title). He’s one of the bouncers. If you hadn’t guessed it already, he’s a dwarf. Some would describe him as stocky. Me I prefer to use the word fat! Now this guy loves his drink. The only time I’ve seen him sober is when he’s hung over. His cure for this malady? Hair of the dog, or more specifically, hair of the Feral Dog. He’s working on the door for drink, food and a place to sleep… did I say sleep? I meant pass out. Many’s the time he’s been woken up by the door hitting him as the first customer of the day comes in. He excuses his drinking by claiming to worship the dwarven god of drinking and merriment. Only the dwarves could have a god whose main dominion is getting pissed.

The other bouncer there is a completely different kettle of fish. This guy doesn’t touch a drop of ale. He’s a human called T’shan (when he introduced himself I thought he’d sneezed, apparently not, he’s a bit touchy about his name for some reason). Anyway Sneeze is quite quick with his hands, which comes in extremely useful, especially when catching Grim when he trips, stumbles or staggers as he is wont to do. Grim didn’t like him at first. “A man who doesn’t drink” Grim said when we first met Sneeze “is like a man who doesn’t…” I never got the end of that particular piece of wisdom as his words were drowned out by the sound of his snoring. Anyway Sneeze turned out to be ok and does in fact have a sense of humour, just don’t skit his name.

At the moment I’m living on my cart at the back of the inn with my mule Lavender. I tried staying in the inn a couple of nights on the patches of wood that were visible through the bloodstains but for some reason decided against staying there full time. Nope I much prefer it here on my cart. It’s what I’m used to having grown up in a travelling community. Besides, Lavender would get scared and lonely. I think he’s afraid of the dark. Yup he and I are both better off under our canvas roof.

Earthday 6th Planting 595

Tira was in again tonight. She’s a really nice bit of elven totty who takes part in the knife throwing competitions. I feel a bit sorry for her ‘cause she’s got a bit of a thing for me but I just don’t feel the same way. It’s due to this that I let her beat me anytime we come up against one another. She hangs around with two real losers. One’s a weird guy called Kellick who I think is a wizard and the other’s some arrogant piece of orc dropping called Auric. He’s a guy with more muscle than Grim has fat but less brains than Sneeze has alcohol in his drinks. This guy claims to be champion of the free city, even walks around with a stupid championship belt on all the time (probably to remind himself what his name is). I think you’ve got to be really small to have to talk so big all the time.

Anyway, Tira wasn’t the only elf that came in tonight. A male elf with dodgy blue hair came in looking for her. Grim, surprisingly, let him in but only after he promised to buy a drink. The other unusual thing about him other than he was an elf with blue hair was that he wasn’t carrying any weapons. Grim loaned him a dagger. Quite generous for Grim! He must have been half cut already. Anyway this elf had one of the less vile spirits from the top shelf and introduced himself as Selanor. Well being the polite host that I am, I took Muffin over to where Tira was. Then being exceedingly rude they both started speaking in elven. Well I wasn’t going to stand there whilst people talked about me in a foreign language so I left. It’s weird but a sad desperate man trying to chat up a woman who is not only completely out of his league but also besotted with someone else looks equally pathetic no matter what language it’s done in.

Anyway, I was heading back to the bar when Kullen and the group of in bred morons that follow him around barged their way in. Now there’s a character you don’t want to bump into on a dark night, or even just a normal night. In fact bumping into him is sub-optimal at any time of night or day. He’s an albino half-orc who acts as an enforcer for one of the mine bosses, probably that power hungry sadist Balabar Smenk.

I managed to avoid them and went to serve another customer, a young lady whom I hadn’t seen before. It was clear from the outset that she fancied me but I remained professional. I asked what she wanted and she said that her name was Insalla and she was a scout looking for work and a place to stay. I offered her the blood soaked floor of the common room but she declined. I felt really sorry for her. She looked down on her luck so I kinda let slip that I camp out behind the inn. She asked if she could stay. Now normally I wouldn’t lead someone on like this, you know, inviting them back to my place when I have no intention of taking it any further, but Salty didn’t look like she could afford to pay for a meal let alone a room.

As chance would have it, it was at this point that Muffin came back from speaking with Tira. He said that she’d turned him down (no surprise there then) so he was looking for some people who wanted to earn 50gp. Now it was at this point I was wondering what kinky stuff I’d have to do for this money when Muffin clarified that his master, Allustan (a reputedly powerful wizard who lives on the outskirts of town), was looking to hire people to check out some ruins and bring back anything archaeological looking. Apparently Tira couldn’t do it ‘cause she and her hangers on were going to investigate Stirgenest Cairn. I don’t know why, everyone knows there’s nothing there. Saying that, everyone’s pretty sure that there’s nothing in any of the cairns so why Allustan would hire us to look into one is beyond me. Still 50gp is 50gp.

Myself, Grim, Sneeze and Salty said that we’d be interested in doing it so Muffin said we’d have to meet his master. I told Tak that we were taking our break and we all ambled off to a ruined house to meet the guy with the ponsiest beard ever. I’m telling you, you’ve got to be extremely dangerous to go around with rings and flowers weaved onto your face. Either that or want to earn 50gp the hard way.

Anyway Shrub-beard said that he wanted us to check out the Whispering Cairn, so called as it emits strange noises that sound kinda like whispering. If my memory serves me correctly this particular cairn had a load of people buried in it. Dead people that is, not live people. That’d just be freaky. The other thing I heard was that a boy had gone into the Whispering Cairn thirty years ago and hasn’t been seen since. If it was a kid from this town I don’t blame him. I’d run away as well.

Anyway Shrub-beard said that he wanted archaeological stuff from it. Basically he wanted anything that looked older than Muffin. We agreed and got given 10gp each in advance but only on the assurance that it wouldn’t get out that it was he that was funding us.

A thought has just occurred to me: if he’s funding us to look into the Whispering Cairn, maybe he’s also funding Tira’s lot to look into Stirgenest Cairn. I mean if he had the same secrecy clause in their agreement Tira may not even tell me about it. If he is funding all these expeditions into so called empty ransacked cairns then he must be looking for something of great value. Spend money to make money as they say.

Anyway long story short, we accepted and went back to work. Muffin moaned about not having enough money to buy a longsword and out of nowhere Sneeze just handed him over the excess! I’ve known him for three whole weeks and the only thing he’s given me is a leg up to the top shelf.

It’s decided that we’ll start off in the morning. I offered to do all of Grim’s shopping for him first thing as he’d probably still be unconscious but the round one declined. He had the gall to say that I might short change him! The bloody cheek! That’s the last time I do him a cooked breakfast… I mean lunch.

Freeday 7th Planting 595

Kicked Grim awake harder than normal. That’s the least he deserved after calling me a thief. Checked my stuff before Salty woke up and found that she hadn’t lied when she’d said that she’s trustworthy. Made her a bacon butty as a thank you for not stealing my stuff… and because it would probably be the first thing she’d eaten in a week that hadn’t been trapped in a spider’s web.

We went shopping. First we went to see Tagon at the general store. Grim bought a sunrod and some rations. Now as Tagon is a close personal friend of mine I could have got Grim some money off, but not after what he said last night.

We then went to see Tyrol at ‘The Captain’s Blade’ so that Muffin could pick up his precious longsword. I also purchased a kukri whilst we were there. Can’t use it yet but they look cool so I’m gonna learn.

Then we had to travel to Osgood’s the smithy to pick up Grim a shield. I don’t know why; he’s that wide that he’d need at least three on his arm to gain any kind of cover over his girth.

Finally we set off for the Whispering Cairn. Didn’t take long despite the constant breaks for Grim to pour himself another ale. He should just get it over with and strap a keg to the top of his head and have a tube running from it to his mouth. It’d save a great deal of time in the long run.

We found the entrance and just as we were going to go in Muffin cast a spell. So now he’s a wizard! I did suspect what with having a well known wizard as a master but I have to be honest, I thought he was just a stable boy. He doesn’t seem to have the brains to be a proper wizard. Anyway the spell that he cast outlined him in blue. Sometimes I wish I’d become a wizard so that I could outline myself in a colour of my choosing. Oh the thrill that such power would bring…

We went in and almost immediately discovered the cause of the ‘whispering’. It was nothing more than holes bored into the walls that the wind blew across. Kinda like a giant flute I suppose.

As we were checking these holes out I spotted a greenish glow in the distance. I tried to point it out to everyone else but it disappeared before they could see it. Salty said that she’d seen it as well but I think she was just trying to impress me.

The corridor broke into an alcove on either side. One side was collapsed but we found something odd in the other. There was a marble platform on which stood what looked like the remains of a dressing mirror. There were arcane glyphs carved into the base and shards of a black glassy material strewn across the floor. Grim said that it wasn’t obsidian so we don’t know what it is. It should however worth a bit of dosh to the right buyer. Muffin then spotted some more runes that had been etched onto the inside of the frame where the mirror would sit. He and Grim said that they were runes of transportation. So we’ve possibly discovered a broken teleportation device. Great! Now only if we could fix it and get it out of the ruins. Maybe Muffin can use some of his powerful colour magic to, well I suppose outline it in blue. I wonder if blue is the only colour he can produce? If so then his range is more limited than even I suspected.

As we came back out of the alcove I spotted that greeny glow again from the north. This time everyone said they saw it, apart from Muffin. So much for the legendary elven eyesight!

At this Grim took another swig of ale and then Sneeze said the most obvious thing ever:

‘If you fill yourself with poison, you will get poisoned.’

Thanks for that insight. Then as if competing in the dumb statement stakes Muffin comes up with:

‘If you dig to deep into things you will find yourself in a hole.’

Colour magics and insightful comments. No wonder Tira gave him the brush off.

Anyway, we made our way towards to glow which led us into a very wide room. The glow was coming from behind some very thick cobwebs in front of some stairs. Before we went down we decided to check out this room. The western side of the room had a large marble dais which led up to a picture on the wall behind it. The fresco depicted a room with chains hanging down from the roof that held lanterns of different colours. Going clockwise they were: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

As the others engrossed themselves in the painting I heard something behind me. I turned around and saw three of the biggest wolves you’ve ever seen coming towards us. I informed the others and made ready to fight. The wolves were obviously very intelligent as they all headed straight for the most dangerous member of our group: me! I managed to hit one and dodge two of their vicious attacks but the third one took a huge chunk out of me and tried to trip me up but I managed to keep my footing. Then the others decided that it was safe to get involved. Salty got tripped up by one after it bit her. As she got back up it bit her again and she collapsed in a heap. Muffin, who had been using his bow to little affect, decided to show us the range of his spell casting ability. He did this by walking up to one of the wolves and pointing his hands at it. Nothing happened. Great! We have the world’s worst wizard with us. The three people left standing that could actually do anything to the wolves continued to try and hit them. I managed to slay one with a well aimed throw of my dagger. It was then that Grim showed his true colours (and it wasn’t blue like the elf). It turns out that he doesn’t just worship the dwarven god of getting drunk; he’s a cleric of him and as such is given some spells. He used one of these to heal me up and then another to heal Salty. Between us we took down the last two, but it had been a struggle.

We went to where the wolves had come from and discovered a small hole that led to their den. As the others were too tall or fat to go in, I bravely volunteered. Sneeze stuck his head in after me so that he could make sure I’m safe. Personally I think that he just doesn’t trust me. Inside the den I found lots of bones, both human and animal amongst which I discovered an old backpack. In this was a lantern that was coloured indigo and an armband of what we assume is elven design (it was all leafy). Muffin cast a spell and said that neither of them were magical. We reckon the armband is worth around 50gp, possibly more to an elf. I may get it for Tira.

When I came out Salty showed me a marble finger she’d found in some rubble. She seemed very pleased with herself, bless her. She mustn’t get out much.

We decided to head back to Diamond Lake to rest up and heal.

Starday 8th Planting 595

We spent the day resting. Tira and the other two had gone off to Stirgenest Cairn already. Grim cast some healing spells and we managed to sell the dead wolves for 10gp.

Sunday 9th Planting 595

We headed back to the Whispering Cairn and went straight to the cobwebs and burned them. This made the green glow so bright that even Muffin could see it. We went down the stairs and discovered the chain room depicted in the picture on the wall. There were seven large alcoves with a chain hanging down from each. At the end of the chains hung the lanterns apart from the indigo one (which we hung up) and the red one. The green lantern was the only one that was lit.

In the centre of the room stood a sarcophagus on which was a statue of what looked like a large human lying down. The human was bald and it was difficult to say whether it was a man or woman (much like trying to tell a dwarven man from a dwarven woman). There was an amulet carved around its neck that had a glyph emblazoned on it. Muffin said that it related to the ones we’d found by the mirror and depicted a person’s rank. He said that this one was of a lower rank though. How crap was this guy? A lower rank than a piece of furniture! How depressing would that be? Muffin said that the glyphs weren’t from any known alphabet. The head of the statue lay in the point of an arrow that was currently pointing towards the orange lantern.

It was then we noticed that the statue was missing a finger. Muffin said that he’d given the one Salty had found to Shrub-beard as an archaeological find. Whilst he ran back to get it we had a look around the alcoves. All of them were the same apart from the one with the blue lantern. The lamp light reached the ceiling of all the others but not this one. After a

few attempts Salty managed to climb up the chain (I had a go but deliberately failed. I don’t want to show her up too much… not yet anyway) and discovered a passageway leading off that had a skeleton at its entrance. The owner of the skeleton when it was alive looked like they’d been killed by a great fall, which is a bit weird considering where we found it. She tied a rope off and we all went up. Shining the torch down the corridor we saw that it ended in a thick stone door that was in the shape of a large screaming face. It looked the same as the face of the statue on the sarcophagus. It was at this point that Muffin arrived back. As we continued down the corridor we spotted scrape marks on the floor as if someone had tried to dig a knife into the stone but failed.

We decided to leave it for now and went back to the fingerless statue. Muffin put the finger back on the statue but it just fell off. Then he showed some more of his magical prowess by casting a spell that reattached the finger to the statue. So now he can make a blue glow around himself, see if something’s magical, wave his hands in front of enemies and repair stuff. I might ask him to have a look at my other pair of trousers, they’ve got a hole in the knee he might be able to do something about.

Anyway, nothing happened so we went back up to the screaming face corridor. As we got towards the face I spotted a pressure plate. Salty tried to help me disarm it but in truth all she did was put me off. Whatever she did made the trap go off and suddenly a strong wind started coming from the mouth and its eyes started rolling around in their sockets and producing weird, pretty colours. I was just thinking that Muffin would love to have a spell that made multiple colours when I was brought round by the fact that the wind had gotten so strong that it blew me backwards down the cave. People were desperately trying to force any kind of pointy thing they had into the walls to brace themselves with but nothing seemed to be working. I was blown back again but this time I managed to grab onto a rather large looking Grim. He told me afterwards that he’d cast a spell to enlarge himself. I’m surprised that he hadn’t gotten himself wedged in the corridor with the size of his waist when he’s normal sized so Yondalla knows how he managed to fit in when he was bigger. The wind kept getting stronger and stronger until Muffin couldn’t hold on any longer and was blown off the edge. Luckily he managed to grab onto the rope before falling to his death. I decided that his luck was my opportunity. I let go of Grim and controlled my tumbling and grabbed onto the rope and climbed down. Sneeze followed and lastly Salty. Grim obviously had got himself stuck in the passage as he stayed up there for the ten minutes it took for the trap to disarm itself.

When the wind had died down we decided not to try and disarm it again but simply jumped over it. We got to the door but found no way to open it. No lock, nothing. Grim tried to batter it with his axe but to no avail.

We went back down to the sarcophagus and had a closer inspection. I managed to find a magical trap on this and decided not to risk letting Salty put me off again. We tied a rope around the lid and from a safe distance pulled it off. It smashed on the floor and a burst of flame shot into the air. The sarcophagus was empty. No body, no treasure, nothing.

It was at this point that we decided that the arrow on top of the sarcophagus must be more than simple decoration. Grim and Sneeze put their backs to the sarcophagus and started to push it. They turned it until it faced the yellow lantern. At this point we heard a huge rumbling from below us and slowly a cylindrical chamber rose from the floor in the yellow alcove. The cylinder was hollow but only big enough for one person to go in at a time.

We were just deciding whether to go down the yellowvator or not when I heard a sound that reminded me of when Grim falls down the stairs in his armour after particularly heavy nights coming from the upper level. We prepared ourselves for battle but we needn’t have worried as it was only one bloke in armour. As an honourable gentleman I was about to issue a one-on-one challenge to this intruder when he pre-empted my offer saying that he’d been sent by Shrub-beard. He handed over a letter of introduction to Muffin who read it out. Apparently Shrub-beard was worried (for the others obviously) as we’d been battered when we came back to town so he’d arranged for this guy (apparently a holy warrior of Heironeous named Gorram Tabin) to add a bit of muscle to the group, which, from the dopey look on his face, looks like all he’s going to add.

Dubiously I let him join us despite his dodgy permed hair and weird red mark behind his ear. I figure if he’s any trouble I’ll just put him right back into place.

Anyway we tested his so called muscle by letting him turn the sarcophagus in a clockwise direction (that was the reason I told Grim anyway… in reality the old souse looked like he was about to have a heart attack). It took him a while, and several attempts pushing it in the wrong direction, but eventually Curly managed to get the arrow to face the green lantern.

We then heard another rumbling like the one that brought up the yellowvator but this time instead of a cylinder coming up, the floor at the end of the green alcove collapsed. As the noise of rock collapsing disappeared it was replaced by skittering sounds. Lots of skittering sounds! The smart members of the group plus Curly tactically moved on top of the sarcophagus until we could gauge our latest enemy. Muffin decided it would be best to remain on the floor (his stable boy background coming to the fore).

From the hole appeared a mass of beetles followed by a huge abomination of a beetle that walked on its hind legs like a weird beetle like elf. Salty and Grim shot at the big creature but it nimbly evaded their projectiles. The mass of f beetles approached and Muffin decided that this was the time to show us his wavy hand trick again. Remarkably this time flames actually appeared from his fingers. These flames burst into the swarm of beetles the result of which seemed to have the same affect as when he’d just waved his hands at the wolves, that is to say nothing.

Some might say bravely, I’ll use stupidly, Curly jumped off the sarcophagus and ran to engage the giant elf beetle. As he hacked a fair chunk out of the creature I realised that Curly might be useful in the future, so I decided to save him by engaging the creature myself. It was then that the swarm of death acid beetles from hell turned on us. Salty, her obvious infatuation for me coming out, took a risk and poured oil from her lantern over the swarm which Grim then lit. This did slightly more damage than Muffin’s flamey finger spell (I might suggest to him that it might be worth him just carrying a few flasks of oil and a flint and steel instead of wasting what little brain power he actually has on difficult things like spell casting), but still the swarm came on. Sneeze managed to finish off the job I’d started with the elf beetle just as the death swarm overcame me.

When I woke up the swarm was dead and Sneeze was picking bugs out of my hair. I’d say that was nice of him but I’m pretty sure I saw him put some in his pockets for consumption later.

Salty decided to peak down the hole and saw a glyph that was in the shape of an arrow carved into the floor. The room was filled with statues that looked the same race as that on the sarcophagus. There was a corridor that split off to the left and right as well as continuing straight on.

I was all for going on but the others in their weakened state were a bit scared so I decided that it’s be best of we rested a day. I thought it best that we didn’t go back to town again as Shrub-beard would find out and probably realise what a gang of wimps he’d saddled me with and ditch them. As needy as they are, I’ve kinda got to like them in the past couple of days. Besides, I can’t be bothered spending another couple of days training up another group, not when I’ve got this one pretty much the way I want it.

We headed for the ruins where we first met Shrub-beard and spent the night.

Moonday 10th Planting 595

We spent the day in the ruins whilst people recovered from their injuries, whether they be physical, mental or alcohol related.

Godsday 11th Planting 595

Remind me never to go on watch after Sneeze. I’ll explain more later.

We headed back to the Whispering Cairn and I immediately noticed that there was something different. The green light was somehow brighter. When we got to the sarcophagus room I realised that it wasn’t the green light that was brighter but that the blue light was diminished. On further inspection of the lanterns we discovered that the green lantern was lit with a magical ever-burning torch.

After explaining to Curly that “ever-burning” meant that the torch would never go out, we decided to investigate the room in the green alcove. We went down and searched around the statues but found nothing. We headed for the intersection and glanced in all three directions. Straight ahead there were some stairs leading down into water so deep that it would have covered Grim even when he was lying down. To the left was a room in which stood what looked like eight sarcophagi in two rows of four. On the far right one lay a humanoid figure. At the far end of the room stood a statue of one of those giant genderless humans but this one was carrying a huge club.

The room on the left caused a bit of alarm. We spotted what looked like a nest of those acid death beetles and another one of the big ones. Everyone wanted some payback for the mauling we’d gotten upstairs but I persuaded them that we could take them out more efficiently if we came up with a plan. Bowing to my superior logic we left the cairn and went shopping.

Muffin went to report back to Shrub-beard and, under instruction, asked if he could give us some Alchemist’s Fire (a very potent form of oil that bursts into flames when its vial is broken). Give him his due, Muffin not only came back with four vials of that stuff but also three healing potions. I’ve figured out why Salty is so poor: she knows nothing about saving money. We were going to buy some flasks of oil for which the entire group was going to pitch in but before we know it she’s handed over a gp to Tagon and bought all ten herself. Shouldn’t surprise me, she is a woman after all. At least she’s spending her own money instead of some poor blokes though. Another reason for me not to take it any further, despite her obvious feelings for me.

Well, the shopping done we headed back to the acid death bugs room and set our plan into motion. We poured two vials of oil in the corridor as a retreat line so that we could light it as and when something came to attack us. Muffin then cast a spell which allowed him to move objects through the air to a specific point which he was going to use to move the alchemists fire to one part of the nest. At the same time myself, Salty and Sneeze would use the traditional way of moving objects through the air to a specific point (known as throwing) to hurl vials of oil onto other parts of the nest the idea being that the alchemists fire would ignite all the oil and thus destroy the nest. I asked Muffin why he wasn’t throwing his vials and he came up with some story about not having the right angle to get it to the correct spot. Personally, looking at his arms, he didn’t want to prove correct what we’re all thinking: he throws like a pansy.

Anyway, that aside, the plan went off without a hitch. The nest was destroyed and the giant beetle came to attack us. Grim lit the oil when it scuttled into it and we managed to batternate it to death. Saying that, it did manage to spray acid at Grim and Curly which caused some fairly serious injuries. Give them their due though, they only cried a little about it. Plus during the fight Muffin showed us some more of his powerful magics by shooting a tiny little dot out of his fingers which managed to hit the creature causing almost as much damage as his wavy hands spell.

After the creature had been killed, we entered the room. At the far end of it stood a basin that had this weird horrible orangey stuff oozing out of it. We checked the remnants of the nest and found some mummified human remains. What was left of the bodies were dressed in now mouldy leather armour that had an eight pointed star emblazoned over where their heart would have been. We cut out the insignia and with further prodding we found three vials, a pearl and a ring, all of which Muffin detected as magical. We also took a vial of the orange sludge for Shrub-beard.

With nothing else to see we exited that room and went straight across into the sarcophagus room. On closer inspection it turned out that what someone had mistakenly told me were sarcophagi weren’t. They were just stone slabs.

I was just musing that this must be some form of barracks when I felt a wave of fatigue come over me. Some of the others felt it as well but a couple of the group obviously hadn’t been pulling their weight (hard for Grim I know) as they remained very much awake. Sadly there was no time to berate these slackers as another one of those giant elf beetle things appeared from behind one of the slabs. Despite my weariness I took up the fight and threw a dagger that nearly impaled it. The others joined the battle (although I’m not sure why, none of them could cope with the fatigue as well as me and as a result they all became as useful with their weapons as Muffin’s wavy hands) just in time for it to spray its death acid on myself and Curly. I’ll let the others off for screaming when it happened to them ‘cause even I have to admit it smarted a bit. Grim healed me up whilst we finished it off.

We then had a closer look at the body on the slab. Grim said that it was only a couple of months old and had been killed by a really hard blow around the head. It was wearing exceedingly fine leather armour (which we decided to take and sell) which had the same eight pointed star symbol on it. The owner was also wearing a ring which we decided could be put to better use than adorning a corpse that no-one was going to see.

With the only other passage flooded, we decided to go back up and turn the sarcophagus to a different colour to see what happened. The next colour was blue but nothing happened when we turned it. We went and checked the screaming corridor but the door was still shut and still had no way of opening it.

We then turned it to indigo and another lift rumbled up from the ground. This one was different however as it had something, or more precisely, the remains of someone in it. Carefully we dragged the crushed corpse out and found some money and a ruby. We decided that due to the crushed bones inside the lift it probably wasn’t the best idea for one of us to go in (although I’m sure I heard some people muttering about how the smallest person wouldn’t be crushed as much) so we decided to place an empty vial in. We turned the sarcophagus full circle and sure enough when the lift came back up, the vial was smashed.

We then turned the sarcophagus to violet, red and orange at which points less happened than what goes on in Curly’s head. We decided to do the vial trick with the yellowvator. This time however the vial didn’t smash. Sneeze offered to be guinea pig and go into it first (I’d have offered but being the leader of the group I can’t put myself in that kind of risk as my death would certainly cause the group to fall apart). We turned the sarcophagus all the way around but when the lift came up there was no Sneeze. I figured he must have gotten out and may be in need of help so I went in. The yellowvator brought me down into a room that has some more of those weird statues in. Sneeze was there and looking ok. We discovered a button that allowed us to control the yellowvator from here so we sent for the others.

Grim used his head for something other than consumption of alcohol for once and secured the sarcophagus at the top by wedging a piton in its base.

Once he finally managed to squeeze his enormous girth into and then out of the yellowvator we inspected the room more closely. The only other exit to this room was blocked by a huge stone slab. I was just about to suggest that we search it for traps when Grim, Curly, Sneeze and Salty decided to push it over. Low and behold, they set off a trap. A thick oily gas came spurting out and drained our strength (and bear in mind, Muffin doesn’t have a lot to spare). We moved out of the gas and found ourselves in a corridor that had three statues in alcoves on either side. It was then that people thought it would be wise to check for traps. Well done! Only a few minutes too late.

It was whilst myself and Salty were searching that she let out a very girly scream that shocked even me for a second. The reason for her obvious terror was a pair of floating eyeballs connected together by what looked like bare muscle coming out from behind the statue. One of the eyes fixed on me and shot out a ray. Now I’m not sure whether it was the ray or Salty’s scream, but something shook me up fairly badly. The other eye fixed on Salty and she immediately decided that this was the time for a nap. We fought back but the eyes (I’ve no eye-dea (get it) how) managed to dodge our blows with great dexterity. It was at this point that Sneeze decided that Salty should wake up. Instead of bringing her a cuppa and a bacon butty like any normal person would, Sneeze decided to hit her. Fair enough I suppose due to the fact that it’s hard to put the kettle on in the middle of combat but his punch didn’t so much wake her up as knock her out. I’m telling you, if that’s how people wake each other up when their on watch I’m going on after Muffin; he barely has the strength to shake you awake.

Anyway, despite Sneeze’s best efforts, we all managed to survive the encounter with the (what Muffin called) Lurking Strangler. Apparently they are created by wizards for some unfathomable reason (maybe all wizards started off as stable boys). What’s even more unfathomable is that when these things have put you to sleep with their ray, they strangle you to death (hence the name). Why? It’s not like they’re going to be able to eat you. Wizards! They must have far too much time on their hands what with creating floating eyes and wavy hand spells.

Anyway we continued on and the corridor opened up into a room with a huge pillar in the middle. There was an archway on either side of the room leading to other chambers but the one on the right was filled with more of that orangey gunk only this time a fair whack of it had turned brown.

We headed around the left of the pillar and discovered that there was a door on the back wall of the room. We had a closer look at the pillar and discovered that it was some sort of weird shower. There was a large basin type thing underneath a water pipe although both of these were now covered in that orange sludge.

We checked the room on the left and discovered that it was a very ornate bedroom. There was a large bed which had a carving of another genderless being above it. This one also had a glyph depicting its rank on it although this one was very high ranking. Something about this glyph struck a chord with me. It reminded me of something I’d seen in a book I’d borrowed from a library ages ago. I’m sure it’s an ancient language called Vaarti or Farty… some kind of arty anyway. Pah! No known alphabet indeed! Muffin looked like he didn’t believe me when I told him but I’m pretty sure he’s just jealous of my superior intelligence.

Feeling very smug I tried out the bed itself and discovered that it was covered with a thin layer of air that made it very comfortable and also made me very sleepy.

I managed to keep awake though and we continued with our expedition. The door at the back of the shower room led to a place that stank worse than Grim (hard to believe I know). It was an old abandoned toilet.

We quickly shut the door and through teary eyes Salty said she saw something on the back of the shower. On further inspection we saw that it was a catch. We decided to flip it and at once a stone slab on the side of the pillar was lifted from the ground. Underneath it was a very squashed body wearing very fine chainmail. On the wall behind the slab hung a set of very nice looking tools. There were also some statuettes on the floor, some broken but three of them were in remarkably good nick. There was one of a palace, one of a giant stadium and one of a set of towers.

Having concluded that the trap was safely disarmed we took all of the nice items and moved on. We went to where the sludge was blocking the entrance to the other room and had a look in. It was weird but the room looked like it was lit by natural sunlight. In it was an unfinished statue of what looked like a warrior holding a staff and a large black egg with some glyphs on. Salty walked up to the sludge, shivered and then collapsed. Apparently she doesn’t like to cold which surprises me a little as she surely must have gotten used to it what with having to sleep in doorways all the time.

Grim dragged her away from the sludge and as he did got a better look at the brown stuff. He said it was a poisonous mould. He said that burning it would be bad but he could try and purify it with a spell. What I want to know is if he’s had a purify spell all this time, why hasn’t he used it on himself? Anyway, his spell didn’t work so we decided to rest in the bedroom until Muffin could recuperate from his long day of casting spells… all three of them. Grim did have one more spell left which he cast to determine if anything we’d found was magical. Turns out the tools are. Wizards! Far too much spare time!

I, as the leader, naturally got the comfy air bed. Just a quick thought; I guess this helps prove my theory that the stone slab room was a barracks. Or is it just coincidence that this place of rest should have a fatigue magic put on it?

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DMaple

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