When the door crumbled, Erevel and Trissa were hit in the head with rocks. They fell unconscious and crumpled. Rather than waiting for them to regain consciousness, we pressed onward into the uncertain darkness after setting their unconscious bodies to the side somewhere safe.
Our mage tossed a sun rod into the room, revealing what had once been a mess hall filled with destroyed and rotted furniture. There are seven doors in the room—six lined the east and north walls, and one filled a space on the west side near a rusted safe. As we considered our approach, Erevel and Trissa woke from their stupor, and Trissa searched for traps, finding nothing. She approached the safe, and I shadowed her to ensure her safety as best as possible. At least this time Darvin didn’t charge in headlong—perhaps that conversation we had did some good.
Darvin lifted his hands and cast a spell to examine potential magic in the safe, but before he finished, one of the doors collapsed inward, and several skeletons lumbered into the room, their fleshless bones casting eerie shadows in the light of the sun rod on the floor between us. The skeletons wore broken chain shirts and bore chipped, rusted scimitars. In the center one bore more weaponry and was visibly the leader.
Erevel dove behind the safe, and Asakku moved to my side. We exchanged a nod as we prepared for battle. From the doorway, Darvin cast some manner of ice spell at the skeletons. While it hit, nothing happened beyond the skeleton’s ribcage icing over. It didn’t appear to do much of anything. We then had less than a breath to think as the creatures charged us, and combat began in earnest.
Darvin went down swiftly, but I didn’t have an opportunity to reach him as two of the monstrosities turned their attention to me. Trissa cast a spell that destroyed all of the skeletons but the well-armed one. Darvin woke following the spell’s effects, and stirred, rising.
I rushed up and attempted to cleave the skeleton’s head from its shoulders. The skeleton shifted to the side just before I hit it, and before I could recover to attack it again, Erevel shot an arrow past me and into its kneecap. It didn’t do a whole lot to the skeleton, but I appreciated her efforts.
As we fought, a blue field, like a membrane, appeared over the doorway to the outside, closing us in with what I presume to be no escape. Triss remained outside.
From behind me, Erevel charged in, wielding a… a ball peen hammer and shrieking like a stuck pig. She accomplished precisely nothing, though I couldn’t help but admire her commitment. Asakku attacked the creature again, resulting in cracks and the shriek of metal against metal. Furious, the skeleton turned on Darvin and slashed open his chest. Triss dropped the hammer and dove at the creature, though I tried to bash it with my shield a second time, and its breastplate stopped the blow. Triss cried out in pain as she slammed into the skeleton and stumbled back when it sliced her back open with its sword, landing hard on her ass.
Asakku punched the creature in the jaw, knocking its head back and sending it to the ground where it lay, unmoving. As soon as we were certain it was dead, I let out a long, slow breath and considered its weaponry, picking up the sword, shield, and breastplate. The sword, which was of fine make, was ornate but moved well in my hand, so I swapped my scimitar for it for the time being and slung it across my back.
I kept watch while Erevel, Darvin, and Asakku messed about with the safe. I heard them talking behind me and glanced over my shoulder and saw one of the most horrid sights I’ve ever witnessed. In two jars hung two fetuses, kicking, squirming and huddling away from the light. They were submerged in some form of embalming fluid. I nearly lost my stomach, and I shuddered. Erevel announced that they were called “Pickled Punks”. They were harmless in the jar, but if released they would attack anything nearby in a quest for blood. They are often held by necromancers and used as surrogate children. Erevel took one and wrapped it in all her bedding. I chastised her, horrified, but she assured me she would keep it safe and expressed interest in selling it.
At about that time, I walked away, unable to bear looking at the creatures any further and deciding to investigate the rest of the room. Darvin, Asakku, and I investigated the direction the skeletons had come from, leaving Erevel to deal with those monstrosities. It looked like a barracks after a battle just fought. Fresh bodies and flesh on the floor surprised me. The flesh was most certainly human; the blood had dried, but there was no putrification. The piles looked as though all the meat had fallen off the bodies of the seven skeletons we fought.
Despite my growing horror, I searched through the room for anything of use. We discovered some semiprecious stones that Darvin appraised, a potion (which Darvin identified as a Potion of Reduce Person), a potion of Mage Armor, spices, marbles, a little gold, some dried mushrooms, a clay tankard with two copper, an iron bar, a small glass rod, a small wooden chest, a wood axe, a holy symbol of Tiamat, 23 gold pieces, 14 silver, 9 copper, and a second small chest full of straw which cushioned four Potions of Cure Minor Wounds.
As we examined the loot, we heard the Pickled Punk crying out for help. Erevel, a look of horror on her face, rushed back to the safe and set the creature back in the safe. As she returned the monster to the safe, we heard the sound of a crumbling door. Knowing the nature of that noise, we turned and rushed back into the room to face the threat.
Darvin stuck his head out the door and nearly had it sliced off, though Trissa used her spell again to destroy most of the skeletons, leaving the largest of them standing. Asakku and Darvin destroyed the creature in short order. Erevel gave me her short bow and ammunition as well as ten silvered arrows. “You’ll pay for those later.”
I raised an eyebrow at her. “Very well.”
“No, she has saved your sorry ass several times since we arrived here,” Asakku said with a scowl.
“Indeed,” Darvin said. “That doesn’t sit well with me, either.”
I lifted my hands and shook my head. “We don’t have time to discuss this now. We can handle it when we make it out of here alive.”
Triss, who looked weary, asked if we could rest so that she could restore her mana. Asakku and I took watches outside the door and watched over the others while they rested. Following their rest, they woke refreshed and ready to fight further.
When they stepped out past the threshold of the room, another door crumbled away, confirming my suspicions that the thresholds are the trigger. We took collective deep breaths and prepared to face yet more enemies. With three more doors after this one, I worried about our odds, though so far we had survived their efforts to end us.
This fight went far worse than the last ones. Perhaps we were far less apt during this fight and suffered significant injury and losses. After much discussion and debate, we decided to launch an attack against one more door. Before crossing the threshold, Erevel examined the two rooms and evaluated which was the most likely to have healing items, though it was impossible to tell from the doorway.
Erevel reported a good deal of money, masterwork studded leather armor, a bolt of canvas, a fishing net, clay pitchers, a hand saw, thirteen racks of firewood, a sack of wheat, a sewing needle, a glass rod, a waterskin, and twelve small, wooden chests and one medium one. All twelve of the small wooden chests were empty. We found four more healing potions inside.
We engaged the next group. Asakku stepped over the threshold and, rolling my eyes, I joined him. We fought the skeleton, and took it down. Inside the room Asakku and I found coins, a masterwork light steel shield, a scroll of charm animal, a backpack, a box of twenty arrowheads, a box of twenty candles, a lamp, a large iron box, a loaf of bread, a sickle, a sledge, and a medium-sized wooden chest.
Unbeknownst to me, Erevel charged into one of the other rooms to loot it without and found some items I didn’t know about. I heard her call out from the other room. We slept for the night, and then, in the morning we all rushed out of the rooms and into formation. One of the rooms opened to what we had come to expect, but in the other was a set of black armor, blood pouring out of the cracks in its helm.
We may be boned.
The fighting was fierce and bloody. The knight spewed blood everywhere until the air was thick with the stench of it. I don’t know if I will be able to bathe enough to clean the blood off my skin. Asakku, Trissa, and myself engaged the blood knight while Darvin and Erevel took out the rest of the skeletons. As we fought, Erevel came up with a horrible, terrible idea. One that just might work.