Attacking the Darkness!

The Holy Place

The party rests and feels awesome. The much-needed shut eye and recuperation has invigorated them, inspiring them to finish their dungeon crawl and reclaim the throne of Dragonsbane for their young would-be queen.

The party returns to the only door they couldn’t open and tries to open it, but it is solid and rigid. Slade picks the lock; the tumbles catch and it opens, swinging inward to darkness. Aeryn lifts her torch to light the room. It is rather unremarkable except for a dark pit in the center of it. As Slade enters, a line of spikes shoot up from the ground around the pit. He is wounded by them, but thankfully his injury is only superficial.

Gazing down into the the pit, the party sees what looks to be a straight drop down into a room below. Their vision is further obscured by the darkness.

Seeing no other alternative, they lock the door behind them so nothing follows after them and move down the hall to the other door with the bars surrounding it. Everyone does their best strongman impression by trying their best to bend the bars, but all they achieve are a chorus of grunts. Suddenly, the sound of footsteps emanate from down the hall. The party jumps quickly into formation.

“Hey, fuckface!” Slade taunts.

Unfortunately, the two spiders climbing up the other end of the hall seem too dim to understand the taunt. Instead, they advance—with pincers raised—toward the party, looking incredibly hungry. They accelerate into a spell cast by Rhaine that momentarily immobilizes them, allowing the rest of the party to take shots while they remain frozen.

Whirling gracefully through the air, Aeryn disconnects the head from one of the spiders’ bodies, sending her sword into its topmost eye. It explodes in a most satisfying manner. Alaric stabs the other one in the midsection, killing it instantly. Slade extracts venom sacs and fangs from each.

Alaric leads the party forward to the other unexplored hallway. Hoisting the tiny little gnome onto his shoulders so he can keep up, the ranger walks with a staggering gait through the corridors. They happen upon gobo corpses and Alaric spits on them. Fucking gobos!

As they continue down the corridor, the stench gets worse and worse. David spies movement at the end of the hall and Aeryn helps illuminate the darkness with her torch. Alaric’s blood boils instantly. At the end of the hall are what appear to be—to him, at least—four goblins. The rest of the party sees four trolls because David has charmed him into thinking they are goblins.

As Rhaine tries to explain to him that what he sees is wrong, he growls, “I can’t be reasoned with.”

Alaric immediately flies into a rage, hacking away at the unlucky first troll. His kinetic energy doubles over the troll since he was running so feverishly at him. He soon finds himself entangled on the ground with the troll, trying hard to regain his bearings. Aeryn uses them both as a springboard, jumping over them to the other side, nearly unbalancing herself in the process. She regains her footing and narrowly avoids being flattened by one of the hungry trolls. Alaric carves a wound into the belly of the troll, causing it to howl with pain.

Meanwhile, David fires magic missiles at them while Rhaine sets the troll on fire, filling the area with acrid black troll smoke. Slade gives David a back massage to inspire him to greater heights. The troll standing behind Aeryn attacks her and hits, causing her to present him with her middle digit. She is now trapped behind the flames, and things are looking rather grim for her. Alaric jumps to her rescue and slices off a fresh troll hand. The troll proceeds to taunt Alaric about his mother.

“No one says anything about my mom!” the enraged ranger bellows. He sends the hapless creature flying to its knees. “On your knees!” To Aeryn, he orders, “Finish him!”

She fumbles, and David hurriedly tells them to kill the first troll and get the hell out of Dodge.

“The gobo?” Alaric queries.

“The gobo,” David concurs, feeling not at all guilty for having lied to him.

Meanwhile, Slade hightails it out of the fray and returns to the unlocked door. The door is ornate, decorated with a marble trim and filigree in every crevice. The keyhole is crafted in the shape of a cross.

Rhaine senses a warmth coming from the door. Silver, too, feels it. She sees inscriptions on the door and all at once recognizes them as holy symbols used to honor the dead. Turning the handle, Silver feels the tumbles move. Remarkably, the door opens for her and cool air washes outward. An earthy smell fills her nostrils.

“You guys aren’t gonna believe what I see in here!” Slade exclaims, running in ahead of them.

There, approximately ten feet inside of the door, is a pillar with a bust of a rather prominent-looking figure on it. The man has a kind visage and soft lighting illuminates the bust.

Outside, Alaric tells Aeryn, “I’ll take this from here,” and dispatches the “gobo” with surprising ease. She lifts her torch to the troll to set him aflame and then jumps over the other flaming troll body to rejoin the party.

“Get out of there!” David calls to Alaric and Aeryn.

In the interim, Rhaine enters the room and takes a good look around. All at once she recognizes the bust as being that of a holy man or a saint. She hears something around the corner. It sounds suspiciously like a scraping or clinking sound.

Silver has entered the room beside her friend. She feels a holiness about this place. She recognizes the bust as a priest of Boccob from her studies. She immediately falls to her knees in praise. Although she is joyous, she is also confused at seeing this priest of Boccob is a man since the organization is a sisterhood comprised of mainly women.

Hearing the same noise as Rhaine, Silver perks to attention. n oily, slick taint rankles through the air even though the bust has been blessed. There is something not right about this place.

“Hey, you should knock all that nonsense off!” Slade complains to Silver, walking out of the door as he, too, senses the unease in the room.

Outside, after seeing its fellow troll lying dead at its feet, the one remaining troll picks up the carcass and hefts it across the floor at Alaric. The ranger dodges over the other dead troll that is on fire. Although this causes him to get a little crispy, apart from a burned-off left eyebrow he is otherwise unharmed. The ranger attempts to corral everyone through the door. He picks up David and calls at Slade and Aeryn, “Get in! Close the door!”

Obeying his command, the party all slips back into the holy place, sans Slade. As soon as the door slams shut, Rhaine hears a sound and two chinks. She is too preoccupied to notice Silver is totally enthralled by the statue. The priest, however, manages to get her wits about her enough to heal the wounded Aeryn, who barely escaped with her life.

The divinity is surrounding the party and infusing them with a healing power that seems to come from some greater force. Although there is something definitely not right about this room, the party accepts the blessing with gratitude.

“We’ll close the door on you if you don’t come in,” Alaric threatens the hafling, who is still two steps outside of the door. Not wishing for the ranger to make good on that promise, the halfling enters the room and shuts the door behind him. The tumbles catch and the door secures.

More noises penetrate the silence.

Scrape.

Clank.

Chink.

“Why don’t we go kill that chink and then we’ll kill those trolls,” Slade suggests. “We’ve got a chink coming down the hall.”

Silver attempts to engage the unknown entity in conversation but is unsuccessful. Aeryn hands Alaric her torch and he uses it to peer around the corner, coming face to face with two chainmail-clad skeletons wielding sword swords and shields emblazoned with the holy crest.

“Stop in the name of Boccob!” Silver commands, handing them one of her printed pamphlets. “I come bearing the good news of Boccob!”

The skeletons, however, don’t seem interested in her vain attempt at proselytizing. So instead she tries another tactic.

“Begone, evil creatures, and let this place flow with love!”

Her turning powers compel the skeletons to run away, clattering down the hall like two frightened rabbits. She commands her fellow party members to “leave these skeletons to do their skeletony things!”

And since she is such a persuasive and charismatic speaker, they comply.

In the room, Aeryn examines the bust of the priest of Boccob and admires its fine craftsmanship. As Silver turns back toward her and the other party members, her thrall on the two skeletons breaks and they return with ill intent. David wisely decides to tell Alaric they are goblin skeletons, which renders him completely unhinged. The foolhardy ranger charges the goblins. They take a beating at his hands but are otherwise okay. They move slowly but with purpose toward the other party members.

“David was right; you are goblins!” Alaric marvels, clearly blinded by his rage.

Rhaine manages to damage one of the skeletons; only its evil magic holds it together.

“Oh my gosh, these are horrible goblin creatures; you have to get them!” David muses, further fueling Alaric’s anger. He flies into a blood rage and attacks again, managing a quick double kill to the surprise—and delight—of his friends.

Silver yells at Alaric, “I will not be a part of your bloodlust, but i will join you ‘cause that’s what we do.”

She then asks Slade to take a rubbing of the bust. There is a name underneath it in an ancient dialogue. As Slade is putting the rubbing in his pack, a troll begins banging on the door with great shuddering thumps. The party notices at the end of the hall there is a dead end with a sturdy and old-looking ladder extending upward into inky darkness. Slade examines the door and finds that it isn’t trapped, though there is a latch on it.

The troll’s banging grows increasingly fervent and more livid. The party decides to confront the trolls so they won’t be a problem for them later on in the journey. To taunt the one troll, Slade raps back on the door and yells, “Hey, fags!” He turns the latch, but it won’t budge. Silver approaches the door, touching the handle and feeling the warmth and love of Boccob encompassing her. She opens it a crack and runs away. Two meaty hands wrap around the door and force it roughly open.

Aeryn backs away from the door to allow Slad ethe change to fling a vat of acid on them. He commands Silver to back away too, telling her, “Don’t go up to the door!”

Hurling a glass full of black pudding acid in front of the door, the halfling backs away. Captured in a slick of acid, the troll howls in rage and torture and then retreats out of the doorway, thrashing about.

David calls out to the other troll in goblin, saying, “Come on, get over here!” The troll pokes his head around the door as if to say “huh?” with a big stupid look on his face, accidentally stepping in the black pudding. He backs away too, howling.

David convinces everyone to scream, “You fuck your mom with a dick that small?” in goblin. The gnome takes this moment to quickly educate the party on some of the more inflammatory goblin curses—which unsurprisingly comprise about seventy percent of the goblin language.

The troll screams and falls over, disintegrating from the acid. The second troll howls in anger and peeks his head in through the door. Rhaine kills him at point blank range, getting him right in the eye socket. He collapses into a lethal mixture of black pudding and sharp glass, both of which render him nearly unrecognizable.

Just as the troll is dying, he manages to find the strength to get up and lumber down the hall. Determined to protect the holy place, Silver attempts to use a lasso to close the door. Much to her relief, the second troll succumbs to the acid and goes up in flames.

The party takes this moment to rest and memorize their spells. During their precious downtime, Aeryn sits and stares at the bust of the priest of Boccob, becoming enthralled with it. She feels suddenly inspired to change her religion, so Silver takes her hands and dances around the statue with her in a joyful circle.

“I’m so glad you decided to become an SOB!” she cries in a voice overflowing with emotion.

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