The adventures are quickly up and in a line at the top of the stairs, blocking the way, exactly as seen in Cas’ dream.
Newt and Jim fire.
But to no great effect- neither of the Derro are hit.
And the stairs are full of fire- the Derro crisped, charred and very dead.
The adventurers stand about, grinning.
“Well, no time like the present.” Ala gathers up her gear.
The others do likewise.
It’s time to finish this.
Ala finds herself standing next to Newt, she puts out an arm, onto the Gnome’s shoulder, Newt stops, looks up.
“I’m…” She manages.
She bows her head.
“Yeah, so am I… this place.” The Gnome looks around, “It’s… I dunno.” He shivers.
And that’s what passes for a settling of their differences, for now.
The Gang head off, check out the three possible exits they, actually Cas, marched them past yesterday- empty rooms, nothing worth reporting.
It’s day six, the final day, tomorrow they’ll rest, today they’ll fight.
Through the teleporting pillared chamber, and on.
Newt checks the door ahead, nods once- it’s clear.
Cas flings it open.
They goggle at what lies beyond.
Cas flings the door shut again.
“So the room is somehow magically full of blood.” Cas starts.
“Yep, and there seems to be a number of Kobold abominations, heavily armed over the far side of the chamber, somehow floating on the blood tide.” Ala adds.
“Furthermore did you notice the Kobolds this time more resembled the High Priestess, albino, scaled, very Dragon-like.” Newt continues.
“And the one at the very back was obviously their leader, even more Dragon-like, a White Dragon at that, we should expect a cold welcome.” Anya grins.
“I’ll wear my mittens.” Jim finishes and unslings his bow.
“Exactly.” Cas chucks the Ranger on the arm.
“They have the terrain on their side. Answer- don’t go in there.” Cas finishes.
Ala nods, as do the others when they work it out, Bec looks despondent, he’s got nothing to fire or throw.
Thirty seconds later the door is once again flung open.
Bec gets to order the attack.
Cas launches sunrod after sunrod into the chamber, they offer a brief, but startling, at least for the Kobolds, all six of them, illumination.
Jim’s Magic Arrow sails into the chamber, catches one of the Elite Kobolds within off guard, the creature gurgles and sinks beneath the bloody waves.
Newt’s bolt, poisoned- one of half-a-dozen he recovered from the Derro earlier, and meant for the leader type, alas sails wide. As does Ala’s arrow.
“Smidgin.” Anya’s onto her second wand, another of the Elite Kobolds sinks forever.
A Kobold manages to fire his crossbow, the bolt whistles down the narrow corridor and lodges in Anya’s arm- she grits her teeth and fights on.
Baraz, the Barbarian Half-Dragon Kobold Abomination, quickly realises this is not working, his plan is failing, he must protect his master at all costs.
The stumpy winged Barbarian, the most ferocious, vicious, and above all, cunning, of his kind launches himself into the air, and dives forwards into the tunnel entrance, bringing with him a stinging blizzard of frost breath.
Jim, Newt, Anya and Ala are caught in the cold, but shrug it off.
“SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND WICH.” Bec states.
The group of adventurers, in unison, shuffle back- further away from the bloody chamber, and Baraz.
Jim’s arrow catches Baraz on the shoulder, digs in, blood trickles down. Newt and Ala’s shots sail high and wide.
Anya screams and the corridor is bathed in fire.
Engulfing Baraz, who sizzles slightly as he strides forward, the damn bursts, Baraz Rages and launches himself forward towards his prey.
Bec orders, the group shuffle back again, trying to keep pace with the onrushing Barbarian.
But too late, for Jim, he’s raked across his chest- blood gushes out.
He manages to scramble back again, out of the creatures reach.
A second fan of fire engulfs Baraz.
And yet the creature dashes on.
Bec lurches through the ranks, great club in hand, ready to meet the creatures charge.
Baraz smashes into the giant man, sinks his claws several inches in to the Barbarians chest, and rips free a hunk of flesh.
Bec barely moans, pushes the creature away from him, and punches with his great club- jabs the thing, hard, into the Kobolds face.
Bone splinters and breaks, fragments of his skull lance into his brain, Baraz is no more.
The Abomination flops to the ground.
“Good man.” Cas pats Bec on the arm, as three more of the Elite Kobolds scramble into the corridor ahead.
Newt steps by them, aims and fires, sinks a crossbow bolt into a Kobold’s skull.
Bec grins and lopes off towards the new intruders, one of the creatures panics, drops his sword, and is crushed, in passing, by the giant Barbarian’s great club. The other faces off with Bec, and lasts less than ten seconds.
His job done, Bec ambles back to the group.
“Can I have Sandwich? Please? Or a cake- something creamy…”
“Not long now.” Ala grins back.
“With a cherry on top.” Bec finishes.
The adventurers gingerly approach the bloody chamber, which proves to be a pain to cross. A bloody tide swells and gathers at the far side, then rushes to their end of the chamber.
“If we time it right.” Anya offers, and then shrugs.
Before they attempt the crossing Anya lets loose with a Detect Magic and discovers another Healing Potion, and the fact that Baraz’s Chain Shirt is magical- they take them both.
And on into the horrid chamber.
Anya, Newt and Jim are caught in the bloody wave, the latter because he’s bobbing about trying to spot his Magic Arrow, the others get through with ease. It takes a good while but, now the threat has gone, they all get through unharmed, eventually. Jim sans arrow- it’s lost forever.
They readjust their kit, and then pass on into another huge, and almost empty, chamber.
There are no other obvious exits, the place is well lit, and all there is to see is a plain and seemingly unadorned Altar in the centre of the chamber, and a wooden store cupboard on the western wall,
At least that’s all Jim, Newt and Anya see.
For the others, well… that’s a different matter.
Cas, Ala and Bec have a different vision.
Straight from Hell.
Basalt rock extends to the horizon, there’s no ceiling only the night sky, which is less crowded than they remembered, a single pale star glints in the heavens, casting a pallid glow over the proceedings.
And in the centre of the chamber is a fleshy globe of lashing body parts, mouths mark the surface, they moan and scream.
The globe breaks and spills open, flopping body parts writhe and wriggle; blood, guts and ooze is flung far and wide.
And from the twisted wreck of frenzied flesh strides Tsathzar-Rho, in whose Lost Vault they now stand.
The demonic-looking creature has green scaled skin; a bird like head attached to an overly long neck; awkward, bent legs and two taloned arms that seem to stretch undulate and flow.
Tsathzar-Rho moves towards them, with purpose- their destruction, as it closes they begin to make out the finer details. The creatures organs flop and slap against its skin, they’re on the outside, or are at least for a moment, before being absorbed back into its scaly form, only to be expelled again- second later. The cycle continues.
Tsathzar-Rho is truly revolting.
Bec stumbles forward, as if in a trance.
The others stand stock still- look desperately about them.
“Where are they going?” Jim offers.
Newt shrugs, scans ahead- there’s nothing to see.
“What’s going on here? What do you see?” Anya shouts at the back of her charging companions.
Tsathzar-Rho taloned arms snake out to meet the holy duo, Cas ducks, Ala is not so lucky, a bloody trail marks its passing.
Cas’ longsword bites, slices through the creatures side, muck and gunk fly out.
Ala spins away from the creatures taloned arm, her longsword comes full circle, and digs deep into the creatures frame.
The creature screams.
“What was that?” Anya asks.
“I didn’t hear anything.” Jim coolly states.
Newt shakes his head.
Tsathzar-Rho turns his rent side away from his attackers, in the same instant his beaked maw smashes into Ala and rips a chunk of flesh, the size of a fist, from her shoulder- reveals the chipped bone beneath.
Its head snakes up, and gulps the bloody gobbet down.
Ala screams and staggers backwards, barely conscious.
“What the…” Jim offers, having just witnessed much of Ala’s shoulder suddenly disappear.
“It’s an illusion.” Anya states.
And so it is.
Anya and Newt see it all, they rush towards the terrifying vision.
Jim stand statue, “Hey, where are you going? What’s there?” The last innocent.
“I AM TSATHZAR-RHO, I HAVE SLEPT FOR CENTURIES, BUT NOW I AM BACK, IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO SLEEP. EMBRACE THE DARKNESS, FOR DARKNESS AND CHAOS IS ALL THERE IS…”
The voice ancient, unhurried, and yet provoked.
It’s inside their heads, blocking out everything else.
Except for Jim.
“You guys, what’s going on- is this some kind of joke?”
Next Turn: Grand Finale, Part Two- Jim’s Surprise Party.
KOTS at Enworld-http://www.enworld.org/forum/story-hour
Or Sellswords of Punjar, here at Goodman Games-
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Post subject: Re: The Goodman Gang in DCC2 The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho.
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 11:19 am
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters
Turn 25: Grand Finale, Part Two- Jim’s Surprise Party.
Newt dashes forward towards the horrendous beast, crossbow in hand, crouches and settles for a second, stares again at the poison bolt he has loaded.
A direct hit, the bolt buries itself in the creature’s chest.
Tsathzar-Rho screams as the poison ravages him, staggers, and yet remains standing. The creature lashes out a taloned arm at Ala, she ducks the blow, and skitters out of the creatures reach.
She pumps healing energies into herself, she grimaces as her shoulder mends, then straightens- ready to rejoin the fight.
Anya’s wand sings; the Magic Missile however barely leaves a mark on the creature.
Cas slashes at the creatures clawed foot, scores a direct hit, leaving a bloody trail of his swords passing, the creature hops backwards slightly.
Bec shakes his head, swats invisible flies, then storms forward and delivers a devastating two-handed blow, with all his might.
Right to the back of Ala’s head.
The Cleric slumps to the ground, blood pouring from the rent in the back of her skull.
Jim sees this, rushes over, and launches himself at Bec. The giant man backs off and drops to a fighting stance.
“BEC. BEC. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU’VE KILLED HER.”
But there’s no one home.
Bec swings again, Jim dodges aside at the last second.
“Akkat”, Anya points Swish at Bec, the broom hops over to attack- with its usual lack of effect. Anya coats herself in her Mage Armour, shimmers in the lone-starlight.
Newt’s crossbow bolt sails well wide of the Abomination, although it only misses Cas by inches, he gulps and makes a mental note to aim better next time.
“Calm down Bec… Calm down.” Jim offers.
His words seem to have an immediate effect, Bec lowers his great club.
“Give me the club… Come on, you don’t want to hurt anyone else.”
Bec, as meek as a lamb now, hands the weapon over.
Tsathzar-Rho lashes out but Cas meets the creatures attacks with his shield and sword, deflects both blows aside.
Bec knocks Swish aside, the broom skitters a good fifteen feet away, then hops up and heads on back to the fray.
Anya bends down over the fallen Ala, pours two healing potions into the stricken Cleric, she coughs and splutters, then opens her eyes.
“Later.” Anya states.
Cas slashes again, catches Tsathzar-Rho’s leg again, only a small cut this time but enough to make the creature back away further.
Bec screams and forearm smashes Jim, who staggers backwards, but quickly recovers his senses, rushes back in, grapples Bec, as best he can, which turns out to be badly. Jim changes tack, releases his grip, and shuffles back, swings his right foot hard- up into Bec’s cobblers.
The big guy staggers backwards, clutching at the affected area.
“I want this all to stop, you’re frightening me. Stop it.” Jim splutters.
Cas is sliced across his chest, Tsathzar-Rho chirrups and grins.
“Sooooooon be overrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”
It’s voice in Cas’ brain.
“Damn.” Newt reloads, another miss.
Ala levers herself to her feet, Anya’s moved on, she mumbles a prayer and lo and behold- her sword glows and pulses, becomes, temporarily, a Magic Weapon. She shuffles forward, dragging her longsword behind her- it’s heavy and she’s weak still.
Anya has run around to the rear of the creature, she sends a gout of flame into the beasts back.
It screams as its flesh chars and cinders.
Bec forgets his hurt, turns tail, and staggers away from all the confusion- further into the massive chamber, punch-drunk, he trips on. Jim follows, cautious.
“Bec. BEC. What is it?”
Bec continues wandering.
One of Tsathzar-Rho’s clawed arms lashes out, smashes into Ala’s forehead, cuts it wide-open, blood cascades down her face, in her eyes, nose and mouth.
“You bastard.” She staggers back, catches herself and surges forward again.
Cas darts in, swings high, wide and handsome- spots Ala out of the corner of his eye.
Another bolt sails wide.
Newt drops his crossbow, useless bloody thing; quick draws his heavy mace and charges into the melee.
Tsathzar-Rho lashes again at Cas, the attack is deflected by his shield- which is starting to get very heavy in his hands; it’s second attack misses Ala, but Ala doesn’t miss it- slashes with all her might and takes the last six inches or so off one of the creatures incredibly flexible taloned arms.
It hauls in the damaged limb.
Tsathzar-Rho realises then that the battle is lost, and so launches itself forward again, abandoning defence for all out fury.
“WHAT IS IT? WHAT’S GOING ON? WHAT DO YOU SEE?”
Jim screams at Bec, exasperated.
The giant man turns to face Jim, gibbers, looks away, then back again to the centre of the chamber where the hellish abomination makes its last stand.
Jim turns to look- and sees for the first time the real chamber.
He manages, then.
The Ranger grabs hold of Bec’s leather jerkin and drags him along.
Newt stands before the creature as it flails and smashes- in frenzy, waves his mace ineffectively, swishes once, and then faced with nowhere else to go rolls straight through the creature’s legs, and emerges unscathed.
Tsathzar-Rho’s elongated neck snakes down to follow the Gnomes path, intent on taking a bite out of the unarmoured combatant.
Ala cuts clean through the Abominations neck, the creature’s head flops onto the ground, the body is wracked by a St. Vitus dance, then rushes head long forward, smashing past Ala and Cas, cannons into a wall, staggers left and continues to smash its way around the chamber, careening off walls.
Ala drops her sword. Cas rushes to her.
“You... I want a word with…”
She points at Bec, who looks suitably ashamed- cringes, scared, then Ala fades and falls… into Cas’ arms.
The Outer Realm, the home of Tsathzar-Rho, fades away, and thirty seconds later they’re back in an emptyish room, save the black unadorned Altar, and the store cupboard- not a sign of their passing, or the final battle with the Abomination, Tsathzar-Rho, the creature simply fades from sight.
There’s a ring, and several potion flasks in the storage cupboard- all of which detect as magical, and a small, but ultimately valuable, supply of silver, gold, diamond and mithril dust.
Two hours later the group emerges back into the light, it’s raining, and head back to Tetknee.
“I love the rain, don’t you?”
Cas nods, and kisses Ala.
Bec, rushes forward to the divine duo, he has something in his hand, he puts his head down- proffers his gift, a bunch of wild flowers, Ala takes them and smiles at the huge Barbarian.
“I know you didn’t mean it.”
She squeezes his hand, and then walks on with Cas, who smiles back at Bec.
Jim, Anya and Newt catch up with Bec.
“So what you gonna do with your share of the money?” Jim asks.
Newt smiles, Anya giggles.
“For Anya.” Bec finishes.
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