(Transcribed live from mind of Thorn Halfhill, on the date of 24 Gozran 4711. -The Editor)
This room fucking reeked. Between the corpses and that fish-basilisk thing dangling from the “fishing line” that Luna was holding, this room smelled horrible. Thorn looked down on the creature and wondered if he could harvest any useful components from it. His thoughts were interrupted by Halungalom pointing across the room and shouting to him, “Check that other door Thorn!”
He followed his finger to an iron-bound door thirty feet above the dark, murky water that had just produced that freaky fish thing.
Thorn shrugged saying “’Kay,” and to Luna “Give me a toss will ya?”
Luna nodded and Thorn backed up, got a running start and jumped just as Luna grabbed his arm and launched him towards the door. He caught the gap between door and floor, looked up, and a look of irritation crossed his face.
“Gods dammnit! No knob,” he shouted back to his companions.
“Alright, come on back down Thorn,” shouted his brother Edgar.
“What, like, drop back down in the water?!” Thorn shouted back with a hint of fear.
“Yeah it’ll be fine!” his brother shouted back.
“Fuck you Ed, push another corpse out to make sure!”
“Don’t be such a pussy!”
“Fuck you, do it!”
After a little bickering, Ed, Dean and Hal pushed the last zombie corpse into the deeper water where it floated unmolested by demon beasts from the seventh ring of Hell. Thorn reluctantly pushed himself off the wall and dropped into the water to be greeted by a smirking Ed.
“Pussy,” he said chuckling
“Shut up,” retorted the ever quick-witted halfling
They swam up to a door across the room from where they had entered, and were relieved to find it was knobbed and unbarred. They pushed the door open to find another small chamber with another door, similar to the chamber they had come across between the rooms with the flying heads and all the mold, only this door was made of stone, rather than the usual iron-bound wood. Ed pushed the door open and looked around.
“It’s empty.” he said.
“What do you mean it’s empty?” said a puzzled Thorn.
“Well, the water isn’t deep and, oddly enough, the ceiling is black and shiny, but there’s nothing else here but a stone door across the way, and,” he paused as he peered up the wall above the open door, “Yup, another stone door up the wall a ways.”
“Should we go in?” questioned Thorn
“After you, Trapmaster.” said Ed with a smirk.
Thorn ignored the irony, “Can you see anything in the water?”
Ed frowned, and hopped off his loyal companion Mush, and sent him to fetch the waterproof lantern he had thrown into the previous chamber. Once Mush returned with it, Ed threw it into the room.
“Well, that fish thing bit when we used that body as bait, let’s see if anything else does.” suggested Thorn
They swam back into the previous room to grab the last of the servant corpses and together pushed it into the room with they shiny ceiling. The body floated about five feet into the chamber when suddenly, the ceiling came down on it. A black, shiny, ooze-like creature engulfed the body and seemed to start digesting it.
“What’s going on?” Thorn heard Dean shout.
“Shitshitshitshitshit!” Ed shouted as he fled from the tiny room, and not long after, an arrow clattered against the wall next to the door. Thorn found that aside from the arrow, he was alone. He stepped into the door way and attacked it, but his fear or fascination or perhaps both were clearly a distraction as he stabbed nothing but air with his scimitar.
“Get out!” Hal shouted, bringing Thorn back to his senses. He slammed the stone door in the ooze’s metaphorical face and dove back into the deep water of the previous chamber, where Hal shut the iron-bound door.
“What do we do now?” Ed asked “That room looked like the only way forward.”
“Well, we can go back,” said Hal, “We were able to see the bridge going to that tower from outside right? Maybe we can get up on that bridge.”
The party agreed that would be a better idea than facing whatever the hell that thing was. They made their way back outside and around the water-logged tower and found the bridge leading from it to an ominous tower that sat upon a stone outcropping above the river. The tower was taller than the ones before it with a great iron lightning conductor at it’s peak. Dean launched a grappling hook tied to a knotted rope up to the bridge and caught it on the first try. The party made their way up the rope, and sadly had to leave Max, Luna’s dog behind. Ed left Mush at the base of the rope as well, but was able to call him to his side by some divine magic Thorn didn’t understand. As the rest of the party made their way up the rope, Thorn wandered into the archway that lead into the second floor of the water-logged tower. Ever a curious halfling, he made his way down a long corridor, past a set of doors which he reasoned to lead to the rooms with the “fish” and the sludge. he made his way to the second set of doors where Ed noticed him.
“What the hell are you doing?!” He shouted
Thorn shushed him and quietly opened the door he believed lead into the room full of mold. His hunch was right, he peered around the room that had mold growing on every surface, but other than more mold than anyone would ever want to look at, he spotted nothing. Somewhat disappointed, he closed the door, and in doing so, he spotted a shelf at the end of the corridor. He walked over to the shelf and found a couple of flasks he discerned to be preserved basilisk blood, and what he figured to be potions. He brought the potions back to the resident magic experts Hal and Ed, who determined them to be potions of gaseous form, which Hal hung on to, and a potion of displacement, which the party believed would be best served with Luna. The party then pressed on with Thorn in the lead, checking for traps.
This bridge, like every other bridge they had come across, plainly displayed Caromarc’s complete and utter hatred of railings and safety regulations. It was three feet wide with an unhindered view of the river twenty feet below. The party made their way slowly and carefully across the narrow walkway to the doors at the foot of the final tower of Schloss Caromarc. Thorn took a good hard look at the door and turned back to party saying, “It’s locked, and I think it’s magical.”
Ed and Hal stepped forward and examined the door, and came to the conclusion that it was enchanted with an arcane lock spell. Thorn produced his tools and got to work. Fiddling with the lock for a while, he managed to pop it, and shoved the doors open. They found a large circular tower room with a circular staircase leading up to a metal hatch. The room itself was in shambles. Strewn about were books, and alchemical equipment with a large, partly broken iron cage dominating the center of the room. Next to the cage, there was a large figure shrouded in the gloom. Upon hearing the door open, the figure stood to reveal a red, four armed monstrosity that unleashed a beastial roar and charged the door. Just below the the sounds of the roar and the thumping of it’s massive feat on stone, there was an almost inaudible sound of chanting. Just as the monster was about to be upon the party, a hole opened under it’s feet and tumbled into it. Thorn leapt into the room past the pit and shouted, “Good shit Hal!” who was standing behind Ed, looking pleased. The party made it’s way into the room, with Luna standing on the other side of the pit, opposite of Thorn ready to strike. Hal, Ed, and Dean made their way up the staircase, and as Hal and Ed continued up, Dean stopped half way up the staircase, took aim, and blasted a hole in the creature’s head. Thorn, pretty sure that he wouldn’t be able to do much with his sling, dig in his bag and tossed one of the three opaque bottles he had found in one of the previous towers as Dean continued to rain a hail of bullets on the beast. It managed to climb out of the pit and stood towering above Luna. It began to swing, but the ground beneath it gave way and it tumbled back into the pit with a frustrated roar.
Thorn continued throwing bottles into the pit, as Dean and Ed fired upon it mercilessly. It tried to climb again and failed as Thorn tossed his last opaque bottle and a bottle of brewed reek at it. That was the last straw for the beast. It climbed out of the pit and on top of the cage, where it was greeted by a couple of Deans bullets. Bloodied, but fueled by it’s rage, it dropped down in front of Thorn, covered in yellow spores and thick, viscous slime. It towered over him, and normally that wouldn’t be saying much, as just about everyone towered over him, but this creature was extra towerful. It reared back and came down on Thorn with a mighty claw, scratching him across his chest. Thorn immediately felt ill from the sickening slime that covered the beast. In the corner of his sight, Thorn saw Luna rush the beast and come down on it with her lucern hammer. That seemed to get it’s attention. It turn on her and slashed at her with all four of his massive arms. Three hit home, but the forth slammed into the cage next to the beast, rending some of the bars. Luna looked bloodied, but unshaken, that is until she glanced down at her hammer. A look of absolute terror crossed her face and she dropped the hammer and ran out of the tower screaming. A splash was heard not far off. The creature then turned back to Thorn just as more holes appeared in its chest from Dean’s guns. Thorn wasn’t sure if he saw malice, humor, or perhaps both on the creatures face before he struck, but that, followed by the flash of it’s claws, was the last thing he saw before he blacked out.
Thorn snapped awake at home, in the living room of his families home in a halfling settlement north of Absolom, a home he hadn’t seen since he was a child. Fading afternoon sunlight streamed through the windows of their family home. The living room was plainly decorated; a vase on the mantle above the fire place, a trophy fish his father had caught years back, paintings of landscapes along the wall, and a couple crochet pictures his mother had made. The living room was adjoined with the kitchen, where a woman was busy cooking. She was dressed as modestly as the home was decorated and had long, braided, light brown hair.
“Mother?” Thorn said, half-believing what he was seeing, “But you- years ago, I saw you-”
“Are you okay honey? You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” She said, a gentle smile, on her face, kindness in her voice, “Did you have a bad dream?”
“I-I guess so…” he said completely perplexed
His mother laughed, a gentle, non-mocking laugh, “Well, why don’t you go get your brother from his room and tell him dinner is almost ready. I’m going to go get your father.”
“A-alright.” He said and began to stumble off to find his brother. He turned back and asked “Is this real?”
“What do you think?” She responded with no hint of kindness that was in her voice previously.
He started back to the room Ed and he shared and heard the door open, heard his mother start to scream, but it suddenly trailed off. He turned to see the door was open, a blinding white light streaming from without with a towering silhouette outside. His mother was standing there, and she turned back towards Thorn, and he saw a red gash across her throat, blood oozing from it as she fell.
“Mother!!” He shouted and ran to her, cradling her head
“Run… Thorn… ru… Thorn…” she said, he voice fading.
Thorn looked up into the face of his mother’s killer to see a man in patchwork clothing, a bloody sword in his hand. He wore a grin on his face that was part malice, part humor.
“Run… Thorn…. Thorn… Thorn”
“Thorn!” Thorn awoke to his brother’s face, the creature of his nightmares towering over them, “Get up!” Ed shouted.
Thorn jumped to his feet and rolled away as Ed deflected the horror’s four arms of terror with his shield. Ed jumped on Mush’s back, deflected another claw, and rode to Thorn’s side. He pressed a glowing hand against Thorn, and he felt some of his wounds close up.
“What were you thinking?!” Ed shouted at him, “You should have run up the stairs with us!”
“I wasn’t going to leave Luna to fight that thing down here alone!” Thorn responded as he made his way up the staircase.
“Some fighting you did, all you did was stand there and wet your pants.”
As the creature gave chase, Dean emptied more rounds into it. It was panting hard as it began to climb the stairs, but none of its anger was gone. Thorn saw Luna making her way across the assholish excuse for a bridge, and saw his brother take a hit from the beast. Ed rode past Thorn and Dean up the stairs, leaving nothing between the horror and Thorn. He saw Luna getting closer and said “Fuck this’” as he leaped over the railing. He spotted Luna’s hammer at his feet and threw it towards the door where Luna was coming from. He looked back towards the beast, who was starting back down the stairs. Dean shouted, “Hey chuckles!” the beast turned to face him, “Eric Bana was a better Hulk thank you.”
A look of confusion crossed Thorn’s face just as two holes appeared where the beast’s eyes used to be. With one last groan, the beast slumped to his knees, then fell flat on his back. Thorn had never been so relieved to see a dead patchwork horror mutant thing. Ed called upon the light of his god to mend the parties wounds as Thorn found the head that he had seen earlier in one of the bottles he had hurled at the creature lying where the pit was. He decided it was best to hang on to it and put it in a sack. He rejoined the rest of his group on the staircase as a gas cloud made it’s way through the trapdoor.
“What the fuck is that?” the group seemed to say in unison.
“It’s me,” Hal’s voice called from the gas cloud, “I scouted upstairs, There is some kind of crab-spider monstrosity up on the third floor, along with some chick in a jar, and a someone locked in an iron cask.”
As Hal was telling the party about what he had seen while they were fighting the monster, a small creature dropped down from the trapdoor and motioned them to follow it. Unsure of what to make of this, the party followed the little construct up the trapdoor to the second floor where it lead us to a faint chalk diagram and some scribbling. Thorn was able to make out the words ‘The Stormcaller must be activated to energize the Bondslave Thrall,’ and a crude drawing of the iron conductor on top of the tower, with two strange objects on the spire, with an arrow pointing at the larger of the two. The little creature then lead the party back downstairs and motioned at the door.
“You want us to leave?” guessed Thorn.
It shook it’s head.
“You want us to close the door?” asked Hal.
It pointed and nodded.
They closed the great double door to reveal that someone or some people had posted a bunch of torn pages on the door. Thorn was able to determine that most of the pages were scribblings about this Bondslave Thrall. One mentioned that it was used to control the Beast of Lepitstat.
“So there is something on the roof that we can activate to control this ‘Blue’,” murmured Ed, “But how do deal with that crab thing?”
The little creature then produced a small ring. Ed took it from the little guy and slipped it, vanishing from sight.
“A ring of invisibility,” said Hal with a hint of awe, “So you want us to sneak past the creature and activate the Bondslave Thrall and use ‘Blue’ to help defeat that thing?”
The little construct nodded excitedly.
“Who would be best suited for the task?” Hal asked the little guy.
It pointed at Hal and at Thorn.
“Alright,” said Hal as Ed handed him the ring, “I’ve got an idea.”
The party headed up stairs to the hatch beneath the third floor where they discussed the plan.
“You guys wait here,” Hal motioned at Ed, Dean and Luna, “I’ll distract it, and Thorn and I will sneak past it.”
“How are you gonna distract it?” asked Thorn
“With this,” Hal chanted and made some gestures and a swarm of monkeys appeared at the ladder to the hatch, “Go up there and distract that thing,” He commanded and they obeyed.
“Alright, lets go,” He whispered.
Thorn, led by an invisible Hal, made their way slowly and quietly up the hatch into the remains of a laboratory. The room was choked with thick webs, alchemical equipment, tools and books were strewn about the floor, and just as Hal had said, there was a woman encased in a glass bell with some kind of preservation liquid, and not far from it, the intricate iron cask that depicted a large man being slowly crushed to death. It had two holes where a frightened set of eyes peered out. In the center of it all was the crab-spider. The huge monstrosity appeared to be made of dozens of different creatures, with a spider’s abdomen and the pincers of a crab. Fortunately, the monkeys had the creatures attention. It tried clawing at them and shooting them with web, trapping a couple monkeys as Thorn and Hal sneaked up the staircase. When they were almost to the trapdoor, a low hum that shook Thorn to his core came from the creature. He was able to shake it off, but Hal was not so fortunate. Hal, compelled by a fear he couldn’t control, sprinted towards the trapdoor and made it out. Thank the Gods for monkeys, they had the creatures undivided attention.
Once he made it up to the roof, Thorn quietly closed the trapdoor behind him and spotted Hal just coming back from the far corner.
“You alright?” he asked
“Fine, not sure what came over me. Let’s get this done,” Hal said, determination on his face.
On the roof, there was a large triangular structure with a ladder leading up to it past a heavy iron gate, wires hung down from it, and a huge iron conductor could be seen from the base. Thorn tried to get the gate open, but it wouldn’t budge. Fortunately, he recalled a lever just by the trapdoor in the last room and went to try some science. After quietly pulling the lever, he came back up to see that the gate was opened. Hal and Thorn made their way up the ladder to find an apparatus set up, wires coming from it ran up and down the structure.
“Any idea how to work this thing Hal?” asked Thorn, looking quite confused
“Nah, but we’ll figure something out,” he said.
After a few minutes of twisting knobs and pulling levers, as any wise man would do, the machine sparked to life. A low hum came from the device as electricity shot up and down the wires. Clouds suddenly began to gather, lightning crackled in the sky, and thunder rolled.