Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 9 - Kuo-toans

Uktar 6, 1372 DR (9:30 AM) Deep Wastes: Lake of Shadows

Igor steps up and takes a wild swing with his fist at the kuo-toan. The monk ignores him and swings his fists wildly at Kress, missing him with all three blows. He follows up by attempting to bite the warrior, but misses with that, as well. Kress swings his sword at the monk, missing twice and hitting him once. Veracity steps up and swings each of her swords twice at the monk, hitting him both times with the Sword of Kas but only once with her life stealer. Hazen cheers, Brianna sings, and Tebryn yawns. "Nothing to challenge me," he complains.

Igor continues to swing his fists at the kuo-toan. He is nowhere near as effective with his bare hands as he is with his greatsword, and he fails to connect even once. Yol mutters and waves her hand and a glowing disembodied hand appears at her side. The monk continues to focus on Kress and one of his three punches actually connects with the human's forehead, staggering him slightly. Kress shakes his head and frowns before ineffectually swinging his sword three times at the fish-man. Veracity slashes the kuo-toan with the Sword of Kas, causing it to let its guard down against Igor, who punches it, dropping it.

Veracity stabs her fallen foe, slaying him.

Igor stares at the body and then glares at his companion. "What was that for?" he asks angrily.

Veracity shrugs. "Blood lust. Hard to stop!"

"It is not hard," says Igor. He looks as if he is about to say more, when the opposite door bursts open.

A kuo-toan templar bursts through the door, dashes forward, and strikes Kress a powerful blow with his halfspear. He does not wait for the fighter to respond, but retreats through the door. "Huh?" says Kress. Immediately, another templar leaps into the room, stabs Kress, and retreats. "Hey!" exclaims Kress.

Igor glowers and activates his ring, fading from sight, as Kress moves through the door and strikes one of the waiting templars. He doesn't have time to fully take in the decorations, but they seem to celebrate the kraken, there being a general motif of squids and tentacles.

Veracity follows Kress into the room. When she sees that Kress is standing at the end of a short hallway facing his two opponents in the room at the end, but that she can't get in to join the battle, she stamps her foot in annoyance. Sighing, she conjures a spell, and both she and Kress seem to be reacting more quickly. The two templars stab and bite at Kress. The rest of the party moves into the first chamber and look around. Hazen crouches to examine the body of the monk.

Kress slashes wildly with his longsword, missing three times before finally connecting on the fourth strike. Veracity peevishly stamps her foot again and utters an arcane word. She appears directly behind one of the kuo-toans, opposite Kress, holding her swords in a defensive pose. Each templar stabs twice at Kress with his half-spear and also bites at him. Collectively, three of the spear stabs strike home. Kress clenches his teeth and looks grim.

Yol steps through the door and touches Kress, healing much of his damage. "Thanks!" says Kress. His morale seems much improved when he attacks one of the templars with a rapid flurry of sword strikes, all of which hit home, the last one felling it, finishing by landing an exceptionally powerful blow on the other templar. Veracity swings three times at the templar with the Sword of Kas, striking twice, and misses twice with her life stealer. The templar glares at her, but chooses to continue attacking Kress, stabbing him once with her spear.

Yol conjures. Her spectral hand glows balefully and flies towards the kuo-toan, but crashes into the wall and falls to the floor, rather than touching it. Kress slashes the templar twice and it falls.

Yol scowls. Her spectral hand lifts itself up and touches the unconscious kuo-toan, who shudders and stops breathing. Yol smiles, before calling back and dismissing the incorporeal hand.

The battle over, there is time to look around. Yol, Hazen, and Tebryn start to loot the bodies. "I'll look for magical auras," says Yol, as she incants. The monk's corpse yielded two magical nunchaku. "Strange that he didn't use those," says Tebryn. "He must have been trying something sneaky with his fists. Well, it didn't work." Each of the templars had a magical chain shirt, halfspear, ring, and brooch. Tebryn stows all the loot in his portable hole.

Meanwhile, Veracity and Brianna examine the rooms.

The statue in the entrance hall is nearly ten feet tall. Although it resembles a kuo-toan, its features are far more wicked than typical, with teeth protruding from its mouth and a row of sharp spines running down its back. It holds a long staff with a claw-like attachment at the end. The floor is a mosaic of blue and green tiles, forming abstract images of waves, seaweed, and fish.

The mosaic continues into the next room, but the image shifts to represent a kraken, done in lifelike detail, the body filling most of the room, with its eight tentacles wrapping around it and stretching into the corners. One bunch of tentacles points towards a door, another bunch points towards another door, and the creature's huge eye glares balefully at a closed set of double doors, carved with kuo-toans.

"Hey!" calls Kress. "Can you girls cure me? I got pretty cut up in that battle." Brianna smiles at him and sings twice, touching Kress after each song. Yol scowls, but mutters an incantation, and touches the warrior. Most of his wounds fade away. Kress beams. "Thanks!"

"Let's find out who is manifested in the kraken," suggests Yol. She mutters and points at one of the dead templars. The corpse behaves just like a corpse: it says nothing. Yol scowls.

Veracity looks from door to door. She frowns. "Which door? Where are the rogues? Igor!"

Igor walks up slowly and glowers at her. "Yes?"

Veracity smirks at him. "Are you done pouting?" she asks.

Igor sighs exasperatedly. "I don't think we should go in and kill everything we find," he responds.

"That's always worked well for us in the past," comments Tebryn.

As Igor turns towards him to respond, the irrepressible Hazen pipes up. "Igor, we haven't attacked anybody, first, yet! Look at poor Kress! We are just defending ourselves!"

Igor seems unconvinced. "Would we attack someone who broke into our house, or would we ask them what they were doing?"

"Hey, we'd ask first!" says Hazen excitedly. "Besides, this is a temple - a public place!"

Igor shakes his head. "We weren't here to worship."

"We told them we were here to learn," responds Hazen. "I'm very disappointed in these guys."

Veracity smiles at the gray dwarf. "Let's go in farther and see what we can learn."

"Yeah!" says Hazen. "I'm sure we'll find someone who will talk to us if we go in farther."

Veracity folds her arms and looks at the short rogue. "So, Hazen, which door do you think we should go through?" she asks.

Hazen points one arm at each of the small doors. "That one!" he says.

Veracity rolls her eyes and snorts. "Decisive, as usual," she comments. She moves one of Hazen's arms such that both hands are pointing to the same door. Hazen nods and walks up to it and intently examines it. Tebryn walks to his side and also searches. Neither rogue finds anything suspicious.

"Shall we go in?" asks Veracity. She looks over at Igor who folds his arms and pointedly moves to the opposite side of the room. Veracity shrugs and turns to Kress. The human nods and joins her at the door. Putting his shoulder against it, he shoves.

The door opens, revealing a narrow staircase going up to a small landing and continuing. Kress looks at Veracity. She puts her finger to her lips and nods, gesturing up the stairs. Kress walks up the stairs, followed by Veracity.

The second short section of stairs leads to another landing which opens out onto a balcony, overlooking a large room in the interior of the temple. Kress and Veracity step out onto the balcony and look down. Past the three-foot-high railing, whose support posts are carved to resemble kuo-toans, they can see a pool, the water of which glows slightly. Tending the pool are four kuo-toans. Veracity touches Kress's arm and gestures back towards the stairs. She turns to her companions on the stairs, her finger to her lips, and gestures for them to back down. Everybody creeps down the stairs.

"Well?" says Tebryn.

"The stairs lead to a balcony overlooking that room," whispers Veracity, pointing at the double doors. "Four more kuo-toans in there. You wanted to talk to them, Hazen? I think ..."

"We should go look in that room," interrupts Hazen, pointing at the other single door.

Veracity rolls her eyes at his cowardice, but says nothing as he walks up to the door and searches it. "Come on, Kress," says Hazen.

Kress opens the door, revealing a small room with two shallow narrow pools of water, each about the size of a kuo-toan.

Tebryn smiles. "Beds!" he comments. "But only a kuo-toan would feel comfortable in them."

Two urns stand to the side, one containing gold coins and one silver. Tebryn packs them into the portable hole.

"Now, Hazen?" asks Veracity. "The double doors?"

Hazen smiles at her and goes to examine the door. He darts his finger towards a spot and calls over Tebryn. Tebryn frowns at it. "Looks like a glyph to me," he says. "Now, what kind is it?" He mutters and casts a spell. Staring at the sigil, he smiles. "Very funny! It's a fake."

He frowns, and turns back to his companions. "I have an idea. How about if Igor and Hazen and I go up to that balcony and watch invisibly, while you others come through the main doors, here? That way, Igor can see that it's the kuo-toans starting the fights. If there's trouble, we can easily fly down."

"Very well," agrees Igor. "I would like to observe them. But, it's an unfair test. Of course they're going to attack; you've invaded their temple"

Tebryn mutters and casts two spells in quick succession. At the second, he fades from sight. "I can see you guys, but they won't be able to see me. I'm all set!"

"I've fought these guys before, Tebryn," says Hazen. "They aren't fooled by invisibility."

"Harrumph," says Tebryn's voice. "Well, lets go up to the balcony and just hide, then." Hazen and Igor fade from sight.

The other adventurers wait a minute. "They should be ready, by now," says Veracity. "Let's go, Kress!"

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Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
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