The Cleric Triumphant
Poised at the bottom of the attic ladder, Nathan Garney The Human Cleric of Everly realized that the Cuervos guard he’d followed and his boss were wise to the fact that he was an intruder in their midst.
“I’m telling you, I never sent anybody to relieve you,” he heard the boss say. “Who was that? Do you realize that somebody is there right now with the Seed. If they figure out what the Seed is, they can take it and Everything that we’re doing here is gonna fall apart. And B.O.B. is going to eat us.”
The other Cuervos sounded defensive. “Look. I mean, who else would be down there? He knew the passwords.”
“Which passwords? What’s the fiesta password?”
“What’s the second password?”
“What the third?”
“We changed that yesterday!”
This was followed by an ugly electrical sound and the heavy thump of a body hitting the floor. “Idiot,” Nathan heard the Cuervan boss say. “We changed that to lizard king yesterday. OK, I guess I need to hog down there and find out what’s going on.”
At this point, Nathan heard the sound of a bell tolling, or perhaps it was a gong, But it did not seem to come from any particular direction. It is definitely a magical sound. Immediately afterwards, he hears the sound of every Cuervan he heard snoring before getting to their feet.
“The alarm! The alarm!” he heard them say. “Assemble! Assemble in the Dining Hall. Muster in the Dining Hall.”
It became apparent that they were headed for the stairs. It also became apparent that the Boss Cuarvos was nearing the top of the attic ladder.
Seeing no place to hide, Nathan attempted to convince his Cuervan co-conspirator to play along and leave with the others. She became immediately suspicion, asking why he wasn’t coming with her. “I don’t know if that’s the best idea. Shouldn’t we stick together? The boss is coming. We should both just wait for him at the bottom of the ladder and nab him!”
Nathan demurred, suggesting that she could spy out their escape route while he took care of the boss.
Exasperated at his thick-headed stupidity, she shouted, “That is not going to work!”
“What’s not going to work?” The boss Cuervos call from the attic.
A head peered down the ladder at Nathan. Nathan was shocked to realize the Boss Cuervos looked just like him!
The Cuervos doppelgänger was equally stunned to be practically face to face withe cleric. “You! You’re the one I saw in the portal. In the mirror of dreams!” His eyes widened in terror and Nathan suddenly realized the Cuervos Boss was paralyzed with fear. Hoping to take advantage of the situation, Nathan climbed up the ladder and tried to pull him down; however, the terrified Cuervos had a death grip on the ladder and could not be budged.
This proved too much for the Cuervos Boss. “He touched me! He touched me!” Scurrying back into the attic, he ran as far from Nathan as he could manage. “Leave me alone!” He shouted, as he beat his fists against the wallls. “There’s got to be a way out of here.”
Nathan was baffled by the creature’s terror, but he climbed the ladder after him and tried to turn the situation to his advantage. “I’m here for tghe Rain,” he announced. “Give me the Rain and I’ll leave.”
“The Rain?” It’s in one of these chests. I can’t think straight. I don’t know – Wait! The window!” Unexpectedly, he made a mad dash for the attic window, dives through glass, tumbles down the roof and falls to his death a few stories below.
Forcing himself to keep his mind on the task at hand, Nathan searched the chest nearest him, which happily enough contained the holy pitcher relic he was looking for.
“What’s going on up there?” the female Cuervos called up. “Are you OK?”
“I’m fine,” the said. “I’m coming down the ladder.”
“What happened?” She asked as he rejoined her. “What happened to the boss?”
“I’m the boss now,” he said.
“But… I mean… Where’s the old bass?”
“Don’t you see the similarity?” Nathan asked.
Her eyes narrowed. “What’s the password?”
“What’s the second password?”
“What’s the third password?”
“Lizard king. We just changed it yesterday.”
“Huh,” she said. “I must’ve missed that. I thought it was still butter.”
“Oh no, we changed it. It’s lizard king.”
“Ok, ok. So you have the Pitcher. You gonna hide it somewhere new?”
“Yes. You stay here. I’m going downstairs to inform the troops that the alarm test went well, thank you very much,:” he said with a sly wink.
“Um, ok, ok. So it’s just you and me up here right now.”
Suddenly, she lunged at him with a dagger but he managed to dodge aside. “We have to give it back!” she shouted.
He drew his own dagger but fumbled the attack as well. Realizing he probably didn’t want to get into a close quarters knife fight with a bird woman anayway, Nathan bolted out of the closet and raced for the stairs with a vague notion of convincing the other Cuervos to come to his defense, especially seeing he looked exactly like their old boss.
She made a lung for him near the bottom the stairs, but slipped and fell past him. Nathan continued fleeing. She took another swipe at him, but her dagger got caught in his robes, doing no damage to him. Running through a door, Nathan turned suddenly and cast a hold spell on her, freezing her dead in her tracks.
Taking a deep breath, he concealed the pitcher beneath his robes and proceeded on to the Dining Hall, where he congratulated the Cuervos on an excellent drill and dismissed them to their quarters. As they dispersed, he hurried back to the cell where Ripley’s avatar was held.
She motioned for him to pour water from the pitcher onto the Seed. As the pitcher was empty, he filled it with a water skin and tried it again.
With that act, Nathan Garney was transfigured and found himself in the SANCTUARY OF EVERLY. A voice called to him. “This is the Sanctuary of Everly.” He found his attention drawn to the Seed of Ripley, now resting in the basin of a stone pillars shaped like a a tree trunk. Behind him, the pitcher rested on a similar pillar. “You have healed SMUGGLER SPEAK, but your friends need you,” Everly said. His attention was drawn to a portal in the wall, where he could see his friends battling against the defenders of the CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION. “Take the pitcher and pour the Rain of Ridley into the vat and all will be well and the Corruption will be ended.”
Obediently, the cleric of Everly grabbed the pitcher and walked through the portal.
Meanwhile Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty found himself standing before the Mad God Moriarty, who was not pleased with his servant.
“What are you doing?” The god asked through his dragon skull avatar. “I sent you in there to get the Star Sapphire. It was simple. It was easy. And yet you’re messing with B.O.B. And you’re messing with Oxenbane. And you’re messing with Everly. Yeah? Yeah? And you’re messing with Baldnoggin now. Okay? Just how many entanglements did this one little adventure of yours manage to get into? What it’s wrong with you? You have one simple mission. What is it?”
“Well,” Davroar said, “almighty Moriarty, my mission was to bring forth your — ”
“Spare me your pleasantries. What is your mission?”
“The Star Sapphire,” Davroar replied quickly. “The Star Sapphire is in the room. I was just in. It’s with one of the bodies we were attempting to bring back.”
“That’s not the only Star Sapphire in SMUGGLER SPEAK,” Moriarty said. “I don’t even know how you found that one!”
“If you recall, you gave your blessing to come here and —”
“I said there is a Star Sapphire in SMUGGLER SPEAK,” Moriarty said. “I had no idea your dead friend had found his way here.”
Davroar took a new approach. “Lead me. Lead me, O Moriarty, and we’ll find the one you speak of instead.”
“I hope it’s in a lavatory,” Moriarty spat. “I swear! I hope it’s in a privy somewhere. I hope it’s in the spot where everything in the privy drops. If I knew exactly where it was, I would’ve sent someone more competent.”
“Lord Moriarty, I might point out that all the entanglements do just add to the glorious chaos in your name.”
“Ah, but see, there’s been precious little chaos. There’s been action. There’s been drama., There’s been mystique. There’s been… OK, there’s been a little bit of chaos but it just seems like every time there’s a little bit of chaos it just poofs back into order, and that’s not what we’re about. We’re about — ”
“All the chaos,” Davroar supplied.
Morairty was pleased with this suggestion. “All the chaos! That’s right. Maximum chaos.”
“I’m very close to the one Star Sapphire, Lord Moriarty, but I can go for another one and will gladly do so. Guide me. Give me your preference. I will do what you command.”
“We were very close,” Davroar pointed out.
“I’ve got an idea,” Moriarty said.
“I tremble before the glory of it, master. Speak your will.”
“You need… You need… an edge. I want you to cast my Janusian Blessing. Do it for me. Pretty please.”
“Sounds… sounds exciting. Do you want to return me to where I was or shall I cast it somewhere else?”
“Do you want me to see if someone else is standing in that spot first?” Morairty asked a little too sweetly.
“That’s probably not a bad idea. I would appreciate it.”
“Sure, sure. Okay.”
Without further ado, Moriarty returned Davroar to the CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION.
The Corrupted Jelly Unleashed
As he tried to take in the chaos of the CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION, Nathan Garney was startled to see Davroar Hollysword appear in front of him. Below him, he could see Things had not gone well for his comrades. Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard used his flaming blade to fend off Corrupted Cuervos. The body of Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Fighter lay still, draped over the corpse of a slain Basilisk. Acindor the Human Fighter and Thril Wolfsbane the Elf Fighter were both ghosts. He saw no sign of his other friends, except Zayn Carthin the Elf Arbiter of Hero, whose body floated serenely in a coffin of grey ooze connected to the great vat that dominated the center of the room. Upon further inspection, he noted that two of the other coffins contained the bodies of Thril and Acindor.
There were also people in the CHAMBER who were strangers to him. He had no way to know that these were members of Hero Inc, a rival guild. Xodax the Halfling Cleric, Eobrix Alebane the Halfling Bard, Quelynn Rinn the Tidal Elf Priestess, and Martin Dossen the strangely dressed Human Fighter, Puddles the Tidal GHoblin Cannoneer and Odin Thunderhammer the Dwarf Fighter were led by Geralt Goldenblade the Dwarf Fighter. These members of Hero Inc had come to their aid but it was not yet clear why the happy coincidence had occurred.
As Nathan began making his way down the stairs to reach the adjoining stairs to the catwalk above the vat, Davroar began shouting for his comrades to get clear of the floor, thinking he might cast his promised Janusian Blessing upon the Corrupted there. Nathan recognized Puddles as the goblin who tried to fire a cannon at them for hilling his pet bushwackys on the beach but the haze of battle seemed to prevent the other from recognizing him as well. Thril and Meldor dutifully retreated back up the stairs.
The Corrupted closed in on the heroes, still keeping a careful distance away from Geralt Goldenblade the dwarf.
As Meldor continued his retreat up the stairs, Odin Thunderhammer followed him, recognizing him from their time together in the War’tode Cages. Thril decided to make a stand. Unfortunately, the Corrupted he targeted dodged out of the way. Fortunately, Thril was able to dodge the Corrupted’s opportunistic counter attack.
Quellyn Rinn’ the Tidal Elf Priestess cast faerie fire on the two Corrupted nearest her dwarven leader, causing them to glow faintly. Acindor hovered to the end of the catwalk to peer down into the vat. Geralt Goldenblade attempted to take advantage of the Priestess’ spell, but his over eager attack landed him neck-deep inside the Corrupted nearest him! Seeing their leader’s plight, most of his team threw caution to the wind and leapt down to the floor to his aid.
Thril took a swipe at a Corrupted, but became stuck fast in his foe.
Hoping Acindor’s ghostly state would afford him some protection from what was to come, Davroar cast his Janusian Blessing upon the Corrupted Jelly in the vat!
The Jelly exploded from the vat, expanding a full size larger as it absorbed several of the Corrupted Cuervos on the floor. Fortunately, this freed Thril in the process. The vat was left destroyed and the coffins were burst open in the aftermath as the Corrupted Jelly reared itself up into a 15 foot tall cube. Thril wisely put distance between himself and the monster.
Acindor on the other hand took the opportunity to locate his husk and was able to successfully possess his own body.ted immediately attempted to attack him, but Acindor dodged out of the way. Returning the insult, Acindor drew his sword and vanquished his foe.
Quellyn Rinn threw her trident at one of the Corrupted’s near Gerlalt Goldenblade but her aim was poor. For his part, Geralt was unable to remove his head from the Corrupted he was stuck fast in.
Realizing Acindor was very near Zayn Carthin’s husk and the Star SapphIre in his possession, Davroar leapt down from top of the stairwell landing and lighted on the altar once occupied by the Basilisk, being unwilling to face Moriarty’s further wrath.
Martin recovered his laser pistol, only to discover that the weapon was jammed. Xodak dealt damage to one of the remaining Corrupted with a crossbow bolt, while Eobrix cast phantasmal force, giving the appearance of a ten foot swathe of fire, forcing the Corrupted Jelly to retreat to the back side of the vat, where Nathan Garney was waiting for it with the holy pitcher. Pouring thge rain of Ridley upon the Corrupted Jelly caused it to retreat — and to lose an entire size in mass! Unfortunately, his pitcher was now empty.
Geralt Goldenblade rallied and wrenched himself free of the Corrupted holding him.
Davroar made a beeline for Zayn Carthin’s husk and, after a quick search of his pouches, secured the Star Sapphire.
Martin managed to get his laser pistol operational, taking out the Corrupted who’d attacked Geralt Goldenblade. Xodak conjured Fey spirits to help aid him but unintentionally attracted ill-behaved fey who immediately attacked the caster. The resulting screams broke Eobrix’s concentration, eliminating the phantasmal force illusion.
Forgotten amid the conflict, Weddumlir Aleshield finally breathed his last, still draped across the back of the dead Basilisk.
The question now was whether personal agendas would interfere with the heroes’ ability to work together to rid SMUGGLER SPEAK of its corruption?
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