Emerging from the CELLAR of Obsidius’ MANSION into the sunlight, ,
After Acindor the Human Fighter, Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Shield Knight of Baldnoggin, Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Fil the Drow Cleric of Zephyr, Kaid the Goliath Barbarian, David the Half-Elf Wizard, Kudac the Half-Orc Cleric of Baldnoggin finished exploring the RELIQUARY, they braved themselves to venture into the MANSION beyond.
The only exit led to a long hallway with two doors to the right and another to the left. A large glass window at the end of the hall bathed everything in sunlight. Behind the nearest door the could hear something moving about, accented by the sounds of furniture bring moved and dishes being shattered.
Kaid dared to Crack open the door with Fil directly behind him for support. A ruined DINING HALL greeted his eyes. A large long table dominated the center of the room. Above the table hung a massive chandelier. They could see a balcony walkway that wound around the right side of the room, connecting three doors on the upper level. Three doors were also located at the east, west and south at the ground floor level. To the north, a massive fireplace carved to look like a fire-breathing dragon dominated the room. The fireplace was unlit and it was evident by the sunlight pouring in that it was shared by another room beyond.
As he cautiously stepped into the room for a better look, Fil moved into the doorway and Kudac took up a defensive position behind Fil.
The creature’s attack was sudden. It leapt from the chandelier with a hissing shriek; however, Kaid had sensed the danger in time to dive back into the doorway. Both Kaid and Fil spilled into Kudac, knocking the latter prone. Kaid got an eyeful of snapping rodent jaws on a head bigger than a horse. The rest of the unholy creature looked as if a rat had magically mated with a centipede. Multiple rat claws rushed it forward from fur-covered body segments.
Not wanting to get trapped in a dead end in the RELIQUARY, Meldor gracefully leapt over Kudac’s body and made his way to the other end of the hall. David quickly followed.
In the first confusing moments of the monsters attack, the others did not immediately notice that Acindor, Davroar and Wedd were no longer with them.
Kaid shut the door on the screeching monster and beat a hasty retreat with Fil. The ratipede tore the door off its hinges as Kudac got to his feet. His hastily drew a weapon and attacked the abomination, but despite a solid hit he found himself repelled by a wave of nausea when he got near it. Disengaging, he too ran down the hallway as the ratipede began furiously using its teeth and many claws to try to widen the opening enough to pursue them.
Meldor took the door to the left, away from the creature. To his surprise, he entered a large, relatively peaceful chamber filled with trees, bushes, and flowers. The ceiling and upper walls were glass, allowing the plants the warmth and humidity of a greenhouse. A long pool of water dominated the center of the room, fed by a cascading waterfall. A large idol rested in the southeast corner of the room, partially hidden in the foliage. A few meditation benches were placed on either side of the pool and along the west wall.
To his further surprise, he saw Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly, sitting on one of those benches, sitting across from an Aasimar Paladin he did not recognize on a parallel bench. For his part,
“We’ve got a big problem,” he told Nathan. “Big monster. It’s coming.” He glanced at the paladin. “Who’s this?”
“I am Clementine, paladin of Bahumut,” the Aasimar warrior said, rising from the bench. He carried himself like someone on a mission.
“Meldor Ironforge,”the dwarf wizard said, nodding distractedly, “the ultimate wizard.” He stated the latter part matter-of-factly, as if it were readily apparent. He surveyed the waterfall, hoping the water’s Source would provide an exit, but the waters poured from an iron grate that would take far too long to remove under the circumstances.
“Nathan Garney, Cleric of Everly,” Nathan added. He tried to hide his overall confusion. He remembered being surrounded by kobolds before a shaft of light enveloped him. An instant later, he found himself sitting on the bench across from Clementine. His first thought was that Everly had transported him away from danger, but it seemed odd that his deity had given no indication that this was the case. If he was completely honest with himself, he wasn’t sure by what means he’d been teleported here, whether mortal or divine. There were more pressing concerns. “What’s this about a monster?” he asked.
David rushed through the door right then. “Help! There’s some kind of big rat centipede mutation in the hallway! It’s huge! I saw it rip a door off its hinges.”
Kudac rushed into the ARBORETUM on David’s heels. He added a detail to David’s description. “The rat expels poison.”
As the others spilled into the room, Kaid stayed in the doorway to guard their flank. As he watched the ratipede, it stopped its work and suddenly retreated into the DINING HALL. Not quite sure whether this was a good sign or a bad sign, Kaid joined the others in the ARBORETUM.
Nathan took note of the idol sitting at the southeast corner of the ARBORETUM. It appeared to be some form of chimera. He frowned, wondering why Obscurus would have an image of Apophis, god of chaos, sitting in this peaceful garden.
“What is it?” Clementine asked.
“Apophis, the god of Chaos.”
Not liking the sound of that and being unfamiliar with the deities of the Seven Worlds, Clementine inspected the statue more closely. He noted that one of the forelimbs, a lion’s paw, was hinged to allow up and down movement. Shrugging, he pulled the lever.
A rush gas fueled flames erupted from the statue’s mouth. Clementine only sustained some mild burns owing to his quick reflexes. For the first time, he noticed the burn marks on the floor in front of the idol. He reminded himself to look for such signs of traps in the future.
“Guys! Look!” Meldor called. The waterfalls surce had suddenly dried up. Too, the water was draining from the pool, revealing that it was a bowl-like window made of thick glass.
Fil heard a knock at the door down the hall. “Did you hear that?”
Kaid shrugged. “I heard a knock.”
“But didn’t that rat abomination rip the door off its hinges. What door is it knocking at? And since when do rats knock?”
Meldor shrugged. “Since when do they have that many legs?”
Fil poked his head out the door and peered down the hallway. The rat stared at him from the opening where door used to be. A few seconds later, its head receded into the DINING HALL once more.
Fil quickly informed the others that the abomination was still watching them.
“We need to get out of here,” Kaid said. He inspected the empty pool, thinking that perhaps they could use the drain as an exit or at least break the glass and gain access to the room below. To his surprise, there was no drain. But where did the water go? Tossing a coin into the glass basin, he watched it disappear. Seeing this, Fil lowered a length of rope into the basin. The end of the rope vanished but appeared unharmed when he reeled it back in.
“But where does it lead?” David asked.
“Let’s find out,” Fil said. Tying the rope around David’s waist, they lowered him into the basin headfirst for a little reconnaissance.
While this was happening, Kaid heard a noise from the hallway. The ratipede’s head burst through the door directly across the hallway having traveled through fireplace in the DINING HALL the adjoining room. Unable to reach them, it began furiously scratching and biting at the doorway, trying to make an opening big enough to squeeze through.
Without warning, it retreated with a hiss and scrambled out of view off to the left of Kaid’s field of vision. The barbarian barely had time to register the importance of the sounds of breaking glass in the room adjoining the DINING HALL before the ratipede burst through the hallway window in a similar shower of glass. Kaid somersaulted backwards through the door as the ratipede’s snapping jaws sought him. The sudden entrance of the ratipede’s head into the Arboretum door startled those holding the rope.
David fell into the glass basin and disappeared.
Kaid attempted to beat the monster back so that they could bar the door. While his blow struck home, the ratipede’s poisonous aura immediately sickened him.
Kudac sighed deeply at Kaid’s plight. “The rat expels poison,” he reminded them.
Nathan rushed to Kaid’s side with a prayer to restore the barbarian’s health and eliminate the poison that began quickly overtaking him. Clearly, this was not a creature they wished to fight in close quarters!
Fil took quick stock of the situation and realized that David’s unintentional exit was their only hope of escape. Accordingly, he jumped into the glass basin and vanished. The others followed in quick succession.
They were immediately disoriented by the sensation of falling up. David emerged into the LIBRARY first, burst through a portal in the carpeted floor. As gravity took effect, he fell back down just before he might’ve hit the ceiling. Groaning on the carpet after his rough landing, he nonetheless heard a whooshing sound and realized its portent in time to roll out of the way of Meldor’s entrance into the LIBRARY. Even as Meldor landed on the carpet, Kudac burst through. While his entrance narrowly avoided Meldor, the rest of the party burst through while he was still in midair. They all landed in a rough tumbling heap, resulting in bruised limbs and egos.
As they got to their feet, Nathan Garney noted that the rug beneath their feet was inscribed with symbols sacred to Ridley. Apparently, the rug had absorbed all of the water from the glass basin which had been teleported here ahead of them.
Beside the carpet there was cheerful fireplace, set with comfortable chairs and low tables filled with books. A figure sat at one of the chairs, reading a book. He paused to survey them and asked, “Anybody else?”
They glanced at one another. The figure’s face was hidden behind an ornate mask. A few of them shook their heads.
“Good,” the reader said. “I was expecting you. You’re late.”
“Sorry,” Nathan Garney said with a wry grin. “We were held up by a ratipede.”
“A ratipede? What’s that?” He listened as they each began describing the creature they’d encountered and then shrugged. “Huh. Something must’ve gotten into the barrels. You said it was following you?”
Rising quickly, he said, “Get off the rug.” When they accommodated him, he spoke a word of power, snuffing out the fire in the fireplace. Immediately the water magically contained within the rug cycloned up toward the ceiling in a miniature waterspout and then slammed back down into a portal to the glass basin in the ARBORETUM.
Seeing their confused faces, he said, “Don’t worry. The portal is now sealed. Your ‘ratipede’ will not follow you here.”He straightened himself. “Now if you’ll follow me?” He glanced at Meldor. “You do have the first Plate of Farcevolt, correct? You did grab it in the RELIQUARY.”
“Yes,” Meldor said, licking his lips, “but who are you?”
“I’m Obscurus. I believe you’ve been looking for me.”
“I have some questions I need to ask you,” Meldor said.
“All in good time,” Obscurus said. “Follow me.”