The Sky Pirates D&D party finally finished exploring the underground tower.
Cast of Characters
Wood Elf Barbarian – Red
Lord Malvolio Blackwold
Yuan-Ti Wizard – new DM candidate
Aasimar Paladin – Emergency DM
Human Wizard – 12 year old boy
Dragonborn Fighter/Bard – older teen girl
Tabaxi Druid – lady with a baby
Lizardfolk Monk – guy married to Mistress Mau’s player
“I’ve caught sssssomething!” Blackwold exclaimed as he yanked the rope back up the stairs one last time. At the end of the line, greedily gnawning into the leg of mutton, a small goblin hung as his drool splattered on the floor. The little red eyes were focused on the meat for the moment, although a spark of recognition seemed to be forming.
Before it could fully dawn on the goblin that he was not where he had been, a flash of fire spouted forth into the room. A gesture from Bobby had bathed the little creature in flame as its face had contorted into a wide-eyed look of horror. The force sent the green-skinned wretch tumbling back down the stairs, an acrid smoke filling the sitting room with the stench of burning.
Even though they had gone, Del found herself still staring into those terrified, little red eyes. She felt herself bristle in shock, and the sharp intake of breath that accompanied it launched her forward. Metal clattered on stone steps, cries of pain echoed against stone, and startled cries of indignation echoed down from behind her. A sharp swipe of sparkling silver showered a rock wall before her in ruby droplettes, and a streak of wood and feather darted forward to thud into dirty cloth. More green limbs flailed as little claws scrabbled against stone, the retreat hastened as little daggers were dropped. Two little bodies disappeared into darkness, and where their little hands had before reached for the blackened lump lying in the dirt, now a gauntleted one did.
Balthasar grimaced as the weight of his hand found a charred shoulder limp and lifeless. Del could see the black flaking away at his touch, like rotting leaves falling from a dead tree. Her vision searched for the glassy eyes, hoping against hope that what she knew was not true, and as the unseeing orbs appeared out of the black and the blood, deep booming noises began to echo back out of the tunnels. The chant rose, words almost audible yet just outside Del’s understanding, but the volume made her uneasy, causing her to flinch as Balthasar’s gauntleted hand wrapped around her arm.
Pulled back up the stairs again, Del could not tear her eyes away from the darkness, and she stood silently as Balthasar joined the others in arguing the next course of action. “I have an idea!” Blackwold shouted suddenly. “I can go sssssscout down there invisssible. Then we can know what we are up againssssst.”
Murmurs of agreement following him, Blackwold descended the stairs, although an all too eager Bobby shortly followed. Out of the corner of her eye, Del saw Balthasar shrug with the second wizard’s departure, although the eventual booming echo of a loud rockfall saw his expression change to concern. For that moment, they all listened at the stairs. The chanting continued, growing louder and more frantic. Small rocks tumbled, sounding almost like rushing water. A howl of pain shrieked back through the tunnels.
In a rush of feet and clatter of equipment, the group descended the stairs. “I should burn you all!” an angry mutter whispered from one of the three tunnels that branched from the base of the stairs. Balthasar and Tyrone moved to peer down two of the others in search of the voice, and Del stepped up to the other.
“I should turn around and kill you all,” the mutters came again, allowing Del to pinpoint the movement in the tunnel. Bobby, covered in dirt and grime, was crawling back towards her and dragging a limp Blackwold. The older wizard’s face was bloody, a large gash running dangerously close to his eye. Other wounds on his shoulders weeped red onto the stone, little bits of rock and grime being ground into them as he was pulled along.
“Keep moving! This way!” Del shouted to him as Bobby turned his head to glare back at the goblins harassing his retreat. “It’s not much further!”
“Stupid little green monsters!” Bobby spat before continuing to drag the other wizard closer.
Del turned, the sounds of combat finally finding her. Balthasar and Tyrone were blocking one corridor while Mau and Hazudra held the other. Tiny arrows glanced off armor, and swords bit at flesh. She grabbed the paladin’s arm, gesturing to the unconscious and clearly dying Blackwold, before leaping in front, taking Balthasar’s place. As the paladin’s magic healed Blackwold, Bobby vaulted up, fire sprouting from his fingertips and vaporizing the goblins that were chasing the retreating Mau and Hazudra. The other green creatures, seeing their friends turned to char and ash, promptly turned tail and ran.
“I live!” Blackwold shrieked, sitting bolt upright as his wounds knitted back together.
Not wanting to venture further into the constricting tunnels, all of which were only tall enough for them to crawl through, the party returned to the sitting room to scheme. Tyrone turned to Grahz in search of another way down into the tunnels, but the little creature informed him there was none. Blackwold sent his little snake familiar Samhain back into the tunnels to see what awaited them, promptly crying out in alarm when his magical pet found many, many goblins waiting just out of sight with weapons ready. No matter which way Samhain looked, Blackwold had detailed, there was an ambush waiting. Nothing could be done to get past the goblins; the little green creatures seemed ready for anything.
“Oi! You up dere!” a gravelly voice growled from the base of the stairs after Samhain had returned. “Geet out me ‘ouse!”
Tyrone’s eyes sparkled as he sauntered to the top of the stairs. “That is exactly what we intended to do!” he called back, a grin showing his pointed teeth. “But we are trapped here; our ship left us.”
“Leave!” the gravelly voice demanded. “You ain’t welcome ‘ere!”
“Do you know a way off this island? If you could show us one, we would gladly leave!” the dragonborn insisted.
“‘Ow can I trust you?” the gravelly voice demanded. “You killed me boys.”
“One of them tried to steal from us!” Balthasar insisted.
“Eh, Jim steals lots,” the voice stated, unimpressed.
“I swear to Tyr…” Balthasar snarled.
“Wait, wait!” Del exclaimed. “I’ll go as collateral. Tyrone, here, take my sword and bow. I don’t have any armor; I would make good collateral.”
Before anyone could protest, Del was down the stairs, hands in the air to show she had nothing to hide. The sounds of scrambling feet met her quick descent, and as she came to the landing, only one goblin stood there to meet her, his little red eyes full of anger and an arrow sticking out of his arm. Del recognized the shaft as one of her own and bit her lip, refusing to look the angry thing in the face.
“Fine,” the gravelly voice answered from somewhere off in the tunnels. “Yous lookin’ for a job?”
“What kind of job?” Balthasar growled as the rest of the party clattered down the stairs.
“Protectin’ us from dese bullies.”
“No,” the paladin answered immediately, his eyes narrowing.
The one goblin left glared back, but he turned to go through the tunnels. Following behind with the others, Del got the impression that, once again, the other goblins were waiting just around every corner with weapons ready. They were ready for betrayal, but the lone guide led them all the same. Through a small grotto full of dirty sleeping bags, they eventually came to another square room, a stone arch filled with swirling magic standing in the center.
“Through there,” the lone goblin indicated before scampering back into the tunnels behind. Balthasar leaned forward to inspect the thing, sticking his hand through as a test before fully entering. The party watched the shimmering curtain of magic for a moment, the swirling blue and white almost mesmerizing before the paladin reappeared.
“It’s safe,” he stated before returning.
On the other side, the portal opened up into a decent sized and well-lit room. Beds stood invitingly in the corners and a writing desk and table waited, their well-crafted surfaces showing little decay but covered in dust. Only one way led out of the room, but it was not a normal door. As Balthasar inspected it, he had noted that it must have been the back of a secret door, a way to hide this room from whatever lay beyond.
Del joined the paladin at the door and listened intently. No noise returned from the other side, so with a shrug, she pushed, the panel falling forward into the cupboard beyond and opening its doors as well. A basement room, musty and damp, stretched out on the other side, only one thing sitting in it. The pink and fleshy creature rose from its sitting position to tower over seven feet tall. It turned, slow movements barely disturbing the silence.
“Password,” it croaked, voice cracked and hollow and its lips so cracked and misused that they practically flapped.
“Password?” someone repeated back.
“It’s a flesh golem!” Tyrone shouted in warning.
The others went on, but the thing did not seem to recognize any of the words. It began to stomp forward, big feet pounding on the ground until it threw itself against the cupboard. Splinters fell like rain, and Del reeled. The force would have thrown her back had no one been behind her, but as she regained her footing, the thing raised its giant arms. Trapped, Del threw herself against the creature. She had to push it back so the others could get out of the secret room, but her shoulder only sunk into it, bringing her nose within a hair’s breadth of its bare torso.
Her eyes caught on a line running down the thing’s chest, puckered skin pulled together by black stitches. On one side, the skin was red and ruddy; while, on the other it was tan and smooth. Within the seam, blood did not run. Instead, what seemed to be lightning crackled, the electricity giving life to its limbs and fury to its eyes, one of which was large and brown and foggy while the other was small and blue.
In horror, Del recoiled before having to duck underneath the creature’s heavily swinging arm. She rolled across the floor, coming to her feet a bit away and swinging her rapier at it. The creature roared in frustration and pain, its skin separating at the cut for only a moment. The skin reached out by itself, drawing back together as the cut disappeared. Undeterred, it turned upon her with anger and rage in its eyes, only to have Mau leap onto its back. Piling on with her, Tyrone and Bobby pulled the giant down and wrapped ropes about its huge and awkward limbs.
“Okay, okay,” Blackwold said, trying to calm the others. “Now let’sssss ask it a few questionssss…”
“It’s a monster!” Del shrieked.
“It’sssss clearly intelligent,” Blackwold insisted. “It deservessss…”
“It deserves to die!” Del howled. “It’s a monstrosity made of human parts! It’s an affront to nature! It would be a mercy to kill the thing!”
“Now hold on!”
“It is clearly unnatural,” Balthasar joined, a sheen of white light wrapping his sword before he buried it into the creature, which yowled back at him in fury and struggled against the ropes.
“Ignorantssss!” Blackwold snapped “It’ssss a living thing!”
“It’s not alive!” Del yelled back. “It’s unnatural and horrid, nothing but monstrous black magic holding dead flesh together! Flesh that should have been left alone!”
“You racissst! You only hate it because it’sssss different from you, just like you must hate Dwarves since they are all short and un-graceful.”
“How dare you!” Del shrieked. “It’s nothing like Dwarves! How could you even compare it to living, breathing people with spirits and wills and desires? What is wrong with you?! This thing is a monster!”
“Maybe you only hate it because it’s all made of Dwarf parts!” Bobby chortled, piling on.
Tyrone bristled, his face contorting into an enraged frown as he turned towards Bobby. “I was raised by Dwarves,” he growled, “And I clearly need to teach you to respect them and their ways.”
“You!” Del shrieked at Bobby. “Burn it! Burnt it! It needs to be destroyed so the spirits can be put to rest! It does not deserve to live on the spirits of the dead!”
The pyromaniac’s eyes twinkled, and with delight, he conjured a waterfall of fire to engulf the thing. The creature’s eyes filled with fear, and with renewed fury it broke free. Rope snapped like nothing more than thread, and it rounded on the source of the fire, sweeping blindly and with abandon at the wizard. Turning both hands towards the thing, Bobby brought more flame pouring forth around it. One sweep nearly sent the wizard sprawling, and as he called for help, Blackwold threw three darts of pure energy at it with a curse. It would not do to have the creature kill anyone.
The darts impacting the creature’s head, it suddenly erupted. Every seam where two pieces of flesh were sew together unraveled, the chord catching on fire as thick bolts of lightning lashed out of it. The edges of the flesh singed and burned even blacker, each separate part of the monster falling away one at a time. The creature collapsed, leaving nothing more than a pile of scorched body parts.
Del paused for a moment, staring at the dead flesh before her. Without the energy that brought the creature to life, it just seemed all the more wrong. Even in the few seconds it sat there, she could almost see the rot creeping up along its edges, eating away. Every peice had once been part of a person, someone with a loving family that had long mourned their loss. Every person had left a spirit that had never had the chance to move on and that had never had the chance to lay down in peace and tranquility.
“Oh those poor people! Their poor spirits!” Del cried, hands pressing against the sides of her head and covering her eyes and ears. “They need to be put to rest! How could someone have done this to them?! How could anyone have desecrated them like this?! They need to be put to rest! They need a funeral pire! Someone help me!”
Del scrambled, pulling the few peices that had fallen off the pile back together. Her eyes pleaded, but the only one that would step forward was Bobby. A gleeful glimmer in his eyes almost went unnoticed, although it was just clear enough to make Del back away. Bobby’s fingers curled like claws, a tiny spark forming first before orbs of flame burst into life. He threw them into the corpse, but more fire appeared. He threw again, over and over, one after another, more and more.
Del, horror twisting her face as tears streamed and fell to the floor, crawled back, her hands and feet slipping in her rush to move away. Her mouth tried to form the words, trying to force them out, but only whispered wheezes and whimpers escaped. Her eyes widened, locked on the flesh as it turned to ash, losing what little of its identity remained.
There was no peace in this.