Chapter Eighteen –"Are Six Heads better than one?"

A Hydra, and all of its six heads beginning screaming at the terrified party and the little fly caught in the web. The screams pause only long enough for the Hydra to take a deep breath and open the hex of mouths to belch flames at us, and although flames are bad, this does have the side effect of removing the web from trapping us further.

Stumpy, reacting quicker than our resident Ninja Idjit, sticks a Hammersphere on it to whack away at one of its heads and then as he was still Hasted, casts a Shield Other protection spell on Chunk, who is already unlimbering his sword. McFlurry begins his attacks, and with his very first strike pops the Hydra right between the eyes, which stuns the creature. This surprises all of us, including the Monk who quickly looks between his fist and the six headed beast that is blinking furiously - its multiple heads wobbling like a drunken drunkard on a competition night to find which drunkest drunkard could drink the most.

I cast Creeping Cold on it and then Chunk steps forward and in a perfectly symmetrical and frankly quite frightening text book strike, chops down with the sword, more or less cutting the Hydra in half. There is a moment of stunned silence and appreciation of a perfect combination of attacks, before the legs of the beast collapse under it, causing the heads to roll back, the weight of them helping to drag the carcass of the beast back into the lava. Very quickly, like Fagan’s gold crown disappearing into the mud, the beast is gone with only a small plop of lava on the surface marking its passing.

From nowhere, well from under the lava, the Clacklin Caster appears and tries to run past us. I hit him with my club, but its Chunks backswing that smashes into it, crushing its shell, and it’s obvious from how it lands on top of the lava, that the creature is dead.
 
After the celebrations, and still as a Harsaaf, I go exploring deeper into the main lava pool. As I move round the cave edges, now moving out of sight of the party, I find a small cavern that slopes upwards out of the lava. As I am about to walk onto the solid floor and examine the altar that I can see at the back of the cave, I am beaten about the head and pushed over into the lava.

As I go under the lava, I can see two more Clacklin guards standing by the altar, while one has grappled me below the lava and another is beating me about the back and legs.
 
Although they are having a bit of struggle in getting past my defences, I am still slowly but surely being pummelled into submission,  as well as being occasionally lightning blasted by one of the ones in the cave that is holding a wand.

This goes on for a while, and now the party are interested in what’s going on, more so worried that I may have found the Hydra’s treasure and am frantically shovelling it in a bag. Regardless, I am very grateful to see Trixie fly round the corner as I am dunked once more. One of the waiting Clacklin breathes fire at Trixie as she nears the unruly mob giving me a kicking, and Trixie retaliates to this by casting Confusion on everyone, which includes me.

The two Clacklin next to me happily continue doing what they are doing, which was battering me senseless, while I am get so befuddled by the spell that I do nothing at all apart from let them batter me, and the wand holding Clacklin escapes by simply wandering off into the lava. The spell literally could not have worked any better, and yes, I am being sarcastic.

McFlurry follows shortly after; trusting Trixie and I together just as much as either myself or Trixie alone, getting to the room spider walking along the wall, while Trixie Acid blasts the Clacklin with Agador’s Scorcher. Within the confines of the spell I continue to do nothing while the two Clacklin thugs continue to pummel me. The last remaining Clacklin, who had breathed fire on Trixie is the only one other than me that is not of sound mind, and turns to breathe fire upon one of the Clacklin assaulting me, which does nothing to his fire retardant friend obviously.

McFlurry scurries round the corner and drops behind the altar, before moving up and hitting one of those assaulting me, which turns on him. Thankfully the other two begin to fight each other, meaning I am free of attackers at this moment in time. However, I am still completely confused by the spell and with no one holding me, still continue to lay face down in the lava, and do not even get the satisfaction of seeing one of my attackers kill the other one.

McFlurry kills off the other wounded Clacklin, and then chases after the last in the room, currently wandering round and round in circles in the altar room, before leaving to see if he can find the last Clacklin.

I finally come out of my stupor and find Trixie hovering above two dead Clacklin filing her nails nonchalantly. She accepts my gracious thanks with her normal degree of acceptance, and even agrees vehemently when I mention my displeasure that no one else came to help.

We check the altar which has child like drawings of the hydra and also a spear like weapon which I later find out is called a Glaive, crudely drawn on the surface. The pair of us search around but find nothing, only confirming that the altar itself is magical.

We leave this section of the caves and then return outside of the volcano itself for the evening, camping outside against the side of the rocks, boiling tea on the lava spilling from the side of the mountain. Trixie uses a Stone of Alarm to cover the entrance of the cave, but our precautions are unnecessary, as during the night nothing happens.

After the usual morning preparations, we head back inside the cave and pass through the scalding water area. A few bubbles and pops and hisses cause us to prepare and grip our weapons tightly, but nothing appears from within the steam or the pools themselves.  Trixie has Fly spells ready for those that need it to cross the lava where the Hydra was, but rather than cast them upon those that need it, theatrically pulls apart her robe revealing a chainmail bra and says “..kiss the nipples to fly!”. She has no takers, and grudgingly bestows it anyway to all bar me and McFlurry, as I wade through the lava before sinking beneath its surface, while the Monk crawls across the wall.

Soon we are all standing around the altar, and everywhere looks deserted, with no noise coming from any of the side passages other than the roar of the lava. Stumpy starts to point out things that we have missed with regards to the chalk drawings on the wall, telling us that they are actually worshipping the Hydra and it looks like people were fed to it as well.

He continues to describe the mural, saying that a ritual is being performed in some of the drawings, however my nature skills are more interested in the single deer that is drawn amongst the killing and maiming. Perhaps Bambi is down here somewhere and needs to be rescued!

Leaving these carvings for now, we explore the lava pool and its side rooms some more, finding some eggs which turn out to be Clacklin young. Like the brave hunters of old, we smash all the eggs up destroying them all while Chunk tries to make a puppet out of one of the foetuses. Bored and splattered with gore, we then head back to the mysterious door in the wall for me to cast Stone Shape on it, but nothing happens.

Still exploring, we head back to the altar once more and Stumpy begins to mimic the ritual he can see drawn before him, but is being put off by Chunk who is now using a foetus as a ventriloquist dummy, shouting “….clacky clacky….” and sticking the bloodied child corpse in Stumpy’s face. No wonder they are called barbarians….

Despite the interruptions, Stumpy finishes the ritual as depicted and two golden eyes appear floating above the altar, and just underneath this, the Glaive from the drawings. This is supposed to look suitably terrifying, and I am sure the Clacklin got terribly excited in their nether regions at this display of religious power, but to me the overall effect looked like when you were young and put a pencil under your nose and ran round exclaiming “…I have a moustache!”. So trying to stop giggling, I watch as the flames on the altar rise higher and higher before ten candles wink into existence, floating in the air surrounding the altar.

The eyes and Glaive wink out along with the flames, but the candles remain so McFlurry touches the candle nearest him and finds it quite solid, so we begin to search around once more. While we do, one of the candles winks out, and we think that this may be some kind of timing device. McFlurry rightly mentions the mysterious door at this point, and we quickly fly, crawl or breaststroke our way back to find that the mysterious closed door is now a mysterious glowing open doorway. Huzzah!

We all go through, bracing ourselves for energy explosions or rock falls, but none come. The doorway opens into a small corridor, before stairs that lead downwards. Taking the lead, McFlurry and I walk down the stairs, only to have the ground below us open up, causing me to fall down a chute and into some hot water filled with more spiky sea hedgehogs.

Chunk quickly flies down to get me, and soon we are back on firm ground, having found a handy lever in the wall further down the corridor to close the floor behind us.

Up ahead something pokes its head around the corner, humanoid in shape, it has a flaming head with black patched red skin. Conversation begins as we ask for news about this place and the villagers, but we are asked to leave and threatened, telling us the equivalent of ‘..I am going to get my Dad,’ as he talks about disturbing his masters work.

Stumpy moves up and looks around the corner to see a large ornate looking mirror, only without the mirror part – a portal of some kind that overlooks a desert and rocky area with lakes of fire. Within the room are also four of these snake tailed creatures armed with spears and tridents.

Beckoning us in, we all move towards Stumpy as the creatures move up towards us ready to fight. Two of the creatures move to attack Idjit, who promptly guts one while the other is finished off by Trixie’s Magic Missile, while the others are smashed in the back by McFlurry and cut down by Chunk.

Looking around the room, there are lots of weird looking mummified heads, and as I look to see where the rest of the bodies are while the lads finish off the last of the salamanders, twelve flying skulls come through the fiery portal screaming at us.

Trixie immediately casts a Sleep spell on the skulls, but nothing happens. I cast Shillelagh on my club and the skulls move into attack. They swarm Chunk first and begin to munch down on his axe, and then eat both Idjit’s claws! It seems as though they really like metal, as only one or two come for the club wielding lads.

Idjit, now bereft of weapons punches one of the skulls on the nose and Trixie kills a couple with Agador’s Scorcher. McFlurry with no weapons at all is in his element smashing the skulls heads to pieces with his bare hands. Another three fall to his fists, while I smash another with my large gnarly stick.

Chunks axe finally breaks as it is chomped on and so he retaliates by punching one himself, smashing it dead. I manage to batter the last one attacking me as the last of them fall to the rest of the party.

As the weapon-less fighters mourn their weapons, the ground rumbles as though a mini earthquake, and we look about expectantly, but the rumbles and tremors quickly cease. I step into the portal and discover it is actually the Plain of Fire, but it’s quite boring and the portal seems to be miles away from anything interesting, which is probably for the best as I doubt the others would appreciate me bringing back a Spider-Monkey like creature that is constantly on fire.

The only thing of use on the dead Salamanders is a key, which handily unlocks the door opposite.  McFlurry goes first as a Spider-man, crawling across the floor and I follow up behind. Suddenly the ground shakes and the tremors begin once more, but then explode in fire and large rocks fall from the ceiling. Luckily the cat like abilities of the Monk escapes all the fire and rocks, and I was just on the edge to witness Mother Nature at her finest, but not get touched as I watch the show.

Once everything settles, I close the gap with McFlurry and the corridor opens to a room that looks like an upside pyramid. A metal door lies torn off its hinges off to one side, and there is a trap door at the bottom of inverted pyramid. McFlurry motions me to stop, then takes a stone from the rubble at his feet and throws it into the centre of the room, but nothing happens.

Motioning for the others, Chunk is the first to fly in, and soon the little buzzy bees are all in buzzing around the place. Golden runes are found on the trapdoor, which apparently say ‘refuge’ which McFlurry thinks is a place to put rubbish until we set him straight.

Chunk moves down the stairs and stands over the trapdoor, and with a huge heave of strength opens it up to reveal a short shaft leading down a ladder to yet another trapdoor. Chunk and Stumpy descend the inlaid ladder, but no amount of huffing and puffing could blow this second door down, and so they return to the rest of the party.

Trixie and I find a curtain of fire, well, more like a lava-fall in a room cunningly crafted to take the molten lava and channel it away along the edges of the room. With nowhere else to go for the moment, we head back to a room we passed earlier, that seemed to contain only a statue surrounded by millions of bright and burning lights.

I go in and immediately get swarmed by the little fireflies, but ignore them and move towards the statue of the ‘happy prince*’. Sadly he is not covered in gold nor has emeralds for eyes, and is just a statue of a Dwarf of some kind.

We set off again and move along the corridors until some blobby monsters, like wax models of humans appear from the darkness. Eight of them approach, and like all adventurers of old, we greet them with sharp swords and magical spells.

Trixie begins to casts a spell and McFlurry throws his spear into the wall, I am sure this was not the fault of Trixie’s spell, although anything is possible with her. Chunk then drops his weapon and Trixie blasts a first Agador’s Scorcher down the corridors and then a second in quick succession, catching Idjit.  

“One should not stand in the way of Magic” says the wise Trixie to the burnt Ranger.

McFlurry gets back into his stride, or whatever expression is appropriate for a Monk that finally starts hitting people about the face rather than create shadow puppets on the wall, and Chunk drops his weapon for the bejillionth time and actually leaves the battle with the hump.

A Trixie enchantment fails and with Chunk gone, it’s obviously all left to your wonderful narrator here. Really what happens is McFlurry clears a few and so does Idjit, while I hang round the back and perform a few light heals. It’s not my fault they are fighting in tiny corridors, or I would be in there, honest! McFlurry tumbles to the back of combat and hits one in the back, and before I can step into the breach, the Dwarf Stumpy steps in front of me and into the fray to attack.

“I am saving my best spells for later!” Trixie says as she composes a corridor winning song to the tune of ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ while she waits for the fighters to mop up.

Soon the corridor is quiet once more, apart from the sounds of Chunk cursing his own slippery ham fisted dexterity.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Happy_Prince_and_Other_Tales

 

 

Played 18th April 2010

Posted 28th Mar 2011

[top]