|Illo by Matrox Lusch, player of Kung Pao|
Journal of Ruslan Radu (from Vance)
Welp.. I wandered into town a few days back, my purse and gut empty, looking for some hearty folk to roust up some coin with. I don't cotton much with these southlanders. Life's much better up in the north woods. But here I was.
Slept rough and found the Happy Hearth Inn, where folks said explorers tend to congregate. Slim pickins on partners, I ended up with a couple of chaps claiming to be clerics. Some hulking brute calls himself KungPao Chicken and a preacher of one of the local gods named Tony Shinobi. Well, guess you can't really choose your friends... Friar Chicken hires us a torchbearer from the local porter's guild, which was pretty generous of him. Scrawny elf named Ekain. Even the elves down here don't look healthy.
So we head upriver and take a left at Iaqet. I kept everyone on the “path” as it were, and we soon found a chasm that KungPao said he could see some stairway peeking out. He climbed down the bank to the stairs and listened. Not hearing anything, we scrambled down and left a handline in case we needed to retreat fast.
The stairs spiraled down to an empty room decorated in hieroglyphs and runes. Neither of the holy men saw much in them, so we tested the one door leading out. Friar Chicken took a close look at the door – didn't know that priests around here were students of architecture. After a bit, he shouldered it open cautiously. Which let fly three critters. One latched onto poor Ekain, but Tony and I dispatched the others. KungPao powed the last one with his mace, too bad it was still attached to Ekain. Oh well, that lost nose will make for stories to tell the kids.
Second room was a big affair, with only a fancy canopy bed in the center. Being prudent, I shot an arrow at it. Nothing happened. Being less prudent, I pulled the curtain back. Nothing but a couple of dead. We relieved them of their jewelry, and Tony found a clutch of eggs under the bed, which he collected for his coop or omelet later. There was a blocked stairway with a sulfurous smell in a corner, so we took the one exit out, another door.
This was an abattoir of horror. Some skinned soul hung dripping from a hook in the center of the room. His discharged dripped into a grate in the floor. After a bit of fussing about, Chicken glowed up a piece of rock and tossed it down the grate. It fell down a shaft before splashing into some chamber. And awakening something. We backed away. The remains of a door surrounded by debris exited to the south. Creeping through we came to a narrow room with another south door. KungPao checked this one too. He's a cautions one, this priest. Or maybe just obsessed with doors. Must be part of his religion.
When he yanked this one open, we were beset by a couple of ghouls. Tony and I stuck one, and Friar Chicken proved his religious qualifications by doing the holy explody thing to the other.
This room at least had options. A door in each wall and another blocked stairway. Someone doesn't want something to come out of the basement. We go west.
KungPao does his door absolutions again. This time he finds a trap, and pulls out his holy tools... waitaminute...
Trap disarmed, we enter, finding an irregular room with a bed and chest. No dead this time, but the chest is tempting. KungPao pokes around at it and declares it to be protected by a glyph of some sort. After some consultation between the priests, they agree that their respective tenets are cool with calling up some help. So Friar Chicken pulls out a wand and goes and gets poor Mr. Skinned Dead Guy from a couple room back, wakin' him up as a trap-finder. I really don't know what these priests have going on down here...
After Mr Skinjob fails at sliming open the chest, KungPao pulls out his holy tools and picks the lock. Old Skinny finally slops the chest open, releasing a black smudge. We run.
After slamming the door closed, we consider our options. The room is surely full of deadly gas. But chests are often full of good things.... We go through our packs and scratch our heads.
KungPao comes up with this old trick he either tried once, or maybe saw at a carny show. He takes a spell of water breathing, then borrows my waterskin to breath thru to filter the gas. Sure, whatever, big guy. We throw open the door.
To find out that the gas has congealed to some demon thing. Well, it was a good idea, Friar. The demon and priest slap-fight a bit, and I whiffed an arrow. The holy men get their acts together, pull out their symbols and start up a holy racket. Something works, because ol' fog demon backs up. I grab the chest and we slam the door again. Good haul this time. 4000 silver and a 1000 gold. Brother Tony gets a scroll of demon protection (too late for that, eh) and I pick up a potion of speed...
Ok, south door. Chicken does his thing, we wrestle with it a bit before letting poor Ekain have the honor of opening it. Another blocked passage, but someone has tunneled into a wall. KungPao and Ekain investigate. They say it's too narrow for a good fight, and it dives down after 30 feet. We don't play that.
East door. Another irregular room with some cloaks on hooks. What the hell. Costume party. We put them on. Bro Tony says they are cloaks for the Cult of Shoom, his god. So there's that. Opening the next door we surprise a bunch more ghouls. But they stand down, seeing as we are wearing them robes. All right then. A few doors exit off this passage. Keeping and eye on the ghouls, we choose one on the left.
Its just a bunk room. Must be cultists around somewhere. But Bro Tony decides to do a reverent thing. Instead of tossing the place, he just lights a candle and says a few good words. Don't know quite what happened, but he said old Shoom gave us a boon.
Thinking that the sun was moving fast across the sky, and that we'd found a good haul, we decided to back on out with our gains. The trip back to town was uneventful and we counted coins. Friar Chicken offered his share to us in good faith, which was big of him. We tipped good ol' Ekain, who scuttled off in search of some elf surgeon. Brother Tony and I hit the town. Tony can't hold his liquor. Not sure what he was singing in the middle of the street, but it was funny. 'Course, not sure what's in this southern booze, 'cause I woke up with a helluva hangover. And a new tattoo. Looks like I tried to convert to the Cult of Shoom last night. But whatever illiterate worked the needle misspelled it Shroom.
|Ruslan Radu''s map|
|Kung Pao's map|