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Max_Writer

Pathfinder - The Sunless Citadel 2 - Entering the Crevice

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

(After Jacob Marcus ran his Pathfinder game “The Sunless Citadel” with Justin Moser, Katelyn Hogan, Victoria Larson, and me Monday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

Iago’s Memoires

We had slept until noon on our fourth day in Oakhurst. We spent the rest of the day planning and preparing, wanting to get a good early start before we went to the Sunless Citadel.

* * *

We were woken on the morning of our fifth day in Oakhurst by the sounds of the vents in the ‘Ol Boar Inn. I went down after studying my spell book and found Brook and Argie there, eating breakfast in the corner booth. I joined them. We had just finished our meal and Argie stood up.

“Wait!” I said. “Don’t go yet. Don’t go.”

“Why?” she said.

“We should discuss when we’re going to the ravine,” I said.

The door was kicked open and a large woman stomped in. She was well over six feet tall and had long brown hair in a mix of dreadlocks and braids, covered in various metal and wooden charms that seemed to get nicer as they went up her mane. She was dusty from the road. She wore studded leather armor that also seemed to have several blades upon it. She didn’t appear to be armed but had a flat sack over her shoulder.

She walked to the gnome on the counter, it was Dem, and slapped one hand on the wood.

“Brov, I need a drink!” she cried out.

“Oh,” I said to the others. “Maybe she’s with those other adventurers. Would they fit her description?”

As the gnome leaped across the counter and ran to the kitchen via a small, gnome-shaped archway in the wall, I snapped my fingers.

“The ranger!” I said. “That no one could see his face.”

“He had a noticeably big bow,” Argie said.

“Yeah, you’re right,” I said.

The woman had no bow.

“Maybe she left it behind,” I said. “Once the gnome comes, I’ll ask him.”

The gnome ran out with a mug of beer and handed it to the monster of a woman.

“Thanks, gov,” she said.

She drank it down. I waved over the gnomes. Nackle scurried over.

“Is that … is that the ranger that was here with that other party a couple months ago?” I asked.

“Oh, good lord, no!” she said.

“Thank you,” I said. “That’s all we need. Thank you.”

“Let me know if you need anything else,” she said and scurried away.

The woman at the bar smacked it twice again.

“Oi!” she shouted. “You got breakfast here!?!”

Dem leaned out of the little archway and held up two fingers.

“Two gold?” the woman said. “No problem!”

She smacked the gold down on the counter. Dem returned a moment later with food, taking the gold, and ran away. The woman ate her food messily with her hands.

“So, what do you need to do today?” I asked Argie.

“I was going to go to the healer,” she said.

“This didn’t take long yesterday, did it?”

“She doesn’t really welcome me.”

“Why?”

“She’s one of those who think she can do it all on her own.”

“Oh yes. Yes, I’m used to those. Most of my professors were like that.”

I thought a moment and then asked Argie how far it was to the bottom of the ravine. She noted it was a 40-foot drop to the platform the thing had destroyed itself on two nights before. I noted we would need 50 feet of chain.

“I don’t trust that rope,” I said. “It looks like goblin rope to me and goblin rope is generally of an inferior quality.”

We discussed meeting Argie after she went to the healer. Brook and I left the inn to talk to the blacksmith. The mountain of a woman followed us out.

We found Hercule sitting in on his stool, his feet on the forge and his boots on the floor next to it.

“Hello gents,” he muttered. “How’s it going?”

“Ah, my good dwarven friend,” I said.

I greeted him in dwarvish and bowed in the dwarvish fashion. He rolled his eyes.

“What can I do for you gentlemen?” he muttered.

“Chain,” I said. “Do you have 50 feet of chain?”

“Fifty feet of chain?”

“Yes. Strong chain.”

“About how thick?”

“It doesn’t have to be terribly thick. A sword shouldn’t be able to cleave it with a single blow. But otherwise, iron or steel chain will do.”

“My chain couldn’t be cleaved with an axe if you tried.”

“Is it heavy chain?”

“Aye.”

“Can you pull it apart?” the strange woman interrupted.

I ignored her.

“How heavy?” I asked Hercule.

“Who are you?” Hercule asked the woman.

It was then time for me to roll my eyes.

“Bored by passer,” she said.

“All right,” he muttered. “So … what are ye gonna use this for? Are ye gonna pull a cart with it or …”

“We’re to climb!” I said. “We’re going mountain climbing with chain.”

“So it needs to hold people?”

“Yes. At least one person.”

“So, we’re not talking big ox chain.”

“No no no. By any means.”

“I can cobble together something for you. I’ll have it ready …”

“How much? How much and how long?”

“I can get you fifty feet and I can get it for you by tomorrow morning.”

“All right. I think that will do. What’s the cost?”

“Two gold.”

“Fair enough.”

“I’ve just got to attach it all together.”

It seemed rather inexpensive but perhaps he was bored and wanted something to do.

As we left the smithy, I noted we could either try the rope that day or wait until the following day. Brooke was fine with scouting the crevasse that day and then using the chain to lower ourselves into the crevasse the following day. I also wondered about talking to someone about the terrible twig thing, though I didn’t trust the mayor. Neither did Brook. I snapped my fingers again.

“Didn’t they say there was a ranger in this town?” I asked.

She didn’t know. We returned to the inn to find Dem visibly shaken, obviously by the terrible monster of a woman who had been here before.

“Dem, is there a local ranger in this town?” I asked him.

“What?” he said.

“It seems like someone said something about one before.”

“There are lots of local rangers. The problem is they don’t live here.”

“Ah. Then that’s a dead end, so …”

“They tend to come by every couple of weeks but they don’t live here.”

“Oh. Thank you. Thank you.”

We discussed scouting out the ravine again that day. When we told Argie about that after she returned, she was obviously uncomfortable. I advised her not to try to detect evil again. I assured her we would only look and not use any magic.

It took three hours to walk the few miles to the ravine. At the road’s closest approach to the cleft, there were several pillars jutting from the earth where the ravine widened and opened into something more akin to a deep, narrow, canyon. Two of the pillars stood straight but most of them leaned against the sloped earth. Others were broken and several had apparently fallen into the dark-shrouded depths. A few other pillars were visible on the opposite side of the ravine.

From one of the pillars hung the old rope. Almost all of the pillars were covered in a scrawl of some kind of angry graffiti in goblin-tongue. The words “Beware” and “Get Out” were written over and over and over again.

Looking down into the ravine, there was an unnatural blackness. Where the rope hung down was a perfectly white, polished stone landing some 30 feet below. Just below the landing were steps leading down from it. Argie told us the platform was actually the top of a tower. I had not noticed that before.

“The sun was in my eyes,” I said.

“Sure,” she replied.

“When you were looking down at the deep dark ravine?” Brook said.

“Yes yes,” I said. “Sometimes it happens. It’s a strange effect that happens to wizards occasionally.”

“I don’t think that’s how it works,” Argie said.

The stairs disappeared into a black fog. I cast a spell to detect undead but picked up only residual auras. Some undead had been in the vicinity at some time before. I suggested Argie cast a detect poison spell and pointed out the strange fog. She did so but didn’t see anything poisonous. She cast detect magic and realized the fog was magical and in place to obscure vision only. She didn’t think it would affect magical spells.

We headed back to Oakhurst.

The dark-haired woman was at the bar in the taproom of the inn when we returned late that afternoon, the counter covered with mugs and two still in the woman’s hands. We settled in our booth and ordered supper. I also got wine. We paid for our rooms for the night and I also paid for my room for a week more, just in case.

We ate and then discussed our expedition to the ravine the following day.

The woman from the bar came over with six mugs of beer in her hand. She put them down on the table.

“Bartender won’t talk to me,” she said. “I’m talking you y’all. How you doing, luvs?”

She handed each of us a beer. I looked at the liquid with distaste.

“Beer, man,” she said. “ Drink a beer.”

“I am a man,” I said. “And a wizard. So, more than a man, you might say. Better in every respect.”

“You’re really ****ing boring,” she said.

She pointed to Brook.

“You!” she said.

“Yeah … ah ….” Brook said. “He’s a bit to handle at first.”

“He’s just like every other intelligent poof that shoots sparks from his hands,” the woman said.

“Ah yes: sparks, fire, death,” I said.

“Don’t start,” Brook said.

“He’s just like every other magic poof from the airships,” the woman said.

I’m going to have to charm her, I thought as the woman turned towards Argie.

“What the **** are you?” she asked.

“I am a wyvaran,” she said. “Not many of us.”

“****’s that?” the woman asked.

“Well, you see …” I said.

“Not you!”

“There were experiments.”

“He’ll go on forever,” Argie said.

“Kobolds conducted experiments combining kobold with wyvern,” I went on. “It was actually quite fantastically interesting.”

“Do I care?” the woman said.

“You asked!” I said. “If you don’t want to learn than don’t ask!”

“I asked her, not you,” the woman said.

I pushed the beer towards Brook.

“Of course, he could probably tell better than I could,” Argie said. “I am basically an experiment crossbreeding a kobold and a wyvern.”

“His story was better,” the woman said. She turned to me. “What’s yours?”

“What’s my what?” I asked dryly.

“Your version of the story,” the woman said. “It sounded more fun.”

Argie got up and left the inn through the back door. I began to regale the woman of the experiments conducted by the kobolds using wyverns and draconic magic to combine their people into the wyvaran. They imbued dragon magic into their unborn babies, resulting in the creatures.

“So, it’s an experiment,” I said. “I haven’t figured out yet whether they can breed. I’m very curious about that. But don’t ask her about her breeding habits. I don’t think she would appreciate it.”

“No, I found most people don’t appreciate asking about their breeding habits unless they want you to participate,” the woman said.

“Oh,” I said. “I wouldn’t know.”

“I’m not surprised.”

“Of course not. I’m a wizard. I don’t have time for mating pettiness.”

“Whatever you need to tell yourself, love.”

She turned to Brook.

“He’s a looker until he opens his mouth, ain’t he?” she said, pointing a dirty thumb at me.

“A look?” I said. “Oh. Conventional slang.”

I laughed.

“I get it,” I said. “Ha ha. Very funny.”

“He’s a bit arrogant,” Brook said.

“I am a wizard,” I said matter-of-factly.

“He’s a wizard,” the unnamed woman said. “I appreciate the self-awareness.”

The woman slammed her hand twice on the table. Nackle ran over, leapt up onto her little stool next to the table, put down three more mugs of beer, and then ran away. The woman pushed the third beer into the center of the table. I pushed it on to Brook.

I went to the bar and got another glass of wine. While I was there, I surreptitiously cast a charm person spell upon the rude and boisterous woman who had joined us as I was tired of her insults and her behavior. I headed back over to the table and she had already headed for me. She told me she was going to pay for my wine for the night and I thanked her. She told me “Anything for a friend.”

“Now,” she said. “You were telling me some story about some lizard ****ing.”

That was one way of putting it.

I took her over to the table and told her more about the creation of the wyvaran. While I spoke, I caught Brook’s eye and tried to convey whether or not to ask the large woman to join our little group on the expedition to the ravine. I guessed Argie was not going to want the boisterous woman around, and I didn’t care either way.

I also learned the woman’s name was Caterina. She gave me permission to call her Cat.

“Iago,” I said, touching my chest. I pointed at Brook. “Brook. And our other friend is Argie.”

Caterina told us stories of the people she had met at the airship docks in Starfall, the capital of nearby Numeria and the same city I had gone to University in. I found it all very interesting, actually. She told of the sights of the airships, the weird people she’d drank with, and the other people whom she’d punched. It was a lot of people.

Brook got up and moved over to me.

“I like her,” she whispered in my ear. “Entertain her. I’m going go to go figure out how Argie’s doing.”

I continued to chat with Caterina as Brook left the inn. I told her what we had learned in Oakhurst. I told her about the apples of life and death, the evil seeds, and how they became monsters when planted and ran to the nearby rift and destroyed themselves. I told her supposedly the tower and the accompanied ruins at the bottom of the ravine were something called the Sunless Citadel. She recognized that name, having heard it of it before. I told her the mayor traded with the goblins of the rift, buying the apples to sell for profit and then the entire village profited. However, I told her we didn’t trust the mayor.

“Now, hear me out,” she said. “Have you tried punching him?”

“If you’d like to,” I said. “He is a druid of, we think some power. Or was. I don’t think he uses his power anymore.”

“But … have you tried punching him?”

“No. Like I said, if you’d like to try that, it’s up to you. We don’t trust him.”

She pulled up her sleeve and a charcoal pencil and wrote “mayer” on her arm. Also on her arm was an ‘x,’ a squiggle that looked like a spiral, “Dickie,” and a strange symbol, as well as many smudges. I figured those marked out ones had already been punched.

I told her we had scouted out the rift and planned to enter it the next day. I asked if she could climb and she said she could.

“Is that what you need the chain for?” she asked.

“Yes, there’s a rope that leads down─” I said.

“That won’t hold me. I can just punch the wall.”

“Yes. There’s a rope that goes down to the rift but it looks pretty old.”

“Me and rope don’t do well.”

“I thought a chain would be safer.”

I told her we’d go in the morning and search out the rift and find out the truth of it all. The trading was supposed to go on in a few days, when the goblins would bring the apples and sell them. I also told her about the other adventuring party that went a couple of months ago that consisted of a paladin, a drow wizardress, and some other person, perhaps a ranger. I described the great bow that was described to me the man had. I also noted they took Hercule’s son with them.

“They got Dolf?” Caterina said. “I heard all kinds of great stories about Dolf from Herkie.”

She told me Hercule had great stories. I told her about the wonderful cage we’d gotten from the dwarf that hadn’t held the strange wood creature and I told her more about said creature.

She had put an arm around me, constantly holding me as we spoke. I chalked that up to the spell and looked forward to its being over. I was certain my neck would be sore in the morning. Before I went to bed that night, I used a prestidigitation spell as an analgesic to relieve the pain in my neck.

* * *

On the morning of our sixth day in Oakhurst, I awoke, read through my spell book and went down for breakfast. I found the others already eating their breakfast. I hastened to eat some eggs, potatoes, bacon, and toasted bread, along with a light breakfast wine.

The chain had been waiting on the counter with a note addressed to Caterina: “The Large Woman.” Brook saw it and read the address aloud. Caterina took it. Alas, the woman couldn’t read. I offered to read it for her but she handed it to Brook.

“I don’t trust the magic twinklers,” Caterina said.

“The what?” Brook said.

“The hoodly doodlers,” Caterina said.

“Oh, that’s such a shame,” I said. “I thought we bonded over drinks last night.”

“I don’t trust you,” she said.

“I don’t trust you either,” I said. “We’re even.”

Brook read the note. Hercule thanked Caterina for the amazing stories.

“Take care of them with the chain,” Brook read. “I want you to take that chain and I want you to go down in that pit with them and I want you to make sure they all get back with my son alive.”

“Well, here’s your chain,” I said. “Enjoy it.”

Unfortunately, the chain only came with a very large screw bolt. Brook said it would be fine and noted she had plans. However, Argie said “Maybe the general store does.” She left. We followed her there and Lutgehr the half orc sold Argie a padlock to her for a gold piece. It took a key and, though old, was in good condition. When Argie asked to test it, she handed it to Caterina. The woman tried to pull it apart without any luck. Caterina tossed me the lock and I handed it to Argie.

We headed off to the ravine. It took some three hours to get there.

It was late morning when we arrived. Caterina grabbed the rope attached to the post and pulled on it. It broke immediately. Then she grabbed the post and tried to move it. It didn’t move at all.

“You’ve almost got it!” I quipped.

“We’ll be fine as long as we use this thing,” she said.

Brook put the chain around the post and locked the lock, holding it in place. She tossed it over the side. Argie handed me the key and I pocketed it. I suggested we descend one by one and it was decided I would go first. I climbed carefully down and then waited at the bottom with a feather fall spell in case any of the others fell. No one did, though Caterina twirled down the chain, showing off.

Along the edges of the tower were the remnants of battlements and ramparts. They had been badly damaged and they were broken, chipped, and falling apart. I found a large chip and dropped it over the edge, counting as it fell to try to figure out how high the tower was above the ground. It was several seconds before I heard it clatter to the stone below. I guessed it was about a hundred feet down and I told the others.

Caterina picked up a very large piece of cobble and held it over the edge. Brook stopped her.

“I’d suggest we not,” she said.

“Why not?” Caterina said.

“It’s a big boulder. Lots of noise. We don’t know what’s down there.”

“It’s not a boulder!”

“I appreciate your enthusiasm.”

“But he got to do it!”

“His was tiny. It wouldn’t make a lot of noise.”

“This is tiny.”

“Not for the rest of us.”

As they spoke, I went to the steps that led down into the horrible fog to keep watch just in case something came up.

Caterina rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. She put the cobble back where she had found it.

“Thank you,” Brook said. “I promise, if we run into anything big, you’ll be the first one to hit it.”

I heard a skittering noise coming up the steps and quickly backed away.

“Something is coming!” I said. “Something is coming!”

“Dibs!” Caterina said.

Caterina ran to the stairs as I moved away from them. What came skittering up the steps were five rats the size of small dogs. As the first one reached the top of the stairs, Caterina punched it in the face, knocking its skull back into its body and killing it with a single blow. The rat fell backwards and over the side of the steps to disappear into the fog below.

Brook rushed the next rat, sliding at it and slicing with a scimitar but missing completely. The rat tried to bite her but missed. It hissed at her. Another rat barreled up the stairs. It lunged at Caterina but missed her.

I backed up to the far edge of the tower, taking out my light crossbow and loading it. I pointed at the combat but didn’t fire, not wanting to hit my compatriots. Argie lifted her hand and fire appeared around it. She pointed at one of the rats and fire burst from her hand, missing the rat.

A third rat charged up the stairs, trying to bite at Brook, followed by another. Brook slashed the last one, cutting it in half. Caterina kicked another of them, stunning it. Then she grabbed both of their heads and smashed them together, killing both of the rats outright. Brook slashed last and it sunk its teeth into Caterina’s thigh.

“Bloody wanker!” she cried out.

“I think she’s been hit,” I muttered.

“No shit!” Argie said.

“Gadzooks!” I called.

I cast a magic missile spell, sending two missile at the last remaining rat. The missiles struck it and it crumpled to the floor without a sound. Argie went forward and cast a cure light wounds spell on Caterina, completely healing the woman’s nasty bite.

We headed down the steps with Caterina in the lead. Brook was nervous about entering the fog and I told her we’d already checked it. It was not poison, nor was it evil, but merely a magical fog to inhibit vision.

“There must be something down here that’s actually creating it,” I said.

“You coming?” Caterina yelled at us.

We headed down the stairs to a small landing. There was an entrance to the interior of the tower but the floor was gone. We continued down to another landing, this one slightly larger. The stairs continued down about twice as far after that and finally landed us on the bottom.

Brook had lit a torch and I lit a candle once we were in the darkness. The fog didn’t allow any light in from the outside and left it terribly dark below. The fog was limited to the top, near the tower’s roof, and didn’t fill the place as we thought, but hung over it like an evil cloud.

“You think it’s infected?” Caterina said, poking at her leg.

“Ask the cleric,” I said.

“I just told you,” Argie said. “She’ll be fine.”

She looked more closely at the wound.

“You’re fine,” Argie said. “It looks like filth fever but you should be able to work through it in a few days.”

“Filth fever?” Caterina said. “Filth fever. Oh! We got that in the docks.”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll be alright.”

“But okay!”

“I think I’ve had that one before. Is that the one goblins give you if they grab you in the sewer?”

“I don’t know.”

“Ah, yeah, I’ve had that before. I’ll be fine.”

Just at the edge of sight, a fortress-top emerged from the darkness, a subterranean citadel, though impressive, it seemed long-forgotten. If the lightless windows, cracked crenellations, and leaning towers were any indication, all was quiet though a cold breeze blew up from below, bringing with it the scent of dust and the faint trace of rot.

The narrow stairs emptied into a small courtyard, apparently the top of what was once a crenellated battlement. The buried citadel had sunken so far into the earth that the battlement was now level with the surrounding cavern floor. The floor stretched away to the north and the south. It was apparently composed of a layer of treacherous, crumbled masonry which reached to an unknown depth. To the west loomed the surviving structure of what must have been the Sunless Citadel. A tower stood on the western side of the courtyard.

It was very quiet. I blew the candle out and noted we needed to bring more torches next time. Brook had confided in me she had only the one. Caterina suggested heading back and getting more light but we decided to press on to the tower.

We continued west towards the tower, Caterina leading with Argie following her, myself following Argie, and Brook bringing up the rear.

Suddenly, a trapdoor opened under Caterina as she leapt back, crashing open to reveal a pit with spikes at the bottom.

“Oh, that’s a classic trap,” I said. “Classic.”

Caterina looked around and picked up an armful of crumbled masonry. She started to toss the rocks at every flagstone between ourselves and the door. I examined the pit as she did so. It was only five feet by five feet wide and 10 feet deep with spikes at the bottom. I kept an eye out around us just in case the noise brought anything.

It didn’t.

Caterina didn’t find any more pit traps and we made our way to the tower. It was only a shell and probably an overlook over the fortress when it was on the ground. It was circular and there was no way to go up as the interior floors had crumbled. We noticed there were four small corpses in the room. They died in combat and one was clutching a spear that was lodged in its chest and holding him to the wall. Two other doors headed out of the room, one to the northwest and one to the southwest.

Caterina looked at the corpses.

“Aw, **** me,” she said.

She pointed at the corpses.

“They’re about two months old,” she said.

“Oh, that’s about the same time those other folks came down here,” I said.

I went over to the bodies. They stank and scavengers had obviously gotten to them. They were goblins, of course. Two of them were decapitated, their heads a few feet from their bodies. The third was the one lodged in the wall about three feet above the floor. The last was crumpled in a heap with multiple slash marks on his body, face, and chest. They didn’t appear to have been searched.

“Ah, they might have money on them,” I said.

Caterina searched the bodies and I took the torch and went to the doorway to watch our backs.

“What’s up?” Argie said.

“I’m just keeping watch,” I said. “Can you watch that door?”

I pointed to the northwest door.

She went to the other door and peeked out.

Brook pulled the spear from the wall, the corpse falling to the ground. Directly behind it were glowing runes. Caterina reached forward to poke the runes but Brook grabbed her hand.

“Iago!” Brook called.

She looked at Caterina.

“Don’t move,” she said. “There’s a trap door. Runes. Scary. Iago! Come read these runes. They’re scary. There’s a trapdoor.”

“Runes?” I said.

I crossed the room and looked. The runes were written in Draconic and spelled out “Ashardalon.” I had never heard of that name but put it firmly in my memory as it seemed important. I told them I thought the runes spelled out a name but I didn’t want to say it aloud, just in case.

“I don’t know why this would be here in glowing runes,” I mused.

“What about the door?” Caterina said.

“What door?”

“Apparently that door.”

She pointed down and I noticed the concealed door. It was a small square about three feet on a side beneath the runes. I wondered if the runes had been missed in the heat of the battle that had eliminated the goblins.

“This may be a password to open that door,” I said.

“Wait,” Caterina said. “I got another idea first.”

“All right,” I said.

I thought one what her idea might have been.

“Don’t punch it!” I said.

“I wasn’t going to punch it!” she said.

“All right,” I said. “All right. Just checking.”

She squared up and reared her foot back.

“Don’t kick it!” I said.

“Well, why not!?!” she said.

“Hold on,” I said.

I cast a detect magic spell but didn’t see any magic on the door. Only an illumination magic from the runes.

“All right,” I said.

I took Brook by the arm and we stood back. Then I motioned for Caterina to proceed.

“I just hope there’s nothing valuable and fragile in there,” I said. “Or we could try to open it for you if you’d like.”

Caterina kicked the door and it slid aside. A dart flew out and struck the woman in the leg.

We peeked into the room. It was a small 10-foot by 10-foot square room with three human skeletons on the floor and a chest in the corner. I realized the skeletons had been there for hundreds of years and were probably in the place when it had fallen into the rift. They were covered in debris and dust. I told the others. Caterina called for Argie to go into the room.

“I think it’s pretty safe,” I said. “I’m willing to go in first if you want.”

“Nah, I got it,” Caterina said.

She crawled through the hole, then poked her head back out.

“Can I get your candle, Gov?” she said to me.

I took out a candle, lit it off the torch, and handed it to the woman. She looked at it for several moments. She snapped her finger, popped off one of her shoulder pieces, bit it and put the candle onto it, creating a makeshift candle holder of it. Then she turned to the room.

She got a few steps in before fire ignited in the skeletons’ eyes and they stood up.

“**** yeah!” Caterina said.

“Undead!” I said. “Undead!”

I poked Argie and she pulled out her holy symbol as Caterina put the candle down.

“I’m about to punch some bone!” she called.

I rolled my eyes.

Argie held up the angelic ankh and suddenly all three skeletons turned and cowered against the far wall.

“Punch them!” I said. “Punch them to pieces.”

I shoved Brook’s shoulder.

“Go kill them!” I said. “You two go kill them! Go punch them now!”

“That ain’t no fun,” Caterina said.

“You kicked a door earlier,” Argie said.

“It ain’t no fun if they don’t fight back!” Caterina said. “The whole point is it punches you back!”

“If you don’t do it, they will,” I said.

“Good!” she replied. “I’ll wait!”

“You won’t be able to fight back if they kill you!” Argie said.

I crawled into the room and punched at one of the skeletons while Caterina pouted in the corner. Brook smashed one of the skeletons to pieces.

Caterina turned to Argie.

“Are you sure you can’t let them go for just a bit?” she said.

“No,” Argie said.

“Why not!?!”

“Because, I’m not here to play, ma’am.”

“That’s right!” I said. “This is your job! Do it!”

“I ain’t got a job!” Caterina replied.

I punched the thing again but hurt myself more than it. Then I picked up a large rock and smashed the skull of one of the skeletons. I turned to the last skeleton as Brook destroyed it. I cursed and crawled back out of the room.

Brook went to the chest. She called to Argie, who entered the room and cast a detect traps spell but saw no trap on it. Brook opened the chest and found 80 gold coins. We divided them up. I looked at the coins carefully and didn’t recognize the pictures but guessed it was very old currency. Each coin had a symbol of a dragon head upon it.

I showed one to Argie.

“Maybe we’re going to find out about your history,” I said to her.

“I wasn’t born here so I doubt it,” she said.

“Maybe … maybe your parents were born here, hmm?”

“I don’t know if I have parents.”

I cursed to myself. I had been hoping to find out if her people bred, but she had answered none of my questions.

I examined the trap in the secret little room and found a device over the chest to fire the dart. I wondered aloud if it was a one-shot or would reset when we closed the door. Caterina told us it would not reset but noted the room would be a good place to hide. She said we should put the goblin back up on the wall to help hide the glowing words. I said Brook took the spear and she looked at the thing more closely, noting it was very rusty.

I turned to Caterina and asked how we could get the goblin back on the wall. She took one of the other goblin’s short sword and stabbed him into the wall in the same place. I examined the goblin and skeleton weapons but all of them were worthless.

Brook looked at the floor and told us there were a lot of goblin prints and a lot of other prints that weren’t goblin. Further study and she told us they were kobold footprints.

We all looked at Argie.

“I don’t know ‘em!” she said.

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