THE HUNTERS - A DAMNED LIE
"The Death of She"
...Valendil, Squee, and Moriarty had reached the top of the tower. They had fought giant meateating frogs, talked their way out of a showdown with an army of dead noble warriors, convinced a skullfaced guardian to try his luck at mistaken identity in Port Toroga, quenched the fire of an elemental, and all without their two lost companions, Venkat and Amadius.
Snatched by black figures back in the portal room, Venkat and Amadius had been thrust through the oneway portals...hopefully back to the City of Order. Hopefully.
Now they were at the top of SHE’s tower, and it ended with an empty round room, with a domed ceiling. The ladder they had climbed to reach the room came into the room at the floor’s center.
There were twelve thin slits for windows spaced equally around the curved walls of the empty chamber. Through these slits eerie green lit dimly lit the room. It seemed very much like a deadend. An empty room at the top of a ladder, with no doors out. There was nowhere to go out of this room, except for the ladder descending the way they had entered.
After much investigating, the party found thirteen spots on the floor. These spots were about 1’ in diameter, were evenly spaced and lined up with each of the thirteen windows, and were barely visible. Each spot was simply a somewhat smoother surface than the surrounding floor. They were the same color and material as the rest of the floor, but slightly more honed. The party looked at their portal map, and found 13 lines very close together leading from a point in the Black Temple complex, and leading to a single destination that was off to the side of the map.
Clearly, these spots might correspond with some sort of transport to a room or location that was “off the map.” Perhaps this was the destination they sought.
Valendil and Squee quickly agreed to each stand on one of the spots at the same time, and see what happened. Moriarty resisted. What if it transported them somewhere horrible? What if this was a trap? What did they really know after all? Valendil and Squee stepped onto their respective spots and were gone. After struggling internally over what to do, Moriarty stepped onto a spot...and he was gone as well.
All three members of the party found themselves in a cavernous roundish room that was roughly 70’ in diameter. The creature before them as hideous...vaguely female...and had teats sticking out here and there from various parts of her bulbous undulating black body. She was huge and rough, and her deathlike smell permeated the room. Her stunted arms and legs and head looked disproportionate to her body, and looked like they had been stuck onto her heaping mass as an afterthought. Everything about her was jet black. Her skin, her eyes, her hair, her teeth...all perfectly black.
“Welcome to my home, little ones. Now you will die!”
Her voice was like wet gravel being scraped across rusty tin. A shudder ran through Valendil, Squee, and Moriarty and they all took a step back. Their minds raced.
SHE was levitating in the air above a large magical symbol etched into the floor. Valendil turned to his friends and stated in an insistent tone, “If we ever hope to see our world again...if we ever hope to see friends and loved ones again...then we must attack this foul beast with everything we have, and never stop.”
Squee started up where Valendil ended, “No matter what deal this demon tries to strike with us, no matter how the odds turn...we must give everything we have to ensure that we are the utter end of her.”
Moriarty leaned closer to his comrades and practically hissed, “If we must give our very lives today, then let it be in the cause of making sure that today is the day the SHE gasps her last fetid breath. SHE must never walk the face of Kempin...today she ENDS.”
“Men of Kempin...give me your attention.” SHE’s voice cut through the tension of the three companion’s conversation. “I have hostages...and those hostages will be sacrificed if you do not hear me out.”
But, bloodlust born of horror was upon them, and Valendil, Squee, and Moriarty went on the attack. They leapt at SHE ceaselessly, throwing every weapon, every skill, and every magical resource at their disposal at the task of killing the foul beast.
Here and there they did their damage, and here and there they got the advantage. But, SHE began chanting words that no man should ever hear...and dark power gathered. Black sticky power from the nether realms in the form of tendrils, that grabbed at the party and whipped at their flesh. After a few minutes all three members of the party were beaten, and bloody, and lying on their backs panting what might very well be their last breaths.
Valendil muttered, “Moriarty’s prediction that we might sacrifice our lives today seems to be coming true.”
Moriarty exclaimed, “Wait...the blade!”
Squee wiped blood from his eyes, “What blade?”
Moriarty rose to his knees, and then one leg and a knee, pulling a black magicallyetched blade from a scabbard on his belt. “The blade we found downstairs. The blade is the answer!”
SHE recoiled from the very sight of the sharp black blade. “Where did you get that!” She screamed.
Moriarty stumbled forward, his legs barely carrying him, the black blade upraised. “Nevermind where I got it. I...will...kill you...bitch,” he spoke haltingly.
SHE shrieked in her wetgravel voice, “There is treasure hidden here! Magical treasure! I will give you treasure and the 50 hostages...I will make you powerful...I will give you anything you want!”
Valendil and Squee watched Moriarty’s slow advance on SHE, but were unable to stand or lend assistance. Valendil called out, “Don’t listen to a word she says, Moriarty! Use the blade...KILL HER!”
Squee yelled, “END HER! FINISH HER!”
SHE’s face changed from fear to anger. “Moriarty Kesler, I have offered you the hostages, I have offered you treasure, and yet you still have murder in your heart. I CURSE YOU! DO YOU HEAR ME! I CURSE YOU WITH ALL MY BLACK HEART...I CURSE YOU!”
Moriarty looked back at his two companions. There was a sad look in his eyes...a look that said goodbye. This sad look was replaced with a look of grim determination, and he spun back toward SHE. “FUCK YOU, YOU BLACK HEARTED BITCH,” he yelled as he ran at her.
Moriarty leapt at her with the blade upraised, and plunged the blade into her undulating black belly between two of many teats that covered its surface. SHE screamed as Moriarty’s black blade plunged into her again and again. Foul black fluids covered the ground beneath SHE, her black eyes went wide, and SHE fell silent.
Moriarty fell back from huge black form, and stumbled backwards. His skin turned jet black, and a moan escaped him that sounded like a death rattle. He turned toward his two companions, his skin, his eyes, and his hair completely jeb black. He took a final look at them...a touch of fear in his eyes, and then he vanished. Gone.
SHE’s body began to collapse in on itself. Foul gases and fluids issued forth from the body, and her body liquified. The horrid black ooze that remained seemed to seep into the magical symbol etched into the floor beneath her, and she was gone as well.
Valendil and Squee were shocked at the disappearance of their friend, and the climactic end of their struggle with SHE. They lay there silently in the empty cavernous room for at least a half hour before they fought to stand back up. A search of the room indeed revealed treasure hidden behind a secret panel in the wall. Treasure both monetary and magical. When they walked across the magical seal etched in the floor, they found themselves transported outside the tower, near the Sphinx statue guarding the huge black door leading into the underground complex beneath the tower. There the 50 hostages were huddled, and a black portal that had not been there before awaited them.
Valendil commented to Squee, “What force or power is at work here? Who brought us to the hostages, and provided us a portal back to our world?”
Squee smirked. “Maybe an unknown enemy of SHE? Maybe some appreciative power for the forces of Good, seeking to see us off well for our efforts here? Maybe we’re just lucky bastards? Who knows? Whatever, or whoever it was, I don’t intend to look a gifthorse in the mouth. Its time to go home.”
Valendil nodded. “No...you are right. Let’s get ourselves and these good people back to the City of Order.”
Valendil and Squee introduced themselves to the hostages, as the Hunters of the Burners of Njal. They calmed down the traumatized townsfolk, and led them through the black portal back to the World of Kempin.
THUS WAS SHE ENDED, THE HOSTAGES SAVED, AND MORIARTY LOST.
This interlude is immediately followed by our March, 2015 game called, "The Black Temple."
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