Happy Thor’s Day!
Lief and Elana were wary as they passed through the short corridor to the west. The note they had found had said to ‘beware of the west’ and they were wisely moving slowly forward. Thirty feet of corridor later they entered a thirty-foot by thirty-foot chamber where they exited from the middle of the east wall. The room seemed empty except for some piles of what looked like red dust in various places on the floor. Cautiously Lief bent down and inspected the closest pile near the door.
“This is rust. How do you get this much rust without any metal?”
He didn’t have long to wait for the answer. Across the room in the southwest corner, a creature snorted and moved out of the corridor into the room. It was roughly five feet in length and walked on four legs. It looked like a brownish-red insect as far as its body was concerned as well as its head and jaw-like mandibles. The tail is what separated it from looking completely like an insect, as it was long and joined with a bladed tip. The other thing was two large antennae that resembled feathers and both were at least three feet long. Lief had never seen anything like it, but it moved toward them snapping its jaws.
Lief braced himself behind his shield with his spear at the ready. He heard Elana’s crossbow fire and the bolt ricocheted off the back of the monster. Nothing for it but to engage in hand to hand. Leif struck with his spear and the point drove into the creature’s ‘neck’ just above the head. It might have hurt the monster, but there was no way of telling. Leif pulled his spear free and expected a bite from the mandibles. He was disappointed and then shocked, as the monster instead swiped one of its feather-like antennae and it touched the tip of his spear. The spearhead disintegrated into a small pile of rust and fell to the floor. Leif gasped and tossed the now useless shaft aside and pulled his sword. Elana stepped to the side of the monster and brought her mace down. It smashed into the rough hide of the monster, and the monster screamed an insect-like scream. They had hurt it twice but it still lived.
The monster remained focused on Lief and its antenna struck again, this time hitting Lief’s Shield. He watched as the wooden parts fell to the floor along with another pile of rust. No longer held together by the steel front and bands, it had simply disintegrated. Lief instinctively grabbed his longsword hilt with both hands and drove it point-first into the creature’s head. The monster croaked a kind of guttural cry, collapsed, and then was completely still.
Despite its death, both of them treated the antenna like they were the plague. Lief bemoaned the loss of his shield and spear but was glad the monster had not struck his armor. Elana was the first to speak.
“That was a rust monster. I had heard about them but thought they were just a myth.”
“Behold, mythology lives!”, Lief boomed dramatically.
“Very funny, but you lost your shield and spear.”
“They can be replaced somewhat easily. The cost of the armor on the other hand would have been devastating.”
They searched the room and after a few moments, both of them began to notice the glint of light. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that there were small gemstones of various kinds in the rust piles. Carefully and keeping watchful, they searched until they had a handful of gems.
“Well, minus the cost of my shield and spear, this still puts us very much ahead, but we still haven’t found it.”
They had no choice but to continue into the corridor the monster had come from and see what was there. Hopefully not be more of them.
Lief felt vulnerable holding his sword with both hands and continuing with only his armor to protect him. Elana was alert as ever with her crossbow moving to cover over his shoulders. They continued west through the corridor where the rust monster had come from and in ten feet found a corridor that went north while the main corridor continued onward. It didn’t take them too long to realize the corridor ahead was caved in. Rocks blocked their path and so there was only the choice of moving north along the side corridor.
This corridor continued north thirty feet and opened up into a larger room. It was seventy feet east to west and about thirty feet wide north to south. It was carved out of stone and the floor was smooth. The more frightening sight, however, was the four skeletons that were standing in a grim sort of vigil. Lief was about to warn Elana, but before he could even utter a sound the four skeletons sprung to life and charged closing the gap with a frightening speed. One of them slashed its rusted sword at Lief and stuck his shoulder leaving a wound. Lief parried the next couple of blows from the other skeletons but was becoming overwhelmed at how fast they were.
Elana had not been inactive, she had been praying and then thrusting her holy symbol at the skeletons she shouted.
“Sensua banish thee!”
Two of the skeletons looked at her and then turned and ran from them but ran out of space in the room near the door. They clawed at it but couldn’t get through. This was the opening Lief had been looking for and stuck at the remaining.
“Sensua smite thee!”
Lief’s sword began to glow and the blade struck the first skeleton causing it to shatter and fall to the floor ‘dead’. He parried a blow from the other skeleton and then struck again with his glowing blade. The second skeleton also shattered into pieces.
Elana had crossed the gap of space toward the two remaining skeletons that were trying to flee from her through the door. She brought her mace down on the closest one to her crushing its rib cage. It fell and did not rise or move again. The last skeleton seemed to get over its fright at the moment and swung its sword at her. She caught the blow against her shield. She smiled and let the skeleton continue to rain blows upon her shield.
“Sensua smite thee!”
Lief glowing sword smashed through the skeleton creating a shower of glowing bone fragments.
The two of them stood for a moment over the dead and in some places burning bones.
“Vile creatures. Back to the abyss with you”. Elana said.
“That was .. interesting. I have never felt so empowered and that glow…”
“Lief, Sensua is a goddess of life, the undead are abominations to her. She empowers her champions in these times. Both you and me in this one.”
Lief nodded. He was beginning to see the advantage of being a servant o Sensua. He offered a quick prayer of thanks to her. Elana then noticed Lief’s wound which was bleeding. She placed her hands on it.
“Sensua bring life”
The wound stopped bleeding and closed. Lief couldn’t even see a scar. Lief smiled at Elana and she smiled back.
The skeletons possessed nothing but rusty swords. But they were guarding the door they were trying to escape from which was in the far corner on the easter wall in the northernmost corner. The door looked like oak and was bound with iron. It had a keyhole in it and when Lief simply tried to open it, it wouldn’t budge. Elana then remembered the key they had recovered from the goblins that had run away and she tried it in the door. There was a satisfying click.
The door opened and revealed a small room. It was probably twenty feet across at the top but formed a sort of “L” going to the south. In that part was a large iron-bound chest made of oak. It did have a latch but no lock. As they looked around they noticed this room had a peephole that looked out through the north wall. It looked out over a corridor that vanished into the darkness but there was a door about twenty feet to the right. Elana was the first to speak.
“Clever goblins, that is a peephole probably from a secret door that is part of this wall. Can’t open it from this side though. This a great hiding spot for a treasure. They guard it through these doors and it’s hidden by a secret door. The other ways are guarded by the rust monster and the skeletons.”
“We need to see what’s in the chest. Hopefully what we are looking for is there.”
The chest was heavy, but if they needed to, Lief figured they both could carry it. That said he was hoping they might be able to distribute the contents between them. He bent down and unlatched the chest and then opened it. Then he cried out in pain. A blade had been spring-loaded into the edge of the chest and had swept across his arm leaving a deep and large wound that started to bleed.
“Sensua preserve me,” he cried as he touched his arm with his other hand. His hand glowed and the wound sealed but continued to seep small amounts of blood.”
Elana moved to him and touched his arm.
‘Sensua bring life.”
The remaining blood stopped and the wound closed completely, once more there was no scar.
“I didn’t know I could heal.”
“Paladin ability. It is called laying on of hands. As you grow in devotion and strength, more abilities will be given to you. Sensua rewards the faithful. Once you take your oath, there will be more power given to you to fulfill it.”
“That trap, evil.”
“That’s the problem with this band of two. We are missing some abilities. A rogue of some kind would have been helpful with this or a wizard with knowledge of spells for this situation. Our faith does some incredible things, but there are other types of magic that would be more helpful in these situations.”
“Yes, I see that. Perhaps the next time I, or even we go out again, we should bring people with those skills with us?”
Elana nodded,” A good thief-type rogue might have not needed the key to get into this room. Might have also spotted the trap mechanism. You would do this with me again?”
‘Yes, you are a brave woman Elana. And you have been most helpful. I would be bleeding from several wounds if not for you. You are also a capable fighter. But mostly, I enjoy your presence.”
“We are forgetting the chest, Lief.”
They both turned toward the chest and were quite amazed at what was in it. It was full of coins, gold, silver, and electrum it looked like. Quite a haul, but there were two other items on top that really caught their interest. The lesser one was a book that turned out to be a journal. Though they couldn’t really tell because neither of them could read the Goblin language it was written in. They would have to take it to someone who knew the language. The other was the object of their quest.
It was a crown, more of a circlet but it had a large red ruby as its centerpiece. The rest of it was gold.
“The Crown of Fertility, The High Priestess will be pleased!” exclaimed Elana.
“Just exactly what does the crown do?”
“Well, it provides fertility – guaranteed fertility. I mean if a woman is wearing the crown while she does the ritual, she WILL get pregnant. If a man is wearing it he will impregnate the woman. Regardless if the woman was previously considered barren or if it’s the right time of a woman’s lunar cycle – pregnancy guaranteed.”
“Wow. So what does the temple use it for?”
“Sacred rituals of fertility. The High Fertility Festival in Spring in particular. It is guarded because of its power to the nobility to guarantee heirs. Although the current Lord of Brightblade – Baron Trublade had three sons… no excuse me… four sons although the last is a legitimized bastard.”
“Seems like anyone who wanted children would love to have access to it.”
“That’s the thing, it only works once a month. In fact, you can tell it is dormant right now because the gem is not glowing red. It was used less than a month ago. When the gem glows red it is ready.”
“So the nobility guard this, but why is it in the possession of the temple?”
“Lord Trublade gave it to the temple for safekeeping. He doesn’t know it was stolen and when we get it back the only two that will know will be you, me, the high priestess, and the temple treasure guards. Lord Trublade felt it was a good gesture given the rise of the Temple of Sensua in Brightblade. The High Priestess feels the goodwill of Trublade Family is important to maintain. Losing the crown would be bad for that relationship.”
“Is the crown known to all the nobles?”
“No. Only the Trublade family. If you search the Trublade family tree, you will never see anywhere in their line where there was not at least one child born. Baron Trublade used it three times with Lady Kate. They didn’t hit it off well but she did her ‘duty’ as his wife. Baron Trublade made sure she caught child by wearing the crown when he was intimate with her. His first three sons were born as a result. Then she just stopped having sex with him altogether saying she had given him an heir and two spares. Not a happy marriage which is what some arranged marriages tend to be.”
“Yes and everyone knows the tale of his fourth son. Product of him and the weaver’s daughter.”
“Yes, true love in that relationship. He didn’t need the crown to make her pregnant. Sad that she died in childbirth. He hasn’t been the same since. But he did adopt the boy and made him a true heir legally.”
They left off the gossip of the intrigue of the local nobility and gathered up the coins and distributed them to each of them until they both had what they could carry. Thankfully they got everything, but it was clear even with Lief’s great strength they would have to leave now, not that there seemed to be anything left to search for. The only thing really left behind them as they left was the corpses of goblins and rats, some rust, and bones.
They trudged slowly out of the cave and found themselves going through the statue room and then out the first chamber and into the light of the midafternoon sun. It felt like it was a lot shorter time but in the end they had only to hike slowly back to Brightblade arriving in the late evening at the temple. Their adventure was over for now. But much remained to be done.
This one took a little longer because of all that is going on right now in my life. That said finishing up the solo adventure in the old 1983 Basic Set for Dungeons and Dragons was quite fun. I had to make adjustments because I had two people instead of the one fighter that is intended for the adventure, but the changes worked out. That said, 5th edition characters seem very overpowered in the early game.
The story is; however, unfolding well and I feel the next few chapters will be interesting as the characters still have to find Barthon the Vile and end his evil also, and they really need a third adventurer to come with them with skills they do not possess. After that who knows.
I have been using this time to get my YouTube Channel “Simple Life Philosophy” off the ground and I am starting to conceive of my own world for my fantasy novel. I want to start writing with the idea of publication but this series has been a good warm-up.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.