Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”
It quickly became obvious that the surroundings were not a cave. The floor was slimy and soft, the sacs hanging held decayed bodies, the walls were solid, but squishy, and there were two exits from the area, both puckered and moving slightly.
An educated guess, and horrified one at that, was that they were inside somethings stomach!
Theros felt ill.
Ashe and Nugg went to check out one exit while others checked out the other. Barney simply reverted to type, having already cut his way out of one stomach in recent memory, started cleaving his way through the wall membrane.
Needless to say, the creature the party was trapped inside didn’t like unplanned surgery and the whole chamber shook violently, one can only assume, in pain.
Ashe and Nugg quickly found the soles of their boots being eaten away by what must be a stomach acid and quickly retreated back into the chamber to stay near the others. Not seeing another easy way out, the group watched as Barney hewed his way deeper into the muscle tissue.
The chamber shook violently again and Theros was one of the only people to keep his feet. Not that this mattered as the chamber forcibly expelled the whole group through what could only be described as a sphincter.
Jumbled together, weapons, armour, limbs and heads smacking together as the group was thrust through the tubes and ejected violently…and landed solidly on a hard surface, breathing real air!
Only to look up and see a behemoth with a giant eye and massive tentacles erupting from the surface threatening the party (it was previously mentioned, dear reader, that our young hero had developed a severe distaste for tentacles earlier…this proved to be untrue…the current crop of large, slimy, threatening tentacles eclipsed all others and shook his fear to the foundation).
For all that it was terrifying at first sight, the group was able to retreat from the edge of the lake (Barney retreated the fastest Theros had ever seen!) and pelt the creature with arrows and spells, and while Ashe was injured a bit while retreating, the party finished the beast quickly as Theros shot arrow after arrow directly into its giant gaping eye.
Nugg caught his breath, and heard a familiar barking as his wolf bounded into sight, crashing into him with obvious glee, looking thin and worn, abut extremely happy to see his master again.
Once the beast died, a female head popped up out of the water a short time later, looking fearful and curious at the same time.
“You killed it? The beast that trapped our race here for eons is dead?”
While the woman, probably a naiad, was substantially less forthcoming than when the group supposedly met them before, she did get her elder, who passed on an ancient staff, glowing with a strange magic that neither Theros or Arlen could identify.
Holding the staff revealed a simple message. Be at the peak by sundown of the winter equinox. Which was in about three days!
With little else to do, the group made their way as fast as they could towards the distant peaks, rests and pushing themselves as required.
Approaching the base of the mountain, a pair of creatures were running at them. Theros quickly identified them.
“Trolls! Fire. Acid. Just make sure you burn them otherwise they will regenerate!”
After all that the party had been through in the last year, two trolls, which would have once been a fearsome encounter, and likely fatal, proved to be of little challenge and they were cut down swiftly. Arlen then ensured they stayed down by char-broiling the bodies, eyes lighting up as only a pyromanics does.
Ashe called on divine assistance and along with Nuggs new wings (yes dear reader, our beloved Nugg was going through some serious transformational changes, more of which will be explained later) allowed the whole party to simply walk on air as though it was solid land, greatly speeding their way up the mountain.
There were a number of creatures flying around the peak of the mountain, but with time of the essence, Theros led the group a slightly long way around them and continued up the mountain to the top.
Only to find another adversary waiting for them! A large humanoid, quickly identified as an ice giant, waited, preparing to throw boulders at the group.
“Arlen! This ice giant is susceptible to fire! Burn it!”
A mighty giant would trouble even a seasoned troop of adventurers, but a mage born to fire like a fish to water, targeting something that has a fear and hatred of fire due to its very nature, was no match for the arcane fires bursting forth from the hands of Arlen.
Barneys massive swing all but cleft it in twain as well. It was enough to almost…almost, but not quite, feel sorry for the giant.
The peak held one last surprise. An old man sat waiting patiently. Bearded, wizened, bent through age, but undeniably Ziggy Beckett. A few more cryptic comments followed (let this be a lesson dear reader, do NOT switch off when being given vital information, even when it seems unimportant) and Theros had all he could to not throw the nearest eating utensil at the man. Only to watch in some disbelief as Ziggy smiled and stepped off the cliff, to simply disappear.
Nugg inserted the staff into a purpose built hole in the peak and a glaze came over his eyes. Apparently the location of the crystal flashed before him and it was stored inside Digons very own light stone, right in front of their very eyes for centuries, had they but known!
The race for time less urgent, the group made their way home at less than breakneck speed, knowing that when they arrived, a difficult task fell upon them, to take something Digon held dear and leave them potentially nothing in return.
Theros had grown in stature, confidence and public speaking ability since the ill-fated trip to stop the brigands, what seemed like a lifetime ago. There are those who stood there, in the town square, under the light of the crystal, who recall, even now, the majesty of the young man in his prime, extolling all things vial and good and they could not help but be moved by his impassioned speech and gladly allowed the crystal to taken.
Desna helped ease their pain by replacing the crystals light with the light of a torch that would never go out, also placed inside the protective casing. All was right with Digon and Theros left happily, knowing his home had something they loved and he had the next part of his quest fulfilled.
It was then onto Hexagon to research the Desert of the Dead, with a quick stop along the way at the mines to check on Vigeo. His mine had prospered and even now, knowing that it was likely the remains of the Green City of Wonder, Theros smiled, nodded and left the man to his delving.
Arlen was able to find references to the the Desert of the Dead in the library, with his beautiful elven lady helping. Apparently it had turned into a forest in the ensuing years!
A direction and a description in tow, Theros led the small band to Circle, as this was on the way, and many of the group had gold burning holes in their pockets.
(There are stories of Theros the Bard, Theros the Arcane and Theros the Scholar, but it is here, this trip to Circle, that the origin of Theros the Archer began. His fable bow, unnamed at this point in his career, was enchanted with the power of seeking, ensuring that nobody could ever hide from his deadly arrows, allowing his to pick targets in the middle of the fog of war with ease. Remember this well dear reader! You are privy to an origin no others have been told.)
Barney had suffered quite badly in the gullet of the foul beast from the depths of the waters, and steadfastly refused to leave Circle until he had been cured of his maladies. Ashe’s sighs became things of legend over the course of the next three weeks as he explained to a man as stubborn as a dwarf arguing over gold or ale, that he could heal him while they traveled, but to no avail.
A long three weeks followed, but the party was as rested as they had ever been and continued in good spirits towards their new goal, stopping for the night after spying a camp fire…