Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.1”
Luckily time passed, as it does, at the same speed as light. That is to say, like treacle flowing across the bench of life.
Theros was woken from a daydream by Gyro Maximus and ushered out of the bar, along with his followers, to meet with the Council of Six. These are the pre-eminent members of Gnomeroplex society, the pinnacle of political and social achievement. Theros felt a surge of honour course through his body as they ascended the lifts to the top of the city.
A magnificent room awaited, with moving pictures on the wall, a stunning desk, behind sat more moving pictures of the Council. Ashe was sidetracked by the surrounds, Barney couldn’t care less, Nugg seemed to want to be somewhere else and Arlen…well, Arlen was, engaged somehow.
The Council greeted the group, but they obviously had some facts wrong as they continued to try and talk to Nugg, instead of Theros, even when Nugg clearly looked over at Theros for help.
The conversation was somewhat one sided.
“So let me get this straight. You want our farmer, who knows pretty much nothing about talking to people, to go and talk to plants, to stop them attacking your city, with a message that effectively says, stop attacking or we’ll destroy you, simply because you’ve decided he’s a druid?”
Theros rubbed his temples.
“If we made the assumption that Nugg is indeed a druid, and he’s just told you that he has no idea how to talk to plants, can it not be understood that perhaps he has yet to learn this skill you so obviously prize?”
It turned out that talking to plants was probably easier than talking to the Council, so Theros agreed (via Nugg) to the task and led the group back down to the lower levels to catch some form of transportation to the forest floor. Not without querying the Captain on his understanding of what a novice was.
The floor of the forest was lush and green, and clear enough to travel through without getting attacked by the plant life as they focused on the legs of the great city, hundreds of feet apart each.
Ashe had the sense to purchase a device for telling reliable direction, and had set our direction in mind while the group could still see the destination. in this case, the biggest tree ever seen by the group was to be the target.
Setting off, Nugg quickly got sidetracked. he seemed at ease here, unlike Theros, who felt unsure when not surrounded by large numbers of other people to interact with. Nugg took off by himself and came back a remarkably short time later with a large shaggy creature that looked like a big dog. Apparently, this species was actually a wolf.
It looked hangry…
With Nugg guiding the group, and Ashe keeping a close eye on the correct direction, they made reasonable progress, and a days travel, stumbled upon a small ruined area, with fallen walls and the like. Of interest was an entrance to a cave system of some kind, possibly previously used as a cool storage.
A unanimous decision was reached almost immediately, and the Theros led the party forth, using the light from Nugg’s spell to see into the gloom, and soon, the inky blackness. It wasn’t long before noises could be heard, just out of reach of the light.
Shambling forwards were the bodies and bones of fallen people. Knowing nothing more than the fact that these things were dead and should stay dead, Theros decided archery was the best method of dealing with them, and the group followed suit, and quickly and efficiently dispatched them. But not without learning that these things showed some resistance to arrows and bladed weapons.
The tunnel system was fairly uniform and led on a straight manner…directly into something, at once, both disgusting and fascinating.
A cube of jelly like substance, taller and wider than a man was somehow slurping its way down the tunnel, moving over everything in its path. Detritus and the like floating in the viscous mass in varying states of disrepair.
Knowing no better, it was either move past it, which would mean destroying it in some fashion, or retreating. Wisdom would come in later years, but the ignorance and confidence of youth won out and the creature was met with steel, tooth and spells.
While this thing did get destroyed, fairly easily in the end, Barney learnt a harsh lesson. One that nearly saw him swallowed whole by the mass. He was incredibly lucky to step out of the way at the last moment!
Taking a moment to savour victory, it fell to Theros to guide the group further into the caverns, only to find that this whole place was like honey to a bear, finding yet another creature of nightmare!
Chancing upon a room with globes of something unknown floating in the air, of varying sizes, the group paused. Except for Ashe. Who decided in Desna’s infinite wisdom, that throwing a rock through one of these globes was the best way to check them out, and acting so fast that nobody else had time to react, proceeded to lob a stone…and watch in sheer fascination as it slowed down considerably as it hit the globe, and speed back up once leaving it. And alerting the rooms guardian!
A strange wee thing, flying with odd little wings, carrying a book or scroll of some design, descended and attacked! Ashe was closest and was first in line. By now, the familiar pattern set the group through and apart from Arlen making lights and bolts fly from his hands in wonder, the flying creature had to retreat to save its own life.
Following it led directly to a giant centipede dropping from the ceiling and attempting to eat the nearest person, possibly Barney, since he was almost ALWAYS the nearest person. Disgusting as this may have been, it was simply a large bug and dealt with accordingly, and the flying thing was taken care of shortly after. Later years would drive Theros to research this, and it seemed to fit the descriptions of a magical creation called a homunculus.
Another room, much the same size followed. Although Ashe had to be dragged out of the previous room after wanting to spend time lobbing rocks through the time distorting globes and rushing round to the other side to catch the same rock as it left the globe, in very obvious glee.
This room had some of the globes as well, although not as many, but it did have a large pool of water in the corner, that only Arlen showed any interest in. For the rest, getting past some, likely to be, tepid and stale water was the desired goal. Only for that goal to be torn asunder as Arlen cried out in shock and looked to be getting dragged into the water by something!
By the time Theros noticed, most of the party had moved past the pool of water and was leaving the chamber. With luck on his side, Arlen was able to break free of the sticky strand emerging from the water and tell everybody.
“How do you always find the most disgusting things Arlen?!”
Theros had his bow out and an arrow nocked, waiting for the right moment. His moment was stolen by Barney who charged towards the water, only to find himself attacked by some form of strong sticky tentacle and pulled towards the water himself!
Arrows, spells and spears were thrust into the water, and what looked like a giant lobster with excessively long tentacles was retreating before the fury of the party, before being felled by a final blow.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Theros took a moment to centre himself, breathing slowly and deeply, calming his mind and nerves.
“Shall we perhaps, NOT, go looking into things on our lonesome now Arlen?”
Moving ever deeper, the air seemed stale and chilly, until at last, a large chamber revealed itself. Immediately noticing the large cavern had no visible exits, Theros’ eyes were drawn to two chests and what looked to be an hourglass on a pedestal near the wall of the one side.
“What the bloody hell is that!”
Theros was pulled from his reverie at the cry, and looking around the room further, he laid eyes on a massive beast, five serpentine heads weaving a hypnotic pattern around each other.
Barney had but one idea. Charge! And with one mighty swing, he smote the foul beast a fearsome wound, near cleaving it in twain. A mighty roar of pain and anger erupted from the beast, a five headed hydra, and in retaliation, it buried fangs into Barney, sending him to the ground, a broken man, unconscious and dying.
Were it not for the quick work of Ashe, and his faith in Desna, Barney would not have survived.
The terrifying hydra howled and even as it moved, its wound had begun to close up. Loosing arrows hurriedly, Theros backpedaled in shock, even as Arlen, Nugg and his wolf and Ashe closed in on the beast, determined to smite it from this very existence.
Desnas’ will pervaded, and the mighty wound already inflicted slowed it enough that the rest of the party was able to kill it quickly, with not more injuries to anybody else.
Shock turned to elation as Barney was healed and treasure was remembered! The first chest was opened and a number of magical goods (according to Arlen that is!) were found inside. It only remained to work out what they were. Arlen and Theros got to work looking through the items, and at Arlens bidding, Theros cast a minor opening charm on the other chest so the rest of the group could look through there.
Theros would live to regret following any suggestions from Arlen, starting at this very suggestion, as the chest seemed to come alive…