On 2/29 I ran Dave Panchyk in a Google+ game. This is his writeup of the unfortunate events of the day...
“Well, this sucks -- literally. Ha ha...” Markos thought, before he passed out from blood loss.
The second attack by the bat-winged insects had been Markos’ fault. He’d gone back up onto the stone room’s balcony and shot a sling stone into the papery, pulpy nest to make sure it was empty. Surely, he thought, it couldn’t hold more than the four they’d already killed.
Surely, he was wrong.
The hirelings below were alerted to the danger by hearing their boss saying, “Shit shit shit shit shit!” as he leaped over the balcony railing. He was followed by a trio of the bat-insects. Sturton the man-at-arms tried to hit one with his club; his wild swing left an opening for the creature to lunge at him. It sunk its proboscis into his neck and wrapped its leathery wings around his head with a slapping sound. Sturton screamed and fell, trying to grab at the creature.
Markos ran past Sturton, but one of the bug-things landed on his shoulder and dug its needle-nose into his flesh. The shock and pain brought him down.
Demmin, the young lantern-bearer, screamed as Markos fell. The boy was scrawny, but tall -- that, and some little gleam of hero-worship in his eyes, convinced Markos to bring him along despite his age -- and was able to swat effectively enough at one of the others to keep it away while he lunged for Markos.
“Leave him; we go!” Worsus, the wizard Markos had hired, said.
“No, we can’t leave him!” Demmin cried.
The wizard’s eyes narrowed. He slid his quarterstaff into a different grip, then swept it forward in a fast arc, striking the bloodsucker that was on Markos as if it were a croquet ball. The creature flew off, quite dead, and Worsus stood guard as Demmin dragged Markos away. Sturton’s attacker had opened his jugular and was draining him with a burbling, hissing noise. The man-at-arms lay face-down, his body hardly even twitching anymore as the remaining creatures abandoned the moving prey and homed in on the bounty of Sturton’s gushing blood.
Once Demmin had pulled Markos out of the room, the wizard conjured up a floating disc. He motioned for Demmin to haul the unconscious thief onto the disc, then walked slowly up the corridor they had come down. They turned right when they met the intersection where the statue of a robed figure atop a pile of skulls stood in an alcove.
Worsus stopped. “Check his pack. A flask, a wineskin... look for something stoppered with alcohol in it.” The youth did so, opening a leather flask whose contents stung his eyes. “Wave it under his nose, then pour some into his mouth,” the wizard ordered. Markos’ head gave a little jerk as the boy held the mouth of the flask to his nose, then he coughed and bucked when it was tipped down his throat.
Some inexpertly applied gauze and a sequence of highly creative swearing marked Markos’ complete return to consciousness and the beginning of his recovery.
“We should get Sturton’s body. He may have family hereabouts,” Markos said. “It’d be the right thing to do.” He sounded like he was trying to convince himself as well as his hirelings.
Markos sketched out a basic plan and led the three of them, Demmin as always in the back, holding up the lantern. Markos left the others at the doorway to the big room and crept forward, scanning the weakly lit area ahead. Sturton’s body was already pale and drawn; the vampiric fliers had left him. He had no doubt the man-at-arms would eventually look like the nearly mummified dwarf that was slumped in the corner. The dwarf should have been a warning of what was to come when they first entered the room.
Markos considered the dwarf. He might have a clan that would be happy to get back his remains. Failing that, the dwarf might have some coin or belongings on him that would provide this otherwise disastrous venture’s only income...
He snuck toward the dwarf. Halfway there, his heel landed on one of his own sling stones from the first battle with the bloodsuckers; his foot skidded out from under him. He landed in an ungainly sprawl as the sling stone clattered along the floor.
He sprang up, listening. Something rustled up in the balcony. He considered running but instead waved back his hirelings as he drew a throwing dagger, then stood motionless.
The rustling turned into fluttering, which turned into flapping. One of the creatures landed on the balcony railing, surveying the room. Markos watched its proboscis make slow pendulum swings as the thing turned its head. He rubbed the flat of his throwing knife’s blade to disperse any gathering sweat. One throw would be all he’d get if the creature saw him. It hadn’t seemed to, not yet, and it shuffled a little ways along the railing. It ducked and bobbed its head a little. Markos blinked hard a few times, again to make sure any nervous sweat wouldn’t kill his aim.
Finally, the creature hopped off the railing and went back into the darkness of the balcony. Markos allowed himself a small breath of relief, but remained still. He waited to hear the rustling of the creature returning to its home, then waited a couple of minutes more. Then he sheathed his thrower and snuck with extreme care back to where the others were.
He led them silently down the corridor, past the statue, through a couple other corridors and stairways and then out into the open air. He was galled by having to leave empty-handed, and determined to return in future -- perhaps with fire for the nest -- but needed to rest up, let his companions do the same, and celebrate the fact he was alive.
“You know,” Markos said on the way back to town, “we could always have a simple, tasteful memorial service for Sturton sometime in the future.”
The others hastily agreed.
Congrats to Dave both for surviving, and for being my first guest blogger!