Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z: Zowie

"The Infernal Machine?" Nimble scrunched his face. "What's that?"

Feris looked around. "I think we're in it. I think this whole complex is some sort of..."

"Infernal Machine?" Rathgar offered.

"Yes, but what does it do?" Nimble asked.

Feris frowned. "If I'm reading this diagram correctly, this section is designed to draw energy from... somewhere. It doesn't say where exactly."

"Where generally?" Allianora asked.

"It doesn't say. Just that it draws the energy, traps it in those crystals, and then focuses the energy onto that crystal in the ceiling."

Rathgar looked at the ceiling. "And then what?"

"I doubt anything good." Nimble said, eyeing the big gem. "Think removing that will cause the machine to fail?"

Feris grinned. "Probably."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y: Yellow

"These all bear the mark of the King in Yellow." Feris said, careful to avoid even touching the gold place settings around the table.

"Which means we've got his cursed spawn running around here somewhere..." Rathgar looked from door to door.

"Very likely." Allianora said. "And this is not a good place to be when they find us."

"You mean when we find them, right?" Feris asked.

"Let's hope so." Nimble replied, tearing his eyes from the golden plates and chalices. "What, umm... what sort of cursed things?"

"The spawn of the King in Yellow are mad, and they bleed constantly." Allianora began, moving toward the next door. "They try to distract themselves from their madness by causing themselves pain. Usually through tattoos and piercings that never heal. If they can cause you to hear the King's whisperings..."

"Right" Nimble nodded "Listening to the King in Yellow is bad. Got it."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X: Xenophobia

Nimble looked over the railing. "Have you ever seen orcs dressed like that before?" he whispered back.

Rathgar creeped forward and peered over. The orcs below were dressed in spidersilk, with elaborate hats bedecked with strange feathers and glinting gems. They sat about the room below in upholstered chairs looking at illusionary artwork that morphed on the walls. While a few seemed entranced by it, most looked mournful, and a few were openly shedding tears.

"Orcs can cry?" Rathgar gasped in amazement, before slapping his hand over his mouth. Yet for the volume of his outburst, it seemed to draw no attention from below. His companions, on the other hand, glared at him. Removing his hand, he mouthed "sorry" and slunk away from the railing with Nimble.

"What makes an orc cry?" Feris asked.

His companions shrugged. "They're people too, even if they lack a level of... maturity. Probably not helped by the fact that their gods are.. less than encouraging of development toward a more civilized attitude."

"So what happened to these orcs?"

"The only time I've seen orcs going against their nature as a group like this is when someone else makes them." Rathgar said grimly.

"Which means that there's someone or something that's capable of cowing an entire tribe of orcs." Allianora said, gripping her mace a little tighter.

Monday, April 27, 2015

W: Weird

"Here they are again." Nimble pointed to the floor. "Three toed this time."

Rathgar turned to Feris "You've been keeping track. Does this match anything you know?"

"Bloody footprints that appear and disappear with varying numbers of toes, claws, and treads?" Feris looked up from his notes. "No, that doesn't match anything I know of."

"Could be some sort of ghost." Allianora suggested. "Or a chaos beast."

"Well, we only seem to see one set of prints at a time. Best keep our eyes open, but not worry too much about it until we get more information." Feris offered.

"Right. Try not to step in the blood." Rathgar continued down the dark hall.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V: Vermin

"It's full of bugs" Nimble said, slamming the door shut. "I don't know what they are, but they're swarming the room."

"Any ideas?" Allianora asked.

Rathgar sighed. "Can we just go around it?"

Feris double checked the map. "Not that I can tell."

"Ok, how do we want to do this?"

"Burning oil?" Nimble suggested.

We'll have to wait for it to die down, and then make sure we've got enough fresh air to clear out the room without suffocating ourselves." Feris warned.

"If no one has any better ideas..." Nimble began to unpack the flasks of oil.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U: Undead

"Any guess as to what it says?" Nimble asked.

"If I'm reading it correctly, it's a list of names." Feris said, tracing his fingers along the carved stone door. "I think they were the architects."

"That's a lot of names." Nimble replied.

"It is..." Feris kept tracing his fingers across the inscriptions. "I think that these are the names of those who built the tomb."

"Wow... the workers getting some credit. That's unusual."

"Credit... and cursed." Feris' finger paused on a series of symbols in the middle of the door. "So as to protect the secrets of the tomb, those who served in life to build it will serve in death to protect it."

"Undead in a tomb isn't much of a shock." Allinora noted.

"No, but they're often not in the main tomb." Feris pointed out.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T: Traps

“Careful, it’s trapped.” Feris warned.

“How do you know?” Nimble asked, half crouched before the door.

“Because there are seams running from about where your head is on that wall, up around the ceiling and back down on the other side.” Feris pointed as he spoke.

“Good eyes” Allianora smiled. “Guess all that reading by candle light hasn’t completely ruined you.”

Rathgar chuckled.

“Ha-ha...” Nimble smirked, then turned back to the doorway.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S: Statues

Sunlight filtered through narrow stained glass windows, casting a fractured rainbow into the broken statues that littered the great hall. Somewhere in the buttresses a robin sang. “I guess that we’re not going to be able to save the kids?” Nimble asked, knowing the answer.

“No.” Allianora said sadly.

“We’ve fought a medusa before. We can take another one now.” Feris said, and then began to weave a spell. The light in the hall became more diffuse, and then a cool mist began to fill the space.

“Remember, keep close, and don’t make eye contact.” Rathgar said, dropping the visor of his helm. Shield ready, he gripped his spear loosely, and pushed the doors open as he entered, his companions close behind. Nimble closed the door behind them.

Keeping to the wall, the party advanced until Rathgar spotted a figure ahead. “I see it” he said over his shoulder.

The figure shifted in the mist. “Fools” the unexpectedly deep voice rumbled. The figure moved again, throwing something.

It clattered off of Rathgar’s shield. He grinned, and shifted his grip on the spear. He took a step toward the figure before noticing the heft of his shield increasing, and a crackling noise coming from it. “Frelling magic” he cursed, pulling his arm from the shield. It shattered into stone fragments when it hit the floor.

I'm afraid from this point on I didn't finish scanning in the maps. I'll post them when I'm back from my hike!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R: Rooms, Siphon

The room stank of rot, strange chemicals, and sweet herbs, probably from the body on the slab in the center of the room. Beyond it, a great contraption of wheels, levers, and switches all wired together in some intricate and arcane fashion. Between them stood the cadaverous form of Selkar The Ancient, his mummified skin pulled tight over his bones, red eyes burning beneath his bony orc brow.

“Excellent…” his dry throat rasped. “Do come in” he commanded. Rathgar jerked toward the undead orc. “I was just in need of another volunteer.”

Allianora and Nimble grabbed the back of Rathgar’s armor while Feris leveled his wand at the monster and unleashed a bolt of witchfire. The mummy ducked the crackling bolt, which struck the machine. He responded with a roar, his massive jaw seeming to dislocate, the force of which knocked the companions to the ground.

As the companions picked themselves off the ground, Selkar threw a switch on the machine, and the coursing energies of the witchfire were shunted into the body on the slab. It jerked and spasmed, smoke escaping from seams of the stitched up flesh. “Kill them!” Selkar ordered the golem.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q: Question

A precious gift, this,
Yet it has no end or beginning,
And in the middle, nothing.


“No, you have to say it in elvish.” Nimble insisted.

Feris sighed, and in the lyrical tones of those with the pointy ears he again said ‘friend.’

The companions stood looking at the closed door in silence. After a long moment Rathgar grinned. “I always thought that was an old wives tale.”

“Any other bright ideas?”

“I always thought ‘opensesame’ had a nice ring to it.” Allianora offered, and the door swung open.

Rathgar scowled. “Really? Opensesame?”

“No!” Feris grinned. “Ring!”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P: Pool

The font glistened with an oily rainbow of colors, the fluid undulating by some unseen force.

“What could be swimming in that?” Rathgar asked.

“Who say’s anything is? It could be the… liquid itself.” Feris shrugged.

“If we’re going to rededicate this temple to the lords of light, we’ll need the font cleaned out. Any thoughts on how to do that?” Allianora asked.

*I’d really rather you didn’t* a voice said in their heads.

“Great, a talking puddle.” Nimble whined.

“At least it’s polite.” Feris smiled. “If more monsters talked to us... “

*I object to being referred to as a monster. However, I’m willing to overlook that if you’ll be willing to consider alternatives to ‘cleaning’ me out of my home."

Friday, April 17, 2015

O: Ooze, Soap Bubble

“Ok, what’s that?” Allianora pointed down the corridor. Glistening in the lantern light, a large cluster of bubbles bobbed along bouncing off the walls and floor.

“New one on me.” Feris answered. “Looks like soap bubbles.”

“I knew this bag of endless rats would come in handy.” Nimble smiled, reaching into the sack. He tossed the squeaking rodent at the bubbles. It passed easily through them, landing easily on the dungeon floor. It squeaked again, and shook its now glistening fur. It then sat up to wash its face and began flailing about in obvious pain. Moments later it fell to the ground twitching before it collapsed into a gooey mess. “Oh…” Nimble’s bloodless face looked on in horror as the former rat began to bubble up.

“How about a little fire?” Nimble spread his fingers, sending a sheet of flame down the corridor, popping the bubbles with an acidic hiss.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N: No Stone Unturned

“It’s not here”

“It has to be!”

“Nimble, we’ve torn the building apart. It’s not in the attic, it’s not in the basement. We’ve checked the floorboards, the baseboards, the window frames, the door frames… unless you think we need to rip the place down to the studs, it’s not here.” Rathgar grumbled.

“The tiles say it’s here.” Feris sighed. “Somewhere.”

“Here, in this house?”


“What did the tiles say, exactly?”

“That the scroll will be found at his home.”

“Well, we’ve searched in his home!” Rathgar yelled.

Nimble lept to his feet. “Yes…. we’ve search in his home... “ Nimble walked to the back door, and looked out at the stone path running to the ransacked shed.

“We checked the shed first” Rathgar reminded him.

“Sure, but we didn’t pry up the flagstones”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M: Magic

With a click Nimble unlocked the rusted steel door, and pulled it gently open. The chamber beyond was truly a dungeon cell. Manacles hung from the walls in regularly spaced intervals, and a drain to… somewhere was in the center of this slightly sloped floor. A single form slumped in the corner, with small black, white and red squares lay scattered around the yellowed bones and rotted rags.

“Poor guy must have starved to death.”

“Lousy way to go.”

“Well, it’s been a long time since anyone could do anything for him. Shall we check it out?”

Nimble went first, poking around with the butt of his spear. He then reached down, picking up on of the small red tiles. It was warm to the touch, made of some sort of stone, and cut into a perfect square. Around him, the cell began to change. The brickwork below his feet turned red and smooth like the tile in his hands. The walls covered over with black and white tiles. The iron door of the cage morphed into a great set of double doors, and beyond a figure cloaked in a hooded yellow robe looked menacingly at the companions. "Oh... not good..."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L: Levers

“Ok, we’ve got a lever on the far wall, past the portcullis.” Nimble reported.

“That’s it?” Allianora asked.

“That’s it.”

“Trap?” Rathgar asked.

“Of course.”

“How do you want to handle it?”

“We’re not in a hurry, so I think we should just saw through the bars.”

“How long will that take?” Feris asked.

“3... maybe 4 hours.”

“Get to it. Allianora, keep an eye on the passage. Feris, might as well get some food ready. We’ll be here for a bit.”

Monday, April 13, 2015

K: Kobolds

“NO SHOOT!” The little voice yelled from around the corner.

Nimble had his dagger in hand, ready to throw at whatever was about to come through the doorway. The rest of the group lept to their feet, abandoning their rations and making ready with their various weapons.

“Why not?” Nimble asked the voice.

After a moment’s pause “Ugrut wants talk, not blood.” Another pause, “Not fight.”

“Show yourself” Rathgar ordered.

“No shoot?”

“No shoot.” Feris promised.

From around the doorway an orange skinned kobold edged into view, keeping low. “Ugrut wants talk” it repeated. “Reply?”

The party exchanged glances. “Okay. Tell Ugruk we’ll talk.” Rathgar replied.

With a nod, the kobold slipped back through the doorway, and the quick tap of claw on stone faded into the dungeon’s distance.

“I’m surprised.” Feris admitted. “I didn’t think you’d go for a negotiation.”

Rathgar shrugged. “I’m more interested in the Yellow Mage than some orc tribe.”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J: Jewels

“The Mountain of Darkness must be returned to it’s rightful place!” the priest begged, clutching at Rathgar’s legs.

“What rightful place? The Cult of Set had this diamond locked in their main temple below the tower.”

“And it must go back, or the King will return!”

Rathgar shoved the man off his legs. “Begone! I will not return the gem to that snake pit.”

“Uh… Rathgar?” Feris pointed up “There may be something to his ranting... “

Rathgar looked up into a sky that was quickly shifting from blue to yellow like a spreading stain.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I: Inscription, Helpful

The intricately shaved camel chewed unconcerned as the people around it talked, only occasionally belching or braying to express it’s mild annoyance at standing around “I am sorry Holy One, I can not help you.” the nomad figited. “I can not take you to where you want to go. No one can.”

“Can not, or will not?”Allianora asked.

The man’s robes billowed as another gust of sandy wind caused everyone to protect their eyes. Placing his hand upon his camel’s neck he asked “Does it matter Holy One? The result is the same.”

Allianora sighed in frustration “What about a map? Does anyone have a map?”

“A map to a lost city in the Great Wastes? Such a thing does not exist! Otherwise the city would not be lost.”

She turned to her companions. “No map, and no help.”

Rathgar kicked the sand. “This twice-cursed litter box will be the death of us if we just wander around blindly.”

Nimble cocked his head to the side and said “Buy his camel.”

“You hate camels. Besides, we have enough already.” Feris said.

“Buy the camel” Nimble said, his gaze fixed on Alianora.

Moving away from the nomad’s camp, Allianora stepped up to Nimble who was leading the camel. “Why did we trade one of our camels and that golden bracelet for this camel?”

Nimble pointed to a section on the camels flank. “If those symbols are mountains, these are the sea, then this is where we are now, and that…”

“Is the city…”


Thursday, April 9, 2015

H: Hallway Cairn of Skulls

“That’s ominous.” Allianora said flatly.

“Pile of skulls… in the middle of the hallway. It even blocks most of the way around it. How often do you think he’s got to have it restacked?” Nimble asked, as he poked the caern with his 10’ pole, sending several skulls rolling further down the hall.

“Do you get the feeling that this vampire got his decorating tips from a copper-a-seat set designer?” Feris grinned.

"Oh, give the guy some credit. He's only got so much to work with. I mean, we are in a tomb." Nimble smiled back.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G: Golden Weapons

“This is never going to work.” Nimble mumbled again, then grunted as Feris tightened the rope holding the breastplate in place.

“It will.” He pulled harder “but don’t move too much.”

“Feris, it’s more rust than steel, I’ve had butter knives sharper than this sword, and the helmet doesn’t even fit.”

“I’ve got some twine in my pack. Here, hold this.”

From outside the tomb the chattering of the goblins grew louder.

“They’re going to come through” Feris plopped the helm on Nimble’s head, looping the twine under his chin, and securing it on the other side. “I’d be better off with my daggers.”

“There are too many of them for just us, and we need to get Allianora and Rathgar out of here. Now, just remember, don’t move much, but be impressive.”

“Impressive? I look ridiculous.”

“Yes, but when they come through the door, you’re going to look like a god of war clad in gleaming golden armor. If I can manage it, you’ll sound like it too.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F: Sticky Fungus

The chamber was completely covered in little mushrooms. Floor, walls, ceiling, even the stalactites and stalagmites. Little purple mushrooms that glimmered wetly in Feris’ magelite.

“It smells… sweet in here.” Feris’ eyebrows knit in consideration.

“Ok, cover your faces everyone. At least there’s something of a path winding through the room. Try not to disturb any if you can. Nimble, you go first?” Rathgar asked.

“Yeah…” Nimble replied as he wrapped a cloth over his nose and mouth. After he hitched up his cloak, Nimble made his way along the path. About halfway across the cavern he turned and shrugged. Feris, Alianora, and Rathgar followed.

When Nimble reached the far end of the cavern, and began ascending toward the mouth on the far end, a trio of mycanoids covered in the smaller purple shrooms bounded up and knocked nimble back. His feet stumbled into the mass of mushrooms covering the floor, and they clung to his boots, caking up upon one another, and in 2 steps he was so encumbered by the growths that he lost his footing and fell to the ground, the mushrooms breaking his fall, but clinging to every part of him that reached the ground.

Monday, April 6, 2015

E: Echoes

The man’s voice carried through the hall “Who puts a glass door in a dungeon?”

The skeletal figure chuckled, his armor rattling over his fleshless form. The shadow hovering behind him shifted slightly, it’s scarlet eyes squinting.

“They’ve reached the door. Harass them. Drive them onward. Do not let yourself be engaged.”

The shadow bowed as the sound of breaking glass echoed up. The silence was finally broken by an insincere “Oops.”

The skeleton sighed. “Every time… It wasn't even locked.” It looked at the shadow again. “Go.”

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D: Glass Door

The door handle and lock seemed to hang in the air, sticking out of the door frame without a door to support it.

“Now, that’s one way to bypass a lock, just remove the door. Why don’t you ever do that?” Alianora asked Nimble with a smirk.

“Funny…” Nimble skulked toward the door frame. He grunted as he approached it. “There is a door here, it’s just… clear.”

Rathgar scrunched his face “Why would someone make a clear door in a dungeon?”

“Might have been an accident” Feris mused. “Maybe a miscast enchantment? Perhaps they were trying to make it seem like there wasn’t a door there…”

Nimble finished examining the door frame, handle, and lock while Feris’ quiet exploration of the multiple ways magic could have gone wrong continued in the background. Finally, in exasperation he tapped on the clear surface with the pommel of his dagger. “I think it’s glass.”

“Who puts a glass door in a dungeon?”

Feris opened his mouth to answer, then paused, and shrugged.

Friday, April 3, 2015

C: Low Ceiling Cave

The goblins skurried into the cavern, the child dragged between them. They giggled merrily as they fell into darkness, the girl’s screams echoing back toward the party as they reached the cavern entrance.

“I’m not going in there” Rathgar stated flatly.

“They’re getting away.” Alianora snarled.

“We’ll catch them, but look at this.. none of us could walk upright.”

“It’s the perfect opportunity for an ambush. We’ll be trapped in a spot where we can’t fight effectively. It would be suicide.” Nimble warned.

“Feris, can you do anything?” Alianora demanded.

“I don’t have a spell to shrink us down, nor the power to raise the ceiling… But I think I have the formula to brew a potion that might help.

“How long?” Alianora demanded.

“A day..” Feris said. “Maybe two.”

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B: Book - The Art of the Ancient Empire

“Art of the Ancient Empire?” Nimble asked.

“Hmm? Old Empire. It’s be Ancient if the word ended with “a’tgh”. Without it, it just means old.” Feris answered.

Nimble dropped the book back onto the table. "This is the crap Annihilus, High Priest of Set, Bringer of Doom to the Eastern Sea, and Great Fang of the Slithering Horde kept in his secret closet?”

“Probably because the Old Empire’s art was singularly focused on both eroticism and torture. Usually together. I really wouldn’t recommend flipping through it.”

"Is it worth anything?"

"Yes... but with so much of this crap, do we want to sell it to anyone who would buy it?"

"That's a point. On the other hand, it might help us figure out who else belongs to that serpent death cult."

A number of my maps for the A to Z Challenge are in the form of geomorphs. This one happens to be a corner geomorph.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A: Altar of Set

“Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes? Why aren’t they ever pony cults?” Rathgar sighed as he surveyed the large chamber. Columns Intricately carved with coiled serpents supported the ribbed ceiling, while the walls were decorated with murals depicting every manner of snake, most of which were eating something.

Nimble arched his eyebrow “Do you really want to go hunt down a pony cult? Seriously, how horrific would that be as compared to this?”

Feris snickered while Alianora secured a rope to the banister railing. “The ceremony is due to start soon. We need to get down there and get the book.” She pointed to the altar at the far end of the chamber. Between four pillars, on a raised platform, the altar stood as the centerpiece of the chamber. Behind the altar, between the back two pillars hung a great bronze gong. While the altar was carved as a great coiled serpent, the gong was cast in scales covering it’s entire surface. “Come on.”

“Me first” Nimble said as he took the rope and hopped over the railing. With the skill implied by his name, he made it to the ground, and had the rope secure before he slipped into the deep shadows of the chamber. Allianora went next, followed quickly by Feris and Rathgar.

Keeping to the edge of the chamber the three of them hustled toward the altar. Halfway there they noticed two things: Nimble at the altar, and a cultist behind him, dagger raised. Before they could yell a warning, Nimble spun around, blocking the knife with the book they were after. He and the cultist struggled until finally Nimble shoved the cultist back, releasing his hold on the book.

Rathgar, Alianora and Feris were in a full run as they saw the cultist stumble back directly toward the gong. Feris spat off a spell as quickly as he could, releasing the final sound as the cultist hit the gong, the sound cutting off almost instantly. But it was enough, and the coiled serpent of the altar shimmered as it came to life, silently lifting it’s head and fixing Nimble in it’s gaze.