Fuck. Just fuck… I dunno. Even my new titties are small comfort as I write this log, but the story must be told or our sacrifices will be meaningless.
We returned to the temple in the swallowed lands where we had bested the tests of the four archetypes and pillaged much treasure in gold, gems and magical gear. After a fairly uneventful trip through the swamps and a short rest in our camp room on the first floor, we ventured downward to see if there were any mysteries we had overlooked.
We descended into the main chamber of the second floor of the temple and discovered that all was not as we had left it. As we strode boldly forward, Francis heard the subtle scrape of metal against stone, of bone against bone, and before we could react, six skeletal warriors were upon us.
We dispatched them with minor difficulties, although my reluctance to use my missiles led to a light wound, which Frumps was kind enough to cure.
We then entered the treasure room that had lain behind the door of four sockets and we saw a massive stone door, covered over with runes. The amulet now depending between my freshly formed bosoms emitted a mild hum that I recognized from when it had been used to open doors in the temple on previous journeys into these forsaken depths.
My heart pounded as I held up the amulet and approached the portal. Light! A brilliant flash and a bridge of coruscating energy connected the amulet and the door, filling the runes with a pulsing vibrancy that demanded I look away, though I could not.
The energy link between amulet and door was severed with an audible shred and I sagged to my knees, exhausted. The massive doors were vibrating in rhythm with the pulsing of the runes and the dust of ages cascaded down its face. The pulsing of the occult light increased and finally the portal split and ground open before us.
A massive corridor beckoned us on. The air felt fresh, far fresher than the stagnant tomb we had just emerged from. In the far distance at the edge of our torchlight we could see a square depression in the floor.
After much trepidation, we approached the depression to discover it was a barred hole leading down into what appeared to be an empty jail cell. Further down the corridor we saw three more such depressions, with the last one appearing larger and further away.
In the second depression we found life. In fact, we found an elven woman cowering in the corner. Francis spoke to her and we discovered she was disoriented and near starvation after being captured on a journey through the swamps. Her traveling companions had been captured, and she assumed them dead because of the screaming she had heard over the past few days. We dropped her a wine skin and some bread and cheese which she consumed greedily. By the way she reacted only to sound, we surmised that she was completely blind and experienced her world through noise and vibration.
Being unable to shift the upper bars of her cell we moved on, assuring her we would return when we found a way to rescue her. She was pretty busy eating, but she grunted and we headed off down the corridor.
The third grate revealed another empty jail cell, although the door into the lower level was swinging open.
As we approached the final grate, we noticed the bars were gone and the stone around it was cracked and broken. Francis approached stealthily and witnessed an unsettling scene. Five Kobolds were at some sort of game underneath the opening, and further into the room there were three hulking forms that he recognized from the swamps as hobgoblins.
Francis informed us of the situation using hand signals, and while we considered our options, Strude’s bloodlust overcame his meager intellect and he leaped forward into the hole. Brave Frumps, unwilling to let his companion face danger alone similarly executed an acrobatic (for a dwarf) entrance into the hole. Francis and I crowded around the opening looking for ways to assist our companions.
The battle that followed… I’d really rather not. It’s too painful. With Francis and I supporting them from above, Strude and Frumps were clearly more than a match for their opponents, but… Some times the gods are hateful and petty.
Frumps begged Theandra’s hand to stay our most powerful foes, but she deigned only to press her finger down upon one of the hobgoblin marauders. I slew one of the Kobolds with my missile, but Francis’s arrows fell short of their targets again and again. Though Strude and Frumps fought furiously, many of their blows fell short. Strude was able to disembowel one of the Hobgoblins, and Frumps managed a glorious blow against a Kobold attempting to rush him, but…
It seemed as our successes mounted, the gods’ disdain for us increased. A Kobold, assisted by it’s fellow, leaped up into the corridor with Francis and I. I brandished my frying pan against it, striking a mighty, but non-fatal blow, while Francis fired wide with his crossbow.
In the panic up above I was unable to see what transpired below, but I remember the bloodcurdling howls of the hobgoblins growing ever louder.
Francis attempted to brain the Kobold near us with his lute, but missed spectacularly, and barely managed to hang on to his weapon. I missed my next swing, as did Francis, who stumbled and fell to his knees in his fury to end our opponent. Glancing over my shoulder into the hole I saw Frumps and Strude fighting back to back. Frumps’s helmet was badly dented and there was a great rent across the chain mail over his chest. A dark pool spread around the feet of the two warriors, and just as I lurched back to my feet I saw Frumps fall to one knee as he swung wide with his mace.
Rage welling up within me, I lashed out at the Kobold with a vicious overhead swing of my frying pan and caved in it’s skull.
By the time Francis and I managed to scramble to the edge of the hole and assess the situation we were just in time to witness Strude cleave the final Hobgoblin brute in half. We slid down into the room and found Frumps laying on the ground in a massive pool of chalky dwarven blood, barely breathing.
Blinded by grief and rage at the gods’ fickle whims and visions of my friend’s imminent death, I reached into my pack and produced a mysterious powder I had found within the temple. I dropped a pinch onto Frumps’s prone form and fell to my knees as he breathed his last.
Strude leaped forward and howled an ancient Rappopo war cry meant to terrify the spirit of death and brought his fists down heavily on Frumps’s chest. He beat against the torn chain mail while wailing for a full ten minutes, while Francis and I stared on, in shock at the apparent death of our friend.
We took a moment to catch our breath in the guard room and waited as long as we could to see if the powder had some sort of delayed effect. When we finally approached Frumps and pressed on his chest, we heard a sigh of breath escaping from his mouth. The cast of his eyes made it clear that he was well and truly gone.
And so we find ourselves here, in this forsaken dungeon, deep under the swamps. We don’t know how deep under the swamps, because our dwarf is dead. Frumps was a healer and a warrior. He served the goddess of strength and protection and she gave him neither. He spread the word of her glory and she let his organs be spread across the cold stone. May his spirit be taken up by a more worthy god and Theandra made weaker by his absence. And for us who remain, may we remember that without Frumps, we are fragile and weak of body. May we learn from his sacrifice that reckless action – be it fighting unprepared or using unknown substances in dire circumstances – can have reckless consequences.
Frumps Enormous, we commend your body to the cold stone floor of this guard station. We commend your gold to our purses and your possessions to our arsenal. We will watch over your cow, who you have protected so valiantly, and we will curse the name of Theandra, the deity who allowed her servant to perish in her service.
Frumps will be succeeded by his unused castings of Sanctuary and Protection from Evil.