The arc of Jane’s swing carried into the path of a third guard. He retreated but not enough to escape injury. He prepared to strike back at Jane. Krabbz looked down at Bobbin and realized that Bobbin’s breathing was getting shallower. He returned his focus to the thunderball spell and poured his concentration to maintaining the energy of the spell.
Wade wove shadowstuff to create a noose then threw the noose over the head of the guard who remained by the doors and then yanked him into the thunderball effect. Wade gave a quick snap of the noose as the guard entered the effect and let go to watch the body bounce. A small giggle escaped his lips. It was funny, why didn’t anyone else get it? He turned back to the fight.
Remy searched the room for an opponent. A flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye caused him to flinch backwards. Something whipped in front of his face. A dark shadowy form that reminded him of a bat flapped into the darkness swishing a long tail that ended in a very large barb. Remy followed the creature’s flight into the darkness but lost in the shadows towards the unseen ceiling.
The wounds given by Jane to his opponents were weakening the drakes and guard Krabbz saw. He fired a magic missile of force at one of the drakes and was satisfied to hear a squeal of pain.
Lady called upon her faith and lanced her opponent as he recovered from her first attack. The blow from her attack causes the guard to fold on himself and crumble to the floor lifeless.
The drake snapped its jaws onto Jane’s forearm and twisted downward. Pain lanced up Jane’s arm as he fell. His neck disjointed and the world spinned.
Wade pulled his short swords and attacked the drake that pulled down Jane. The blades spun the drakes head and with a slice on its neck he stabbed under the jaw and felt the 2nd blade bite deep. Wade heard a thump at the base of the stairwell and saw moving up the stairwell away from the fight.
Krabbz saw the shadowy-bat creature come out of the shadows to strike at Remy. He pushed another force bolt from his fingertips but missed the flapping form. Lady used her divine power to strike against the bat but missed. Bobbin arose from the floor and leaning on the door he came flying through pulled his dagger. He took a quick aim at the creature and let fly in a sidearm motion towards the bat. His aim was true and the dagger tore part of the wing. The bat screamed in agony. Wade and Remy both looked for an opening but found no opportunity to strike.
The bat flew towards Bobbin screeching anger. Bobbin spun away as the bat lashed with its tail. He flattened himself against the floor. He reached for his sling and moved to try and get a shot. Lady strikes at the bat as it starts to fly upward but misses. Wade weaved shadow stuff and threw the noose at the bat and looped the feet of the creature. He begins to pull the creature towards him. Remy takes a running leap at the bat and succeeds in grappling the bat. He roars and bites the joint between neck and body. Blood spurts and the bats struggles weaken quickly then stop altogether as Remy twists his head. He releases his jaws and pulls back his lips in a decidedly disturbing grin.
Krabbz unleashes another bolt of force from his fingers and strikes the remaining drake dead. Everyone looked around the room for other targets but saw none. Wade tells everyone about the noise he heard. The group binds wounds and uses minor healing magic to return everyone to full strength or nearly full strength. Jane tells everyone they are going after whoever had been in the room and went up the stairwell. Millek the Halfling will remain in the stairwell to watch for anyone coming from down the stairwell. Wade proceeds up the stairwell stealthily and looks into the next level just enough to see several large hounds. Wade notices that the hounds show signs of decomposition. He retreats just as quietly as he came up the stairs and returns to the group.
“There are a couple of zombie hounds on the next level. I didn’t see anyone else in the room. We should have no trouble.”
“Wade, Krabbz and Bobbin. You three go upstairs and handle the hounds. Give a shout if you find the person who ran upstairs or find yourself in trouble,” said Jane. “Krabbz can cast light at the top of the stairs so you can see.”
The three move cautiously to just under the next level. Krabbz summons arcane energy and casts light ahead into the room. The three then rush into the room to fight the hounds. Bounding onto the floor of the room they saw that Wade was not mistaken in the fact that the hounds were some type of undead creatures. But he was mistaken in that they weren’t really hounds but wolves. Bone and sinew showed through rotting skin and fur in several places. Teeth were broken but still looked dangerous and there were four of the creatures.
“I didn’t realize you couldn’t count, Wade” said Krabbz. “Even my goblin can count.”
Wade quickly weaved shadow stuff and created his trusty noose. He aimed for a wolf but the creature moved its head at the last minute and the noose missed and faded away. “JANE, we may have a problem up here.”
Krabbz cast his bolt of force and strikes the creature tearing bit of rotting flesh from the body. Bobbin watches the creatures from beside the wizard waiting for one to move closer so he could protect his master.
Jane came up the stairs with Lady close behind. He pulled his greataxe and joins the fray. Lady moved to Jane’s left out of reach of the undead wolves. Perhaps I can turn them she thought, but decided to pull her Morningstar instead.
Krabbz used his magical missile again. It struck and the creature lost more of its body. Lady prayed and divine energy lanced from her Morningstar and also struck the same creature as Krabbz had just done.
Two of the creatures moved to attack Jane. He swings his axe and cuts a mighty blow against the creature on his right.
Shadows move behind Lady and the forms of two were-rats become apparent. Both raise daggers to strike at Lady. Bobbin sees movement from the corner of his eye and sees the first were-rat strike Lady and cause her to twist away from the creature. Bobbin shouts “NO!” and his goblin ability he called “switcheroo” activated. He swapped places with Lady who now appeared next to the wizard. Her sudden departure from the space caused the 2nd were-rat to miss on his blow. Bobbin easily stepped out of his path and let him fall prone like a furry rug on the stone floor.
Jane’s axe severs the head of the undead wolf on his second swing. Wade moves to the stairwell just as the first were-rat makes a break for them. Wade had drawn his swords and strikes quickly taking the were-rat in the chest and thigh. The creature looks surprised as Wade pulls his swords free. It then collapses onto the stairwells’ landing. Krabbz casts arcane power towards the reaming undead creatures, these gravehounds, he molds this power into a flaming sphere that engulfs the beasts and reduces them to charred bones and ash in only a few moments. Bobbin casts his dagger at the remaining were-rat and strikes him in the back. The blade protrudes from the creature’s shoulder. He squeals in pain. Jane tosses his axe at the were-rat. Jane aimed to axe low to trip the creature but the axe dipped and catches on an upraised corner of a floor tile. The head of the weapon stops and the momentum carries the long shaft in an arc that has the butt end striking the remaining were-rat in the shoulder and spinning him into the stairwell. He falls over the edge.
There is a grunt from the stairwell. Remy looks over the lip of the stairwell into the room. “Next time ya’ need me to take on an enemy, just call me. There is no need to throw them at me.”
Jane asks, “Is he alive?”
“No, His head caught on the edge of my shield. Snapped his neck. He can see where he’s been though.” He made a motion as to illustrate his words.
“Blast! I wanted more information about this tower. Bobbin, go get the halfling and let’s see where this tower goes up to”. When the goblin returned with the Halfling the group moves up the stairs. One full turn of the stairs and the upward path is blocked by debris. Movement up the stairs is no longer possible. Jane asks aloud, “Can we move it?”
Bobbin says “I don’t think so. This is a lot of debris and I think we are almost at the top of the tower. I think this is the other tower we saw at the end rampart wall section. You remember it was about 300 paces from the other tower. Since we came up the outside wall of the tower we entered, we have probably been as far as we can go above ground.”
“Good boy. Good goblin, yes you are!” says Krabbz. He scratched Bobbin behind the ears. “Isn’t he a good goblin?” he said grinning broadly. The rest of the group rolled their collective eyes. “Someone will get something special tonight!” Bobbin winced. He knew what that meant. Visions of awkward positions and heavy breathing of a wizard flashed in his mind.
“Bobbin,” said Jane. “Lead the way down and report back when you reach the foot of the stairwell.
The goblin started down the stairs ahead of the group. As he passed the landings they had entered he slowed and began to stealthily descend. The stairwell lightened as he approached the bottom. It appeared to end in a larger room than any they had previously been in. There were at least a couple of torches from the amount of light he was seeing. Peering through the opening at the base of the stairwell he saw 2 wolves. They didn’t look dead already. Suddenly one yawned and Bobbin saw bright shiny teeth. Nope, they were living. Funny how that thought brought him joy. Undead were just unnatural, you know. He retraced his steps up the stair well and found the group waiting at the next level.
“Wolves, I see. Wolves, real wolves, not nasty undead ones like before. These were real. Bright shining teeth they had. They were real.”
“How many did you see?” asked Jane. “Where were they?”
“Bobbin counts two. They were on floor by wall away from stairs.”
“Krabbz, you blast one of them with your magic and I’ll attack it too. Then move onto the second one as soon as I kill it. We’ll then move into the room and explore it for a way beyond. Agreed?” asked Jane.
Krabbz moved forward, followed by Jane, Wade and Lady. Bobbin, Millek and Remy brought up the rear.
Krabbz entered the room blasts the first wolf but the sudden barking of FIVE other wolves threw his aim off and he missed. Jane swings his axe and it bites deeply into the body of the wolf. A second wolf attacks Jane but its bite does not penetrate Jane’s armor. Wade appeared on the stairwell landing and let fly with the executioner’s noose power and looped the second wolf’s neck and pulled. The wolf started moving towards Wade and the stopped. It was chained to the wall! Wade looked at the first wolf and then the three others and saw the same thing. They were all chained to the wall. This is gonna be easy, he thought.
Bobbin had stepped out of the stairwell and realized that the wolves are chained to the wall. He did some quick estimating and concluded that the chains were only 20’ long. He shouted out his conclusion to the group.
Krabbz stepped out of the stairwell but behind Jane and Wade. He concentrated and pulled arcane energy into his mind. He focused on a spot centered on the three wolves farthest away from his position and spoke a whisper, “Flaming Sphere”. A ball of flame burst into being and burning the wolves around it. Howls of pain came from the animals.
Lady calls divine power and channels it into her morning star as she attacks the second wolf adding another injury to Wade’s. The wolf snaps at Lady and would have bitten her arm badly but Bobbin uses his teleportation ability to switch places with Lady so the wolf bites empty air above his head. Bobbin then slid out reach of the animal by shifting 5 feet away from it.
Wade summoned his noose again and the shadow stuff looped around the neck of the 3rd wolf and began strangling the creature. Remy roared into the room and struck a mighty blow against the second wolf killing it.
Bobbin throws his dagger at the 3rd wolf but is wide of the mark. Jane swings his battleaxe and nearly severs the 3rd wolf in two. The beast howls in agony.
Krabbz cast his force bolt and strikes wolf #5.
Lady summons power and moves her arms in the casting motion. The chainmail shirt seizes in the arm joint and her left arm moves incorrectly for her spell. The energy goes awry and backdrafts into Lady. She screams in agony. Her body cannot absorb the power and begins to expand. Her skin begins to change in color and density. A green pallor starts and flows across her body. Her face contorts and changes, her visage becomes twisted and alien in appearance. In a few moments Lady is gone and a troll stands in her place. A roar of rage bursts from the creatures lips.
All activity ceases in the room. Everyone stares at the creature and a dark realization comes upon everyone. Jane shouts “Everyone back up the stairwell, hurry!”
Wade shouts, “EVERYMAN FOR HIMSELF!!” and leaps onto the stairwell. People scramble over each other as they move back into the stairwell and up the stairs. Millek the halfling is almost crushed by the panicked group. The group gathers its breath at the next landing. Jane asks Krabbz, “What in the nine hells just happened?”
“Power backlash, she did something wrong when she cast her spell. In most cases the energy just dissipates and nothing happens. But in rare instances the energy flows backwards and causes an unforeseen consequence. She’s been transformed into a troll. It’s still Lady but now she’s a troll. The energy should burn itself out pretty quick. In the few instances my arcane masters told me about, the duration is only 1-4 minutes. But she’s a troll and that is gonna seem like an eternity to us.”
“We will wait it out then. No one goes down, understood?”
A scream comes from downstairs, A goblin scream. Krabbz yells, “Bobbin!”
Krabbz leaped down the stairs just in time to bobbin in the grip of the troll. Bobbin stabbed the hand that held him and the troll yelped and threw him across the open floor space into the wall to its right. Krabbz thought quickly and had a strategic epiphany. He shouted to the troll,”Over here you 9 feet of ugly!” The troll turned and reached to smash the source of the shout. But as the arm of the troll moved towards the wizard, the wizard became insubstantial and floated like a thin fog up the stairwell. Jane leaped into the path of the arm and struck it with his axe. His momentum and great strength almost severed the arm from the creature. It moved back holding the gash in it flesh, Jane saw the storied regenerative abilities of the troll start healing the wound almost immediately. Krabbz rematerialized on the stairway and moved downward until he could see into the room. He cast a small glamour into the room behind the troll as of a barnyard. The sound of food making noises behind the troll caused it to turn around. Two wolves attacked the beast. The troll smashed one into the floor and struck a blow against the other. Krabbz casts his flaming sphere on the wolf the troll just struck. The burst of flame caught both creatures and the troll screamed in pain. The wolf gave a yelp and collapsed burning. The troll retreated from the burning flame and into the corner. It stops moving a when it hits the walls and begins to collapse into a heap. The body smokes and begins to shrink and shrink until a female elf lies curled on the floor unconscious. Krabbz casts another burning spell and kills the 3rd wolf with the flame that shoots from his fingers. Wade and Remy spill into the room following Jane. They quickly dispatch the remaining beasts.
Jane moved to Lady. Krabbz moved to Bobbin. Jane moved Lady onto her back and pulled a blanket from his pack. He then laid it over her. She opened her eyes in a few moments and touched her head. “What happened Jane? I remember casting and then my arm joint caught in my chainmail and that’s it. Did I pass out?”
Krabbz shouted at Lady, “Pass out? No you didn’t pass out. You suffered a power backlash and nearly killed my Bobbin. He’s grievously wounded. He won’t be in any shape for my attentions. Are you happy? Snooty elf wench!”
Bobbin groans besides Krabbz. “Me is alright, master. Me will heal okay. Me just need a day to rest.” Krabbz fussed over goblin like a kennel-master over his favorite hound.
“We have no time to stop. The noise we just made was probably enough to put everyone on notice of our presence.” We move out as soon as Lady is ready. Use what healing we can and let’s get going!”