Redeemers of Agasteel: Raising Bards Part 2
I’m back in Orm with Dad, Mom, and Randal. For a recap, I’m the dancer, Randal is the actor, Mom’s a cleric, and Dad’s a barbarian. We’ve had a few days to enjoy the fruits of our last adventure. Randal and Mom bought a horse, cart, and several barrels full of what I’m pretty sure is ale. I can smell it on Mom. Randall says he bought wine, but he’s got plenty of whine coming from his mouth. That joke’s funnier as an auditory delivery.
Trumpets echo in the town square. The Adventure’s Guild is seeking recruits for an exploration mission since much of Agasteel remains a mystery outside the main towns. We’re not quite clear on whether this is a volunteer mission or if gold’s involved, but we’re ready for something new to happen.
With us are two brand new recruits, another dwarf cleric named Gunnloda and a Human Paladin named Chathi. We’re also joined by Iaon Silvester, a human ranger, and Cain, a halfling rogue. I ponder the possibility of throwing the halfling at some point but decide it’s not the best way to make friends.
Just like last time, the first few days are uneventful. I notice the Ranger, Iaon, keeps checking over his shoulder and stopping to listen every so often. On day five, we set up camp, with Iaon keeping night watch. He hears a slithering sound as if it were nearby, climbing over a rock, and whistles for Dad. She’s cranky, but takes his side willingly if a killing blow is in her near future. They ready their weapons and follow the sound. A large snake is descending over a hill behind camp. It ignores them and Dad is underwhelmed. She leaves Ioan and goes back to sleep while he resumes his post.
The morning comes early, and the Rogue, Cain, is stirred by whispers.
“Do you guys hear that?” he says.
Everybody pauses. I hear it. It’s a harsh, low whisper, and it’s beckoning. I blink and find myself running out of the camp without knowing why. Dad and Iaon are with me, entranced. We stop short at the mouth of a great cave on the hillside. The rest of the group falls in behind us.
“What are you guys doing?” Mom asks.
We all snap to and wonder the same thing ourselves. Curious as to what called us, we go in. Inside, we’re greeted by a shrine in the center of a large, stone room with a snake head. There are stone depictions of men, their legs chiseled off with a flat tool. A large, dusty tapestry, hangs on one wall.
“I don’t like this.” Randal breaks the silence. “It reminds me of a legend I heard once about a snake deity. Evil. It’s been asleep for ages the last anyone knew. His body is supposed to be stored in some jungle cave, though.”
Cain runs his hands along the tapestry looking for mechanisms or traps. He cracks a small smile and pulls the tapestry clean from the wall, revealing a hidden door. He folds it up and stuffs it in his bag. I think he’s asking to be cursed, taking something like that from this place, but I say nothing.
“Should we go?” Chathi asks.
“Only if we go as a group,” Iaon replies.
I look at Randal’s unsure face. “I’m with Randal on this,” I say. “This place gives me the creeps.”
Cain and Gunnloda go with Chathi, while Mom and Dad stay back with Randal and me.
“Don’t go too far,” Mom says. “We’ll be right behind you if you need us.”
Chathi nods and she disappears through the door with her group. It leads to a hallway and they agree to head left. The next room looks like a storage room for casks and empty barrels. On the far wall is a closet, the stonework around it culminates in a snakehead keystone at the top.
Chathi wrenches open the closet door, coming face to face with a large snake head relief on the opposite wall, and she jumps. A loud click echoes through the room. She braces herself, but nothing happens.
“Hey, Cain, can you check for traps in here? I might have already triggered one, but I don’t see anything.”
Cain slinks around the room, stealthed, running his hands along the walls. After a minute or so he stops at a spot on the right side, tinkering with something.
“Got it,” he says, coming back to the group with a vial of poison in his hands. “I think if you stepped into the room, it would have turned this vial into a poison gas.
Mom, Dad, Randal and I decide they’ve been gone too long, and we catch up with them.
“There’s a door in there, too,” Cain says.
We file into the new room, and it’s bigger than the first one. There’s a large hole in the ceiling, 10-12 feet up. With what little light penetrates the ceiling, we can see there’s another 10-12 feet the tunnel goes up. There’s also a collapsed section of stone in the room and a large, ceremonial basin. Water drips from the stone walls, but the basin is dry. A jagged hole goes through the wall under the basin, but it’s too dark to see in.
“Mom, you can fit,” I say, pointing at the 3ft hole in the wall.
“Like hell am I going in there. Not enough ale in the world for that.” He grumbles.
“How about I shoot a flaming arrow into the hole?” Iaon asks.
No one has any objection, so he shoots a lit arrow clean into the hole. It clinks against the stone and is echoed by a chorus of hissing. Dad readies her maul. The hissing gets angrier and louder as it draws closer.
A ball of twenty large snakes tumbles out and collides with dad. The snakes sink their fangs into her legs and she topples over, unmoving. Before anyone can react, Dad is swarmed with angry snakes, bites and gashes freckle her limbs and unarmored body.
We hesitate, looking at each other dumbfounded. How do we hit the snakes without killing dad, who may already be a death’s door? She needs to be stabilized. I pull out my viola. Iaon takes a shot but is too careful not to hit dad and misses. The Song of Healing from Majora’s Mask echoes off the wall with its haunting melody. Dad groans, and I know she’ll be ok if we can get them off her.
Gunnloda slams her mace into the ground near Dad, and the snakes fly in multiple directions. Chathi swings and takes out a few snakes in midair with her sword. Randal belts out a lullaby and the other snakes go still. I always knew putting everything to sleep was his main talent.
Dad’s pale. Her face is tinged with green and dark blue veins frame her sallow eye sockets. We rush in and stomp the rest of the snakes to ensure they’re all dead. Chathi lays her hands on Dad and the color comes back to her face. She sits up, and her brows knit together in anger.
“What about up?” I ask, pointing at the ceiling. “Mom’s got a grappling hook.”
Randal gives me a side eye. “You know how I feel about this place. I’m not interested in angering an evil god.”
“Give me a vial.” Dad grunts, eyes darting at the still snakes littered around her. “I’m taking what I can from these bastards.”
Chathi pops open her bag and hands an empty vial to a near-raging Dad. She grabs the nearest snake and accidentally crushes its head in her hand before she can extract the venom. She curses and opens her hand. The crushed snake plummets to the floor. A tooth is embedded in her hand, and she rips it out. The color drains from her face again and is replaced by a pale-green tinge. She wipes the sweat from her brow.
“Did you just poison yourself again?” Mom throws his hands up. “Let’s get you back to the cart before you can’t walk anymore. I’m not carrying you.”
We file out of the cave, Chathi and Cain helping Dad along the way.
“Should we head home?” I ask Dad.
“No. I need rest. Will be fine.”
We lay Dad down in the cart and carry on east. Mom and Randal drive the cart, passing steins of wine and ale back and forth.