The next installment of Nimloth’s Saga, a series told in first-person by a Dungeons and Dragons (Pathfinder) character.
Warning: Violence follows.
Having dispatched the bandits who had confronted us on the road, my company and I now faced the challenge of clearing out the manor. Perched on top of a hill, the crumbling three-story mansion loomed ahead of us. We approached the rusted iron gate blocking the road and pushed it open. I half expected a patrol to come running upon hearing the screech of the aged metal, but we froze and heard no sounds of commotion.
The seven of us gathered by the gate and tried to lay out a plan for approaching the manor. From what we could see, it was surrounded by a handful of ruined outbuildings and a decrepit stable. A small group of guards patrolled the grounds lazily. Tuesday turned to the group. I noticed him fingering a grappling hook that hung from his waist as he spoke to us. “I have an idea. How about I climb the mansion, and you let out the couple of horses in the stable over there. If you scare them a bit, it should cause enough noise to draw the bandits out of the mansion, and then I can fire arrows from the roof while you fight them out here.”
We gave Tuesday the go-ahead to sneak up to the mansion. He got about halfway up the hill before a group of four guards spotted him. Tuesday immediately took off running back toward the gate. As he ran, he fired an arrow blindly behind him and completely missed the four guards, who were drawing their bows and shouting. I was one of the first to move closer to the manor, and after a few steps, I called fire to my hands. Heat leaked up to my shoulders as my hands burned, though the most I felt was a gentle warmth.
All four of the guards fired at me as Tuesday sprinted past back toward the group, but only one arrow managed to graze my arm. The rest of my party was mobilizing as the front door of the mansion flew open. Out of the mansion stepped (for lack of a better word) three fleshy abominations and a man in a robe. His robe was adorned with the pentagram, which we now recognized as being that of Asmodeus. I noticed Math’s eyes narrow before he spoke, saying, “Devils. Mindless flesh-monsters from hell–which means they’re immune to fire.” He shouted toward me, “Nim! Don’t waste your flames on the abominations. Concentrate on the guards and we’ll have to handle the devils!”
I nodded and was already flinging a handful of fire at a guard by the stables. It hit him square in the chest and he went up in flames. “I like my bandits well-done, please,” I said, chuckling to myself. Tuesday was sprinting back toward the manor now, skidding to a halt beside me as he prepared to loose arrows toward the guards.
Nine and Azzy had started running toward the flesh-devils almost as soon as they had stepped out of the mansion, and they had reached the nauseating assemblage already. Nine handily dispatched two of the devils, carving through one with his sword, then swinging back around to finish off another. Harvey was working over one of the guards with help from Tuesday’s arrows and a few missiles from Pan, so I concentrated my efforts on the robed man. With one handful of fire, I managed to singe his robes nicely. Nine finished off another devil just as my final fireball hit the man and he keeled over.
A few remaining men retreated into the mansion and the fire in my hand burned out, leaving behind a few wisps of smoke. We all headed toward the door, and Nine shouted into the manor, “We don’t have to fight! If your company clears out of this manor willingly, we’ll gladly let you go free.”
I could tell Nine was itching to cleave through a few more bandits, so I was not surprised by his grin when we heard a “Never!” echo out from inside the manor. The seven of us stepped through the manor’s main door and were greeted by a large entry room with two sets of stairs that curved up to the second floor. At the top of each stair stood four bandits with bows and weapons ready.
We managed to handle the bandits surprisingly quickly. Harvey hit one square in the jaw with a heavy rock from his sling, and one of Tuesday’s arrows found its mark right in the heart of another. Soon after, I felt the strength of my fire wane and sizzle out. Nine was carving up more bandits with his sword as Pan pulled out a wand and blasted targets with bursts of magic.
With my fire gone and the battle abating, I decided to go for a last-ditch effort to do some damage. I pulled out one of my many daggers and targeted a bandit at the top of the steps. Though he was a good fifty feet away, I astonished myself and my party by hurling the dagger with such force that it pinned him to the wall behind him.
The one remaining bandit dropped his sword and fell to his knees as a few of my party members eyed me warily. I shrugged. Sometimes, I got lucky with the daggers. Nine was almost immediately upon the man, demanding the layout of the mansion. He was happy to oblige, and at one point he mentioned a ballroom on the same floor. Upon hearing the mention of the ballroom, Pan and Tuesday perked up noticeably.
Pan hurriedly leaned in toward the man and asked him, “A ballroom, you say? Where might we find it?” For once, the gnome was face to face with his kneeling quarry, and he seemed pleased.
The man looked a little bewildered, but pointed down the hallway at a huge set of double-doors. Pan and Tuesday nodded at each other and immediately strode to the doors. They each grabbed a handle and threw them open, stepping purposefully into the ballroom.
I could hear Tuesday exclaim, “Where are all the balls?” His voice was wrought with disappointment. Then, he cried, “Oh, meat people!” Through the open door, I could see a number of the flesh devils stirring. They took a few uncertain steps toward Pan and Tuesday.
Pan froze, then danced as he backed out of the room, laughing nervously. Tuesday followed him out urgently and closed one of the double doors, holding it shut. He shouted at me, “Nim! Get the other door!” The devils were a good thirty yards away, advancing slowly toward our party.
“Aye aye,” I yelled as I ran to the doorway and shut the other door.
Tuesday pulled out a broom that he had been carrying around for a few weeks–no one was really sure why–and shoved it through the door handles. He turned the the party and warned us, “Don’t go in the ballroom. There are no balls in there.” I saw Azzy slap her forehead with her palm and sigh as Tuesday headed for the next door. If the survivor of our encounter on the stairs had been honest with us, it would be the door to the leader’s room.
Tuesday approached the door and knocked.