The next installment of Nimloth’s Saga, a series told in first-person by a Dungeons and Dragons (Pathfinder) character.
Warning: Violence follows.
Inside the manor, we had already worked our way through a couple groups of bandits when we reached the door of the leader’s quarters. Tuesday knocked on the door, and we waited for a few seconds for a reply. Hearing nothing, he glanced around at the party, shrugged, and pushed the door open.
Tuesday entered to find a man waiting inside, who immediately lashed out with a dagger. Tuesday shouted in alarm and answered with a few frantic slashes from his claws. Nine and Harvey both sprang into action, rushing into the room and surrounding the man. Nine managed to wound him badly in the shoulder before the man leapt away and ran out the door, tumbling adroitly past me.
I stepped away just as Nine sprinted through the doorway after him, catching him a final time with a skillful—and lucky—thrust of his sword. The man cried out in pain and dropped to his knees. Nine stood over him, sword held up to the man’s throat.
A hint of a smile played over Nine’s lips before he asked, “Who are you?”
The man, still on his knees and shaking from a combination of terror and pain, replied, “My name is Hale! Whatever you’re here for, I’m sure I’m not the one you want!”
“Not the one we want? You’re the one in charge, aren’t you?”
Hale was distraught. “Yes. Well, no, not really.”
Nine growled, “What do you mean not really?”
I could tell Nine was already losing his patience. Apparently, so could Hale, because words bubbled out of his mouth urgently. “I led the guards here, that’s it! We were hired by some cultists a while back to protect the place. They’re the ones who are really in charge.”
“Tell us everything you know about these cultists.” Nine pressed the sword a little less gently into the soft skin of Hale’s throat, whose eyes widened as he stammered out a reply.
“I don’t know much!” Panic was woven into his voice. “They told us almost nothing. All I know is they worship Asmodeus. Sometimes they send people through here into the basement. We never see the people again—all we see are more of the flesh devils.”
Our party cringed collectively. Math’s brow furrowed and his hands clenched into fists at his sides. Tuesday gasped and wailed, “The squishy fleshy things are people!” Pan looked ill and I felt nausea bubble up my throat.
Hale had nothing else to tell us, and was in no shape to do so anyway. I looked away as Nine delivered his coup de grâce. When I glanced over again, Hale was dead, and Nine was wiping blood off his sword.
After hearing Hale’s words, Math told us the devils were lemures, grotesque, but weak, creatures from Hell itself. I shuddered. It made sense—these creatures were ghastly and horrifying. I wouldn’t expect them to hail from anywhere other than the underworld.
We were still a little shaken from that knowledge, but we knew we weren’t done yet. Tuesday and Pan went back to search Hale’s room and found a chest pushed up against the wall. Tuesday fiddled with the lock for a minute, then Pan stepped up to the chest and pulled out his wand, shoving it into the lock. There was a flash of light and a loud crack as the lock was obliterated.
Nine was ready to move on. “We need to find this basement.” Math nodded resolutely. We proceeded down the hallway and stepped through an open door into a library. The room was empty save for a few tables emblazoned with the pentagram of Asmodeus.
Math pulled out his mace and instantly began smashing the tables. The cleric’s blundering movements were full of anger. I was not surprised–this wasn’t the first time he’d reacted badly to symbols of Asmodeus. The rest of the party spread out to look around.
As Azzy walked around, something caught her foot and she tripped into one of the tables. The force of her fall tipped the table on its side, and as she did so part of the wall slid away, revealing a staircase going about 50 feet down. Tuesday rushed over to the stairs and started descending. The rest of us followed closely behind.
We reached the landing at the base of the staircase and were greeted by a massive iron door adorned with another pentagram. Tuesday stopped and gallantly held up his hand to the group. “I think this door may be trapped,” he declared. “Let me take a closer look.”
Tuesday began fiddling with the door, and after a moment we heard a click. Fire shot out of a few slots in the door, singing Nine handily. He glared at Tuesday, who laughed nervously.
Tuesday shrugged and stepped back up to the door, saying, “Well, at least the trap is disarmed now.” He pulled on the door handle and we could hear the same click as before.
We all stepped back and watched as Tuesday jumped away. Nine was scorched with flames from the door yet again. “Oh,” Tuesday said, “sorry about that. I’ll get it, just give me a minute.”
Tuesday approached the door, more gingerly this time. Everyone backed up and watched from the stairs as he managed to set off the fire four more times. He avoided the worst of it, but was still pretty badly torched in the process. Finally, as he tinkered anxiously with the trap, we heard the click accompanied by no flame.
He stepped away victorious, but his black fur looked significantly more charred than I remembered. Pan saw a tiny curl of smoke rising from a singed patch of fur on his arm and patted it out gently. Tuesday thanked him, and Pan nodded dutifully in return.
He pushed the door open and we entered the basement.
Need to catch up? Previous episode: Episode 4.
Next episode: Episode 6.