Garon, Kral's Champion

[Friday afternoon, still well before sunset]

Once they wiped the last of the necrotic ichor from their boots, the adventurers headed up the staircase back to the upper chamber.  The witch doctor was dead, and Rache had tied his mace into her belt for further scrutiny.  Lenora, Terciel, and Darg looked over their shoulders at the circle bleached into the stone, and then followed Thea up the steps.  Shard was crouched in the door at the top of the stairs, an excited grin on his face.

"We've got the drop on them.  At least ten, maybe more.  They're standing there in formation, two guards.  I don't think they saw me."

They huddled together, whispering tactics.  Occasionally Bree's voice rose a little too loud; the third time Lenora shushed her, she said, "...but my new staff!  It was MADE for this.  I promise, this is going to be so much fun.  You gotta let me go first."  Shard crouched around the door listening intently.  Terciel nocked an arrow and held another in the palm of his draw hand, Rache waited in the stairwell.  Thea and Lenora held their breath in the doorway.  Bree stifled a giggle, pointed her fingertip at the crystal finial on her new staff, and it glowed with an intense white light.  She grabbed it in both hands, took a deep breath, and pelted down the hall towards them hollering.

[Aside: It is not very often that you get to use the phrase "roll 17d20" without a trace of hyperbole.]

A blast of multicolored light shot out from her free hand, illuminating the chamber that Shard had seen… there were lots of skeletons, but the beams of light were lancing through them at a fantastic rate.  Bree skidded to a halt in front of the remaining guard, her staff shining brighter than a sunrod now, watching with awe as a cloud of bone dust billowed up through the air.  She instinctively crouched and got ready to backpedal, but the rest of the skeletons didn't move.  Bree crouched there for one more moment, then stood up and poked the staff experimentally into the air around them. "I said 'RAH' you guys.  And 'taste the rainbow.'  Can you taste it? Guys?"  She took a tentative step into sword range and noticed a sound like dried corn kernels in a fire.  Bits of bone were dropping off the back rank of skeletons now, and the one-two pitter patter was rapidly turning into a sound like a hailstorm, or the unfortunate but totally unavoidable collapse of a potter's wagon when someone has borrowed a cotter pin because it's cold iron and she really needs it for a spell. Bree saw that the back rank were still standing and stepped a little closer, waggling the staff, and watching as the edge of the illumination seared their bones.  As soon as it got to their backbones, they collapsed like the others, making a horrible racket. "Huh!  Well that was cool."

Bree turned around, silhouetted in the doorway with bone dust all over her robes, and yelled back, "Come on out!  I got 'em all!  And I figured out how this staff works, too. It's great! ...but, ah, it isn't going to stay lit much longer, and it's going to take a while to get all of its mojo back once it burns out.  So if there's a larger army out there, we'd better go find them."

They explored tentatively back to the south and east, consulting Darg for pointers on which doorways likely connected to rooms they'd been in.  Satisfied that they hadn't missed anything else, and pressed for time, they were faced with two iron doors: one set of large double doors to the south of the skeletons' chamber, and another a bit further east.  With no hints to choose between them it was simple to decide – they were close to the east door, so they checked it out.

Shard crouched near it, running his hands over the seams and panels first to check for any booby traps.  Finding none, he tried the handle, but it was locked.  He silently produced a set of lockpicks and set to work.  The satisfying CHUNK of the lock's mechanism startled him a bit, but he slipped the tools back in their place and peered through the crack in the door.  The room was dimly lit, and he turned back to the party with some hand gestures ("let me go in. looks safe").  Darg and Terciel exchanged worried looks, but Lenora nodded and stepped in closer to the door, ready to follow if anything went wrong.

The room was big: Shard could hear that just in the way sound was traveling.  A fire was flickering off to his right, unseen behind a pillar.  He moved quietly in that direction to observe.  There was a low hissing noise and the shadows around the pillars whirled past his feet.  Suddenly the fire was moving very quickly towards him!  It flickered past him leaving a trail of green sparks and then Fa-WHUMP, it detonated.  He brushed the acrid ash off himself and then froze: he could see the thing that threw it.  A skeletal commander, holding a massive broadsword one-handed.  In his empty hand another fireball was growing…

Darg saw the flash of green light, exactly the wrong color for fire, and his jaw dropped.  His mouth dried out and his heart began to race.  His feet were rooted to the ground, and he stared at the doorway. Lenora on the other hand was moving before the flash had died away; she knew Shard could handle himself in a fire for a few moments, but if he needed someone to pull him out of it, it was going to have to be her.  She rushed in and heard fighting to her right, flail drawn and ready to kick some ass.  Terciel was right behind her, arrows out, moving past the pillar, and there he was: the same burning skull for a face, the gloves on his hands glowing blue, the cape flapping without a breeze… and a broadsword drawn.  He turned in recognition and charged, bashing the sword into the wall above Terciel's head, and then narrowly missed trying to rake Terciel's guts out with his other hand wreathed in that sickly green fire.

Bree and Rache were next through the door.  Bree ran straight in, to the left of the pillar, hoping to line up a clean shot on its flank. She couldn't see off to her left, and wary of leaving anything behind her, she nonchalantly popped a miniature fireball into the darkness. The bright blast lit up everything in the tomb well enough to see that nothing was moving, so Bree turned right and stumbled onto the fight with her staff drawn.  Rache walked along the wall quietly, taking her time to line up a perfect shot but also trying to stay well clear of the fight; every time she saw an opening she let loose, blasting coin-sized fragments of bone away from his ribs and arms.  The green flame wreathing his skull seemed to protect him from most of the damage but it was clear that she was on his list.  Garon scowled and clenched his left hand, and the ball of flame wreathing it grew and grew…

Thea had taken her time: rather than panic and sprint headlong into the situation, she shouldered her axe and jogged after Lenora.  She followed the sound of metal on stone and heavy boots, and found the Garon standing there wearing the cape that had tried to choke her to death.  She picked up speed and was nearly at a full sprint when she delivered a sickening double-handed overhand chop high on his shoulder; her momentum carried her right into him, but she bounced back with her axe raised across her body defensively.  His armor soaked most of the blow, but now she had his attention… and now that she was looking him over she noticed a dim black fog oozing out from under the scales of his armor, settling into an ankle-deep cloud around his feet.

Darg looked at the fog uneasily, and wrapped the prayer beads from the holy symbol around his wrist.  He clenched the medallion and held it at arm's length, chanting prayers under his breath.  Beams of light pierced the skeleton's armor, and the fog bank began to diminish. With a ferocious roar, Garon set into them with sword and claw.  His screams were hideous, and his sword-work impeccable.  The bright light from Bree's staff seemed to dim the flames of his flaming skull, but he was nonetheless fearsome.  In between devastating swings of his longsword he lobbed more of the green fireballs.

Darg and Bree's spells in particular seemed to weaken his resolve, and with Rache and Terciel raining death on him and everyone else circling him with knives (and flails and axes) out, it was only a matter of time before Thea caught him with a telling blow to the midsection. His body crumpled, and there was a deep emerald flash as bone fragments and foul-smelling smoke engulfed the room, throwing everyone back a step.

Terciel stood up, his back against the west wall, and realized that the glove had landed near him.  He reached out a boot to kick it away, and it leaped up and grabbed his throat!  The other glove had landed near Bree and was trying to grab her throat as well.  Darg was stomping on the cloak, but it was slithering up his body and trying to smother him, too.  Worst of all, Garon's skull was still intact, wreathed in that sickly green fire, and was biting and shooting sparks at anyone who drew too close.  As the party moved in to surround it, the skull belched out a sizzling seed of fire which landed squarely in the middle of the room and detonated in a deafening roar.

The smoke cleared and Terciel was still being choked.  Bree was in a stand-off (a hand-off?) with the other glove, having escaped its clutches once, and Darg had the leather cloak wrapped around his head.  His prayers were muffled but apparently Moradin heard him: Darg's hands and armor glowed with a brilliant light, and once the cape was flung, sizzling, across the room, his face and beard were also glowing.  The glow died down, and Darg looked around to see if anyone else was in dire straits.  Everyone concentrated their efforts on getting rid of the spell-casting hovering skull, some of them at their own peril.  Rache laid in a scathing attack from the shelter of a sarcophagus niche, while Terciel peppered it with arrows.  His sixth or seventh shot struck the skull at a weak spot, shattering the bone and extinguishing the flame suddenly and apparently forever.



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