Still in this stupid bunch of caverns. Alister loved cave-crawling so much more than I do, but now that still air and damp walls remind me of him, I still don’t really like them but they make me miss him and seem kind of comforting at the same time, as if we were still going on adventures, except without him and with this bunch (Anderson has a giant dog, Applejack, that smells like — well, wet dog — but is really nice, Keldril is really really good with his bow and Solaris fights really sneaky and well with her dagger and short sword, though I still feel like I should maybe watch my money pouch around her). Anyway.
After a good (well as good as it gets in a smelly cave with no fresh air) sleep and enough time to patch up, we kept on moving. There were stone-scrapy noises behind one door, reminded me of that underground keep with all the secret passages, but it turned out it wasn’t anything like that. Solaris went first to check, seeing as she’s all sneaky and stuff, and then we followed her in when she reported back that there weren’t any goblins or anything. The floor was all checkered like a checkerboard and there were statues of giant white chess pieces (so I guess it was checkered like a chess board) on the far side: a queen, a bishop, a knight, a tower (well, an elephant carrying a tower) and a bunch of foot soldiers. We all figured it was a chess game and that there was magic involved, and so we talked for a while about what to do. I was a bit nervous that we would actually have to play, since I know how the pieces move and eat each other but don’t know so much about the strategy part yet (I’m pretty sure Alister was trying to let me win a bunch more times than I actually won, though he said I was getting better and I believe him) and because it’s hard to figure out plans when you’re not looking down like you would on a normal chessboard that isn’t 10 times bigger than you, but it turns out that we didn’t really have to do that.
So Solaris stepped onto the checkered part of the floor first. She looked ok, so I went next. I stepped on the queen’s square and I guess the room was all magicked up (later, Anderson found some rune stuff that proved it) because all of a sudden I got this picture in my head of me, but a statue and wearing heavy armor and a crown and a scepter like a chess queen). The others stepped on squares too – Keldril went on the same one I did, Anderson went on a bishop square and Applejack went on the king square. Nothing happened (except I guess they felt that same weird chess piece thing that I did). So we were moving around a bit, then the dog tried to move two squares, then yipped and went back a square, then the statues started moving and attacking us. It wasn’t like a normal chess game, thank Pelor, where pieces get jumped (or stomped in this case) and “killed” (or maybe just killed in this case). We had to move the way “our” chess pieces moved, and the statues moved the way they were supposed to, but the some could try to smash us if they landed next to us (not on us). Kind of not following the rules, but I guess the magician who made it didn’t care about that.
Anyway. So we eventually defeated them. I mostly stood there and took hits, but the others fought really well, even Applejack (what kind of a name for a dog, especially a magical one, is that anyway?), though it was kind of his fault that the statues started moving anyway, and he got smacked a couple of times. So we eventually get to the doors on the other side of the room and open them to find…that place where I fell through the rug over the trap.
So then we turned around and went up the corridor to where the dopplerganger (sic) said the evil wizard was going to be. Solaris heard some bubbling noises through the door, but we couldn’t tell what they were. She tried to open the door sneakily, but we get noticed anyway. It was a big room, full of books and potions and bottles and beakers and other things. Malarath was there at a table near the opposite end, doing stuff that I couldn’t see (later, my companions told me that he was holding the box that he took from the dwarf, but it had a human skull in it). There were also three skeletons and a giant ogre zombie. Malarath looked snottily at us and told his undead minions to take care of us, and so they attacked. I was all for staying in the corridor and shielding the rest of the party while they attacked from a distance, which was fine for a while. Then Solaris jumped ahead of us and onto a table (she’s so nimble. Even without all this armor I bet I’d trip and fall on my face). The ogre then grabbed the table out from under her and slammed it against the wall – good thing she was able to jump aside in time!
Then it got really crazy. Solaris started attacking the wizard, who then got really mad and made a cloud of dark smoke that hurt us all and healed the undead. The elf and Keldril kept attacking Malarath (and sometimes the skeletons), and were doing really well at it, while Anderson and I kept trying to hold the corridor and keep the skeletons at bay.
It was rough. Anderson exhausted his healing power on us, and was knocked unconscious. Fortunately I was able to stabilize him and bring him back, then he was able to do the same for Solaris, who got knocked down by the giant ogre (I think. Everything was happening so quickly). Then Keldril, who was making shot after shot at Malarath, even though the wizard magicked up some sort of cloud cover and was being sort-of covered by the ogre zombie, finally killed the evil necromancer. That was some amazing shooting – I don’t think even Alister would have done as well, and he was pretty good with a bow, and all trained and everything. Thankfully, when Malerath dropped, so did the skeletons (we’d managed to kill one, but the other two were still in good – bad for us – shape). But the ogre was still up.
Then the ogre stomped in, reached over me and knocked Keldril to the floor with a single, horrible blow. Not even plate armor could have protected him, I think. He just fell to the floor, all crushed and broken-broken looking, and there was nothing any of us could do – not even the druid, who is really good at healing and medicine stuff. We kept fighting, and it was looking really bad, but then suddenly Jixin, the doppelthinger, came in and started fighting alongside us. That really helped, seeing as we were all pretty beat up and the ogre was really big and stompy and strong.
Eventually we managed to kill it. I don’t even remember who got the killing blow, but it was a huge relief to see that giant body crash to the floor and hear that meaty thud. I went back to Keldril but there was nothing I could do. He was a drow, and I didn’t know him so well, but he was a valorous comrade and a good ranger and he deserves at the very least to be brought back up and properly buried (though maybe drows want to be buried underground, living in the Underdark and all, though he came up here for reasons I never got around to asking him about, so maybe he likes life under the sky) or maybe we can find a priest to resurrect him.
The others searched the area. I think Solaris took the box with the skull in it – that stupid dwarf is going to have a lot of explaining to do when we get back topside. Jixin found some money (which we split). Between the cash and what we can probably get selling that really nice magical axe that I should really use but I don’t want to give up the shield for, we could maybe have enough money to have a resurrection performed.
Then the ogre started moving again! I forget who figured out what we had to do, but we beat him down again and I cut off his head and threw it across the room for good measure. Stupid zombie necrospawn. Oh, then I cut off the head of that cursed necromancer too. I know I’m not supposed to gloat about the defeat of my enemies, because it’s not noble and unworthy of a true knight, but wow that felt really good. And anyway, we had to bring it back to the dragon.
So we took a rest and patched ourselves up and figured out a carrying sling for Keldril’s body, then went back to the dragon. I was nervous that he’d attack us or something, but he just ate the head (I’d be really happy to never ever have to hear that crunch and gloppy swallowing sound again), gave us a suit of magical leather armor (which we gave to Solaris, since she can use it) and told us to get out, which we did as quickly as possible. Then we left – we ran into some kobolds on the way out of the caves, but they didn’t do anything and so we didn’t do anything back.
Gods, the fresh air feels good on my face. More when we get back to town.