This is part of the ongoing narrative of our D&D campaign, which is graciously being run by Proud Lion, a fantastic comic shop in Cheltenham. Their RPG Encounters nights are a lot of fun, and give me some entertaining material to work with.
[Before reading, please be aware that there may be spoilers ahead for the D&D campaign books. Equally, our stories are fluid, so things may not follow the books too directly]
As the elven contingent of the group bickered, Burian slowly picked himself up from the floor, blistered and burnt, and wondered how he survived yet another near-death experience. Drenk and Levan were busy stretching out and applying salves to their small burns, but Knott seemed to be looking around the hole that the serpent had surfaced from.
The fighter tied a rope to himself and affixed it to a solid looking chunk of rock, then abseiled down into the hole for a few minutes. Coming to the edge of the hole, Burian called down to Knott, and receiving an affirmation that he was okay, the druid turned back to the vanquished serpent.
Down in the hole, Knott found the residual heat from the serpent stifling, but by rummaging gingerly around in cooling rocks he found two solid sapphires to pocket. These looked of reasonable quality, so could probably fetch fifty gold apiece in a jewellery market. Nothing else of worth was down there, as it seemed the fire snake hadn’t gone hunting for any kind of horde, so he climbed his way out of the snake’s hidey-hole again.
The jaws that had almost gobbled him up lay broken on the floor now, having snapped as the excess heat of the elemental was vented when it died, and Burian lay a hand on the eyebrow above one of the creature’s burnt-out eye socket. He couldn’t recall ever having come across such an angry fire elemental before, and didn’t know whether there was any other way that the fight could have gone.
Murmuring a soft prayer to thank the creature for its life, its challenge and its continuing usage, Burian pulled out his scavenging gear and started picking some of the scales off the fire snake. Although they had lost their enflamed colouration, now a dull grey, the scales were still incredibly durable and of potential use, so he spent some time gathering all those that appeared strong.
“I just don’t believe you killed that with sacred singe!” Jester was arguing at Enna, as she frustratingly refused to answer him with any anger.
“It was a…miracle…as we say,” the cleric smiled angelically at the rogue, hiding her satisfaction that this was getting to him, “Eldath blessed me with his great power this day, and I vanquished the creature. Of course, the others helped, but mine was the…killing blow, as you say.”
“Pfff… Unconfirmed.” Luna sneered, watching the others in the group protest in confirmation for the cleric.
Finished picking the scales off the fallen fire snake, Burian ripped out five large fangs from its maw, each at least the length of his forearm, most of which had residue of his own blood spotted on the enamel. With Drenk’s help, he hacked off the head of the beast, but couldn’t discern where the heat had been coming from.
Resolving that it must have a magical basis, the druid thought that it was only fair that he treated Enna with the same respect as Jester when it came to the body of a significant kill. He manoeuvred the head towards Enna, but stopped as she noticed what he was doing and looked at him disgusted.
Besides which, how was she expected to carry a head the size of Burian around as a trophy? Feeling more than a little woozy, Burian realised his error and swayed over to the gathering group.
“Ah…ah think ah need to have a sit down, patch up all me burns and cuts and big ass puncture ‘oles… did ya find anyw’ere safe Jes…ter?” the beaten druid asked, before starting to fall to the floor. Drenk gracefully caught him and kept him upright, supporting the druid.
“Yeah! It’s a cool room guys! There wasn’t much in there, but it’s only got one entrance and a large stone door, so we should be able to defend it just fine.” Jester struggled to contain his excitement as he continued, “Probably shouldn’t actually sleep there though…but wait till you see what I did!”
“Look at this place! Broken mosaics and another dragon carving. It’s like the others, guys, but I actually managed to stop this one from activating!” the rogue continued as they slipped into the chamber, while Luna watched him, waiting for the perfect to blow apart his lies.
“And don’t touch those tiles in the dragon’s arms!” Jester warned, “I did this really cool trick, where I switched this sweet tray for the mosaics in a second, to stop anything from activating! They are very carefully balanced.”
“Ah, I see you pulled the old Professor Jones thing,” Drenk said, musing on the route those magical players must have taken to get to both their places of birth. They must have travelled a lot…
“Yes! Yes! Finally, someone else gets it!” he finished, clapping his hands before shooting a glare at Luna.
“Well, I’ll watch the door then,” Drenk said, before Jester patted him on the chest to stop him. Between the two of them, they managed to push the door a little more closed, without blocking the group in, then Jester used Drenk’s shoulders to push himself up, holding a pile of broken mosaics.
“What are you doing, half-breed?” Knott chimed in, confused by the strange spectacle. Jester looked over at him while carefully placing the tiles above the door, precariously balancing them over the gap.
“Hmmm, it won’t hurt them, but if anyone tries to push their way in here, we’ll at least hear them coming.” Jester explained, finishing his delicate set-up.
“Ah, but does that really count as a trap, if an intruder doesn’t get hurt?” Knott argued, running only by his book-knowledge, frantically flicking through pages in his Tome of Battle.
“I can see a loophole in your thinking though Knott, as presumably if they are intruding, they will be hurt…by us!” Drenk countered, and Jester shot finger-guns finger-bows at him, siding with the infallible thinking of the half-orc.
“Okay, I’ll have to jot this down,” Knott said, retreating to his particular corner of the room, where they could hear him scratching away, occasionally spouting a few lines as he wrote, “Note to self: fire is hot, fire snakes are hotter…”
After being healed and bandaged by the reluctant gnome, Burian felt as though his entire body was still bathed in the heat of the fire snake’s mouth. Turning to ritual to distract himself, he gathered some of the fire snake scales and cast detect magic, to try and discern any unique qualities they may have.
Unfortunately, their auras were just as blank as that of the iron tray Jester tried to surreptitiously push into his line of sight. Still, they appeared to be very strong, and combined with the smaller white dragon scales could be of use, and with a bit of a polish could even get a bit of a shine.
A few hours of rest and recuperation later, the companions got up to travel onwards, seeking to finally catch Belak and recover Sharwyn Huscrele and Sir Brafford.
“Shall we bounce?” Burian asked, hoping they’d let him rest a little longer, but only got blank looks from the group.
“What is this parlance, Burian?” Enna asked quizzically, Burian waving the question away as Levan went to wrench the door back. As he did, the tiles positioned above clattered downwards, landing on his helmet. Jester burst into giggles, soon followed by most of the group, even Luna smirking a little at the unfortunate paladin.
Heading off back to the rift, the group finally headed north-east, along the only path they hadn’t yet explored.