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]
Knott beckoned those who had followed him over, “see here, I’ve found a fiery pit of fire, I wonder who lit this?”
Levan joined him first, relieved that there was some light for him to see by, soon followed by Burian, Drenk and a reluctant Enna. Each looked at the others hesitantly, before Burian finally spoke up.
“So… Who’s looking over to see where this here fire is coming from?” the druid whispered, and when they all looked blankly back at him, he swore a Dwarvish curse and shook his head.
“Ah suppose it’ll be me then, eh? Well Drenk, tie a rope around me and don’t make me jump,” Burian rallied, as Drenk looped around him and held it tight around himself, “ah’ll look over and see if there’s a camp underneath or somethin’.”
Just to be ready, in case that fiery glow led to a fiery assault, Burian summoned up his magical energies and called forth a shard of ice, extending from his fist. He then approached the hole, and slowly leant over the edge, hoping that whatever light source was down there would be easy to discern.
Staring into the bright light was akin to looking at the sun, after the dingy darkness in which the druid had been exploring for almost a week now. Shielding his eyes to the glare, Burian could just make out two eyes in the ball of fire down the hole, and as he struggled, he thought he saw the eyes move.
“Pull me back, pull me back!” he shouted, then tried to cast his ice knife into the fiery delver. The shard of frost collided with the solid surface of the unravelling creature, but was deflected by what seemed to be scales.
“Ooh ‘eck, ah missed,” Burian moaned as Drenk pulled him away from the edge, while Knott stepped forward to see what had the dwarf so worried. One glance told him that this time, perhaps, the dwarf wasn’t overexaggerating, and the elf backed away.
“Fuck this, dwarf. Everyone, we’ve got something incoming.” Knott said, before running his fingers across his rapier blade and intoning a cantrip of truestrike upon it.
As he did this, the beast burst forth from its hiding hole, its fiery bulk undulating as it shot out. The creature was revealed as a huge snake, glowing with an inner heat like a furnace. Crevices between scales were lit strongly, and the occasional burst of flame would spread rapidly across its body. Down it’s spine seemed to be a ridge of flame and burning tendrils spread from this ridge.
Levan was first to react to the creature, grabbing a javelin from his pack as the creature reared from the hole. He hefted the weapon into the side of the monster, and caught it deeply, but was dismayed to see his weapon turn to ash as the fire snake’s internal furnace was unleashed.
Stumbling backwards, Burian summoned forth another ice knife, sending this one on a much more accurate trajectory and tearing into the cheek of the gigantic serpent. The shard dug into the flesh underneath several scales, and Burian channelled his power into it to cause it to explode. Icy fragments burst in the snake’s face, and it recoiled from the sudden cold.
“Yes! Ah was right. Ice does beat fire!” Burian shouted, but his celebration was cut dangerously short as the serpent shot forward, catching him in its great jaws. Heat engulfed him, blistering his skin as great teeth cut through his armour, into his shoulder. Simultaneously to the bite, the fire snake whipped its tail out of the hole, striking Levan in the stomach with a powerful blow. The paladin’s armour visibly glowed with heat, and Levan rolled across the floor to cool himself.
Dragged forward by the rope connecting him and Burian, Drenk had little choice but to assault the snake. His large maul made an echoing crash as he missed his swing, his aim thrown off by the tugs from the serpent. Even just being close to the creature was burning him, so the half-orc called out to the others, “Keep back guys! It’s hot!”
Stepping back to the entrance way, the group’s cleric called upon Eldath to gran her the strength to vanquish this beast. Feeling swollen with the favour of her god, Enna cast healing word on the druid caught in its maw, then used the surplus of her power to blast the fire snake with her sacred flame. The radiant energy of the small beam thankfully didn’t exacerbate the heat of the creature, but didn’t seem to do too much damage.
“Hmm, it seems I will not be able to avoid fighting this creature,” Knott was talking to himself, one hand holding his rapier ready while the other touched his expanding Tome of Battle, “I’ve thus far had more mental experience than physical, I must combine the two now!”
As his resolve strengthened, Knott charged into combat with the enflamed beast, raising his rapier to strike. Remembering the flamboyant strike Jester did to show him up when diving over the goblin balustrade, he blended his anger with the rogue’s style, and flicked his blade in several quick motions, stripping some scales from the elemental reptile before plunging his blade deep into its body.
The snake hissed loudly, releasing its grip on Burian a little, while Knott withdrew his sword and tried to follow the strike up. His second attack bounced off the natural armour, and he mentally noted that he still needed a little practice, but this form of attack seemed to work well.
As the snake roared in pain, Levan tried to escape the reach of its tail, but the wild thrashings of the beast caught him again. He withstood the weaker blow, and grabbed another of his javelins, launching it at the snake. This one didn’t even penetrate its armour, and was ash before it hit the ground. Drawing his sword again, he realised he would have to actually engage the monster, like his other compatriots.
In the mouth of this monster, suspended above the ground, Burian wondered how he kept ending up in the worst situations. Almost dying against that bugbear chief, falling against the hobgoblin boss (although he was pretty sure he’d won that fight) and now trapped in the jaws of this fiery elemental. Anger pulled him out of his heat-stroke reverie, and he drew all his natural power into his quarterstaff, invoking shillelagh.
Prising the jaws open with his imbued staff, he switched his grip on his staff suddenly, and threw his strength into an almighty kick at the base of his staff. Following through with the muscles in his burly arms, the staff end flew up from the bottom of the fire snake’s maw, and embedded itself in the fleshy palate of the serpent.
Boiling blood erupted from the wound as the beast swayed, staggered and severally wounded by an unexpected internal attack. As its jaw loosened, Burian attempted to escape its mouth, but the beast gnashed at his legs as he jumped. His balance shot and his body covered in scolding liquid, the dwarf flew through the air, trailed by his staff.
In its confused blundering, the fire snake completely missed Knott with a tail swipe, and Drnek finally connected with his maul. Bringing it down like a hammer on an errant nail, the half-orc crushed a portion of the snake’s tail, as it called out in pain.
Still imbued with her god’s power, Enna took several steps forward, growing more confidant in Eldath’s favour with each one. Her eyes glowing with holy resolve, backed up by great power of course, she turned to look at the druid, his smoking body falling to the floor, but still just about alive. Returning her focus to the elemental force they faced, she raised her finger to point at it and started a chant that echoed back from all points of the cavern.
Her chorus attracted the beast’s attention, and all eyes turned to Enna as she summoned her strongest casting of sacred flame thus far. A great bolt of radiant energy pierced straight through the fire snake, hitting it in centre mass and penetrating deep into the ceiling. The serpent let out a great screech, then all its heat was suddenly expelled, blasting upwards and scorching a great blackened patch into the roof of the cavern.
Falling to the ground, the fire snake’s body rapidly turned grey, and the group relaxed, looking at Enna with a reaffirmed respect. It was at that point Jester and Luna re-joined them, the rogue spinning a boring-looking metal tray in his hands.
“Oh, what happened here?” Luna said, upset that she had missed the chance to fight and kill such a large creature, “You look terrible, dwarf.”
“I…*huff*…I killed the thing.” Enna panted, left a little tired after expelling Eldath’s power, “Not such a singe any more, is it guys?”
“Well…I didn’t see anything,” Jester shrugged, “remains to be seen for me.”